Just One Good Product Launch?

Sales beat plan, 30% CAGR over 5 years

Challenge:  “It’s time for the next product launch.” My boss meets with me, the new guy, and says, “Our product launches aren’t very good. We need to change that.” He then tells me how the success of this new product is the one big thing that can and should move sales for the year, and recounts all prior launches, rating each based on the amount of noise we make, how many trinkets we give away, and how many products we brought to the big trade show. While leaving my office, he advises me to get started on launch plans because the product availability is only a month away.

Solution: In reality, we had been planning the product launch for a long time. It started when the project to develop this new product was conceived. At that time, our product management team had analyzed the market, requested the development, and made a great business case for why, how much, to which markets and customers, how, specifically we will beat the competition, cannibalize our older product, and so on.

The plan contained the 4Ps…product, price, place, and promotion, not just a functional specification for the Engineering team. We included a number of cross-functional team members and management to ensure we could deliver and had alignment. We ensured that we didn’t just ‘fill out the standard form’ to get the approval to develop, we really did our homework.

Not only did a solid business plan at the beginning of this product development provide a great road map for a successful launch, it also enabled my project team to hold firm during development trade-offs to keep those features that provide valuable differentiation for the product to help make it successful in the market. We used all of this information to create the right timeline of activities and actions needed to get early adopters to endorse the product, create awareness in the right places, and highlight our valued differentiation and the benefits our customer base could achieve.

Results: The true measure of a new product launch isn’t about the amount of activity you provide. It is one key contributing component of new product sales, which is also affected by whether you created the right product and have the right offer, etc. Some interim results for your launch effectiveness can be measured by the type and amount of customer reaction you get, more so that the amount of activity or communication you produce. In this case, the product beat the forecast, grew at 30% compound annual growth over the next 5 years, and went on to become a key high-volume product that greatly contributed to the company’s success.  While there are a lot of other keys to doing a new product or service launch well, this first step of defining how you’ll go to market at the early product definition stage is the critical first step. Yes, this happened in the real world.

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