By Ivan Zografski
The tech industry is rapidly emerging. Statista estimates the 2019 total tech spending worldwide at $3.36 billion. And although the industry is overcrowded with tons of different products, the potential is still huge. New products are emerging every day.
Launching a new product can be very difficult. No matter whether you’re launching a new app, a new software feature, or a complete software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering, every product launch requires its own strategy so it gets introduced to the right people.
A lot of marketers say launching a new tech product is more tricky than launching a physical product, and I would say that’s true. Digital channels make it easy to get a new tech product out, but it can be tough getting someone to notice your new app among the many others already available.
If you are planning to launch a new tech product, there are two things you first need to know:
1. Your product. Before you do anything with your product, you need to be sure you know it well. You must know its characteristics, features, and capabilities. If you’re planning to sell from your website, how many users can your website handle? What do users find on your site, and is your site user-friendly so users can easily find what they’re looking for? These are things you need to know before you start to prepare your campaign.
2. Timing. Timing is key to a successful product launch. There are many entrepreneurs who get overly excited about their products and can’t wait to release them. If you launch before you’re ready, mistakes can occur, and if you leave a bad impression with customers at the beginning, it’s very hard to change public opinion later. Moreover, if you’re product is related to a certain season, you need to think about the right time of year to release it. For example, you wouldn’t want to release a line of swimming suits in the middle of the winter.
Now that we’ve covered these essentials, here are key areas to be aware of:
1. Human capital is crucial
Before you start creating a launch strategy, it’s very important that you have your team in place. First, the technical team is the core of your company, so make sure you choose experienced developers with the right skills who can write clear and consistent code—the quality of your product depends on it.
The leadership team, project managers, marketing department, and sales staff are also important. Marketing will play a huge role in the product launch, so make sure you have knowledgeable people who know how to take advantage of and promote the product’s strengths. You may also outsource your marketing to an outside agency that has experience with product launches.
The most important characteristic all team members should have is flexibility. During a new product launch, there can be many updates and changes, so your staff will need to be able to adapt to new situations and make modifications based on the new circumstances.
The success of your team is also dependent on your ability to manage people. You will need to give people space, time, and the resources so they can perform a successful launch, and you will need to set goals that are realistic and achievable.
2. Understand the problem your product is solving
You may have your product figured out, but understanding the problem that you’re solving is important to communicating the product’s value with your customers. Focus on “why” you created the product and “who” can benefit from it.
Find out things like how your customers live. What made them want to solve this particular problem? Can your product really help them solve this problem? Should you make modifications to the product? How will you let customers know about your product? All these questions need to be answered before you launch your product.
3. Have a specific target audience
Once you have an understanding of the problem that needs solving, research the people who are facing this problem. Moreover, you need to understand your audience—the language they use, the way they communicate, the channels they communicate through, and the news they want to hear.
One way to learn about your customers is to create a buyer persona. A buyer persona is a fictional person to whom you give a name and who represents your target customer: same age, gender, socioeconomic background, and specific needs and behaviors. This is essentially the person you want to sell to and you will use this data to determine the best marketing channels to reach them. Your buyer persona can be identified through various methods, including focus groups, initial market research, or co-creation sessions.
A buyer persona will also help you to develop an empathy for your customers. It will help you to know where they’re coming from, what they are doing, what problems they are facing, and help you to understand more thoroughly how to solve those problems for them.
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4. Analyze the buyer journey
The buyer journey is the step-by-step process a buyer goes through to purchase your product. The process could start with an ad that will lead the buyer to your website through an action button, and then takes the buyer to a checkout option to finally close the sale.
The process may sound simple, but there are actually many obstacles a user needs to go through to get to the final page where you can finally thank them for purchasing your product. A slow-loading website could cause a customer to leave your site right away.
As part of the journey, you will want to find out where your buyers get their information from and what factors influence their opinions. For example, an opinion could start on the Instagram page of an influencer. The customer may see something positive posted about you, and then decide to visit your Instagram page. If your profile looks interesting, they may then continue on to your website. If they find more things they like on your site—voilà—a purchase has been made.
What you need to ensure is that in this phase everything goes smoothly. When users are on your website, there should not be any distractions. Everything needs to direct customers to that “buy me” button. Any small distraction can mean there will be no purchase.
5. Define clear goals and metrics
You shouldn’t initiate a product launch before establishing relevant goals. Having clear metrics will help you to know what you’re going after. Are you seeking sales, clicks, shares, or likes? And you need to make sure your goals are SMART:
Specific: Goals are clear, precise, and well defined, leaving no space for confusion.
Measurable: In the end, you’ll need to know whether you achieved your goals, so you need to know how to measure any progress.
Achievable: Goals need to be attainable in the near future and not difficult to achieve.
Realistic: Your goals represent a real purpose and solve real problems.
Timely: You have defined a clear starting date and deadline for achieving your goals.
Remember, it’s not the end of the world if you have to eliminate a product or offer because it hasn’t performed well. If you have been tracking your numbers, you can make smart decisions about the future. If the numbers don’t look good, it’s better to stop spending money than continuing and failing in the end. A bad-performing product could end up harming your company.
Make sure you choose good analytics tools before you start your campaign. This way, you will have a clear picture of what’s going on through a single dashboard. Tools can show you which channels are performing better than others, so you’ll know what to focus on and what to eliminate.
6. Testing, testing, testing
Marketers say testing as an important part of a launching process. Besides testing the product itself, companies should also spend time testing the right approach to reach their target market. This will also help minimize future failure.
A lot of companies might say they have already done their market research and that their product is flawless. However, you can never predict exactly what users will do. Users always think differently and will find something that should be modified.
During this phase, companies usually release a beta version of their product, which will contain one or two major features. This way, they can see if users like these features and determine what features should be added and what should be removed. A/B testing is also frequently used. This means releasing two versions of the same product or features and analyzing which one the users like better.
Testing can save you from spending time and resources on unnecessary features your users won’t like, as well as reduce the need for customer support, discover potential threats from competitors, and improve conversion rate and customer retention. A serious and committed company doesn’t leave anything to chance.
7. Get feedback and continue to improve
This is the final step. After you have generated enough feedback from testing, it’s time to use that information to improve your product. Eliminate anything that users didn’t like and add missing features. And if you’re still feeling unsure about the results, do more testing. Never release an incomplete product. Facebook and Instagram likes do not guarantee future sales.
Once you’ve taken your feedback into account and implemented any improvements, all that is left to do is turn on the lights and release your product. If you’ve followed these steps, the launch shouldn’t be hard at all. You already will have done the hard work and everything should be easier going forward.
However, a product launch doesn’t end here. You have to keep learning, especially in the first few years. You need to be flexible, follow trends, and ready to modify features when necessary. And if your product is a hit, get ready for competition. Everyone wants a piece of the success cake.
In every product launch, you always have to be present, listening, and ready to take action. Remember, preparation is key to every success story.
About the Author
Post by: Ivan Zografski
Ivan “Ivo” Zografski is a left-handed optimist, father, and co-founder at SolveoCo. He also earned an MSc in Creativity, Innovation and Leadership at the City University of London. Ivo specializes in out-of-the-box thinking, innovative solutions, business design, and corporate strategy. Contact him if you’re interested in talking about tech, innovation, marketing, and more.
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