Make the Most of Your New Product Launch!

Here’s the scenario. Sales year-to-date are decent and your brand is gaining market share. Your consumers are happy, your customers are happy, your stakeholders are happy. But since we are all restless at heart and ambitious by nature, this is no time to relax. In fact, there is no better time for a new product launch than when things are going well.

Sure, but aren’t new product launches risky?

They can be for those who are undisciplined or overly confident. Let’s reduce that risk by following a launch checklist to improve our odds of success.

1. Start with your current consumers.

Hopefully all is well, and you are not steering a leaky boat. Do check in with a group of your best consumers to see if ALL of their needs are being met, and that no pain points have developed. If they hint at an emerging problem and it is one that you and your product team believe that you can solve, then it is time to create a product that addresses that need gap or adjacent opportunity and performs better than your existing product.

Once R&D has your new product formulated, go back to your consumers and validate that the new product is, in fact, measurably better than the current one. Even better if it outperforms your closest competitor! And don’t cheat or fudge on these numbers. You want a significant win to greenlight the next phase of the new product launch.

2. Develop your positioning statement.

This step is important, as it informs all that follows. So, take some time to get it right. It should address all these questions in a clear, simple statement.

Who is the target audience for your product?

What is the brand name and the product category?

What does your brand do, and how is it better or different than competitors?

What proof points do you have that support that difference?

You can follow this example in developing your own positioning statement:

For discriminating beverage consumers, Coke Zero Sugar is the carbonated soft drink that delivers the ultimate in refreshment and authentic cola taste, with no sugar added.

3. Pitch your product and positioning statement to stakeholders.

Make sure that BOTH the product and the positioning statement resonate with your target consumers, core consumers (if relevant), your employees, your investors, even some of your best retail customers. And to do this step properly, include at least 20 (or more) of each stakeholder group to get adequate sample size for feedback. If you get an enthusiastic “thumbs up,” you are on your way. If there is any hesitation, now is the time to fine-tune before the product launch goes to market.

4. Set your go-to-market strategy.

This strategy will have many components, as you will want to be ready to build awareness/ consideration among consumers and distribution among retail customers. You’ll want to offer incentives for initial trial purchases and then ongoing promotional support to drive sales. Each step requires impactful content to get the job done.

5. Set SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time bound).

These goals will be your report card, and every team member should play part to make the launch a success. Done well, these goals should be translated into a business case, with P & L metrics by month, to measure actual results against budget. Your executive team, as well as functional leaders, will need to sign off on these comprehensive goals: product quality, cost of goods, 100% complete orders and on time deliveries, distribution, consumer trial and repeat purchase rates, sales per point of distribution, return on marketing investment, and full ROI. Like any good set of goals, everyone should know who is responsible for what and by when. In our experience, if your sales leader is bullish on the launch, you can be optimistic.

6. Prepare the troops for launch.

Set the launch date, based on when everything is ready in terms of operations, purchasing and logistics, to fulfill the sales pipeline for distribution. Prepare your customer service folks to handle inquiries or requests. If the size of the market opportunity is large and the strategic importance is meaningful, consider including special bonuses for employees who exceed their goals. And, of course, announce to all stakeholders that it is “game on” to get some buzz going. Maybe even get some PR from those industry analysts and journalists who follow newsworthy events. And don’t forget to spread the word on social media.

7. Assess progress and adjust.

Gather all of the data that you can to determine how you are doing compared to your goals. Have each functional leader share their numbers each month, and collectively decide on any remedial steps or actions. After all, you have invested a bunch to get to this point. Get all the feedback that you can, good or not so good. If the numbers are favorable to budget, consider pressing your advantage and spending some incremental funds to accelerate sales. If you are behind, do the hard work to truly understand the causal factors. And come up with ideas and programs to address any issues, then work quickly to put them in place.

8. Develop lessons learned.

Even if you got most everything right, and sales are at or above plan, there are always things that could have gone better. Inspecting results, asking tough questions, and getting to the root causes typically leads to great learning about your brand, your consumers, your competitors, and your employees.

9. Celebrate milestones and major accomplishments.

Everyone worked hard to get the new product to market. Recognize those who did heroic acts, who went above and beyond. Your employees will appreciate it and will feel a sense of pride and belonging to something special. And that always makes for successful product launches.

Want some help?

At Forge, we thrive on helping clients maximize brand value and taking full advantage of new product launches. We are here to be your partner, your trusted advisor, your devil’s advocate. And we will always bring the conversation back to strategy. How do we best engage with and attract your primary target audience? How does your product uniquely meet the needs of customers? How do we maximize the market opportunity?

Importantly, we are pragmatic, focused, nimble, smart, and energetic. We get assignments done well, and quickly.

Take the first step to a more successful business today.

1.    Hit “LET’S TALK” to schedule a free 30-minute discussion. No pressure – we promise.
2.    We’ll provide real-world case studies showing the process in action.
3.    If we’re a fit, we finalize the details and get started!

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