Finally the day has come when our wonderful new product is launched into an eagerly anticipating marketplace! Well, maybe the marketplace is not quite as eagerly anticipating it as if the new product happened to be the iPad. Personally I haven’t found anyone lining up at our door the night before so they can be the first of their friends to own our new concrete waterproofing product. But that’s OK. We’re excited about it and we think our customers will be excited too.
My wife loves to watch redecorating shows on the Home and Garden channel. At the end of each show, they have the big reveal, which is when we get to see the finished project. I like to think of the product launch like the reveal. Just like on the decorating shows, the days leading up to the reveal are filled with hectic activity as countless minor but important tasks are completed.
Step 5 actually begins well in advance of launch day as all of the launch preparations are made.
- finalizing marketing and sales plans;
- developing technical literature and promotional brochures;
- training of sales and support staff;
- completing additions to backend systems in production, accounting and order desk.
Launch day is the culmination of all these preparations.
The actual day or days of the product launch are spent announcing the existence of the new product through various media. These will include digital media like email, website and perhaps social media such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs and video sites. Print media will be your traditional magazine and newspaper ad placements, direct mail and maybe even billboards.
You might have a broadcast media campaign on radio or television. Possibly you are one of those annoying telemarketing people – that’s fine, just don’t call me. And of course there are point-of-purchase promotions that could be as simple as a cardboard store display or as extravagant as hiring The Rolling Stones to play your product launch party.
Step 5 is when the development process comes to an end and responsibility for the new product begins to pass to sales, marketing and product managers. The success of the product now depends on the work that they do going forward. The preparations made by you during the development process will pay off now, but only so long as you ensure that these other people follow through on the commitments they made while the product was being created. For this reason, the product development role necessarily extends past Step 5 as you hold others accountable for their roles in making the new product a success.
Why steps matter
One final note: The process we have come through is divided into steps, not just for the sake of clarity, but more importantly to gain commitment from stakeholders and to provide control over the process. At each transition point between steps, a critical decision has been made as to whether we should move on to the next step or not. These go/kill decisions are as important to your overall success as any other factor. Without them, projects can stray from their original objectives, no longer make financial sense or no longer have the commitment from major stakeholders and yet will continue on – wasting valuable time and resources and worse, taking them from other valuable projects. You must be objective enough to kill a project that logic now tells you is just not going to be successful. This can be very difficult to do, especially in the final stages after so much has been invested, but don’t make the mistake of going on simply because “we’ve already come this far.”
Thank you for reading my thoughts on Product Development. I welcome your thoughts.