How to Run an Effective Soft Launch (Even if Your Budget Is Tight) 

When you’re preparing to sell a new product, you should definitely consider running a soft launch. That means delivering your latest product in stages rather than releasing a product that is fully ready.

With a soft launch approach, you can gain valuable feedback about your product, fix issues, try new things and avoid problems. Basically, a soft launch gives you space to reconsider the final design of your product to make sure you get every element right.

Even if you’re on a tight budget, a soft launch is viable. In fact, it can help you to save money in the long term. However, to ensure your soft launch is effective, you should consider the following five helpful tips.

1. Define your goals

The precise manner of your soft launch will depend on the type of product you’re launching to the market. But regardless of the product type, you should always set clear and measurable goals before you proceed with the launch.

Begin by defining the metrics that you want to track and analyze. Once you have established measurable Key Performance Indicators, which are commonly known as KPIs, you can measure how successful your soft launch is and determine whether the product performs in the way that you expect.

2. Set a timeline

Even though you’re not hard launching your product, you still need to set a timeline for the launch, including time to solve any issues that are identified by your customers during the soft launch.

Often, soft launches can take longer than expected due to having to create more iterations of the product than you had expected after initially rolling out the first beta version of your product, so factor that into your timeline.

While many companies soft launch products over a period of two or three months, there’s actually no right or wrong regarding how long your soft launch window should be.

Base the timeline on things like your niche, your location, and the performance of the product. Also, factor in delays to your schedule. At the end of the day, it’s important to set a timeline, but you should be adaptable and only launch the final product when it is ready.

3. Get your product ready for beta testing

Once you know what your timeline and goals are, it’s time to release a beta version of your product. Unlike a hard launch, you should make your beta product accessible to just a relatively small group of people.

It will then be easier to gain their feedback and make appropriate adjustments to your product. Make sure the core features are built into the product you’re soft launching, as you don’t want to lose potential customers from your test group once the product is ready to be launched properly.

4. Select the right users to try your product

After your beta product is ready for a soft launch, you need to identify the group of users you want to try your product.

It’s best to find users among your target audience. You’ll then have ready-made ambassadors for your product when it’s ready for a hard launch and you will be able to roll it out to the wider community more easily.

Be as transparent and open as possible with your initial users, and share your progress with them as your product develops. You could make several alterations to your product during the initial soft launch stage, so keep your users informed about every phase of the journey.

Limit who can try out your beta product rather than making your soft launch product available to anyone who signs up on your website’s landing page. Instead, identify and target the right users by sending out invitations.

5. Learn from other industries

To run an effective soft launch on a tight budget, spend some time researching soft launches by other companies. You don’t have to limit yourself to finding out about other soft launch products. You can also learn from other industries.

For example, new or revamped restaurants often offer soft launch evenings to try out new menus and new locations. Get started in your research by learning more about a bar, brewery or restaurant soft opening to come up with effective ideas for your latest product’s soft launch.

The advantages of a soft launch

Now that we’ve looked at five tips for running an effective soft launch for your new product, you should have some idea of how advantageous a soft launch can be. But let’s look at the benefits in more detail.

Firstly, as mentioned above, you gain invaluable feedback and insights from the people using your beta product in order for you to identify and fix any issues. However, don’t confuse a soft launch with the testing phase. Your product should have already gone through a thorough testing stage before your soft launch.

But during the soft launch stage, you can get an idea about other issues that weren’t identified during the testing stage. For instance, you could find that all of your users tell you your product’s color would put them off buying it or that your product isn’t suitable for a certain target audience for reasons that you had overlooked.

Another advantage of a soft launch is that you can create a more sustainable and failure-resistant product over time. That means instead of relying on spikes of user growth, you can gradually build up product use and recognition.

Lastly, one of the key advantages of a soft launch product is that it’s cost effective. Because the process of making changes and rolling out the product will be slower than with a hard launch, you won’t need to invest a huge amount of money at once.

Instead, you can invest smaller sums throughout the process. Ultimately, running a soft launch for your latest product can ensure that your product is successful and sells well.

Verizon Small Business Digital Ready: A free resource for learning basic business skills, the latest digital technology and more.

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