5 Reasons Why Product Launches Fail

5 Reasons Why Product Launches Fail: Shoot 4 The Moon Ltd

According to one recent Harvard report 70% of new product launches fail. According to another it is as high as 95%. Considering that there are many products that must launch and fail but that never get reported, the number is surely even higher. 

What can be done to minimise the chances of a a product launch disaster? Here’s my checklist to help avoid product launch failure.

1. Clarity around your product or service:

There are all kinds of reasons for bringing new products or services to market, and statistically, many of them are flawed. Putting your product through the rigour of ensuring that it has a solid business case can save huge amounts of time and money. 

Does your new product or service solve a fundamental problem? If so what is it?

Consider the entire lifecycle and application of your new product. Are you able to identify key differentiators between it and other products in the market?

Ideally, before you design a new product, you have undertaken qualitative (description-based) and quantitative (number-based) research to support and validate your business case. 

As a result of this and other research exercises, you will know your target market, where they are located (geographically), your product price and how it will demonstrate incredible value to your target customers.

This information is crucial – but you would be amazed at how often it has not been given due consideration as businesses build towards their next launch.

2. Managing cost and time expectations:

There will be many variables on the simplest of product launches, and hundreds of variables on bigger projects. Understanding that the product will be ready in time to allow for a minimum of 8-12 weeks of marketing ahead of your launch is crucial. 

Delays in production impact on the best laid plans for great marketing. 

Put bluntly – if you don’t have a finished, approved, signed-off product, it is going to be really tricky to create the marketing assets (photos, films, testimonials) that you need to help sell it. 

Should changes need to be made to your product at  this later stage, it will be painful to adjust the marketing assets that you have previously assembled to reflect this. In short: don’t start marketing before your product is ready.

In his book ‘Principles’, founder of Bridgewater, Ray Dalio observes that typically things take around 1.5 times the predicted amount of time to complete, and – correspondingly – around 1.5 times the predicted cost too. Factor this in to your budget and timeline as it is a great ‘rule of thumb’.

3. Being ‘in sync’ with your team on your product’s purpose:

Ensure that you and your team have the budget, resource and capability to produce and distribute an outstanding, world-beating product, and deliver the exceptional launch it deserves. 

Encourage internal and external feedback during development of the product, and when planning your marketing. 

Make sure you have the answers for any challenging questions about any aspect of your product, its route to market or your launch campaign. Share this information with your team, so everyone understands what they are doing, and what is at stake.

4. Stakeholder alignment:

A frequent problem with product inception and design is that the team responsible is small and doesn’t involve input from other business team members. 

Marketing (and indeed other departments within your business) may have very useful insights on your planned product that may radically change your approach to your design or how you bring your product to market – from product features through to your customer journey and your website’s user experience.

5. Multi-year road map:

Think of the product launch not only in its own context, but also as part of a longer several year strategy for your business. What other products are planned, and when are you planning their delivery and launch? 

An inspirational jump off point here is Cameron Herald’s ‘Vivid Vision’ book in which he outlines how to do a Vivid Vision exercise. In this exercise you will map out your vision for your business, get it written up, and share this first with your leadership and then with your wider team.

This way everyone will understand your business goals – not just for this product launch but way beyond.

The Essential launch checklist:

Finally make sure your product launch will not be sunk by any of the following. These are ‘mission critical’:

  • Once launched, will your business be able to cope with high production and distribution demand?
  • In your launch plan have you allowed for delays in product production – especially if testing and certification throws up any issues?
  • Can you guarantee that your product is super-easy to distinguish from its competitors?
  • Do you have a comprehensive plan as to how you will educate and inform the product about your new product?
  • Will your product have its own unique place in the market?

In my half-day workshop, we will stress-test your launch mission, and ensure there is alignment within your team to optimise your product launch plans. If that sounds like something that would benefit you or your business, please get in touch.