A team often slaves away for months, even years at a time, to get a product/service ready to launch into the market. Yet, it continues to surprise me how little effort is put into launching a product/service correctly, as compared to the effort put into producing it. Outlined below are a few critical steps that I follow closely when launching a new product/service.
1. Have one person or multiple people, in-charge of the product launch depending on the size of the launch. It is critical that one person takes full responsibility for the overall launch.
2. Building buzz and hype around your product/service before launching it, is a great way to get early traction. Tweet about the product features, blog about problems you want to solve, get individuals to test your product, pre-launch and provide testimonials, or their thoughts. Ideally, you should get someone really popular, or well known in your niche, to test drive the product/service, and hopefully convert them into a word of mouth ambassador. You could also use the gmail or google wave limited invite system.
3. Be careful not to over hype your product or infer functionalities that it may not have in the first iteration. Be clear about the problem area your product/service is going to solve, as well as some key features of the system. This is essential because regardless of how much hype you create, if your system does not live up to expectations, gathering traction is going to be very difficult.
4. Record everything meticulously. Depending on what sort of product you are launching, attach metrics to each process. If you run a web service, track how your customers are coming to the website, how long average registration takes, where they are navigating on your website, etc. Track google alerts, twitter and other social media tools to see if anyone is talking about your service. All of this information is vital for tweaks and upgrades.
5. Anticipate possible problems. Identify bottle necks, and put precautionary measures into place to enable you to handle them efficiently. Test the system using a worse case scenario, and test your standard operating procedures to handle such scenarios. Being well prepared helps you avoid the many surprises that tend to creep up during launch time.
6. Get users to provide feedback to you as simply as you possibly can. This could be feedback buttons from sites like Getsatisfaction, or it could be online support through chat windows on the website. If possible, fill out a short survey on your website. Incentivize the survey through a prize, a life long free account or something that is of value to your users.
First impressions are very important. The product/service does not have to be the best in it’s class at launch. However, it has to fulfill the client’s basic requirements, and their experience of using the product/service, should be as seamless as possible.
If you have any additional steps or insights to add on product/service launches I would really like to hear them.
Best of luck with all your product/service launches.