The Keys to a Successful Product Launch

The proper execution of a product launch is critical to business success. These “milestone” events — think Apple — can entail very complex processes, involving interconnected elements and requiring tight collaboration across the organization, with the marketing team bearing primary responsibility for their rollout. The Aventi Group has seen numerous clients through successful product launches. Lately, I’ve been talking with some business leaders to get their take on best practices for ensuring success. Here’s a bit of what they had to say.

Start with the basics

Inevitably, some part of a launch plan or go-to-market strategy will fall short or encounter challenges. Depending on what element fails, it might be catastrophic or maybe not such a big deal. Regardless, across the board, every client and business partner I spoke with mentioned two basic, yet essential themes to help avoid any pitfalls:

1) Have clear objectives that all parties responsible for the launch have vetted and approved

2) Clearly identify the target audience and craft messaging and positioning statements for all relevant personas

Let’s hear from some experts

On the importance of objectives and measurement:

“The two things I focus on when reviewing a launch: what is the outcome we hope to achieve and how will we measure it? Are we doing it to generate buzz, awareness, or pipeline? Is it for new customers, existing customers, partners, influencers? What metrics will we track to measure success? Without knowing the intended outcome and without a way to measure it, teams can become misaligned and end up focusing on things that don’t have any impact on the business.”

Brian Bell, CEO, Split.io

For examples of specific metrics:

“It’s essential that sales and product marketing create clear goals and success metrics pertaining to specific business outcomes. A few to consider:

1) Revenue – distinguish between new accounts, account expansion, direct vs. channel, geos, and verticals; track customer acquisition costs

2) Pipeline Growth – look at each stage of the funnel from contact to MQL to closed win; monitor conversion rates to see where there’s leakage; calculate win/loss ratio

3) Track market share grab and share of voice”

Sridhar Ramanathan, COO and Co-founder, Aventi Group

On targeting and positioning:

“It all starts with understanding your customer and your business objectives. If you build your plan with the end game in mind, you’ve won half the battle right there. I have repeatedly found it easier and more effective to work on launches where the client has a clear understanding of the target customer and a well-crafted message about why the target will benefit from their product or solution.”

Ed Callan, President, Callan Consulting, Inc. (an Aventi Group partner agency)

On ensuring effective messaging for a product launch:

“We do a lot of testing and learning ahead of time to make sure our messaging will resonate with our target audience and also to ensure that the channels we pursue will be productive. We also focus on PR and do primary research in advance to enhance our pitch and help us secure press coverage.”

Linda Itskovitz, CMO, Quicken, Inc.

My final two cents

Experience has shown me that having consensus around clear and measurable objectives and metrics, a clearly defined target audience, and compelling positioning makes product launch and go-to-market planning much easier — and the odds for success much higher. I would also highlight the importance of a creating strong and compelling value propositions, which can help identify any weaknesses in launch execution. For example, a simple template for creating a good value prop should, at a minimum, include:

  • For: Customer profile clarifying industry, size, geo, and other defining characteristics
  • What: The key needs your product addresses, what are the customer pain points and challenges
  • Who: Define your company’s product/service category
  • Why: The value your product/solution delivers — not a list of features but, rather, the impact those features will have on your customer’s business
  • Unlike: Defensible and compelling differentiators vis-à-vis your key competitors

To learn more about Aventi Group Product Launch services, check out our Product Launch Practice Brief.