Our 9-step guide walks you through the product launch process.

Sometimes, building a product is the easy part. Launching it into the world and enticing people to buy it is another matter. 

While you might think a solid product speaks for itself, that’s not always the case. It’s important to get organized and follow a sequence of events that gain the attention of target buyers with a well-orchestrated product launch. A great launch will also help you generate buzz in the wider market around your brand.

Once you’ve tested your product and have crafted your core messaging, a good launch strategy will help you roll out your product in a way that capitalizes on market trends and helps you get a leg up on the competition.

When you’re ready to take the leap into product launch mode, this article has everything you need. We’ll cover all the essentials, from market research to mapping distribution channels. 

Below, you’ll find a complete guide, including: 

  • A product launch checklist 

  • Why a product launch is important

  • When you should launch a product

  • An overview of the 9 steps of a product launch

A successful product launch involves these 9 steps: 

  1. Research your competition

  2. Develop a positioning statement and pitch it to stakeholders

  3. Set goals

  4. Create a comprehensive go-to-market strategy

  5. Create promotional content and incentives

  6. Determine a distribution strategy

  7. Launch your product

  8. Collect feedback to develop the next version 

  9. Assess your goals

1. Research your competition

When it comes to new products, competition is actually a good thing. If there are other similar products out there, it signals demand for a solution like yours. Now, the challenge is to size up your direct and indirect competition so you can come out on top. 

This step-by-step guide to running a competitor analysis offers tips and examples for conducting great competitive research. This step helps you more confidently position your product in relation to competitors, showing how it’s different from what’s already out there. 

2. Craft a positioning statement and pitch it to stakeholders

Your positioning statement is a concise, one- to two-sentence blurb that plainly describes what your product does and how it fills a particular need for the target market. 

Anyone who reads this statement should easily understand your product’s value proposition, how you solve your customer pain points, and key differentiators. The words you include should also align with your brand and mission.

This can be a complex step. It typically takes most companies a long time and many rounds of revisions to come up with a statement they like, and even then, they continue to refine it over time. For example, check out Amazon’s positioning statement from 2001, compared to the behemoth company it is today.

3. Set goals

Before you launch your product, ask yourself: what am I trying to accomplish with this product launch? What are my goals?

These goals should be specific, defined, and measurable, and they should be documented somewhere that’s accessible to your whole team.

For example, you might set goals related to sales (“We will sell 500 candles within two months of launch”), or gathering new prospects (“We will add 4,000 new prospects to our database within 3 months of launch). They might simply be awareness goals, like these: “Our product should be mentioned in 5 media articles by the end of the year” or “Our website should have 5,000 new visitors by the end of the year”. 

Most modern teams track their goals using an OKR framework (Objectives and Key Results), which you can learn more about and use yourself with this OKR template

Your goals will provide a much-needed compass to guide later decisions. 

4. Create a comprehensive go-to-market strategy

By this stage, you have a viable product, plenty of audience research, and you’re ready to devise a go-to-market strategy.

This is a plan for how you’ll put your product in the market for the first time, including such information as:

  • target audience

  • competitive set

  • value proposition

  • brand positioning

  • sales and marketing strategy

  • product pricing, budget, and resource needs

  • success metrics 

The go-to-market strategy is like a miniature business plan. It should demonstrate a deep understanding of how your product stacks up against others, plus a detailed timeline for what to roll out when. 

5. Create promotional content and incentives

Let’s say you’ve created the most whiz-bang product in the world. Now you have to find the channels where your customers are, showcase your product in its best light, and invite (or incentivize) them to buy.

What sort of material are you starting with, and where do you want to land? Your product team may have given you product specs or images to work with. Now it’s time to kick your content production into high gear.

For inspiration, take a spin through Airtable’s marketing templates, or channel-specific templates and planners such as:

6. Determine a distribution strategy

An estimated 80 to 90 percent of the thousands of new products launched each year fail, something that’s often attributed to poor distribution strategy. 

Remember: product is only part of the equation. You must ensure that people can easily and quickly acquire your product, too. Put more simply, once the product leaves the factory (or your engineering team’s computers), how will you get it into your customer’s hands?  

There are a few different categories of purchases your product can fall into. Is it an inexpensive item consumers will buy over and over, like soft drinks or bubble gum? You’d want to make your product more widely available, a strategy known as intensive distribution. If it’s a high-end product someone might only buy one time, it’s best to sell it in one spot, an exclusive distribution strategy. Somewhere in the middle? This is called selective distribution.

7. Launch your product

If you’ve made it to this step, you’ve done nearly everything in your control to make your product as good as it can be. Now, it’s time to see how the market reacts.

Choose a launch date. On that day, set all of your go-to-market activities live and go full speed ahead on sales and marketing efforts. This means everything from blog posts and social media announcements to landing pages and activating integrated advertising campaigns. Or, this may be the day you send your first batch of outreach emails or phone calls to prospects. 

8. Collect feedback to develop the next version 

Launching a product doesn’t stop once you’ve launched it. Learning how customers honestly feel about using it will help you improve the product, along with all of your related marketing efforts. The key is to set up ways to collect user input consistently and effectively, and act on what you learn. 

Tips for collecting product input from customers:

  • Select and interview a variety of customers 

  • Ask questions that cover the whole customer experience (e.g., the first time they visited your website to after they’ve made the purchase)

  • Use a standard user feedback template to capture all vital information.

As you collect input, remember that getting positive reception is nice, but constructive negative comments are the most actionable. Improving on common complaints builds a positive reputation and makes people want to stick around as customers.

9. Assess your goals

The final step is to take stock of your progress. Look at the goals you set for yourself earlier in the process and compare them to your actual performance. By this time in your product launch, you’ve likely sold some products, finished some marketing campaigns, and received several rounds of customer feedback. 

Use the feedback to determine whether your product needs tweaks, your sales or marketing plans need adjustments, or you’re already ready for your next product launch.

How to improve your product launch processes

Launching a successful product is all about keeping everyone on your team organized, on track, and on the same page.

Whether you start with a product launch template or set up your own customized product launch workflow, using Airtable as the foundation makes every step infinitely more efficient. 

In Airtable, you can:

  • manage product launch activities in one central location

  • provide an intuitive, user-friendly way to document the many details involved

  • save time through automations

  • ensure the right people have access to the information they need

  • prevent silos by making information-sharing transparent and flexible

  • plan a product launch event

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