No business can afford to rest on its laurels for very long. Even the most successful enterprises must find ways to reinvigorate themselves and their product offerings—or risk losing customers to more innovative competitors.
Successful businesses understand the need to periodically review the features and benefits of their offerings and determine if a product upgrade is called for, or, more ambitiously, the launch of a new product.
These same businesses understand the critical importance of planning ahead for the product launch. Essential planning elements include:
- Undertake a top-to-bottom evaluation of target customer needs. What’s missing from your current product line that might better serve your customers? Surveying this target audience is a good first step towards answering this question, accompanied by a thorough analysis of what’s worked in the past in terms of meeting their needs.
The wrong thing to do is “throw a whole bunch of stuff against a wall and see what sticks,” advises Small Business Trends. “You risk losing money, losing customers, and hurting your entire brand.”
- Offer customers the chance to provide input. Don’t stop with customer analysis. Actively reach out to loyal patrons of your business and get their feedback. As we’ve noted in the past, “This kind of informal collaboration not only generates loyalty but helps ensure that Product 2.0 will more effectively meet your customers’ needs.”
- Plan to build your best MVP. Some new product initiatives bog down because those involved wait until their new product is “perfect.” As in most other aspects of our lives, “perfect” simply doesn’t exist. Instead, effective planners aim for creation of a minimum viable product (MVP) as a key part of their strategy. This prototype, while perhaps less than perfect, can still deliver the same upgraded (or new) benefits, without a crippling up-front investment.
Rather than “spending years of your life and millions of dollars on a feature-rich product, create what you can with what you have,” advises Forbes. “You can iterate features later, as you buy time, earn revenue, and respond to feedback.”
- Start planning to create buzz around your new product. As everyone knows in our social media era, getting people excited about something can lead to considerable buzz before and during a new product launch. To prepare, be sure the following elements are in place:
- Eye-catching landing page devoted to the new product
- Compelling text about the new product’s benefits
- Email lead capture form for people to register and learn more
Thinking about hosting a new product launch event? Turn to social media to get excitement building about the upcoming event. Your event planners should already be active on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and elsewhere, sharing tidbits about the new launch, encouraging followers to “Save the Date,” announcing launch-related contests or giveaways, etc. The whole idea is to boost awareness and keep your brand top-of-mind among followers.
- Enable prospective customers to easily learn about your new offering. Another way to generate (and prolong) buzz is to make things as easy as possible for prospective customers to learn about your offering. “Don’t make them hunt for information,” notes The Balance Small Business. By offering “videos, demos, whitepapers, and information sheets,” there’s a greater likelihood of them “sharing your information” with their followers.
Want to learn more about harnessing the power of social media to promote your business? Check out our free TAB Boss Webinar, “How to Use Facebook to Market Your Business” for tips on making the most of the world’s largest social media channel.