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All About Product Launching


What is a product launch?

A product launch introduces the “better mousetrap” to the target market of consumers who would most benefit from this solution. Your goal should be to reach as many of these consumers as possible with a clear message that explains the problem you’re solving and why your solution is better. This sounds simple, but sometimes product launches don’t communicate as clearly as intended. In fact, there are multiple reasons why about 75 percent of new product launches fail to meet their projections. A solid launch strategy won’t overcome every obstacle, but it can spread the word about your new product or service, an area where many marketers could use some help.

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When should you think about a product launch?

Probably right now, unless your launch date is right around the corner. Then you should think about it yesterday.

One common misstep in planning a product launch is waiting until the product is almost ready to consider how to market it. Ideally, you should start doing market research before you spend a lot of time and money developing the product. You may be thinking, “Now you tell me!” (Sorry.) But the truth is that many product launches fail because the creators didn’t spend enough time examining whether anyone actually wanted this particular problem solved. Now, you already have your product, but you can still do a deep dive into who your target market is – and if you discover there is no clear target market, you may want to delay the launch while you consider retooling the product so that it will appeal to a specific market segment.

Steps to take as soon as possible before your product launch:

  • Do as much market research as you can. Poll current customers – offer them a coupon or a free gift to take a survey. Consider a focus group. Do whatever you can to find out how they really feel about a product that solves X problem. If possible, survey outside groups as well (those who aren’t your current customers), in case your target market exists but is simply different than you thought.
  • Narrow the target market as much as possible. This will save you money and help you focus on those who are most likely to buy the product. You can always expand to a wider market later.
  • Learn not only who might want your product but why. What product attributes make the product attractive to consumers? Sometimes marketers are surprised at which features actually interest customers.
  • Determine if your product really meets the target market’s needs. Even if your audience does want a new product in a category, that doesn’t necessarily mean yours is the one they’re looking for.
  • Consider if your product is actually distinct from others in the category. For example, the HP TouchPad was launched in 2011, with the intent to steal market share from the iPad. It didn’t. In fact,  it only sold about 25,000 units during its time on Best Buy shelves. There was nothing really wrong with the TouchPad – it just didn’t beat the iPad in any key areas, so consumers had no reason to choose the new alternative.
  • Ask yourself if your product is really ready to launch, or if it’s realistic to expect that it will be by your launch date. Many product launch difficulties could have been avoided if the launch had been delayed to work out product issues. The last thing you want to do is get consumers excited about your product – only to disappoint them because it doesn’t work as advertised!

As part of the exploratory process, there are several other steps to take if your initial research suggests a target market exists for your product:

Identifying Unmet Needs

In this stage you’ll go through the research you did on the industry, competitors, and what consumers want. Look for opportunities – did you get a lot of comments that indicated the target market wished a specific feature was available? Is that something you could add to your product, or communicate if the product already has it? It may be worthwhile to spend more time developing the product if it will be more distinctive and valuable to consumers when it’s done.


Discuss your findings with the designer and decide if you can iterate until you have a superior version of the product. Have a brainstorming session about improving UX – the consumer experience. Sometimes, this leads to a minor, simple tweak that makes the product much more desirable to the buyer.

Concept Testing

In the next phase, you’ll seek out members of the target market to try the product and provide feedback. There are multiple methods of concept testing, and a digital marketing expert can advise you on which type might be most beneficial for your brand. This testing is useful for multiple reasons:

  • You find out if there are any unknown issues. Sometimes a product works well enough when you test it. Then, real consumers attempt to use the product in real ways, and you may notice difficulties that weren’t apparent before.
  • You might be able to further segment your audience to better reach people with your marketing messages.
  • Once again, you will learn what your audience really likes – or doesn’t – about your product. You may be surprised, and these insights could give you inspiration for later promotions.
  • You should get an idea of how many units you can expect to sell in the first 90 days after launch.
  • This research also helps if you’re struggling with the right price point – you can find out from the potential buyers how much they would be comfortable paying for this type of item.

Product Preview Programs and Early Access for Influencers

If everything has gone well up until this point, the launch date should be drawing closer – but even a few weeks or months out, there is still work to be done.How do you start building buzz ahead of your launch?

Depending on the following you already have, you could consider a product preview program or special “early access” for top influencers in your field. Product preview programs are great if you already have other products and therefore customers. They may not work as well for a brand new business and product, but if the preview access is free, you may be able to build interest inexpensively with ads on social media.

