10 Common Product Launch Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)
Every year there are thousands of new products that hit the market. The vast majority of them are failures. Making even one mistake can ruin your product launch. With so many intangibles in the process, it makes sense why there are so many things that can go wrong. Let’s look at some of them.
Assuming There’s A Need
For Your Product
Just because you think that your product will be a success doesn’t mean that anyone else will. Poor research in the product development phase can lead to this problem. Will people choose your product over the competition? What makes your product different from the competition? These are questions with answers that should be determined long before a product can be brought to market.
Being Too Much Like the Competition
This is the single most repeated mistake that businesses make. There are always going to be some similarities between products, like Pepsi and Coke or Chevy and Ford. You still want to carve out as much of an identity as possible. If you are aware of the position that your product occupies in the market place, you should be able to avoid this.
The Product Doesn’t Live Up To Expectations
History is littered with products that were pushed into the market before they were ready. Companies think that they can overlook quality issues and just get it out there. Cell phone manufacturers are notorious for this. The thinking is that any software glitches can be ironed out after the product is in the hands of the consumer. All it does is cause ill will on the part of your customers.
Not Being Fast Enough
You must meet your product deadline. If you’ve done your job right, customers will be heavily anticipating your launch. If you don’t come through on your promise, people will doubt that you can come through on anything else.
It’s better to work as hard as you can and finish before that date, than miss it. Follow these points to avoid wasting your time:
- Give your team a goal that is sooner than the one that you’re giving to the public. This helps to keep everybody motivated.
- Constantly re-evaluate those goals. Since your internal goal will be sooner than your external one, you should have plenty of time to make it. If you’re always on top of your timeline, you won’t be caught off guard if there are delays.
- Establish touch points. As you work toward your product goals, divide them into 5 or 6 smaller achievements so that you can keep an eye on your progress. For example: 20 days before launch, your plans for your launch event will be complete; 30 days before launch, your marketing materials will be complete, etc.
Poorly Defined Problem
Another avenue that can derail your launch is if your team is unsure about what problem your new product is supposed to address in the first place. If you and your team understand the problems of your customers differently, it may be difficult to get everyone together to solve that problem. If your team is confused about the purpose of the product, it will be impossible to solve the issue. This can also lead to conflict between members of your team.
Either way, communication is the key to success. If you don’t think everyone is on the same page, ask them how they see the product solving the problem. Asking questions is a fundamental way to solve problems.
Ignoring The User
If you’re launching a new product, it only makes sense that you’d want to test the public for feedback. But this isn’t always the case. A lot of times, people who develop products don’t really care about engaging with customers. If you aren’t comfortable with the idea of doing prototype testing of your products with people who have never seen it before, then you need to have someone else do it. Ignoring users gives you a product that no one wants.
They’re Afraid To Fail
People will delay product launches over and over again out of fear. They think their item or service won’t be as good as what they competition is offering. They think that people will look down on them, and this makes them hold back.
There is nothing more difficult than launching a product that is intended to surpass a favorite of customers. But really, what’s the worst that can happen? Yes, you can fail, yes, it might be expensive, but thousands of successful people have failed before you. You miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take. Failure can be a great teacher. Steve Jobs was fired from Apple, the company he started, only to come back and be much more successful than before. That failure was arguably the best thing that ever happened to him.
Too Many Distractions
One of the keys to a successful product launch is focusing on the task at hand. The time frame around the development and launch of your new product should be about nothing else but preparing for that launch. Eliminate as many distractions as possible; it’s key that you keep them to a minimum. Remind your team that the launch needs to be their focus as well. Put reminders of the product launch date everywhere so that no one forgets.
Developing a Product For Technology Most People Don’t Have
Sometimes a company will attempt to capitalize on the newest-cutting edge technology. There’s nothing wrong with that in theory, but if a platform is too advanced or too expensive, much of the general public won’t use it. Software designed for an operating system that only genius super-hackers use won’t get very much exposure.
Conversely, don’t base your product on outdated, obsolete technology. Designing Commodore 64 game today probably wouldn’t be very lucrative.
Spending Too Much On The Launch Itself
The launch is the kickoff for your new product; don’t blow your whole budget on it. Your new product needs ongoing support to ensure that it is a success. You’ll want to continue to build on its awareness with a combination of advertising, social media, public relations, and other marketing techniques to help it succeed.
It is extremely difficult to launch a new product successfully. Some estimates put the failure rate of new products as high as 95%. With hard work and attention to these 10 areas, hopefully you can avoid the mistakes that others have faced.