A product launch can be a daunting task. How well you undertake it will determine the success (or failure) of not only the product itself but the huge investment of time and money that went into it. Few other marketing activities are more deserving than a carefully crafted launch process.
A successful launch requires several elements coming together all at once. The right product, the right market, the right positioning, and the right timing must simultaneously unite. As one product manager put it, “Hitting the right combination of being exactly what our customers wanted, when they wanted it, and at a price and availability that suited them, worked for us. We had to make it the ideal combination.“
Research shows companies that plan and execute end-to-end launch strategies have 19% faster revenue growth and 15% higher profitability than those that do not.
Forward Vision has developed a tried-and-true set of best practices to launch a product. Our aim is to provide the companies we work with the tools and a process that give them a competitive edge in being the first and the best in launching their company’s newest “big thing.” First let’s take a look at why these new products are so important.
Engine for Growth
The leaders of virtually every company, large and small, look at organic growth as a top priority. Organic growth comes from generating new sales from your existing capability, as opposed to growth from acquisitions. Studies show that nearly half of organic growth is expected to be derived from the launch of brand-new products. Another 30% is expected to come from iterating and improving existing products.
This is a huge investment in engineering, manufacturing, logistics, sales training, channel development and more. And it’s a huge opportunity to increase sales and profitability. Or not, if you roll out a solution that no one buys.
A successful launch to market has ramifications that can go way beyond the success or failure of a single new product. Done right, it positively impacts many areas of business operations.
- Your engineering resources will be more effective and productive.
- Your early adopters will grow.
- Your initial sales pipeline will fill faster.
- Your pricing strategies will be more effective.
- Your technology turnover will be at or above your industry goals.
- And last but not least, your market image as an innovator who is agile and quick will be enhanced.
One Goal, Multiple Metrics
Like most every project and process, the goals of a launch must be clear, measurable and have an expected timeframe. They serve as the roadmap so a launch team knows exactly what they are aiming for. Clear goal setting not only aids in measuring results but is a learning tool for future product launches.
Your definition of what a successful launch looks like depends on your role in the company. To an engineer, it may be the release of a new product without defects. To a salesperson, it may be a targeted number of new customers. When setting a goal be specific: How many units of your product do you want to sell in what timeframe? For example, “We aim to sell 100 widgets within two months of launch.”
It’s not unusual for a company to launch an awareness campaign shortly after the new product is introduced, a step that many sales programs begin with. It’s a good idea to get a rough measure of this early on as a baseline for future comparisons. For example: “Within the first week after launch, we will see 15 news/information outlets pick up our press release, 20 mentions on social media, and 250 additional visits to the website.”
Cultivate the Market
Your company might have a long lead time for selling new products. An appropriate goal could be to determine how many prospects you would like to identify as a result of your launch. Example: “We will identify 200 prospects within two months of launch.”
One way to determine the number of prospects is to start with the end in mind:
- Decide on the amount of revenue you would like to earn during the product release timeframe. Review your revenue projections for the year and determine how much you could attribute.
- Calculate the number of customers required. Divide your expected revenue by the value of the average sale. This gives you the number of new customers required to meet your sales goal.
- Determine how many prospects you will need to nurture in order to achieve the number customers required. A reasonable win rate is approximately 1 in 5 (20%). An analysis of your previous track record converting prospects to customers also is helpful. As best you can, determine the number of prospects you need to acquire.
Launching a product can be a fascinating, rewarding and learning experience. Doing it with careful forethought and planning — to capture the success your product deserves — take the steps that produce results worth celebrating.
At Forward Vision, our experts use the “Start Right – Finish Well” launch management process as a proven methodology to give new products the lift they need. Watch our webinar to learn more.