A product launch feels like a huge undertaking, but without enough planning, customer and market research and overall preparation, it's impossible to expect anything to happen. The key to success is understanding where you should focus your efforts and how to manage each step of the process.
The launch process is split into three sections: pre-launch, the launch itself, and post-launch. There are certain steps you need to take throughout this process to achieve and surpass your goals.
In this article we’ll cover:
- How to prepare for a product launch
- The steps involved in the pre-launch process
- Common challenges when launching a product
- Tips to ensure a successful product launch
- The importance of post-launch momentum
- How to improve your go-to-market strategy
How to prepare for a product launch
Kacy Boone, Head of Growth Marketing at Clockwise, described- in her experience- what a standard day for a product marketer looks like:
"There are seasons and times that have different characteristics than others. If you're in the early stages of a product, your day-to-day’s going to look a lot more connected to research, and assessing data to figure out where the opportunities are. So it's going to take more solo time for you to think through these problems, and a lot of time looking online.
"If you're later on in the process, and you're more in the execution stage, then you’re getting closer to launch and maybe meeting with large groups of people from across the entire organization. You’d be running meetings, creating materials, gathering lots of reviews, and having more of a mindset of getting things ready to launch.
"I do think there are different levels within the process, but you're always working with a lot of people, and are always at the center of things- talking to sales, product, marketing… and also hopefully finding time to do more focussed work on the product."
The steps involved in the pre-launch process
We also asked Kacy what typically happens just before a product launch. She explained:
"I'll break it down into categories because there's so much of the work that happens before a product launch. It's like an iceberg- all you really see is the tip of the iceberg, which is the actual launch. So much goes into it from assessing whether you have met the customer's needs, starting even before ideation, understanding what the customer needs are, etc.
“But then as you're developing it, make sure you're consistently going back out to the market to adapt, refine and ensure you're on the right track. That includes your product but also your messaging as well.
"So, you need to make sure that all your ducks are in a row before the actual product launch because this then goes to a huge orchestration of many different people who need to deliver on an excellent launch, which should be rooted in very clear goals and targets.
“Also, who you're going after and what you want to say should be really clear as well, for everyone on the team. The leader of that launch should be making sure that the ship’s sailing in the right direction so that when it comes to launch day, everything’s all about execution and iterating hereafter."
Common challenges when launching a product
Launching a new product can be tough. While the process is exciting, there are also many challenges that can affect it. For example:
- The product isn't ready to launch
- Limited budget
- A lack of team collaboration and communication
- Decrease in workflow management
- Resistance to change
Yet, many of these issues are avoidable once you implement a checklist of certain strategies and techniques for your launch process.
However, while problematic, these challenges can be overcome.
Tips to ensure a successful product launch
Launching a new brand or product can be an exciting time. It’s a chance to show off your vision, make a splash and get people talking about your company. But it isn’t always a smooth process.
In fact, according to research from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately:
- 20% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open,
- 45% during the first five years,
- 65% during the first 10 years, and
- Only 25% of new businesses make it to 15 years or more.
If you want to maximize your chances of success, some key areas should be sufficiently developed before a launch.
Know your audience
Ensure you understand your target audience. After all, these are the people that’ll be buying your product. So, you need to identify:
- Target demographic information (age, income, location, etc),
- Challenges they face and how they’ll benefit from your product,
- What your product can offer them that competing products don’t,
- What they like, what similar products the majority purchase, etc,
- How they respond to certain marketing techniques, and
- Where their community is, and how they’re going to find out about your product.
Tune in to our Consumer and Market Research podcast series, where Vincent Xu, Product Marketing Manager at Google speaks to a variety of professionals on the best tips and tricks to improve your consumer and market research process.
Develop a strong Go-to-Market strategy
A solid go-to-market (GTM) strategy’s essential for a successful product launch and can be used to improve team collaboration. It’s used as a way for an organization to bring a product to market and touches on three core components:
- Your target audience,
- Your marketing plan, and
- Your sales strategy.
Every product and business is different, meaning that the GTM strategy changes along with it, so you need to ensure that your entire team’s on the same page.
PMA Copywriter Lawrence Chapman takes a deep dive into how to build a strong GTM strategy with help from leading experts in the industry to bring you all the knowledge you need to create your own and succeed in launching your product.
