So you have an idea—a big, juicy, gotta-have-it, next-big-thing, product idea—and you’re asking yourself, “What happens now?” There is more to a product launch than simply saying a little prayer and posting it for sale, and it all starts with a solid plan.
A product launch plan brings your goals into focus, helping you narrow down what makes it worth buying, who will want it, how you will show it off, and how you will get it into people’s hands.
The mintr team has assembled a product launch checklist of ten questions you need to answer before you debut your big idea.
The who, what, and why that makes your product great.
1. Am I offering a new solution to a problem that exists?
Making your product shine in the online marketplace requires a deep understanding of what problem it solves and how you want product users to feel. It doesn’t just look good, it gives them new confidence to flaunt. It doesn’t only save them time, it gives them back their freedom. Find what their lives are lacking and how your product can be the one to hand it over. Dive into your product’s market to see the current options available, how they approach the problem, and what makes your product different. This will help you develop your Unique Sales Proposition (USP), which you can use to call over your target audience.
2. Who is my target audience and how wide is the appeal for my product?
The wider the appeal, the more potential buyers you will have. Products like sunglasses and sneakers are more likely to generate sales because almost everyone wants fresh shades and kicks. However, you aren’t looking to cast the biggest net; you are looking for your core group of diehard customers. Who is so invested in solving the problem you have identified that your product will practically jump into their cart? Identify as many details as you can about this core group of buyers: ages, interests, jobs, education, and desires. You can use this information to find where they hang out online and let them know you have what they need.
3. Is my product seasonal?
Consumers as a group are generally terrible at planning for seasons ahead. Seasonal products like snowboards and swimsuits find the most success during the season in which buyers will use them. This is when they are thinking about them and possibly taking stock of what they have or if they need an upgrade, so you should ideally time your launch for the beginning of the season in which consumers will use your product most. For example, you can see below that searches for “ski equipment” max out in late December to early January. We have seen similar patterns in other seasonal products as well.
Protip: This also applies to pre-sales (as in crowdfunding campaigns). So, even if buyers won’t get the product until another season, you should still launch during the season of use.
Showing Off Your Product
It has to work and look good doing it.
4. Do I have a final product or a working prototype?
If you have a final product, fantastic; if you don’t, you at least need to bring a solid working prototype to the table. When you have a prototype that does what it needs to, you can develop your assets and start promoting. Even before you are ready to launch your full ecommerce site, you can introduce potential consumers to your website to build awareness and SEO. In the case of pre-sales (such as in crowdfunding where you take orders now and ship later), you still need a working prototype that shows the functionality of your product. This gives backers more confidence in your ability to deliver a top-notch customer experience.
5. Does my product look good?
The online marketplace is competitive so your product’s visual appeal is especially important. Working with a product designer can fine tune your design, and talking to consumers in your target audience can give you an idea of what they want to see. Selling online comes with many advantages, but it also means selling your product completely through visual assets. No matter how life changing your product is, professional photos and videos are important tools for driving sales. Think of it like a dating app profile: you might have a great personality, but you still need those amazing photos if you want them to swipe right.
6. What marketing strategy is most appropriate for my product?
Ultimately, it comes down to where your consumer is getting information on comparable products. Determining your buyer’s journey, the process that buyers take to find out about your product and decide to purchase your product, will help you figure that out. However, for most online product launches, the best channels for getting momentum are online advertising, affiliate marketing partnerships, and social media influencers (micro-influencers or industry YouTube personalities depending on your product category. However, the latter can take time). These channels can add quick oomph to your marketing plan while you concurrently work on marketing efforts that take more time to return results (such as creating high quality content and SEO). Your email list of target audience members or leads can be hugely helpful, but if you don’t have a list like this we can help you build one. Dive into these channels and find out where your target audience is—and where they aren’t.
For example, this past year we launched WhizRider on Indiegogo. Since this product is a portable child’s car seat that boasts exceptional convenience, we built relationships with parenting bloggers, Facebook groups, and social media influencers on parenting and car seat safety across the nation. We chose this strategy because our research and surveys showed us who parents trust when it comes to making choices about children’s products: certified car seat professionals and respected parenting blogs. We also invested in digital ads sales, which generated a Return On Advertising Sales (ROAS) of an impressive 500%.
See the WhizRider Case Study.
7. What is my marketing budget?
Real talk: launching a product is a big investment. No real surprise there, but it is important that you understand your budget while weighing your marketing options. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation, but generally we recommend a budget of at least $20,000 for your assets (video and photography), simple website/landing page, digital advertising and influencer marketing. We additionally recommend an ad spend of at least $30,000 to see $150,000 in sales for first quarter sales goal (or crowdfunding goal). The actual recommended ad spend will depend on the product sales price. Our experience has shown us a correlation between your first quarter sales goal (or crowdfunding goal), your product sales price, and your marketing budget.
Getting Your Product Into Customers’ Hands
The brass tacks of making your big idea a reality.
8. Do I have a manufacturer lined up?
Your manufacturing contract will be a factor in determining your budget and your sales price. For these reasons, it is important to have a contract in place well before launch so that you can stay on top of your costs and work within your margins. When requesting production quotes, also get their answers to these key questions:
What is their minimum order quantity?
What is their price and policy for samples?
What is their turnaround time for a product like yours?
9. What is my shipping set-up? What are my shipping fees?
This can be one of the most challenging pieces to set up for your product launch. You can either handle shipping in house or hire a shipping company. If you are pre-selling (or crowdfunding) the product, you need to know the shipping costs per region (usually a flat fee) and the shipping time frame. Otherwise you will have to guess, which could put you at risk of losing money.
10. What is the expected sales price?
It is critical to know where your price stands against market pricing, so jump in and do some research. Review your biggest competitors and ask your target consumers what they would feel comfortable paying as well.
If you are planning a crowdfunding campaign, you will usually be offering a 35% to 50% discount off of the MSRP, so take that into consideration when crunching numbers.
Reevaluating Your Product Launch Plan
When should you reassess your plan to launch your product?
State, National, or Industry Crisis
Launching a product during a crisis could complicate your plans. Some industries are being hit hard by COVID-19, such as restaurants and travel, while others are doing well. Food and groceries, personal care, and fitness equipment sales are steady, but of course all businesses are reassessing their marketing and shipping procedures to account for the changing times.
Anticipate your customers’ shifting needs and priorities; consider how your product launch can address them.
Major Manufacturing Issues
Without a way of creating your product, you can’t guarantee you can get it to clients. If you don’t know how much manufacturing will cost, you can’t accurately price your product. Take changes to your production timeline seriously and evaluate how you can maintain the best possible customer experience.