6 Things You Need to Double-Check Before Launching a New Product
Getting people to buy your new product starts with a successful launch where they learn, are interested, and can easily buy what you offer. Make sure these things are in place before your next launch.
You know the world needs your new product, now all you have to do is convince them.
That’s the feeling in almost every entrepreneur, inventor, builder, designer, and leader when they embark on the launch of a new product. We feel it in our bones that this will change everything and that nothing can stop us.
Well, nothing except for a failed launch.
Getting people to buy your new product starts with a successful launch where they learn, are interested, and can easily buy what you offer. The lifeblood of the product is set in this start. That’s a lot of pressure, but it is something you can manage when you do the right prep work. Give your product it’s best chance at success by doing your homework and verifying everything possible before that launch date.
Here are six of the things you should always check before launching a new product, plus a few helpful tools along the way.
1. Research Your Target Market
Understand your audience and their willingness to buy before launching any product. Market research is your best path forward because existing customer data and surveys can help provide insight into who your customer for this new product is — it may be different from past products — and what they want out of an offer.
Use this research as your guide for all of the outreach and development that you do. It’s the foundation for the entire launch plan, especially marketing. Market research is difficult so you may either need to spend a lot of time working on it yourself or you can reach out to professional firms who will test it for you.
Always ask for both their conclusions from the results as well as the raw data itself — you never know when a new eureka moment may strike. You could discover the perfect reason for targeting millennials to boost revenue.
Some of the many questions to answer include:
- What’s valuable to my audience?
- How can I use that value to position my product to them?
- Where does my audience do most of their shopping for comparable products, online or in stores?
- What shopping channels can I reach them through then?
- Where do they spend the rest of their time when they’re engaging with media I can use to advertise?
- What do they enjoy on these services and can I match those attributes to my product marketing?
- Are they price sensitive? What is “too cheap” and “too expensive” for this market?
- What do they spend on something similar to my product?
- What emotion or desire motivated their last purchase? (Fear, desire, stability, frustration, fun, etc.)
The mission here is product validation within your specific market. Doing this before your launch can tell you that you’ve got something people want, you know their budget for it, and they will trust you to deliver it in the right way. If you’re not sure whether the research validates your product, find members of your target market and ask.
Many companies survey their existing audience to determine issues or problems they have that the company can solve. Surveys and rewards can bring in a lot of people and thoughts — we prefer reaching out to customers we already know because we feel that they’ll be more honest about what’s working, what isn’t, and what they might need.
Don’t forget to turn to these same groups for product testers if possible, because their feedback will help you further reach your target market.
2. Verify Name Availability and Keyword Competition
After researching your market, it’s time to understand how they look for products like yours and if you can control what they’ll find when they do start looking.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has a website specifically for searching its online database. Start here to look for things that would be similar to the product name and other trademark elements you want to claim. You can also see many current competitors and what they’re using for related products, services, and marketing.
The USPTO online database is not 100% complete because companies can choose not to register with it. So, you’ll also want to reach out a patent and trademark lawyer to finalize your searches and to ensure that your new product, if similarly named to something else, has a minimal likelihood of confusion.
If you find something that’s extremely popular (whether or not it is related) you may want to consider a different name. People will search the name of the product in order to find what’s popular, not necessarily what’s new. So, you could end up spending a lot of your marketing dollars on ads around popular, competitive keywords.
Instead, fire up keyword research tools to see what’s related to your new product but might be advantageous. “Sneakers” and “shoes” turn up different results just like “bike” and “motorcycle.” Play around in keyword tools to see what your customers might look for and what you can afford to advertise against. Don’t forget to use standard search engines too because most will feature a section that shows you similar phrases or products people have searched for recently.
Sourced from Moz
Use multiple tools in your research because they’ll each have their own set of algorithms and capabilities that can help you understand the search and keyword side of your market. Moz (pictured above) is helpful not only for its keyword information but also noting domains with high authority that have recently mentioned the keyword you’re targeting. This is a suitable place to start building out your list for product launch announcements as well as potential review copies or freebies.
Follow this all up with a quick look at your site and online presence to start using the new keywords you’ll be targeting. A good place to begin is with your Google My Business listing.
3. Define Launch and Product Goals
What do you hope your launch will achieve?
It seems like a simple question, but it should be the driving force behind your decisions for the next few steps we’ll discuss, such as marketing, customer outreach, and your follow-up. To make your launch a success, you need to clearly define success and know how you’ll measure it. This ensures you have the right tools already in place, so there is no scrambling on launch day.
Common goals revolve around sales, which means you’ll need a way to not only track orders in the aggregate but also by channel — knowing if search ads or social influencer content drives your sales can help you refine your marketing for future campaigns for the same product.
Google Analytics makes it easy to setup up advanced, “Smart” goals
Set real numbers for revenue, traffic, new customers, or other metrics that are important to your business. Sometimes a product launch is designed to reinvigorate existing customers, others it is to dive into new markets. The firmer you can be in targets, the better.
Common goal types include:
- Sales: We will sell X number of new products within our launch month.
- Traffic: We will have X number of visitors to our website and specific product launch page.
