Tuesday, November 13, 2007

How NOT to Launch a New Product (or Business for that matter)

You've built the better mousetrap, now you're expecting the proverbial path-beating to your door. Here are some classic mistakes companies make while getting ready to launch.

1. Don't plan the launch until right before the release date-- Nothing is more disheartening to a PR or marketing consultant than to have a client call and say, "We have a great new product ready to launch next month. Can you develop a plan by next week?"

2. Carve your launch plan in stone-- Few new product introductions go exactly according to plan. Manufacturing snafus occur. Distribution gets delayed. Be sure to build flexibility into your launch plan. Always ask the unpopular question, "What if the launch date gets delayed?"

3. Put the head honcho in charge of the launch-- Brand managers or product managers are best suited to take primary responsibility for the launch process—not senior personnel whose multiple and competing duties can impair focus and tactical expertise. The involvement and support of the CEO, president and other senior leaders are critical to the success of a launch, but not on a daily basis.

4. Don't educate employees until after the news breaks elsewhere-- Your employees are your most important word-of-mouth brand ambassadors. Educate them about the launch plan and prepare them to talk about the product with their family and friends so they can begin to build the buzz.

5. Use the same forms of media you've always used-- The number of potential media outlets that can talk about your new product grows daily. Don't just dig out the same media list you used for your last launch. There are 6,200 magazines and 240 television stations available today, with hundreds more being introduced each year. Don't overlook Internet media outlets that might not have existed when you executed previous launches.

6. Skip the crisis plan-- The number of things that can go wrong when a new product hits the market is limitless. Brainstorm all potential pitfalls to ensure your plan provides remedies for what might go wrong. It's always better to have a crisis plan in place rather than trying to create one while facing a major issue that could tarnish your brand.

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