You have one of the best ideas ever. You may even have a prototype and be ready to go into production, but what are the first steps you need to take to successfully launch your first business product? How can you make sure the world knows just how helpful and fabulous your creation is?
Businesses release around 30,000 new products each year, but 95% of them fail. Although it’s hard to pinpoint all the reasons why one gadget soars to the top of the sales charts as another bottoms out, one part may be a lack of preparation.
There isn’t a formula that works for every single business model, but there are some basic steps you won’t want to skip.
What makes a product launch successful?
More than one element must mesh together as marketing, sales, production and branding all work in sync to create buzz in the consumer sphere. You must campaign both locally and online.
The Great Resignation has seen millions of Americans walk away from their jobs to start their own side hustles. In August, 4.3 million people left the traditional labor market either for early retirement or to start their own companies. You may have more competition than in the past, so you have to be smart about how you market, who you market to, and figure out how to get ahead of other brands.
So, how can you prepare for a successful first business product launch? Here are the top tips.
1. Pay attention to packaging.
Consumers must notice a product before they purchase it. The packaging is a critical component of how well your item does on store shelves when lined up beside other options.
What colors surround your item? Can you use something different to make the item pop? How does your product stack on the store shelves? Unusual shapes may be eye-catching, but if store staff can’t figure out how to display the item, you may lose out on sales.
2. Conduct market research.
Get to know your target audience by digging into what makes them tick. What pain points do they face that you can solve with your product?
Keep in mind that people’s priorities changed post-pandemic. They are more focused on essentials and getting quality products for the money they spend. Make sure your values align with your audience’s. Are there any causes you both care deeply about and can embrace?
Create buyer personas to help you come up with where to market, when, and the best methods. Even the colors you choose can have an emotional impact on your users.
3. Test your prototype.
The last thing you want is to release your product only to find it has major issues. Spend time making prototypes, testing and refining the item until it functions properly and holds up to wear and tear.
You may want to develop a consumer panel that can offer you feedback and suggestions for how the product could best meet their needs. There will be things you didn’t consider that only someone using the item experiences. Do your best to correct any problems well before the launch date.
4. Tap into influencers.
Social media is a powerful tool to help you get the word out about an upcoming product launch. Look for influencers in your niche with a wide array of followers. You want someone whose fans comment on their posts and share info about the products they represent.
For example, one Canadian tech influencer has 11.4 million subscribers and a female tech guru has 873,000 YouTube followers. Think about the platforms you most wish to reach and find influencers who will try out your product and get the word out just before the launch date.
5. Plan positioning.
How will you position your product in the marketplace? Pay attention to competitors and figure out what makes your item unique. Who aren’t they reaching that you can reach? Do other brands have weaknesses you can turn into your strengths?
Put yourself in the shoes of the average consumer and figure out how to best meet their needs. Once you have an idea of your positioning, strive to exceed expectations.
6. Create a calendar.
Before you create the first piece of content, take the time to plan out your marketing strategy. What do you need your audience to know about the product before you launch? How can you best educate the public about the advantages of your brand?
Take the time to create a promotional calendar with notes about how best to promote on different platforms, what fits in your budget and which audience you’ll reach. Then, figure out where buyers are in the journey and create content around your calendar.
7. Invest in assets.
You’ve invested a lot of time and energy into product development. Now, you must create assets to help promote your upcoming launch. How can you best showcase what your item does? Create videos, collect testimonials and write articles.
Pew Internet Research reports 77% of Americans use social media. Make sure anything you create is shareable on social platforms. Create some assets specifically for the sites you plan to have the heaviest presence on.
8. Focus on your supply chain.
Supply chain issues continue and may remain for the foreseeable future. Figure out how you’ll keep yours running smoothly. Seek out backup suppliers, know shipping times and alternatives, and make sure contracts are exclusive.
If you can’t get a product, you’ll never keep up with demand. If you order materials or even the finished product from overseas, you may run into even more delays. Think through how much lead time you’ll need to replenish inventory if sales exceed your wildest dreams.
You should also consider shipping options. How can you get inventory into your warehouse faster? How long does it take to ship an order once it arrives? Streamline the process any way possible to avoid delays and keep customers satisfied.
9. Network with others.
You could also team up with another brand to offer a package special if people buy both your products. You’ll gain access to their list of customers and they’ll gain the advantage of a great offer for their regulars.
In addition to other business owners and those who’ve launched products themselves, look to people with a wide following who might be willing to try your product and give it a shout-out. Local radio personalities, well-established companies that aren’t your competitors, and organizations are all good options.
10. Prep your team.
Part of your focus should remain on your launch team. From your marketing department to sales to management, make sure everyone is on the same page and knows the plan to get the word out.
You don’t want to consult with sales about a onetime discount and then never mention it because marketing didn’t get the memo. Use project management platforms to get info quickly to everyone and allow comments and brainstorming on the different promotional methods chosen.
Measure your success
Some product launches go more smoothly than others. Pay attention to what’s working and adjust things on-the-fly. Measure success through customer feedback and revenue totals. Dig into the data to paint a picture of what you did right and where you need to make adjustments the next time you bring something new to market.