The development of your new product or service has likely taken at least a couple of years. You’ve carefully selected the right people to collaborate with, taken time to understand the market you’re entering, and created a product that uniquely solves problems. It’s only natural you’re keen for the public to get their hands on the product you’ve put so much time, hard work, and investment into.
However, you mustn’t rush this stage of the process. Your product launch might seem like it’s just the gateway to making your product available, but it’s also a tool to make sure you begin on a positive footing. It’s an avenue to build customer service relationships and an opportunity to bolster your marketing campaign. As such, you need to put measures in place to ensure it is as seamless as possible.
Here are four of the key tactics you should be using.
Create a solid plan.
The key (and common) mistake is to think of your product launch as just adding another product to your store. A lot more than that happens on launch day. Your product launch requires the same attention to planning as the rest of your business.
This planning includes choosing the right time to launch—one of the reasons software launches, in particular, tend to fail is poor timing.
Start with a simple list. Establish what needs to be prepared leading up to the launch and what you would like to achieve on the day itself. Work with your team on this, as they will have insights into certain aspects of launch day actions that you won’t always be aware of. You don’t necessarily need to micromanage every element, but set up a solid timeline building up to the event and highlight goals you need to hit each day.
Prepare for problems.
You should approach your product launch with a positive mindset, but that doesn’t mean you need to be blindly optimistic. Don’t operate from the perspective of “if” a problem occurs—take it as a given that something will go wrong. This allows you to be ready to respond quickly and efficiently.
If there’s one thing that can derail an effective product launch, it’s errors in your system (particularly if you’re launching software). This can immediately impact the credibility of your company. Commit to finding all problems big and small, right up to launch day and beyond. Don’t just rely on automation here. This step can benefit from team diversity—different people with different backgrounds will inevitably find different bugs.
Organizing a few bug bashes in the lead-up to the launch can be effective and fun. Get the whole team together to explore the system. Set some objectives, actively look for issues, and bash any bugs you come across.
● Risk Assessment
A few months before the launch, put some time into risk analysis. If possible, assemble a dedicated team. Give them the scope to explore and assess your business risks from multiple angles. This should include the potential for economic change, health and safety of both consumers and employees, and even fraud and intellectual property theft.
Spending time on risk assessment will actually buy time for your team to break risk management down into practical chunks that won’t be so overwhelming. It also enables you to bring in third-party contractors for assistance if needed.
Once you and your team have completed risk analyses and designed mitigation plans, communicate the results across your organization. To respond well, everybody must be clear on the exact process for disaster management, including which members of the staff act as the lead for each response. Prioritize clarity, and your staff will be able to get on with their tasks confidently during the launch.
Look beyond liftoff.
Your planning doesn’t end with the launch itself. Don’t think of launching as the culmination of your work, but rather the catalyst that will set a lot of other things in motion.
Commit to applying a high level of business analytics skills to the process both leading up to and moving beyond the launch. Rather than simply guessing what direction your business will take, use business analytics processes to understand market data, past sales metrics, and other information to help establish the state of your company and industry.
One of the most important aspects of your planning is analysis interpretation—translating assessment data into consumable information for you and your team. This empowers you to plan actionable steps after your launch to ensure you’re making the most of the product.
You’ve gotten to the point of launching through the combined skills and knowledge of your team. To affect a seamless software launch, keep learning.
Your educational objectives here should include the following:
● Your Demographic
The world we live in is one of near-constant change. As such, your targets (and their priorities) will shift frequently. You and your team need to keep defining and checking in on who your demographics are and what they need from both your product and your launch.
● Your Diversity
Put together diverse teams to commit to learning. Task them with performing outreach, speaking to others in the industry as well as consumers, and even engaging on social media for insights.
● Your Lessons Learned
No product or service launch will ever be successful without tracking results. Each organization is going to have a different set of key performance indicators (KPIs), which should be measured as the product or service is purchased or used. But there will also be lessons to learn besides these, such as how to form stronger development teams or create more effective marketing materials. Track and audit as many of these results as you can so your next launch is even more successful.
Your new product or service is a labor of dedication and deserves a successful launch. Taking time to plan helps you to make certain all key tasks and goals are met. A commitment to learning also keeps your staff informed and involved in product life after launch.
It’s not always nice to think about, but a proactive approach to disaster means that you can handle problems that arise during and after your product launch with a clear and positive attitude.