Want to Launch a New Product? Here are 4 Things You Will Need to Do First.
October 26, 2017
It’s exciting to launch a new product into the world. Taking a product from idea to execution is exhilarating. It is also terrifying. What if something goes wrong? What if no one likes it? What if it turns into a financial disaster?
From my experience, there are a million and one things that can go badly. The good news is that you have thoroughly considered those things. The bad news is there are always a handful of things you didn’t consider. And those are the things that can get you in the end.
It will probably be okay. No one thinks of everything. And even the best and brightest of MBA holders make basic errors from time to time. But just to be sure you have the best chance of success, here are a few things you can’t afford to leave undone:
Don’t just wing it. You have too much on the line to fly by the seat of your pants. And don’t rely on gut feelings. Everyone who ever had a big-time failure had a positive gut feeling about their product. If you hope to break onto the scene with the next great anti-aging cream, you will have to do beauty industry research to understand the needs of your target market and bring quantitative and qualitative benchmarking studies to the table.
This might include focus groups and online consumer studies. You have to trade in guesswork and gut feelings for cold, hard data. If you do not have the expertise or resources to do it yourself, secure the aid of a company that specializes in this type of work. Your new product cannot succeed without proper research up front.
To get your product off the ground, you will need to find people who love it and are willing to tell others about it. Product reviews are the lifeblood of a company. Before packaging up a million of your products and placing them in retail outlets, you need to place a few of them in the hands of professional reviewers, friends, and family members.
Don’t get caught up in the positivity. You need to drill deeper into the responses until you find the weakness of your products. You need people who will tell you hard truths. And if the only thing you ever heard was positive ravings, you haven’t heard enough for it to be useful. You can’t fix the fatal flaw if you don’t know what it is. And the time to learn about it is before you ship it to the public. Only then will the positive testimonials be helpful to your marketing efforts.
You can’t leave customer service as an afterthought. Customer service is your most important metric. You will have a much easier time selling to a current customer than you will finding a new one. So it is vital that you have detailed plans for customer service before you sell your first product.
Will you take phone calls? How about on weekends? Are you prepared to answer a lot of questions? Refunds? What exactly will your policy be if the customer is not happy? How might you make them feel better about their purchase after the fact? What is your strategy for follow-up? All of these are customer service concerns. Figure them out up front, and benefit from happier customers later.
The iPhone X has just been announced and is ramping for release. But you can be sure that the iPhone engineers at Apple are already working on the iPhone 11, 12, and beyond. In fact, they started on those designs years ago. This is the way all successful companies work.
If you only have the one idea, your competitors will take it from there. And you will have competitors who will copy and iterate. You have to be prepared to do that better, and before your competitors. Before you release your first product, have a product roadmap so that you don’t end up being a one-hit wonder.
Research, reviews, customer service, and the next big idea are things you should map out before going live with your product. If you do, you will have many hit products in your future.