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<span class="wtr-time-wrap before-title"><span class="wtr-time-number">11</span> min read</span>How to Product Launch Checklist

by | 10 Oct, 2018

What does a product launch checklist look like? What do you need to cover? We delve a little deeper in this article for anyone interested in scenario planning and avoiding disastrous product launches. 
 
Imagine Joe, he doesn’t have a plan. He is launching his product, and his team are looking at the phone and online sales graph. After one hour it is deathly silent. The analytics chart reads one (from the test purchase they did 30 minutes into the campaign).
phone clipart gif
The phone rings. It’s a customer stating he can’t order because the merchant transaction facility isn’t working. “Oh S#*t”. Joe now takes 6 hours getting connected to the e-commerce support desk to find out why the Visa/Mastercard transactions aren’t going through.
 
Joe reviews his web analytics and finds it peaks to 1000 hits after one hour. There is a 97% bounce rate and more worrying, an exit rate from the payment page. A disaster!
Rob is also launching three months later than he originally wanted but to ensure his plan included a thorough test procedure. On launch day his carefully selected team, who had expertise in commercial, marketing, supply chain and sales support are reviewing the phone and online sales graph.
 
After 1 hour they see an order for ten items, then 3 hours later, the graph has risen to 100. The ‘early bird’ deals have gone.
 
Customers called to ask about some technical details. The trained sales support staff answered effectively, increasing orders.
After two days they surpassed their launch target and had launched a very successful start-up campaign.
 
Joe’s team never got this far. Orders were random, and the campaign was a failure.
 
Rob ran a very successful start-up campaign, surpassing his best expectations.

The 4 (or more) P’s of marketing: Product, Price Place Promotion

The most straightforward plans are usually the best, as they lack the detail to trip-up over. However, the oft-stated, “Devil is in the details” is also true. A good starting point is to look at the four P’s of marketing and expand from there: Product, Price, Place & Promotion. Some recent additions to this include the seven P’s adding Process, Physical Evidence and People. This over-complicates the issue as these fall out in the planning stage and are a given (for example, you can’t do much without People!)
 
Starting with Product; if you don’t have this, then you don’t have a start-up launch.
Product
Legal and Commercial
 
Do you have contracts in place for suppliers and customers? Have any product testing requirements been met such as EC standards for electrical safety?
 
Unique Sales Proposition or USP
 
Has the USP been established? What separates you from your competitors? Have target profiles (Buyer Personas) been created, such as who you will sell to; the business owner, riders of bikes, electricians etc. Has your USP and product been validated with a test group of customers?
Name
Does your product have a name and have you registered this to prevent any copy-cats? Have you registered the website domain names for the same?
 
Product Development
Is the development finalised and signed off after trials and testing? Is packaging and documentation in place and prepared?
 
UX or User Experience
Can customers find the product to purchase and most importantly, receive the product? Does support exist in case of problems and can they pay for the product?
Promotion
Often overlooked by many checklists, but it’s worth highlighting that marketing and promotion cannot be done alone. You’re a great product designer, but do you have skills in PR, product photography, web design, User Experience etc?
 
Outsourcing is a great idea to design some elements of the marketing and advertising campaign. Do you have access or know how to find the best public relations, design a lead generation funnel, design sales collateral and the associated sales copy to draw your customers into making a final purchase?
 
It can be daunting if you don’t have the knowledge or experience in marketing, PR and how to write convincing, grammatically correct and persuasive copy. If you do everything else in-house, seriously consider employing an expert on the marketing requirements, experienced in your field.
 
Do you have physical demo’s available for major clients to test and in some cases given away in return for reviews?
Pricing
Considering your go-to-market plan, what will your pricing be based on for both channels and end users? If you use distributors or retailers, you need to reward them for their support, promotion and space in-store.
 
Your end-user pricing structure needs to be in place, and your in-house team need to know how to calculate any volume or channel pricing based on key criteria, such as volumes or rebates.
 
Have you reviewed your competitor’s pricing? It is rare for a company to be unique in its field, so competitor positioning is invaluable.
Channels to market (or Place)
Considering your channel strategy and pricing, is there a roll-out strategy in place for both channels (distributors and retailers ) and customers. It may be more accessible to sell direct but don’t under-estimate the power of retailers and distributors to sell your product and increase volume.
 
Many of these issues rely on your go-to-market plan as a start-up. Like a one-hit wonder, with one product and a niche customer profile, it can be easier to sell direct and online. Again, don’t under-estimate the need for a good marketing team to assist in this.
Launch Plans
Finally, once all the above is in place, it is not over. Launch plans are needed and a friendly, informed, knowledgeable customer support team.
 
Is the launch date set? Have you developed a launch plan with every team member knowing what is required?
 
Support
Problems, problems, problems! They will happen.
 
The best teams will have anticipated the majority of issues and have a plan in place to address the most common. These could be non-payment issues (have alternate payment methods in place), to website downtime (advise your host and test your CDN in advance in case of high volume traffic)
 
A well trained after-sales team who have the authority and decision authority is key to ensuring any problems are dealt with effectively.

Piss Poor Planning Prevents Poor Performance

For a highly successful campaign, don’t be like Joe. Be like Rob and make sure you have a clear plan in place.
 
If you need help in adding the finishing touch to a new product or service launch then get in touch.