There is nothing more exciting than deciding you want to work for yourself and launch a new product or service to help a customer segment or cause you believe in become better. The backgrounds of entrepreneurs range as does their motivations to why they want to launch a new product or service but the challenges they face will be similar in nature especially if it is the first time you have started a company. Identifying you want to start a company is much easier than identifying the pain point you plan solve and if you are lucky you experienced both at the same time. In other words, many people want to launch a new product or service but have no idea what it will do or who it will be for, they just want to work for themselves and explore from there opportunities. This is the hardest path because you need to find the pain point and may not be familiar with the industry or details around it.
The best case scenario is that you are experiencing a pain point with no existing solution or the existing solution is mediocre and you know how you can improve upon it. In either case, taking a concept or drive to reality requires a lot of hard work and constant attention. Here are the top 10 tips if you are looking to launch a new product or service and need some general direction on where to start.
1. Know The Problem You Are Solving: If you have an idea already that you are interested in how to launch a new product or service for, you need to write it down and be able to define what the solution is and what pain point does it resolve. There are many great ideas for new products or services however the reality is those ideas may not really solve a problem. If an idea does not solve a real pain point for a potential customer, why would they pay for it?
2. Define Your Target Audience: Once you have validated your product really solves a pain point for a potential user, you need to really take a deep dive in defining that customer segment. You may have a large audience at first, but really once you look at your specific solution and where you want to go after from a marketing (brand or price) perspective your really need to nail down a user profile that you plan to go after so that everything you do aligns for that audience. For example, are you the Porsche or Ford of cars? Do you want to go high end or volume? Even though they solve the same pain point, the specific intended audience is important.
3. Define Your Brand: The best way to build a business is to become a real entity which requires the branding aspects of what you are trying to do. What are you calling your product or business? Have you created a logo and brand standards to help ensure you have a consistent feel to your offer so that it can help with name recognition and begin to build yourself as a real business. This can include an online presence, an actual office if your product type needs it, logos, printed materials if you plan to direct market and other aspects to begin building your sales and marketing efforts.
4. Validate Your Product: Once you have built your product, get it into beta with actual end users to validate you nailed the solution to the pain points. Just because you think it is done, your product may need a ton of more work but the only way you can confirm it is to put the product in the hands of potential users and listen to their feedback. When you are trying to launch a new product or service nothing is more valuable than actual user feedback directly on your product to know what you need to keep working on before you are ready for launch. Be ready to listen to feedback and implement changes.
5. Know Your Competition: As you learn from your potential customers they may already be solving the pain point you identified today in some fashion. This could be an existing tool or manual process. You need to track all potential competitors for your solution and layout how you are different from them. You really do not want price or support to be your differentiation. You need to stand out from the existing options with features in some way or you will lose ground to competition. The only way to know is research and track what makes you different and if nothing, this is a big risk that you need to solve before launch.
6. Drive Marketing Efforts: Remember while building a product is exciting for your business, unless customers know you exist it is useless. You need to run your marketing efforts in parallel with your product efforts. Build your online presence as soon as possible and define your strategy to drive traffic and awareness to your site and brand. If direct sales and other methods are available to you for your product for sales and marketing define your strategy and kick it off right away. It takes time to build awareness, don’t wait till you are ready for launch to do this or you will have a disappointing launch.
7. Complete User Interviews: Constantly reach out to users, influences and those in the space you plan to support and ask them about your solution and the pain points they are experiencing. All industries and needs change. If you are working on a product, what you heard in the beginning as a pain point can evolve over time so you need to constantly keep your finger on the pulse to ensure you are still aligning with the need. It is always easier to change what you are working on an pivot during build out than after launch of a new product or service so always be looking for feedback. Use the user interview feedback to validate your brand, your pricing, your product, your marketing strategy, and all other aspects of your business.
8. Constantly Work On The Product: What drives a business that is based on a product are key metrics such as conversions and churn. Dig deep in the metrics that matter for your business and understand what product changes can be done to increase and improve those metrics. Focus on usability, customer feedback, differentiation in features and focus on the solve for the pain points. When you work to launch a new product or service, it is critical to keep focus on what matters to get to launch and always know after that can be follow up releases and other launches but you need to get your product done and launched so keep focused on what matters.
9. Nail Your Pricing Model: Pricing can make or break a launch of a new product or service as if you charge too much for your customer segment you can have the perfect product with great activation and usage but no actual conversions. On the other hand, as a business, you hate to leave money on the table and limit revenue by under charging for ht value you are bringing. Nailing your pricing requires completion of the tips mentioned earlier which is knowing your competitors and the corresponding costs for those options and your specific market segment what their appetite for cost is based on the value you are offering.
10. Find Early Adopters: Early adopters help in so many ways launch a new product or service as they can validate your product solves the solution and test it out for you. They can validate your pricing and do introductions to other potential customers in your market segment. They can let you know what conferences or forums they read to know where to do marketing. They can leave you online reviews and testimonials to help launch your product or services with an actual customer backing your business. To find your early adopter you need to be constantly reaching out to your network and local community. To be successful, it is critical to find actual user feedback on all fronts so as soon as you start down the path of trying to launch a new product or service begin your search for an adopter and reach out early and often to them.
When you are trying to launch a new product or service it can be difficult and a lonely journey as there are many moving parts to building a new business that you need to get 100% right or you will not take off. You will always experience more negative than positive and need to be able to continue moving forward if you believe in your product. More than anything, you need to have grit and just be willing to wake up each day and work on it until you are successful. Once you launch, keep in mind, the challenges are not behind you but instead there is just a new world of issues laying ahead such as how to scale the business, funding, employee needs, driving revenue, driving customer adoption and more to keep the product off of the ground once you achieve it.