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Insights + Inspiration…by Troy Schroeder

Five Ways to Make Your New Product Launch a Success

A product’s life cycle can generally be determined in its first year. Have you achieved quick adoption, strong awareness and value among customers? More times than not, that means you’re on your way to a long and dynamic life cycle. But if that first year is really focused solely on the specific launch with maybe just a small emphasis on ongoing sales or marketing support, that product may be looking at disappointing results.

Don’t get me wrong, I love product launches. I love the energy and optimism that comes when a company can’t wait to launching something it so strongly believes in. But I’ve also watched some very exciting product launches fall flat. And for that reason alone, I’m going to give you five suggestions to consider for your next new product introduction, of which the launch itself is just one piece.

  1. Start earlier.
    You may chuckle at this. Heck, you may laugh out loud. We’ve all been there – clamoring around a major effort knowing there’s not enough time to get it done right. And without a doubt, condensed timelines negatively affect success, so you’re ahead when you build out a reasonable timeframe for launch. But aside from just the timing, start pulling in the rest of your team earlier. Involve marketing, sales, distribution and especially customers earlier on in your launch planning. The more their perspectives are included, the more alignment and insight you’ll have and the greater impact you’ll make when the launch comes.
  2. Get aligned, stay aligned.
    Product launches can get complicated, and it’s critical to keep the lines of communication open. In fact, over-communicate when you can. Make sure expectations are clearly outlined and timelines and tactics are all working together. Meet regularly with other teammates responsible for the launch and make certain there’s a central person and hub for all impacted parties to stay up to speed and informed.
  3. Prepare your team.
    Members of your sales team should be providing market-facing insight into the entire product introduction process if you want to be successful, but you still need to train the entire team to get first-year traction. Have you thought through how to train your sales team on the product, its benefits and its competition in the market? Are they aware of how the product will be positioned and bring value to the end customer? Do you have inventory and SKUs set up? Don’t overlook the details, time and effort it takes to fulfill demand once your product launch begins to build it.
  4. Launch with intention.
    It doesn’t take a seven-figure budget to create a breakthrough. What it does take, though, is coordination between your marketing and sales team around the market activation that will matter most. Maybe targeting your launch to specific demographics or geographies can offer a quick win. And if you can build these beachheads in the market, you can use them to springboard more quickly to adjacent opportunities and growth. Go all-in on your launch but do it strategically; don’t leave any room for doubt.
  5. Make post-launch plans.
    Successfully launching a product is not about one moment in time. It’s really just the beginning of the game. How will you extend the excitement for the product? How will your sales team continue to deliver solutions to your customers? How will the product stay fresh and relevant when “me too” products come along? Thinking long-term on post-launch efforts will help create a more productive — and profitable — product life cycle.

Product launches can be fun. They’re sexy. They usually get the attention of most of your leadership. And if done correctly, the market will often take notice. Don’t discount the need to look at both the long and short games in product launches though. Long game efforts like brand reputation or customer service can help shorten the sales cycle when launching a new product because you have the halo effect that comes with trust. Likewise, short game efforts like demand-generating sales activations can help bolster initial and ongoing success, adding value to both the top and bottom lines.

Are you planning to launch a new product this year or next? Do you have your long and short games ready? CLUTCH has the perspective that can help you meet your launch goals.

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