Your business might be working on the next big thing. But if that thing isn’t adequately tested, your business will fall flat on its face and somebody else will reap the rewards.
Some startups just cross their fingers and hope that their product will be a success, even after they’ve spent a fortune on marketing. Needless to say, that probably isn’t the best strategy. Launching a product takes a lot more than mere luck to get right. The best companies adopt a plan that engages their sales team and makes sure that their product is ready.
So what should you do if you’re about to launch a product?
Research The Market
If your startup is like most companies, you’ll have a product manager. The goal of the product manager is to understand who exactly is going to be using the product and whether it will meet their needs. Product managers need to be on top of every aspect of a new product launch. They have to understand how their product will fit into the existing market. They have got to be able to explain to customers the unique angle from which your startup is attacking the space. They’ve also got to understand what selling tactics will work, and which won’t. Finally, they have to understand the greater narrative in the product space, and what it is that people really want long term.
Construct A Mock Press Release
Companies launching new products like to put out press releases to get information out into the wild. But often, the company’s press release doesn’t completely coincide with the desired message. That’s why top companies, like Hubspot and Amazon, do mock press releases before launching a product. The idea here is to start with the press release and work backward to make sure that everybody is on the same page. The best companies put themselves in the position of their customers. Does the press release contain all the relevant information? Your press release should generate a positive reaction from your clients. If you don’t find yourself getting excited about it, then it probably needs revision.
Use Functional Testing And Prototyping
Perhaps the biggest issue with new product launches is the lack of functional testing or prototyping. The purpose of functional testing is to find out whether a new product actually works under extreme circumstances. Take new video game launches, for instance. When a new video game launches, servers have to cope with many thousands of players at once. Almost always, the servers crash and players get frustrated or are put in queues.
What about physical products? The same problems can occur here too. Physical products often have design flaws that lead to weaknesses and eventual breakage. But these flaws are only usually picked up after many people have complained. At which point, the reputation of your business might be so low that it is in jeopardy.
Functional testing allows businesses to test their products under extreme or “corner” cases. These cases are not optimal. But they do represent many of the real world scenarios that companies will probably face. Companies making products can use 3D printers to quickly design and test structures to make sure that they are strong. If they aren’t, a new concept can be printed out and tested again.
Share Your Message With The Public
It’s a good idea to test your marketing material on random members of the public to make sure that you’re on message. Often, people on the inside of a business become so familiar with their own product, they expect everybody else to get it the first time. This translates into marketing material that doesn’t adequately explain the product.
Practice pitching the product to your colleagues first, before going in front of executives or creditors. Do what Elon Musk says to do, and force them to give you honest feedback and tell you what they think.
Start A Beta
If applicable, consider starting a beta. Betas are a great way to get potential customers on your side. A beta means that the product isn’t finished, but it also means that the people using it don’t have to pay for it. It’s a win-win for both. You get the opportunity to iron out bugs and get feedback. And your customers get to try out a new service, for free.
Make sure that you collect as many data as you can during the beta phase of development. Review your performance with them, and ensure that they agree that the product is worth buying. Is there value in it for them?
Experiment With Your Messaging
Finding the best way to hook people into using your product is important. Will free samples in the post work best? Or will a free online trial for a couple of weeks yield the best results?
Also, test which taglines or messages work best with your customers and with the product. Does video advertising beat out banner ads? Do you need to adjust the value proposition and highlight a different benefit from using your product?
Massage The Market Before You Expect It To Buy Your Product
Many startups think that they just need a good marketing drive to get their new product into the hands of customers. A marketing drive when you launch is a necessary condition, but it’s not sufficient. Companies also need to work on buttering up their customers before launch.
The first thing you’ll need to do is to start building up authority in the space. That means creating a bunch of content and making sure your SEO is dialed to the max.
Use the responses you get to the content that you create to craft your product and its value proposition further. It’s highly likely that your customers will tell you what they do and don’t like about your product so far.
Secondly, make sure that you have a clear path to conversion. Will you take them to a landing page? Do they need to fill out a form? Once you know what you want to achieve, then it’s just a matter of funneling your traffic to your conversion point.