Launching New Products isn't Easy
You already know this but there are tons of dynamics at work when you go to launch a new product – and not all of them are working with you. But if we know launching new products is tough and fraught with challenges, why do we still get caught unaware?
The all-consuming launch
When I first starting launching new software to the market, I noticed a really startling effect right after launch – I would get a bit depressed. After a couple of launches, I finally was able to diagnose what was going on for me. I would make the launch the most important thing in my life for that pre-launch period. I did that because it needed to be done. I did that because I needed to focus. I did that because it made the trade-offs easier to make. And I did that because it helped me believe in what I was doing. But after the launch, I would realize that it was just one more product in a sea of products, and it wasn't as life-changing to all as I'd made it out to be, and so I'd get a bit bummed.
I'm not saying that this is why your launch may fail, but if you're anything like me, it's become a bit all-consuming, and if that's the case, it may be hard to see these three dynamics at play.
1. Your Target is Tired
We don't talk about it much but the target you're going after is under a constant barrage of new products, new features, new ideas, new skills to master and new aspects of their work – that frankly they have “new” fatigue. They just want to work on what's known – what's tried and true.
2. Your Target is in the middle of Transition
We like to think that because we've made the launch all-consuming for us, that it's likely to be just as important for our clients. But the truth is that while it might be great and amazing, our product launch may not represent the most important thing going on for them. They may be taking on a new role, transitioning their role to someone else, changing focus on projects or priorities, or much more. Either way, they're focused on the change going on around them and your product doesn't rise to the surface for them. Other things are more important.
3. Your Target is Timid
You've been getting all excited about your product. It's likely you may be so excited that a little transference is going on – you're thinking everyone else can see how great your new product is too! But what if they can't? What if they see the demise of an industry, a favorite application, or a way of doing their work? What if they see you upending everything they've grown accustomed to? In that scenario it's easy to underestimate the fear and stress that your target market may be experiencing.
So what can you do about it?
The answer to the first two issues is Timing. The third issues is resolved with Talking (yes I could have used ‘communication' but it wouldn't have worked as well for the alliteration).
When you get ready to schedule a launch, think about it the way the movie studios do. Look not only at a calendar but think about how it will play out in relation to other launches, to what your competition is doing, and to how you can capitalize on the scenario.
Sticking close to your customers won't help you know when the great time will be to launch, but it will surely tell you when not to launch.
Lastly, when it comes to talking, don't sidestep the hard conversations – just jump right in. Fear comes from the unknown, so start by removing as much of the unknown as possible. Do that and you'll find the right timing and talking can ensure a successful launch.