Two out of every five product launches fail before they’ve even started. And the remaining three won’t always turn out the way you expected.
Yet product launches are also incredibly exciting. It’s the chance to bring something fresh and new to your customers that will enrich their lives. Understanding how to launch a product successfully and minimise the risk of failure is one of the most important lessons you can learn.
Five by Five recently conducted a study of 730 senior marketers at big and small brands and companies in the UK, US and Australia, and asked for their views on product launches. From this research, we identified five key factors that can lead to successful product launches rather than failure.
(1) Ensure your product or service has intrinsic value and there is market demand
Having a brilliant marketing campaign to launch your new product may generate enough interest initially, but this will be short-lived if it does not live up to expectations.
A colossal 88 per cent of marketers believe they are now able to make better-informed decisions about their product launches, despite costs rising and time frames shrinking.
It’s important you do enough due diligence to understand your customers, their desires and needs and how your offering will help them resolve a difficulty or fulfil an aspiration. Gut instinct will only get you so far, and you have to use the right tools to identify gaps in the market.
Tools and techniques to inform product launches aren’t limited to, but include: social listening (which two-thirds of marketers use to support product development), beta-testing and pilots (which 69 per cent of marketers use) as well as local market research and focus groups.
Clearly, going with your gut is no longer necessary with such a sophisticated array of tools at your fingertips. Get this stage right and you will have a solid foundation on which to build the rest of your launch campaign.
(2) Clearly define your objectives
Before you embark on your launch mission, have a clearly defined set of objectives and an understanding of what success will look like. Our research revealed that early nine out of ten marketers think that campaigns are more measurable.
However, while we may have a world of analysis tools at our fingertips, there is a risk that the information they throw up can be too granular.
Investing time and money into targeting very small groups of consumers can be counter-productive and actually return a negative ROI. Businesses need to spend more time focusing on what their key launch objectives are and focus on measuring these.
(3) Motivate your staff ahead of your customers
Slow processes can really undermine your launch – 38 per cent of respondents listed it as one of the biggest problems. Buy-in and alignment from your internal teams when it comes to supporting launches is critical. Launches have become increasingly multi-faceted, meaning that effective communications internally and overcoming slow corporate processes is more crucial than ever for success.
It only takes one break in the chain for failure to occur. If customer-facing teams aren’t fully aware of the launch and brought into the process early enough, this may impact negatively on the customer experience.
Appointing a project manager with skills in driving the project forward and aligning departments, as well as involving external agencies earlier in the process, is absolutely critical.
(4) Be brave
Disruptive ideas are now the norm. Forty percent of leading marketers believe ineffective marketing communications is one of the top reasons for failure. You now need to revolutionise your marketing communications and be bold with your newly launched product.
Launch marketing requires a different creative approach, and often a dedicated team who specialise in just this type of activity.
Businesses simply cannot afford to kick back and settle for something mediocre when the battle for cut through is so competitive. You have one shot to get a launch right and, when the stakes are so high, marketers need to ensure they have the best creative for their campaign.
(5) Utilise the right marketing channel mix
The flexibility, measurability and adeptness of social media now make it the priority channel for launching new products and services. Three quarters of the marketers surveyed said that they prioritised it above other channels when it came to launching a new product.
But whilst marketers are increasingly recognising the value of social media and embedding it in their processes, the structures and behaviours of businesses when it comes to media planning and buying are deep rooted. Moving away from traditional media such as TV and print still feels like a step into the unknown for many.
Business leaders need to adjust their mindset and prioritise engagement via social and other marketing channels over the traditional broadcast campaign if they want to win over future consumers.
James Roles, sales and marketing director at launch specialist agency Five by Five