April 8

Take These Steps to Avoid a Product Launch Flop

By Philip Sorrells

and Becky Breining


Anyone who has been involved in a failed product launch will tell you it isn’t a pretty sight. Research indicates that anywhere from 33% to 48% of new product launches fail to meet their targeted goals. Among technology companies, around 42% of product launches fail. 

A carefully crafted product launch must be the centerpiece of any new product rollout. As Etsy Co-Founder Rob Kalin put it, “The last 10% it takes to launch something takes as much energy as the first 90%.”

Keep these two basic tenets in mind when planning a launch:

  1. The launch is that singular moment where you take the product to the market and you get that one-time chance to make a lasting impression. Imagine getting the market right, the product right and then blowing it all with a poorly designed or executed launch. Unthinkable?  No, it happens all the time.
  2. The market is where mistakes start and cascade through everything else you do. If you get the market wrong, nothing else do has much chance of saving your efforts.

Among the mistakes you can make is being unclear or aiming at the wrong audience. You must have an accurate, sharply defined target market. You may think a prospective buyer is in one group only to find later you were wrong, that the buyer is actually just an influencer.  

At Forward Vision, we encourage clients to start their product launch by getting all stakeholders together and agreeing on a clearly articulated target market. We recommend  stakeholders agree on launch goals, the metrics with which progress will be measured, and other important benchmarks.

In addition to sales and marketing, what other divisions within your company need to be involved in goal setting and execution? Customer Service? Operations? Human Resources? Communications? A successful product has the potential to touch most every division, so get them all involved. Making sure everyone “sings from the same song sheet” is essential.

A Holistic View

Consider how your market launch will be perceived not only by the target customer but by the entire ecosystem surrounding it. There are plenty of sad stories about inventors being awarded a new patent in the sad absence of any real need for it.

Too often, insufficient market research has been done before the developers begin plowing into the hard design decisions that need to be made for the product’s success.  Unfortunately, it is easy —  especially in technology companies – to fall in love with a product idea or concept, trapping it into a design concept that may not address the targeted market’s pain point or the best opportunity for adoption.

Also consider pricing and payback. If you cannot clearly articulate your price, with confidence, let it serve as a red light. Fuzzy pricing and ROI are often the result of a poorly developed ideal customer target.

It’s hard to believe, but salespeople have been known to complain because they are the last to know about a new product. They just happened to see it on the company website or heard about it in a casual conversation with a customer!  Ideally, the sales department has been involved early on, during a launch awareness campaign that has positioned the sales pipeline to fill up fast.

Yes, there are many ways a product launch can go bad, so proceed with caution. Be willing to invest the time and resources to do it right.

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.

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