The effectiveness of a product launch is determined by the steps taken before launch day arrives. The more time invested in planning and preparation, the smoother the launch will go and the more impressive the results will be.
Here are 10 important product launch checklist items to consider in preparation for your launch.
One of the most important things you can do to ensure success is to be tuned in to what your customers and prospects want and then give it to them. The odds of getting this step right without listening carefully to those in your market aren’t good. Things are always changing, more rapidly than ever today, so what worked last year may not work well or at all this year.
Survey your the audience you are able to connect with directly (e.g., your in-house list subscribers and customers) and be certain you are familiar with their current priorities and what’s most important to them within 90 days of your launch to test and validate your beliefs and assumptions – the ones that must be true for your launch to be a big success.
2. Implement your Launch Blog and develop your social media base early
Another great way to stay close to your market is through social media, like a blog and social media (e.g., LinkedIn and Twitter). A blog is a great way to let those who are closest to you (e.g., your existing customers) know what’s coming down the pike in the next 90 days or so. Blog also provide a place to have multi-way conversations about the key issues that face your customers and get direct feedback on and gather new ideas you can use during the launch.
Social media is a great way to network with key influencers you can make use of during your launch. It’s very important to establish these relationships well ahead of your launch. If you are entering a new market, you will need extra lead time to locate the influential bloggers, partners and affiliates. It takes time to develop a relationship with these folks, so be sure to start early.
3. Preview and validate your product
One of the most critical aspects of a successful launch is having social proof and testimonials endorsing your product. Providing a limited number of existing and potential customers with early access to a “preview” or “beta” version of your upcoming product is a great way to get the feedback you need to ensure the product hits the mark, as well as gather testimonials before the product launches. And when those involved in the preview program discuss their findings (both good and bad) on your blog, it creates social proof for everyone to see.
And the fact that some weaknesses are discovered isn’t a bad thing; after all, it’s a pre-release product, so some issues are expected. By having both the positive and negative comments openly discussed, it adds credibility to the entire discussion, and shows how transparent you are being about making sure you get the product right before it launches.
Of course, it’s important to address the issues that are found before the actual launch and validate your product is truly ready for market.
4. Develop, refine and test your U.S.P.
Identifying your Unique Selling Proposition is one of the most important things you can do to ensure success. A strong U.S.P. will clearly differentiate your product vs. the customer’s other alternatives, making your product the clear winning and best choice.
Today, you can refine, test and validate your U.S.P. using Google Adwords and Twitter. Use AdWords to place a text ad with your U.S.P. and measure the click-through rates of variations of your U.S.P. Timothy Ferris used this approach to finalize his best-selling “4-Hour Workweek” book title. You can also use Twitter to test click-throughs and retweets to see which ones resonate and attract the most action.
5. Identify the Big Idea for your launch event
Once you have chosen your U.S.P., it’s helpful to develop a “Big Idea” that provides you with a launch platform. The launch platform is bigger than your product. Unless you are Apple, Microsoft or one of the big brands, chances are nobody cares about the fact you are launching a new product.
Instead of concentrating your early launch efforts on your product, it’s often more effective to begin with a discussion around a big idea – a concept or well-recognized set of issues or hot topics that matter to your target audience and buyers. By keeping the initial pre-launch focus away from your product, it avoids creating sales resistance and turning people off.
By focusing on issues that are important to potential buyers, it opens the door for you to provide useful information, educating your audience before introducing your product. There will be plenty of time to discuss the specifics of your product during the launch, so save that as “dry powder” to use later.
By discussing the issues instead of your product early on, your Big Idea pre-positions your product favorably, since your chosen product and company U.S.P. is the foundation of the Big Idea in the first place.
For example, if you were Federal Express (some years back) your Big Idea would be “overnight package delivery”, a completely new concept at the time it was introduced. When discussing this Big Idea, we would concentrate on the situations and circumstances that arise where the ability to ship something overnight would make all the difference. As launch day grows closer, more details about how this revolutionary new service can be accomplished is disclosed, taking what began as a concept discussion into an emerging new reality that’s about to become available.
6. Develop your pre-launch content plan
In the weeks leading up to launch day, it is important to provide your launch audience with the right information and in the proper order. This content is used to educate the audience and build trust in you as an authority and subject matter expert.
It’s most effective to provide pre-launch content in various formats, including text, video and audio. People learn in different ways. Some people prefer to read and absorb written material well. Others aren’t great readers, so they learn better from watching a video or listening to an audio presentation.
Developing quality content takes time, so it is important to develop a plan ahead of time and ensure you have enough time and the proper resources and budget available to do a quality job developing this content.
7. Implement and verify your e-commerce and other order-processing systems
Closing sales, performing up-sells and ensuring your partners get properly credited for affiliate sales is critically important to your success. Ensuring your e-commerce, visitor tracking and affiliate infrastructure is in place and fully tested well ahead of launch day is very important.
Make certain you have someone (aside from you) doing final testing of all these systems before launch day.
8. Identify and recruit launch partners and affiliates
Partners and affiliates provide your launch with much-needed credibility and scale. Since these folks are independent parties, they bring credibility with their audiences to your launch. They are able to reach and influence people you cannot, so they deserve an appropriate amount of attention and investment.
Because launches are so time-consuming and resource-intensive, there’s a tendency to get bogged down dealing with all the things we must do to properly execute our launch. Make sure you have someone who can focus on recruiting and motivating your launch partners and your launch.
9. Optimize your Launch Landing Page
Your Launch Landing Page is like the “front door” to your launch. If this page converts qualified traffic properly, then you have a huge Launch List full of potential buyers who are interested in your launch. If this page’s conversion rate is marginal, then your launch results will also be margin.
Get your Launch Landing Page in place early and ensure you use proper A/B split-testing and/or multi-variate testing to maximize this page’s conversions. There’s lots of information available on landing page optimization, so there’s really no excuse for not investing the time to optimize what is arguably the 2nd most important Web page associated with your launch (your sales page is the most important).
10. Create your Launch Plan and Project Schedule
Launches are typically complex projects. There are many dozens of things to do and often multiple people required to get everything done properly. Like any project, having a proper plan and turning that plan into a detailed project schedule is very important.
I typically use Microsoft Project to create a launch project plan and schedule. The schedule includes all of the tasks that must be accomplished, along with who is assigned primary responsibility or ownership of each task. It’s also very helpful to identify task “dependencies” (which tasks must be completed in order for other tasks to be started), which leads to identifying the “critical path” items.
Next, the project plan and schedule is reviewed with all launch team members, to ensure everyone sees the same big picture, and each person responsible for a task as a part of the launch team commits to delivering their part on time.
Follow these 10 steps before your product launches to position yourself for maximum success on launch day.
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