Business growth is usually achieved by increasing revenue. There are several ways you can boost your revenue. One is to raise the prices on your existing products and services, another is to encourage customers to increase the size of their orders. A third way is to launch a new product or service.
If you’re looking to increase your revenue by launching a new product or service, there are right and wrong ways to do it. Let’s dive in.
Types of product launches
A full-scale launch is an involved process. Your company will need research, marketing strategy, advertising, and a customer service plan to handle the influx of new customers. That’s an expensive undertaking for a product or service that may or may not sell. It’s best to run a “test launch” or a “soft launch” before you go all in on a full-scale launch.
A test launch is a launch without a product. Many companies do this with an “advance order” approach. That’s where you advertise the product as “coming soon” and ask customers to pre-order based on the product description. The response to that offer can give your company valuable insights into whether you should pursue a full launch of the product.
The other option you can try prior to a full launch is a soft launch. This is different from a test launch because you’ll have the product or service available for purchase, but you won’t roll it out to the public just yet. Soft launches typically target a select group of preferred customers. You can do that with your email list or through a loyalty program if you have one.
The challenges of launching a new product or service
One of the most difficult obstacles to overcome when launching a product is to offer something new without taking away from your core identity as a company. The new product or service needs to be a natural fit that appeals to your current customer base and attracts new customers. A good example of this is to offer repair services on products you already sell.
Another challenge is that your competitors may already be selling the product. How do you differentiate your offer from theirs? The strength of your brand is a factor, pricing is another. You may need to offer the product at a lower price during the launch if the market is already saturated. You can always adjust the price once new customers have been acquired.
Any new product or service should be matched with an ideal customer profile that tells you who’s likely to buy it. Once you know that, the next question is how to get the word out to that target market. Product launches fall flat quickly if you don’t reach the right audience. Here are some dos and don’ts to help your launch go as smoothly as possible.
Do: Create a product roadmap.
One of the best preparations you can make when developing a new product is to build out a comprehensive product roadmap before attempting to launch it. You can use this roadmap to connect your new product launch to your overall strategy and goals, adapt to customer needs, and create a flexible plan that accounts for competitive landscape shifts.
What is a product roadmap?
A good product roadmap covers what you’re building. A great product roadmap also covers why you’re building it in the first place. Developing a great product roadmap is a necessary first step to take before you dedicate resources to develop and launch a new product. You’ll need to define what you’re building, why you’re doing it, and who will want to buy it.
What are four types of product roadmaps I should consider?
There are several stages to developing, marketing, and selling a new product, so you’ll need separate roadmaps for each of the teams involved in the process.
● Internal roadmap for development team: This roadmap is centered around the creation of the actual product. Outline the steps your dev team will need to take to get you a “go-to-market” product. The map should include sourcing, materials costs, labor requirements, packaging, and distribution options when the time comes.
● Internal roadmap for executives: Your executive team first needs to agree on which products will be developed. Their next step after that is to work on messaging that matches the brand marketing you’re already doing. A competitive and pricing analysis should be included on the executive roadmap also.
● Internal roadmap for sales team: A new product won’t benefit your company if your sales team can’t sell it. How will they do that? Your sales team should collaborate with the executive and marketing teams to develop their roadmap. Everyone needs to be on the same page for a product launch to be successful.
● External roadmap for customers: The customer roadmap is essentially the path your customers will follow from first contact with the new product to completing a purchase. This can even include a follow-up from your customer service or sales team to see how they’re enjoying their new purchase. Spend some time working with your team on preferred scenarios and “what if” situations that might occur. Be prepared for everything you can think of.
Don’t: Underestimate the timeline.
To make your launch a success, build a development and go-to-market plan with enough lead time for testing, a slow rollout (if necessary), and the creation of marketing materials. Don’t underestimate the importance of this. Rushing the process can be costly, so it’s better to delay the launch than go into it unprepared.
Do: Research the current market.
It’s absolutely critical to conduct thorough research about the market you’ll be attempting to sell your product in. Your research should include a preferred customer profile, competitive analysis, consumer behavioral analysis, market trends, and available channels for distribution. If your product is something new, you might want to run a test launch and analyze that data, too.
Don’t: Mimic your competition.
Differentiation is a more profitable approach than duplication. Attempting to mimic your competition will get you into a price war because consumers won’t have any other way to compare your product to the one your competitor is offering. No one wins a price war. Your product can be similar, but you’ll need to find ways to make it unique.
Do: Put together a go-to-market plan.
Many great products have failed to make a profit because the companies that launched them didn’t have a solid go-to-market plan. Use the research you compile on competitors and customers to develop a strategy that includes marketing materials and channels, advertising, brand messaging, and a budget to cover all those items.
Don’t: Go all-in on one channel.
Marketing in the 21st century is a multimedia mix of website optimization, email marketing, paid search placement, social media posting, and video marketing. The most successful campaigns are those that use all of these strategies. Distribute your efforts across multiple channels and increase spending on those that produce results.
Want channel-specific marketing tips? Check out this guide created by our marketing team.
Do: Find ways to reach new customers.
If you’re launching something that’s meant to get new customers on board, be sure to spend resources educating them about your brand and offering. This is where those ideal customer profiles come in handy. Once you know who they are, find out where they spend their time online. Use those channels to disseminate useful information about how your product can help them.
Don’t: Forget about existing customers.
New acquisitions are good, but you also can’t neglect your existing customer base. Use email and other owned channels to announce the launch to them—and maybe even give them an early look at your new product or service. Loyal customers can be a great beta testing audience for new products, especially in tech.
Do: Tell a story.
Consumers in the digital age are saturated with marketing and product launches from dozens of companies every day. Your story is what can differentiate you from your competitors. Get prospective customers sold on your company mission and vision. Tell them how you can solve their problems. If your story appeals to them, they’ll be more likely to buy your products.