- Awareness: Before launch we will get covered on X news sites. At launch, we will have X shares and retweets of announcement posts. After launch, X sites will cover our launch and first wave of orders.
- Prospects: We will identify X number of prospects within our launch month.
- Customers: We will have X existing customers purchase this as a replacement or upgrade, and X customers return for sales after we thought them lost.
- Feedback: Customers will leave X number of messages, reviews, and other feedback and we will address each major issue within a 24-hour window.
For your product launch, goals are how you define and measure success. Match them to the type of success you want and make them as clear as possible so that they’re easier to track. For example, the feedback goal would mean you need people actively searching looking for comments on your website and social profiles as well as generally on review sites and customer social channels.
When goals are easy to understand and evaluate, they also prepare you for that evaluation. Clear goals let you know the tools and number of employees you need to track them, how many customers or leads you need to reach, revenue expectations, and more. They’ll help you plan accordingly for launch day and your required follow-up.
4. Plan A Big Marketing Push
Few things can harm your new product launch more than obscurity. As long as the tone of your messaging is right for your brand, it’ll be incredibly hard to go overboard. You’ll need to be craft and loud to get the attention that your product demands.
Turn your understanding of your product, market, and launch goals into a clearly defined plan for getting the work out. Use audience insights to determine the type of ads, promotions, and other marketing you need. Next, back it up with your keyword research to make sure people will find the ads you’re placing.
It’s important to remember that your keywords are generally the same across all channels but that each channel also has its own unique flair. The #dogsofInstagram tag will go great for a pet-focused product on Instagram but makes little sense in your AdWords copy. Similarly, there may be groups to target on Facebook, trends on Twitter, topics on LinkedIn, and plenty of other considerations for you to adjust to meet your market.
Some marketing elements you’ll want to think about include:
- Landing pages for your specific offer. That way all ads and social posts go to your new product on its own special page, reinforcing deals or coupons to keep people excited.
- Contests for freebies or free trails for new subscribers.
- Bonuses and savings for existing customers.
- Plenty of social posts and ads to reach new fans.
- Email campaigns for your existing subscribers and fans.
- AdWords campaigns around your identified keywords and topics.
- Blogs and guest posts for B2B and expensive products to help build up awareness before a launch.
- Previews or exclusive invites for media, bloggers, or influencers.
If you’re established already in the space, reach out to major media outlets. See if you can get industry publications, news sites, and blogs to cover your launch. The market research you did initially should show where your audience gets their news and information about products like yours. If social influencers are popular in your segment, reach out to see about pricing and availability.
Don’t neglect your existing customers either. If you have “superfans” who already praise your products online and share about you on their own, consider giving them samples ahead of the official launch. Let this group do some word-of-mouth advertising for you and make it easy for them to share and show off.
An important note: Marketing research never stops. As we were writing this, Instagram announced a new feature that alerts customers to product launches. Sounds perfect for you.
5. Know What You’ll Do Post-Launch
A successful launch strategy doesn’t end when you announce your product or make it available in stores or on your website. You’ve got to deliver the entire experience, from customers learning about it to purchase and then satisfaction when using it. All the while, you need to generate and maintain momentum gained during your launch.
Success here requires a strong strategy for keeping targets engaged. This typically involves continual ad purchases online and in your local mediums, social media posts, website deals, and perhaps even work with influencers or related YouTube stars.
Post-launch efforts are focused on three big areas:
- Following up with early users and buyers to get feedback and (hopefully) positive reviews. Remember, people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and the majority of your audience will read these reviews before a purchase.
- Creating a consistent pipeline of new customers. Build on the interest and early wins to establish yourself in the market.
- Solve issues that come up, such as customer complaints or shipping issues. You’ll want to address complaints publicly before taking people to private messages or chats to solve their concerns.
Once you have this strategy, there’s only one step left. However, it’s likely the most important thing for you to focus on after you’ve decided what your new product will be.
6. Test, Test, And Test Again
The last thing to doublecheck is everything.
You need to test as much as possible with dry runs of the entire launch and sales process. Test ads to make sure they’re targeting the right keywords and link to the right pages. Verify that coupon codes and discounts work. Send test emails to check that your marketing campaigns are going out like you want.
Run through the entire purchase process a few times. That means landing page to product page, from adding it to your cart to checking out, and then from order processing to it arriving at your door. Let your fulfillment company know this too so they can be ready to handle a small test batch. Then, return one package just to see how this goes.
Yes, you’re past product testing at this point. So, test the sales, marketing, shipping, and returns. All the things in your launch plan should get a big checkmark before you’re ready to launch.
Lean on the Support You Already Have
One final thought to leave you with is a reminder that you’re an existing company. You have staff and customers and friends and family. You’ve been through this before and had people help along the way. Reach out to them again and see what they think.
Don’t ask people to do your work for you, and don’t skimp on compensation. However, you can turn to the people who already want you to succeed for a nice little boost. It’s one of the best ways to build momentum or realize you haven’t fully addressed an issue.
Finding that out before you begin can end up being the difference between a failed launch and a successful one. Good luck!