Ever heard of Facebook Home? HP Touchpad? The Nook? The Joojoo? Joost? Well, there’s a reason why. All of these products failed miserably.
In fact, 70% of all new product launches fail in the first year, according to Juliann Grant from Telesian Technology Inc. Having a product launch fail can be devastating – after all, your team worked hard to develop the product, develop a strategy to go to market and put together a marketing campaign.
The silver lining is that you can learn a great deal from these failures. Here are 7 things to avoid that could contribute to an unsuccessful product launch:
1. You Targeted Your Product to the Wrong Market
Know your market, research who your biggest customers may be and identify the real business need that exists. Make sure you understand whether or not the market you’ve identified is large and lucrative enough to provide you with enough revenue to sustain your product’s growth. Leverage your BETA customers and validate your sales cycles.
2. Sales Training May Have Been Unsuccessful
Another key to any product launch is how your sales team sells your product. Strong sales training means that your employees know the product inside-out, are able to effectively communicate the value-add of the product, know exactly what differentiates your product from the competition and knows the pain points of the customer he/she is selling to. Employees should be aware of every step in the sales cycle and be comfortable making judgments about how to deliver your product more easily to your customers.
3. It Was the Wrong Product
Sometimes there are “fixes” to products, upgrades or even “new and improved” products that just don’t fulfill a market need. Some of the worst failures in product history are those that have released a new product where one was simply not required or desired. Are your customers used to a particular product from you? Do they really need something new? Firmly establish that the need you are trying to fill actually exists so that you don’t release a product that looks great, but serves no one.
4. Poor Product Launch Timing
Entering the market too soon or too late can make or break your product. Don’t let competitors beat you to the punch and spoil the excitement that you’ve worked so hard to build. This industry works at lightning pace and you need to be aware of the changes around you in order to get there first. If you want to be the first on the block to market your product as the best and newest solution, stick to your timelines and be sure of your competitor’s speed. At the same time, don’t enter the market prematurely, before the market is mature enough to know what to do with it.
5. Too Much Hype
Let’s face it. In some cases, it is extraordinarily difficult to live up to a product that is so hyped up, so inflated that there is nowhere to go but down. To avoid this, don’t overstate product benefits and promise features and capabilities that you can’t deliver on. Make sure to sound excited about the product but hamper expectations so that customers don’t get disappointed. If you do, your customers Also, let your customers speak for you – provide them with forums where they can rave about your product so that you take it down a notch.
6. Your Product Was Flawed
This one may be the toughest to swallow but the sad reality is that not all products are well designed. Bad quality – whether because of poor user-experience and usability – seriously affect initial product “buy in”. In order for your product to successfully penetrate the market, the whole system supporting your product must work — very well and from the very beginning. Pre-market testing will help you avoid any potential pitfalls.
7. You Didn’t Stay on Top of the Curve
Always stay on top of changing preferences, expectations and market need. Gartner Analysts urge us to challenge our assumptions: “In the technology world, things change rapidly. Products, buying habits, selling philosophies, customer expectations about experience, these things have all changed pretty dramatically in the past two years. So knowing that the world is changing rapidly
Have you identified any potential problems that could ruin your product launch? When faced with any of these issues, Gartner Analysts remind employees to speak up! “Speaking up is necessary to avoid the behavioral traps. Just make sure you have done your homework and you have solid data to support your case. That will make it easier to get others to overcome their own confirmation bias.”
You can also watch this video from Harvard Business Review on lessons from product launch failures: