This is by no means comprehensive, but it is a very simple checklist to use when launching a new product or service into your existing customer market, or a new market.
1. Conduct market research
a. Analyse information objectively (for what it is, not what you want it to be)
b. Identify and profile target market segments and customers
c. Evaluate potential market size and opportunity
d. Undertake comprehensive competitor analysis
e. Monitor feedback of product testing pilot programs
2. Develop the Plan
a. Incorporate market research so you fully understand the market in which you’ll be playing, and how to find and access your target market
b. Do the financials:
i. Investment required to take the product out to market. Basically, you’ll be placing costs against all aspects of the business plan in terms of what’s required to implement the plan.
ii. Potential market size (revenue, number of units forecast, market share)
iii. Develop product revenue and profitability targets
c. Assess any potential risks
d. Identify product support requirements
e. Develop pricing strategies and models for direct and indirect sales channels
f. Identify appropriate sales channels – direct, third party, internet etc.
g. Outline promotional program – this needs to be the most appropriate approach available, given the target market and budget for the launch
h. Develop information to use in promotional program, including unique selling points (USPs), product features and benefits, case studies, product overviews etc.
i. Create value for the product – eg: exceptional service delivery, user friendly product, low down-time, take hassle away from customers, etc.
j. Set objectives
k. Develop a product launch schedule – who does what and when
3. Test the Product
a. Whatever the product or service is that you’ve developed, it needs to be tested within the target market before you go to the expense of a full market release.
b. Identify people or groups with whom you can test the product or the concept
c. Determine what your success criteria will be, and do that very objectively. Based on what sort of feedback or test results will you decide that the product is ready for a full release to the market?
d. Manage and monitor the test process carefully.
e. Make sure you have good customer service in place to back up the product and your customer enquiries.
f. If appropriate, test the packaging and service along with the product.
g. Make any adjustments or modifications that may be required.
i. Decision – launch, or not.
4. Pre-Launch Preparation
a. Train staff and salespeople in new product. Don’t forget to tell them what’s going on! Even the person answering the phones or taking general customer enquiries, must be fully briefed so they can refer customer leads to the right person, or provide appropriate responses to any queries about the new product.
b. Ensure the marketing communication program is ready – how will you communicate to the market, what will you tell them, and what will be the media for communicating the message? Have your story ready to go. Use as many ways to communicate as you can afford (without saturating the market of course!)
c. Make sure all third party agencies are fully briefed on what they have to do, when, and how.
5. Launch your new Product – What Creates Successful Product Launches?
a. Clear accountabilities for all involved
b. Good communication – with everyone involved in the launch and follow up, and of course with the market
c. Effective control
i. Use a process to measure and monitor performance (regular reports, reviews, customer feedback)
ii. Actual vs target for financial goals in particular
iii. Achievement of key milestones
iv. This is an ongoing process!
Finally, launching new products takes a lot of time and effort in planning and implementation, and many things can (and often do) go wrong. However, when the products are well tested, and the process is managed well, you have every chance of experiencing great success!!