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Chapter 1: Introduction
In 2021, if you have a product that you want to launch on the internet—because that’s where it is all happening today—this is the skeleton of the plan you need to build.
When Jeff Bezos started Amazon, they were dealing only with books.
Bezos and a small team were packing and delivering books from a garage. It’s a classic rags to riches story. It didn’t work out right away and many of the products the company tried to branch into over the next few years did not take off right away. In fact, they were branded as flops. Today, Amazon has surpassed Walmart to be the world’s largest retailer.
Let’s not forget the Macintosh. The story of Steve Jobs and Apple computers and the promise of selling a million units in the first 90 days. That most definitely did not happen and things went south to a point where Jobs clashed with the CEO he brought on board, John Scully, and got kicked out of his own company.
We’ve read the books and seen the movies. His dream came true only when he returned to the company fold years later and the iMac was launched. Today, anyone who has used an Apple product cannot even dream of going back to whatever it was they were using before that.
Jobs is often said to have had ideas before the world was ready for them. And he knew it too. But it never stopped him from dreaming and preparing for the opportune moment.
Today, the world is a lot smaller thanks to the internet. People and the market are a lot more receptive to new ideas. Otherwise, Facebook would’ve never happened as quickly as it did. Forget its many transgressions and you will see that the company was able to take off because it understood the pulse of the people and pitched exactly what it needed to and proceeded with excellent strategy.
So dig deep and find your inner Bob Dylan because:
If your time to you is worth savin'
And you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'
Whether it is the growth of technology or the pandemic speeding things up, more and more things are being accessed on the internet. Ecommerce has become more accessible and is providing exciting business opportunities. And every industry is spawning individuals who want to be their own bosses, decide their own working hours or just want to take advantage of this internet explosion.
Some are smart and some are inspired. Whichever category you fall into, you will be competing with all of them. Because make no mistake, they are all on the internet trying to get the guy on the street to buy their product. So, how do you make yourself unique? How do you rise above the white noise?
Now, it’s one thing to know what you want to sell but it’s a whole other thing to know how to launch and market the product successfully. And then, of course, you certainly want to make money out of the endeavor, don’t you? There is a lot to go through and in the coming nine chapters we will go through the journey of sifting through all your options and getting the job done from start to finish.
We will create a plan for the product launch. We will go through how to do it. We will go through each step in detail. And we will discuss the tools you will need to get your product to the finish line. The idea is to create a plan of action that will help you identify, locate and utilize your resources in the best possible way as you keep planning the next steps of your online business.
Part of that last step is going to be about marketing techniques that will help you source your product right to the point of running a store virtually and maybe physically if that’s on the cards. Let’s start by understanding the importance of a product launch.
Chapter 2: Why a Product Launch Works So Well
Before we jump into how to make a product launch successful, if you weren’t convinced already, let’s take a look at why these things work wonders.
There are many reasons to do a big bang product launch. The first one, of course, is to let your customers know that there is something up for grabs in the market. You also get to make some waves in the industry and get a little recognition for your brand.
Apart from that, prepping for a product launch also gives your organization a little structure to work around. And after the launch, of course, you get valuable information and feedback from the early users of the product. But there’s more to it. Let’s talk about that for a minute.
The idea of a product launch is not to nail it 100 percent. I mean, good if you can. But there will always be last minute changes that will topple the plan from just a little bit to entirely gone to the dumpster. The idea for you as a leader is to make sure that you get as close to the perfect launch as possible because this is a test of your organization’s ability to execute a plan.
Your launch tells you how well you can stick to a plan and the dynamic changes that happen in real time. It tests the flexibility and the adaptability of your team. Because sometimes, even though you have a great idea, the right technology and market conditions that back you up, the quality of execution of a plan can make or break the deal.
A product launch is a process where most, if not all, the departments in the organization will have to put their heads together. Sometimes, teams will differ on the fundamental ideas. The other times, you will see clashes on design specifications, organizing and investing ideas.
Now, for a launch to be successful you need a lot more than help your customers locate the product and the ‘Buy Now’ button under it.
It is a massive undertaking for the entire organization. It requires planning, effort and coordination. You also need time. You need to make sure that all the departments are on the same page. You need marketing, sales and support staff to have multiple run throughs.
And they must all be successful.
When those run throughs are successful, you increase your chances of having a successful product launch. Now that increases the chances of having a successful product in the market. It gives you momentum in a way that it resonates with the customers and announces to the industry that you have indeed arrived.
It is clear that a product launch is a key event because it gets your attention, right? How do you get started on that?
You need a press release with all the dates and details of the event.
You need to advertise it on your website and social media channels.
You need all these channels to come back to the landing page where everyone who is interested in the event, not just the product, can learn about the event and the product.
A product launch is also a great place for influencers and first users to try the product out. It’s an exclusive and must be pitched as one. It also helps you build trust and creates a discussion in the online community organically. In marketing terms, it is called the word-ofmouth strategy. Putting yourself out there also shows that you are confident of the quality of your product. That’s a big boost and makes for a good product launch story for anyone covering the event.
Influencers—this is a very 21st century concept and it’s a great one.
Make a list of those who are relevant to the marketing of your product and get them talking. For that, you need to make them entertaining. For that, you need to learn what captivates your target audience.
It is also important to understand the right timing for the launch. You don’t want it clashing with events that are more attractive to your target audience or influencers, unless, of course, you are Apple computers.
A product launch works because it gets your product noticed and creates a buzz about your brand in the industry. Make the event interactive since that keeps the audience engaged. Offering free samples is a textbook way of getting the influencers and the public interested. Keep the entertainment unlimited and the refreshment stands stocked.
Product launches are, without a doubt, a great way to expand your business because you fundamentally put yourself on the map. When you attract the attention of industry titans, you offer yourself up for tie-ups and joint ventures. This creates opportunity for future growth.
Now, some brands like to keep a little mystery alive. You’ve seen this with big brands that keep the actual product itself a secret. You know nothing about it till the actual launch. Now, that’s not always an easy thing to pull off and is a tricky decision. We all remember how the iPhone 4 leak story went. It also doesn’t always work for all products.
So, make a decision on that early on.
If you choose to go that way, you must tell the people as little as possible about the product before the release. The idea is for the mystery to drive interest. A lot of times, tech bloggers and websites like to make their own predictions. Make it interesting. Ask them to submit scenarios and give a reward for anyone who is able to get a detail right. And a bonus if they can work up a mock design, when it is applicable.
Now, all this sounds quite fun but it won’t be if you don’t plan it well.
And be original throughout because copycats don’t always succeed.
Although sometimes they do remarkably well.
So, if you are not good at copying an idea and tweaking it enough to make it look like your own (and even if you are), you need to plan out every single detail of these optional activities too. Plan the information you want to release carefully. Put a lid on the number of people who have the information and give the details out strategically.