Launching a new product is one of the most exciting, yet scary, things you can do. You pour your heart into developing something and you want it to succeed. I’ve been on both some very good launches and some disastrous ones, and through both I have learned many lessons. Here are just a few.
Know your problem
“Research your idea. See if there's a demand. A lot of people have great ideas, but they don't know if there's a need for it.” - Irving Johnson
Do you truly know what you are trying to solve? Is it an issue that affects numerous people and won’t be fixed by a support ticket? I have built an entire product in the past that was rendered irrelevant as soon as a company fixed a bug I was solving. If you do not know exactly what you’re solving, you should not proceed any further. A good test for this is to talk to someone who has no idea about your product and see if you can explain it in only 2 sentences.
- Ask those around you “Why should this exist?”
- If they cannot answer this question, then you might not be solving a real problem.
- Determine the value proposition of your problem space.
- Is what you’re solving worth others investing their time?
- Why would someone download a solution to this?
- Why would someone subscribe to a better version of this?
- Liking isn’t buying.
- Just because people say that something is “great” or a “cool idea” doesn’t mean that they would invest time or money into it.
- Find out if people would pay for a solution to the problem you are solving.
- If not, start over.
The “if you build it, they will come” trope does not work. When you feel comfortable with your ecosystem and your problem is ready to be solved you need to move into research. To properly launch a product you need to know about your audience and your competition.
Know your audience
“Most of all, I discovered that in order to succeed with a product you must truly get to know your customers and build something for them.” - Marc Benioff
You need to know what the audience wants, and where they are, so your product can impact their lives in a positive way. Data here is your best friend, gather as much of it as you can.
Gather data about your community.
Create surveys, interview your community members, and/or create focus groups around specific features.
Get out of your comfort zone here, and ask groups that won’t be “nice” because they are your friends.
Create audience profiles and segment them.
People who find your product appealing or interesting will often share similar characteristics and interests.
Geographic, Demographic and Behavioral are examples of segmentation.
Be very specific in who your customers are. List out what your audience really is.
What are their pain points?
What are their beliefs?
What motivates them?
Know your competition
“Know what else is being developed by competitors so that you can be the first to market, and don't make the mistake of launching an also-ran product.” - Jay Samit
Researching your competition is a great way to get validation on your product. If someone out there is already doing something similar, then you know that there is a market for your product. By looking closely, you can learn from their decisions, both successes and failures. In this research you can determine if they are failing to solve a core issue. That can be your secret weapon.
How are they positioned to take advantage of the market.
Where are they directing their resources?
Are they solving the same issue as you?
Are people actually using it?
What is their monetization?
Does it work?
What are customers saying about the product?
Do you see weaknesses in the reviews of the product that yours will fix?
Is your solution dependant on a feature of another product?
Make connections with the team developing that product.
Determine if they plan to solve the problem in a more direct or efficient way.
Pivot based on this intel, or accelerate the release to become first to market.
Hopefully these tips can help you in your journey to launch new products and we see them in the wild soon. If you have any questions or want advice feel free to reach out.