Early access programs for influencers should be targeted at those with a strong following in your industry. Locating the best influencers for your needs can be difficult, so don’t hesitate to reach out to a digital marketing agency with expertise in this area. You’ll need to find dozens of personalities who are known for their influence in your product category, who are popular, and who are affordable if you later seek a paid deal with them. A few influencers may give you a review in exchange for a free, early access product, but today many still want payment as well. Even if you do score a free shout-out, you may want to follow it up with a longer paid post to gain even more publicity.

And that’s not all you get – these programs also offer you valuable feedback on the product so you can make last-minute changes to improve it even more. Be sure to thank early users and also ask them to take a brief survey about their experiences.

For all of these reasons, finding the right candidates and influencers is incredibly important, and also extremely challenging. Fortunately a digital marketing agency like Digital Delane can help take the guesswork out of finding your previewers and influencers.

What is included in a product launch?

Once you’ve analyzed early user feedback and made any changes necessary, you should be close to launching your product. Here are the steps to getting ready for the big day:

  • Define your vision. What does the launch look like? How does it deliver your message to your target audience?
  • Map out a strategy. You’ll need a clear plan of what happens when, and how each step builds on your progress.
  • Regular communication is key. Schedule meetings, Zoom calls, planning sessions, meetings with stakeholders, etc., to help everyone involved stay in touch and communicate effectively. Don’t forget about customer communication!
  • Make a product launch checklist. Continuously refer back to it to ensure you’re on track with everything needed for your launch.
  • Create a plan to measure and analyze the product launch’s results so you can learn from both successes and failures. Many of your launch activities should lead into post-launch promotions – for example, collecting email addresses at an event leads into sending out a newsletter, etc.


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What are the three types of product launch events?

The type of event you choose depends on multiple factors, including your budget, other available resources, your current level of brand awareness, and more. Here are the three main types of events you may consider, and their pros and cons:

  • The Minimal Viable Product launch. This is a minimalist model, typically an audience of your target consumers. Usually the product’s creator will demonstrate the product by allowing audience members to try it out. You’ll need someone to take notes on user feedback, and you may consider asking your guests to agree to be recorded so you can gather more data. This model may work well if you’re on a tight budget and planning for a word-of-mouth model.
  • The Soft launch. In this model, you do a limited early release for specific audiences, often the press or industry experts, with no fanfare. For example, you might send out advance copies of a book to reviewers who have large audiences and often read this genre.
  • The Hard or Full-scale launch. This is the “official” release date when anyone can now buy the product. You can plan a soft launch first, or just start with the full-scale. A large percentage of products use the full-scale model, with events like interviews, press conferences, product demonstrations, pop-up shops, social media and search ads, and more planned for release day. One downside is that sometimes these events can feel disappointing, even if they did produce a lot of sales. Some people are let down if the product sells a decent amount of units on launch day or shortly thereafter, but doesn’t meet a previous goal. It may be helpful to focus on the successes you do have and how you can carry them forward into post-launch activities.

Defining Your Product Launch Strategy and Creating a Template

To keep everyone on your team on the same page, you’ll want to create a cohesive strategy and then build a template for reference. Your strategy should be based on your target market, the unique selling proposition of your product (how it differs from the competition, the “special sauce”), your objectives (specific, measurable goals), and your plans for letting your audience know how the product benefits them.

Here are the elements to include in your template:

  • Concisely describe the product, its most important features, the problems it solves for your target consumer, its price range, and the current investment.
  • Describe the target market in as much detail as you can – psychographics, demographics, geography, etc.
  • Note your product goals and your plans to measure your results.
  • Include your plans for the event and the budget.
  • List dates and deadlines, including team meetings and when you’ll need approval for various aspects of the launch.
  • Finish with a marketing and communications plan that includes the primary message or messages you want to communicate about the product, the mediums you will use to reach the target audience (social media, traditional media like TV or radio, paid search, etc.), and any marketing materials you’ll need to make, such as press releases, brochures, or swag.


Product launches are time-consuming, but when executed well they can make or break your product’s success. Many CMOs and marketing managers find support from outside agencies with relevant experience to be a valuable asset in this process. If you have questions or would like assistance with some aspects of your launch, please contact Digital Delane for a free consultation.

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