Join Holly Watson, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Amazon Web Services, in the Ready, Set, Go-to-Market podcast series as she explores the intricacies of the GTM strategy with specialists within the area.
Have a clear mission statement
A mission statement outlines a company’s values and essentially, its purpose. Having a clear mission statement’s incredibly important for many reasons. For example, it helps motivate employees to work towards their goals in the same way, and also reassures stakeholders and investors that your brand’s actively working towards a successful future.
Developing a mission statement’s vital because you need everyone within your company to work together seamlessly towards the targets you’re setting, but also to ensure that these stakeholders and investors continue to help your organization and fund your launches.
Take a look at our very handy article on how to write an inspiring mission statement that’ll help your brand move to the next level.
Create a compelling visual identity
Good product design isn’t just for the benefit of visual aesthetics. 75% of people form their opinion of a website based on what it looks like. And that’s not even skimming the surface - creating a compelling visual identity for your business and product has a very large impact on:
- Audience connection and engagement,
- Product quality and satisfaction,
- Customer retention and sales,
- Product memorability, and
- Organization credibility.
And this isn’t forgetting the visual aspect of your product writing; in fact, simplifying your messaging can greatly improve your product sales because it helps include the audience and improve the user experience.
Market, market, market!
If you don’t market your product effectively, how will it reach your target audience? You need to ensure that you’re marketing before, during, and after the launch process, to reach the maximum amount of attention for your product.
Here are some key things to consider with your marketing:
- Create an email list before launching your product so you can communicate with your customers throughout the process.
- Create a social media plan- your customers need to know what to expect from you once you go live. Consider using tools like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to promote your launch, depending on your demographic’s most commonly used community.
- Post about your launch on your company blog. This way, you’re driving traffic and engagement towards your organization and product.
Check out Copywriter Emma Bilardi’s article on how to optimize your product marketing efforts to establish your product marketing strategy and get the most engagement with your launch.
Launch products at the optimal time
If you launch too soon, your brand will be seen as new and unproven. If you launch too late, you won’t get much attention. So, you need to determine when would be the best time to launch your product to receive the most engagement with your target customer base. Product launch metrics will help you identify the right time for putting your product on the market.
Be prepared, patient and don’t rush
It takes time to build awareness, and you don’t want to make avoidable mistakes by rushing through the process. Create checklists to ensure you’re meeting all the goals you and your company have set and be prepared for any wrenches in your plans by acknowledging potential challenges and how to overcome them.
The importance of post-launch momentum
Most product marketers focus on the pre/during launch stages but keeping the momentum and excitement going post-launch is one of the hardest parts of marketing your product.
Menelaos Moustakas, Head of Marketing at SumUp said in his article:
“An essential element of success is what happens afterward and how your customers perceive and experience the product offering, that’s the post-launch stage.
“The most significant risk you can fall into by not having a post-launch stage planned is that you’ll end up with an outdated product a few months after. High churn rate and a huge investment to gain back the lost market share will be some of the negative outcomes when not considering the importance of this stage.”
He then provides the steps that you should implement post-launch to continue a similar level of engagement and customer attraction:
- Check your data
- Improve the product with customer feedback
- Build customer based proof
- Have clear retention and win-back strategy
- Set clear expectations based on your audience behavior
Menelaos also urges product marketers to acknowledge the fact that customers are humans; there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach:
“Don’t forget that customers are humans, they have different needs and behaviors. Their goal’s to make sure that the product fulfills their needs. They don’t care about your deadlines. Give them time to adopt your marketing content.”
How to improve your Go-to-Market strategy
Our Go-to-Market Certified: Masters course will give you all the information and knowledge you need to up your GTM game.
Delivered by Yoni Solomon, Chief Marketing Officer at Uptime.com, this course provides you with everything you need to design, launch, and measure an impactful Go-to-Market strategy.
By the end of this course, you'll be able to confidently:
🚀 Grasp a proven product launch formula that’s equal parts comprehensive, repeatable, creative, and collaborative.
🧠 Gain the expertise and know-how to build and tailor an ideal product blueprint of your own.
🛠 Equip yourself with templates to facilitate a seamless GTM process.