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How Companies Kill Product Launches

Scott Heagle - October 20, 2017

Innovation, big or small, demands a lot of time, energy, and money. And by the time you find yourself ready to launch a new product or program into the market, you’ve invested a lot of resources, both financial and human. And … you’re exhausted. So how do you make sure you get a good return on those investments? A great launch has to be part of the equation. Because even a great product with a weak launch often delivers the same result as a dud product.

Over my 15+ years experience, I’ve been a part of hundreds of launches. And I’ve seen and learned of a few common potholes to steer clear of.

  1. Don’t keep leadership in the dark. While this sounds like a no-brainer, this is a surprisingly common mistake. Your CEO is busy, and your product isn’t the only innovation happening in the company. Find your “rhythm of news” for executive leadership, whether they ask for it or not. Share feedback you’re hearing from the market. Celebrate wins, both big and small. Be honest about obstacles and how you plan to navigate through or around them. Keep it short. Keep it simple. Ask for help if needed. And enjoy the “front of mind” support you’ll get from your executive team.
  2. Don’t forget about your employees. Companies often rush to “fill in the blank” of their target market, quickly defaulting to their understood potential customers. And while that’s not necessarily wrong, it’s a missed opportunity to not intentionally focus on your employees as an audience. Why? Because they take pride in their work and the work of their company. A new product launch can represent a proud moment for the entire company – time when the entire “family” can celebrate the hard work that’s been done. Be sure to consider a launch party for all employees, including some swag, to get everyone excited.
  3. Don’t think about your launch as a singular moment. I heard a CEO once make an analogy between a product launch and sending a spaceship to the moon. And he’s right. NASA (or maybe Virgin Galactic is a better example today) wouldn’t celebrate simply getting the rocket off the ground. Instead, they plan specific rockets for certain stages of the mission. Rockets to get you off the ground. Rockets to help steer and navigate. Rockets to push you through the atmosphere. Even rockets to help you land. Think beyond just the first few quarters of your launch, and specifically plan additional “rocket boosters” throughout your launch to build and continue momentum.


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