No matter how awesome your product, without a well-conceived launch strategy, it will likely sputter off the launch pad. Great success demands careful planning.
What Is a Launch Strategy?
Your product launch strategy delineates the approach you plan to take in getting your product to market. You can start ruminating over what to include in your launch strategy as early as the conception phase. However, what you initially plan must evolve as a more details emerge in the later stages of product development.
Ultimately, your strategy needs to cover all assumptions about sales and marketing for the product launch. It should lead to creation of a solid estimate of the scope, resources needed, and budget required to give the product a strong start. When a new product is involved, launch costs can occasionally exceed the cost of product development.
When your strategy is complete, you should have a clear idea of all activities to pursue in launching the product, their costs, and the initial timeline for deployment.
Four Key Points to Include
1 – Who are your top priority audiences for the product?
2 – What are the main ways you will try to reach these priority audiences?
3 – What are the key messages you need to communicate?
4 – What are your objectives? What do you plan to achieve?
What Are the Specifics to Include in Your Launch Strategy?
• Targeted sales channels – Will you use TV, radio, word-of-mouth, demonstrations, Internet or something else?
• Marketing Collateral – What support materials will be needed?
• Sales tools, demos, and training requirements – How will you equip your sales force to clearly communicate your product’s value and uses?
• Advertising and demand generation activities – What will you use to create a desire to buy?
• Sales promotions – What initiatives will you launch to get the word out?
• Public relations, industry, and social media initiatives – What can you do to build buzz through press releases, industry buzz, and social media posts?
You’ll also want to consider tradeshow and event needs; your field testing strategy; your sales forecast by the various channels; your measurable launch objectives; and high-level timeline, milestones, and budget.
The Completed Launch Strategy
Please remember: your initial ideas aren’t cast in stone. Your assumptions and plans will morph through various stages. When you finally get to the point of crafting a solid launch strategy your document should have eight characteristics:
1 – It must identify the audience(s) and competitive targets
2 – Your messaging must be solidly developed
3 – Your launch plans must align with the overall product strategy and development plan
4 – You must prioritize go-to-market activities to focus on the most important
5 – Develop measureable short and long-term criteria for assessing the success of the launch
6 – Earmark any emerging activities or capabilities that must be sourced or developed
7 – Align your plan with your company’s marketing and distributions strengths
8 – Make sure the plan provides for input and support from targeted channels
A lot goes into creating a launch strategy that really delivers. Follow these ideas and you’ll be ready to make a strong start.