Having a product idea out of the blue is an incredible feeling. One second you’re uninspired and the next your heart is racing with all the possibilities that your lightbulb moment could bring. But this is just the first step on a long road to getting your product to market and making it a success. Although a product launch is often one of the most exciting times for any business, it’s also fraught with risks. History is littered with examples of failed product launches, with everything from not anticipating a lack of demand to a poor marketing strategy holding these businesses back. And while no product launch is guaranteed to be successful, there are a few things you can do to boost your chances of making it a hit.
1. Conduct market research
One of the biggest reasons new products fail is a lack of demand. Even if you think your idea is the greatest thing since sliced bread, it’s important to ascertain whether people are actually likely to buy it, which necessitates market research. By identifying who exactly your target audience is and their goals, motivations and pain points, you can work out whether your product will be useful to them or not.
As part of this process, it’s recommended that you write a positioning statement, which provides “an expression of how a given product, service or brand fills a particular consumer need in a way that its competitors don’t.” By exploring exactly why your product is different from others, and why there is demand for it, you’ll be able to gauge how likely your launch will succeed. If you find that this is probable, then you have nothing to worry about. However, if you don’t, this will at least prevent you from going further with something that could be destined to fail, and gives you the opportunity to modify your product and put this version to the people instead.
2. Plan your marketing strategy
Many consider the marketing of a product to be more important than the product itself. As stated by Jaiden Vu, Founder and CEO of Vantura Cosmetics: “It’s not the best product that wins but the best-known one that wins.” After all, you could have an absolutely game-changing invention, but nobody is going to buy it if they don’t know about it. You need to think long and hard about your approach, as well as being careful not to make any critical marketing errors.
Some of the main considerations for your marketing campaign should include defining your goals, setting a budget, and choosing which communication channels to use, with your market research informing this latter decision. For example, should only a small percentage of your target audience listen to the radio, then taking to the airwaves probably isn’t the best idea. You then need to think about how exactly you’ll target people using your chosen mediums. If you’ve decided on social media promotion, you have a range of advertising options, including photo, carousel and video ads, each having their pros and cons. In comparison to written content, photo ads “take less time [to pass on information] and give visual pleasure to the viewer,” while, as noted by video production agency Frantic, explainer videos offer an effective way to “demonstrate the basic functions and nuances of your business’s product.”
3. Test your product
Another big reason why product launches fail is because the products themselves don’t work as intended. Take the ill-fated Google Glass — the search giant’s seemingly pioneering smart glasses — which was beset with issues like privacy concerns, bugs, low battery life, and bans from public spaces. All of this contributed to the product being discontinued after just two years, and with hindsight, it’s clear that more stringent testing may have saved the product from its ultimate fate.
Delivering a subpar product like Google did will seriously harm your chances of success, so it’s critical to assess your offering prior to launch, so you can iron out any issues that arise, and prevent this from happening. Beta testing is particularly key, as this allows your end product to be validated by your end users — since they’re the ones who will ultimately be using it, their opinion is of supreme importance.
4. Prepare to fulfil orders
After testing the product and marketing it, it’s almost time for launch. But before you finally release your creation to the public, you need to make sure you can fulfil demand. Running out of stock or failing to deliver the product can be a huge issue, particularly when you’ve hyped up its release. You just have to look at the example of the Coolest Cooler to see how this can bite a business.
Despite promising a product for each and every one of the 60,000 people who helped to crowdfund it on Kickstarter, Coolest Cooler ultimately failed to deliver to around a third of these individuals. Largely as a result of changes in the complexity of the shipping and logistics processes, Coolest Cooler eventually folded in 2019, leaving the remaining backers empty-handed. This sorry story shows the importance of having the infrastructure in place to fulfil orders. Some of the main aspects to consider include having a clear logistics strategy, carefully choosing your distributors and meticulously monitoring your distribution network.