Positioning a Product Launch for Success

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Launching a new product is a risky business. According to the Harvard Business Review, only 1 in 10 new products are considered successful. Of course, it’s often the case that the bigger the risk, the bigger the potential rewards. How to better the odds? We’ve got a few tips for your next product launch.

Pitfalls to Avoid

Poor timing

Nothing frustrates a marketing professional more than hearing the words, “I have this fantastic product that I need help to launch…next month. Can you develop a plan by the end of the week?” Companies spend months, sometimes years, developing a product and then shortchange the time it takes to properly plan a launch until the eleventh hour.

Small Budgets

By being last in line in the new product process, the launch team may get slighted when budget dollars are being allocated. Launch planning should start as early in the new product development cycle as possible.

Unarmed Sales Force

Each product launch is essentially two separate launches: internal and external. Your internal launch needs to get your sales force excited, and arm them with the product information and messaging that resonates with potential customers. The sales team knows what they need to be successful; listen to them, and more importantly, give it to them.

Big Shots, Small Details

While senior leadership will be involved in product planning and development, it is not necessary they be included in the day-to-day activities. Their competing duties and leadership responsibilities can alter the focus and the strategies and tactics that need to be executed – sometimes to the detriment of the launch. Senior leadership should be guiding key decisions through the product development process, but once you’re at the launch stage, let the marketing and sales pros do their jobs.

Minimizing the Risk

Know your audience

Talking to your customers in a voice they’ll readily understand is essential. Focus groups or surveys will help guide the development of brand positioning and messaging, and may also influence the tactical mix necessary for launching the product.

Plan appropriately

You just spent an enormous amount of time developing your product or service; the same amount of energy should be devoted to the launch plan. Make sure it includes market observations, goals, strategies, activities/tactics, resources responsible for those activities, timing, budget and metrics.

Build a message map

Create a solid value proposition aligned with the goals and core themes for your business. From there, develop a message map to tie the product’s overarching positioning statement to important industry trends as well as product features and benefits.

Don’t forget your brand

A product launch is a chance to both reinforce your overall brand identity and expand it. A meaningful name and representative icon or mark can go a long way in explaining or representing your product or service, but it should also be a recognizable extension of your existing brand.


Are you stuck with trying to determine which amazing idea is going to be a show-stopper? Don’t be afraid to have brainstorming sessions to uncover new ideas, or to consult outside help. Sometimes being so entrenched in a project can halt creativity. Take a break, look to new resources to find new ideas.

Have a well-rounded launch plan

Now is a good time to update your media list; but a lone press release won’t result in a successful launch. A well-rounded business marketing plan includes advertising, direct marketing, product literature, public relations, employee communication, trade show events, social media, and many other tools. Be willing to consider ideas that would regularly be outside the norm, if they have the potential to influence your audience.

Develop a risk mitigation plan

Take time to brainstorm all the hiccups and pitfalls that could occur along the way. When something come up, you’ll have a plan in place to handle it and avoid a bigger crisis.

Successful launches don’t just happen. They’re the product of careful planning—planning that also includes how you’re going to measure success and your return on investment.