Product Launch Mistakes: Things You Need To Know - Part 2
The top 10 product launch mistakes
A new product launch - if done incorrectly, the marketing efforts may never have a chance to recover no matter how much money and effort are spent.
Mistake #6: Driving Your Customers to Your Competition
My wife and I then started to look at the other shredders that were available. We had a need, but we thought that $39.99 was more than we wanted to spend - it seemed a little pricey. We ended up buying a non-Staples brand shredder for $19.99 that does everything we wanted. In this case Staples still won, because we purchased from their store, but if the shredder they were advertising had been from another company that company would have paid quite a bit to motivate us to buy the competitor's product. So how do you avoid this?
- Make sure that you have your product widely available at launch so that customers will be able to find it and won't accidentally stumble across another alternative.
- Make sure you set the competitive argument in your positioning, messaging, packaging, collateral and anywhere else possible. Unless your competitors are completely unknown and there is no chance that customers will find them, you want to make sure you have the proof points and messages in place to present your product as the best solution and the only logical choice.
- Don't announce your product too early.
Mistake #7: Announcing too early
If you announce too early you risk several things:
- You are playing your cards publicly, so any competitors can respond to you prior to your product becoming available.
- Announcement may drive customers to investigate other options and purchase or become aware of your competition.
- When your product does ship you may not be able to get any press coverage, as it is has already been announced and is old news.
It is tempting to want to announce products early for a number of reasons.
- You may have a great idea and you want to be able to share it with the world early on so that you get credit for coming up with it.
- You may have a competitor who already has an offering and you are scared that they will grab all of the mindshare and leave you with no opportunity when your product is available.
- Additionally, you may announce the product too early because your confidence level in your development schedules is too high. We typically assume that the launch is going to happen 30 days later than the planned date (until we get to the late beta stage). The assumption here is that it is better to be just a little bit late and execute an excellent product launch than it is to announce the product and not have it be available. Nothing is more frustrating than driving lots of customers to your website based on your announcement, only to have them never return again.
Mistake #8: No dedicated review program
Product reviews can be your greatest ally or your worst nightmare. Good reviews validate your product with an external reference point, and provide much more credibility than your own marketing or advertising ever could. Poor reviews, on the other hand, can stop a customer in their track during the purchase process. The choice is whether you want to proactively manage the review program or reactively respond to it if there is a problem. Of course, if there is a problem it is usually too late.
Even if a publication prints a retraction to clarify the facts, the majority of the people who read the bad review will never see it. They will believe your product is not a good produ. Few companies understand how much time and effort it takes to run a full-scale proactive product review program.
However, if done correctly and properly resourced you can have a great deal of ability to influence the results. Going into full detail about how to run a product review program is beyond the scope of this paper, but the 280 Group will be releasing information on it in a future paper.Timeline for an effective press, analyst and product review program.
Mistake #9: Not communicating early enough
One product launch mistake that can hamper launch success is if you fail to communicate to the key constituents early enough. For example, if you don't give you channel partners enough advance notice they may take quite a bit of time to work your new products into their plans. In a big company you may lose opportunities to leverage events, sales opportunities or marketing programs that other groups are running that you could have taken advantage of. And with press and analysts you want to brief them far in advance (see the timeline above) so that positive announcements, news and reviews about your product occur concurrent with product availability.
There is some risk of communicating early. Your competitors may get wind of what you are doing. Your salespeople may stop focusing on selling the current product and sell futures instead. And if you miss your date by a substantial amount of time you may lose credibility for future launches. The biggest downsides of waiting are that it may delay your revenues and it also may minimize the synergy between your programs (it is ideal to have a wide variety of awareness and marketing programs hit all at once when the product becomes available.
Mistake #10: International is an afterthought
Oftentimes the International market is a very significant revenue opportunity. Make sure you communicate to your International partners (or divisions in your company) early enough so that they can make plans accordingly. Also make sure that all of your product launch materials (collateral, marketing pieces, packaging, etc.) is designed so that it can be leveraged Internationally. This could reduce the time required to generate International revenues by three to six months.
Wrapping it up, that concludes our article on . If you'd like to learn more about how to plan and execute a successful product launch check out the Product Launch Toolkit. It includes a narrated presentation that teaches you how to plan and execute a high-impact product launch and also includes templates (launch plans, positioning, competitive matrices, presentations, etc.), guidelines and samples.
Brian Lawley is the CEO and founder of the 280 Group (www.280group.com), and has shipped more than fifty successful products. He is the former President of the Silicon Valley Product Management Association, won the 2008 AIPMM award for Excellence in Thought Leadership for Product Management and is the author of the best-selling books, Expert Product Management and The Phenomenal Product Manager.