The 6 Steps of a Successful Product Launch
Step 1: Find originality in your ideas
Step 1: Find originality in your ideas
I control the launches of over 50 products per year and have done for at least 5 years. That’s at least 250 product launches in the last 260 weeks, amassing tens of millions of dollars in revenue.
Some bomb, most don’t — and today we’ll be exploring what formula I use for a successful product launch.
Let’s get into it.
#1. Find originality in your ideas
You never get a second chance at a first impression. That’s why companies spend billions globally on their product launches.
The first step isn’t necessarily finding something entirely original, it’s finding what’s original about that idea to create a new product.
People had sold shoes before, but it was TOMS that found a new way to sell shoes with a social cause attached. They weren’t the first, but last year alone they sold almost $68million worth of footwear. Not bad, aye?
Your goal is to find the originality in your own ideas.
Maybe you want to sell vintage clothes like AWDL — you won’t be the first, but are you local? Are you a specialist in denim alone? Do you focus on jewellery?
Maybe you want to start a new taco truck, but instead of hot Mexican food, you want to focus on desserts — giving it a fresh spin.
If it’s a new product, great. If it’s not a new product, what new spin can you give to it, to make it newer, better or cheaper?
You need to start by seeing if your product or even the spin on your product has been done before.
Use familiar tools (like Google) to check your chosen brand name and establish whether this is entirely original, or whether you have some competition in your space.
This is also a great way to see what everyone is selling similar items for, to see what the market potential is. Is your product better, cheaper or original?
Use tools like:
Trademark search (this will be specific to your country)
Companies House (this will be specific to your country)
TIP: You can also put quote marks around your concept to see how many competing pages there are for the idea.
Inadvertently, this idea is so original that when searching Google, I found a ‘semi-googlewhack’ — which is a term with only 1 result.
Looks like I need to buy a truck ASAP.
Make sure you check out shops, videos, blogs, local businesses and more to determine if you’re stepping on someone else’s toes.
Of course, this isn’t 100% foolproof, but you’re doing your due diligence both morally and legally.
Before you launch your idea you need to know what it’s likely to cost to realise and what you want to sell it for.
The cost influences the retail price, but it doesn’t control it.
It’s up to you to decide what percentage profit margin you’re looking for. I always use PercentageCalculator.net.
The second section down, type in the cost (x) is what percentage of (y), the retail price. This will give you your potential profit margin.
Only you can decide whether you’re happy with that profit margin or not.
Most ideas sound great, but when costing out, they start to become too expensive to make enough money from.
Retailers work on anything from 20% to 80% profit margins. Wholesale margins are much tighter, so it depends on your product idea and business model.
Use sites like:
By searching these places for the best prices on your idea, you’ll be able to work out what margins you’re likely to receive before you commit to an order.
This could be the time in which you scrap your product idea entirely and move on to something else. Not every idea is a winner.
The biggest mistake I see all new businesses make is buying stock first and deciding what to sell it for (and where) later. It rarely works out well.
“But what if it sells so well that we don’t have enough stock to keep up with demand?” I hear you cry.
Good! Selling out never hurt anyone. Crowdfunding has ushered in a new era of buyers who are happy to pre-order and reserve their products whilst they’re being made.
So use the ‘sell-out’ as a marketing tool to offset the cost of a re-order.
It’s always better to have too little than too much of an untested product.
With good assets, you can make even the most frugal buyer have the desire for your product.
Side note: I just spent £130 on shorts via an Instagram ad. The videos were good and they looked comfortable… Their assets were fantastic. So I bought them. I’ve never heard of that brand before, but it wasn’t the product idea that got me to click (shorts), it was the way in which they displayed that product (their video assets).
If you’re selling something on eBay and you’ve taken the photo in your messy office, with horrible yellow lighting, no wonder you’re not making a sale.
You need to invest more in assets than you do in advertising, as Jonah Berger’s book Contagious says “most brand recommendations come from word of mouth.”
This means you need:
The best-selling products at our company are almost always the ones that have had the most attention from our team. The more assets we prepare or invest in, the better it sells.
Timing is everything when it comes to releasing a product. You need to ask yourself the right questions.
Is it seasonal?
Does it have the potential to do better during the holiday season than a normal day? (People are willing to spend more during the holidays, hence Apple does their annual iPhone unveiling in September, ready for the holidays.)
Am I launching it close to Payday for my customers?
Is this an impulse buy?
Is it a similar product, or one that’s being sold to the same audience as last week? Are they likely to be able to afford/want this new product too?
Is it topically relevant? Aka it reflects current pop culture, fashion trends etc
Does the news cycle, the stock market or current economic climate prohibit the release of this product?
Am I too late to the trend, bubble or fad?
There’s no point releasing a Halloween costume in April, or an ice-cream store in November. Similarly, there’s no point in releasing a product that’s late to the party or trend also.
Make sure you’ve considered your product’s launch timing extensively. Don’t rush it out and ruin a good product with bad timing.
You can condense your preparation down into the four ‘P’s’ of marketing.
Product (What is it? Define it in a sentence.)
Place (Deciding who you’re going to sell it to aka your demographic of buyers. This could be location, age group, gender etc)
Price (Ensuring it’s a good profit margin for you and an acceptable price for your target market to pay. Give value.)
Promotion (When and where your assets are displayed, to drive sales of your product.)
Decide before release where your assets are going to be placed/displayed and when to drive the most sales of your product.
Weekends are a bad day to launch a product predominantly to an email list, but great days to have an open day at your new restaurant in town. This is why we spoke about timing.
Sumo has a great blog about 99 marketing channels that you can use as a checklist (if relevant) to your launch. Places and methods of promoting your product release. Only use this when you’ve considered everything above.
By selling an original product, or having an original spin, for the right price, with good profit margin and the right stock levels, with good timing, great assets and a thorough release plan, you’ll be doing everything you can to guarantee a successful product launch.
Don’t rush this process, the company I’m VP for has pulled potential products minutes before release to re-film an entire trailer in the past. If you’ve not given 100%, you can’t expect your buyers to either.