5 ways to successfully launch a product
It is important to be well prepared to not only grab the attention of your potential users, but also to sustain their curiosity and take it to the next level.
Most new product launches fail.
This unfortunate reality confronts every start-up when they're preparing to take the wraps off a new product.
While you've probably worked really hard over several months to get your product into a launchable state, startups must remember that building the product is only half the battle.
There is still a lot to be done to launch the product and get adoption for it.
A good product launch can make the difference between a successful product and a failed one.
So don't leave preparations for your launch until the last minute.
It pays to start preparing well before the scheduled product launch.
Here are some tips to keep in mind as you create your product launch strategy:
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Image: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer launches Windows 8 operating system in New York
Photographs: Lucas Jackson/Reuters
1. Make it super easy to try your product
When you tell the world about your product, some of your potential customers are going to be eager to try out your brand new product.
You can leverage this eagerness by making it super-easy to try out your product.
A general rule of thumb is that it should not take more than two to three clicks for the user to get started with the product.
Common mistakes here include forcing users to fill out a long registration form, or asking them to verify an e-mail address before they can do anything.
A good tactic is to defer these steps to as late as possible, so the users can try out the meat of the product.
For example, LinkedIn doesn't ask for your full profile when you sign up -- It lets you come back and fill in much of your profile later on.
Amazon Web Services actually takes it even further and lets you get started by just providing a credit card number.
You don't have to pay anything upfront or even worry about pricing.
You just get started, and they'll send you the bill at the end of the month!
Image: LinkedIn allows users to fill in their personal details later
2. Use multiple channels to spread the word
One of the key challenges of launching is to plan out how you're going to get the word out.
The marketplace today is very crowded and noisy, so getting a coherent message out through multiple channels is a good way to get the word out about your product to the right audiences.
Make sure your product messaging is very clear too!
Ideally, you have a 1-line, 1-para and 1-page description of your product ready to use, depending on which channel you are targeting.
If you have marketing money to spend, it might make sense to spend as large portion of it in the first few days rather than spread it out evenly.
Any extra momentum you can build at launch is great, as that momentum will help later on as you try to sustain your product.
You have to also ensure that you are using all available channels.
Your website, your blog and social media handles, landing pages, etc are obvious ones, but also make sure to reach out to tech bloggers, media sites and other key influencers before hand to see if they want to cover your product launch.
Be nice to them -- Give them early access to your product, give them exclusive content etc, and you'll be surprised how effective these can be!
Image: Mobile users are the most easiest to connect with
Photographs: Vivek Prakash/Reuters
3. Give out pre-launch collateral
At the launch, your product is going to be in front of lots of people (hopefully).
As these people hear about your product, you must have a way to "reel them in" with additional material that you can give to users that express interest.
This includes screen-shots of your product, case studies, step-by-step guides and tutorials, an FAQ section with common problems addressed etc.
You need to have this collateral ready at launch, so when users that are interested appear, you have enough resources to bring them into your product and get them to start using it.
Don't leave this for after-launch!
If users come in and find you unprepared or if they cannot find anything to hold their initial interest, they will simply leave!
Image: Be prepared with answers for FAQs of potential users at the launch
Photographs: Courtesy Careers360
4. Adopt the early adopters
Early adopters of your product can be your best customer advocates, and you should do everything you can to win them over.
Early adopters are great for any product, because they will usually jump over rough edges, and tolerate a certain amount of bugs and issues in your product for a chance to try something new out.
But early adopters need attention -- You need to engage with them on a personal level.
Actively ask for their feedback, quickly fix issues that they discover, and give them a proper channel where they can quickly reach you and establish dialogue.
Getting the buy-in of early adopters can be a huge win, as they will bring in more people, causing a virtuous cycle of user growth!
Image: Effective engagement is crucial at the launch stage
Photographs: Robert Galbraith/Reuters
5. Be prepared for success
And finally, if you must be prepared for the best-case scenario.
If your product takes off on day one, make sure you are able to handle all the success!
Ensure your website can take all that traffic, and your app can handle all those extra users.
Also ensure you have sufficient support staff available to interact with customers and quickly fix bugs.
If you get lots of e-mail, ensure you are able to respond to it in a timely manner.
The worst thing is you become a victim of your own success.
Nothing kills user loyalty than hearing about a great product and not being able to try or buy it.
A product launch is a big event that needs lots of planning and preparation.
Investing the time and energy to prepare for a good launch will definitely pay off!
Image: Responding to users timely helps you create a better image and sustain for a longer time
Photographs: Jayanta Dey/Reuters