Launching a product is a tough challenge. It requires commitment, time and funds.
In my experience, companies that fail to launch a product in the U.S. are often the ones that are too focused on the product but that pay little attention to the launch plan. That is why I believe that launching a product is just as important as developing the product. But what is a launch plan, and why do you need one? In a nutshell, a launch plan is a strategic exercise to bring a new product to market. Effectively planning the launch helps customers become aware of your solution and gain access to it, and it helps you hit your sales goals.
At my firm, we provide international and domestic clients with front-to-end consulting support to access the U.S. market, build brand awareness, launch new products and establish online businesses. I’ve found that one of the trickiest aspects of launching a product in the U.S. is determining how you will penetrate an established market.
A sound launch plan can serve as a blueprint to guide all of your company’s decisions. It should outline realistic goals, strategies and tactics based on market research. But creating the launch plan is not enough. To achieve your goals, you should stay committed to the plan, review it periodically and adjust it as you implement each step. Where should you start?
Step 1: Why Me?
Contrary to common belief, you should start by asking yourself not just “why?” but also “why me?” Begin by building a solid foundation of market research to identify the business opportunity and how your product stands out. In my experience, successful product launches are a product of extensive research, which includes learning how your product better addresses the customer’s needs. In other words: Why introduce your product in this market?
For example, according to inBusiness Greater Phoenix, AVANA Companies’ CEO experienced the same hardships as many other business owners, which led him (along with his co-founder) to develop a platform for accessing capital in a fair and transparent manner. AVANA Companies recently created a new lending platform called LendThrive that is focused on “helping American business owners fund and grow their business.” The companies “also strive to make a difference in the environment through lending to renewable energy companies.”
Step 2: What Will I Achieve?
The next step is to clearly define your business goals in measurable metrics. Yes, testimonials and anecdotal stories are inspiring, but to determine whether you have succeeded, you should define your goals in terms of how much you increase your business by a specific date, for example. Your launch plan is only as good as how clearly defined your expectations are. Set up clear metrics that you can circle back to in order to evaluate the success of your plan.
Step 3: How Will I Achieve It?
Once you master why you should launch the product in this market, determine what you aim to achieve and by when. The next step is deciding how you will reach those goals. Strategy is a key element, and this is why it is critical to define your strategy only after you’ve set your goals.
What many companies forget is that they don’t need to grow on their own. Utilize existing networks to introduce and grow your business. For example, LeTip International, Inc. is a business leads networking and referral group. Business leaders of all types can exchange leads, build relationships and more. Individual industries have similar groups, like SEN Design Group, which is a membership-based kitchen and bath industry buying and business education group.
Being a member of an established respected organization in a relevant industry can give a new company added credibility, but it can also help open doors to introduce new services, products and brands.
Step 4: Doing It
The successful implementation of your plan now relies on laying out the actions you’ll take. They should follow a set timeline and deadlines and include assigned tasks. I often work with global companies to help them successfully enter the U.S. market, and I emphasize to them the importance of raising brand awareness through a consistent narrative. Consider building an integrated marketing campaign that includes powerful branding, PR and sales and marketing strategies.
For example, a global company I consult for, Dexwet, has been preparing to take their air filtration solution into the North American market during the Covid-19 pandemic. One of my client’s effective PR tactics included earning and sharing evidence of their product’s efficacy from an independent study. The company also began seeking partnerships with HVAC and plumbing service companies, who would offer the product to customers. Finally, Dexwet developed compelling videos and educational materials to highlight how its product works.
Throughout the launch, they invested in a targeted PR and marketing campaign.
Step 5: Evaluation
Success means effectiveness. It’s time to evaluate the results and measure the plan’s success against the original goals. This is also a perfect moment to review the plan and implement changes based on your findings. Going forward, you may need to adjust your strategy or modify your goals and perhaps increase your budget.
In closing, launching a product or service is scary. It should be. You invested time, passion and dollars into making this happen. Be disciplined about drawing out the road map to set you up for the success you deserve.