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Product Launch: 10 Questions to Ask Before You Launch a New Product

Launching a product that will solve big problems for your customers and take the world by storm is every business owner’s dream. The impact. The sales. The recognition and business growth. Pretty freaking exciting, right? No wonder every year, tens of thousands of new products are introduced to the market. But that also means many new products fail at the first hurdle every year. Why? Because the product builders didn’t do their research and answer some critical questions before the product launch.

So whether you’re running a mom-and-pop start-up or a more seasoned business and looking to scale your product offering, you’ll never regret taking the time to wisely consider your next move. And we’ve got 10 clarifying questions that will help you decide if it’s time to get cracking on your big idea or not. But before we get there, let’s talk about what a product launch is and look at an example of how not to do one.

What Is a Product Launch?

A product launch is a company’s planned effort to introduce a new solution—in the form of a product or service—to the market so people can buy it. A successful product launch generates sales, draws attention to your brand, and often boosts sales of your other products too.

And a bad launch? It can eat away your investment dollars and leave your brand with a bruised reputation. Nobody wants that kind of grief. All the more reason to ask yourself the hard questions and do some serious prep work long before your new product hits the market. Later, we’ll cover the questions you need to answer to:

  • Nail down the market value of your idea.
  • Determine its business impact.
  • Decide how you’ll measure your product’s success.

But first, let’s take a look at one tragic example of a failed product launch where it seems no one bothered to answer those questions.

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A Cautionary Tale (aka How Not to Launch a Product)

Ever heard of the Yugo? Malcolm Bricklin imported this Serbian hatchback to the U.S. in the 1980s after two failed car launches and looming bankruptcy. He thought the Yugo’s cheap price point would attract budget-conscious Americans. It did—at first. But within months, American Yugo owners complained about the car’s slow speed, cheap interior and faulty transmission. Then came bad crash test reports, unrealistic maintenance requirements, and a flood of engine failures.

Yugo America went bankrupt in 1992. Malcolm probably wished he’d asked the right questions to know the market, understand his customer, and weigh the risks before he jumped on the Yugo train.

Thankfully, you can find plenty of examples of businesses who did their homework and launched products so well customers keep coming back for more: Apple, HelloFresh, Amazon, Spanx and Nike, to name a few. A successful product launch can be your story too. Here are 10 questions to ask yourself to make sure you’re launching the right product at the right time for your customers and your business.

Related article: Everything You Need to Know About Critical Thinking Skills for Business Leaders

What to Ask Before Launching a Product

Value Discovery

To make sure your new product or service fills a need in the market—and that you can fill that need—ask yourself these questions:

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1. What problem does this solve? Does it save time making a healthy dinner, make tracking your money easier, organize your garage on a budget? Outline your product’s benefits to the customer.

2. Why is this a problem we should solve? Does it offer hope for a stronger legacy, make a difference in your community, support your values? Understand how the product aligns with your mission. If it doesn’t, you shouldn’t be working on it.

Related article: How to Write a Company Mission Statement

3. Why is this important now? Timing is everything. And urgency keeps you fired up to get stuff done. Understand what could happen—good or bad—if you don’t act now.

4. What’s our unique value proposition? Outline the difference between your product and your competition’s product. Does yours last longer, give a better user experience, come with a better track record?

5. Why should we not do this? Dig for all the reasons you shouldn’t invest in launching this product. What are the potential negative outcomes? Will the launch leave you too strapped for cash to complete it well? Is there a high risk that a slow economy or steep competition will drown your product launch? If the negatives outweigh the positives, you either need to solve for the negatives, wait for a better time to develop your product, or scrap your idea for a better one.

Market Potential

Get a sense of how well your product or service will do by asking these questions:

6. How big is this opportunity? Get clear on your market size and revenue potential.

7. Who are our main competitors? Know who you’re up against, what makes you stand out from them, and what you need to do to take your place among them.

Validation and Measurement

Ask yourself these questions to figure out what winning looks like:

8. What are the costs, time and resources required to launch? Create a budget and timeline to the best of your ability. Next, answer the question: Am I prepared to devote the money, time and team members necessary to develop and promote this product to get the results I want?

Related article: How to Create a Business Budget

9. How can we test and validate that our product will solve this problem for our customers? When you listen to your target audience and refine your product to solve their problems, you build authority and trust. And your product builds traction. Just like you wouldn’t open a restaurant until all the recipes are proven, you don’t want to send your product out into the wild until you’ve tested and validated the features your customers care about most. So know what you need to test and how to test it before you go through all the steps of a product launch.

10. How will we measure product success? Success can mean a lot of things. If you’re looking at initial sales but not product returns, you’re not getting the whole picture. Do you also care about customer satisfaction? Are you looking to teach customers how to get the most out of your product and combine it with one of your other products? Get clear on what success looks like for you so you can crunch numbers, interview customers, and focus on metrics that tell the right story.

Related article: What Is a Key Performance Indicator?

If you answered those questions and feel more ready than ever to dive into a product launch, congratulations! It’s time to work through your product launch checklist so you know how to plan for, launch and measure the success of your new product.

What’s Next: Know Where You Are so You Know What to Do

At every stage of business, the challenges you’ll face are different, but the 10 questions you need to consider before a product launch are the same. If you’re a Treadmill Operator or Pathfinder, you’re probably thinking less about new products and more about how to get your team moving in the same direction. But once you’re a Trailblazer, Peak Performer or Legacy Builder, you’re in a better position to launch new products that grow and reenergize your business.

Check out our EntreLeadership Stages of Business Assessment if you’re not sure which stage you’re in. Once you know, you can also sign up for EntreLeadership Elite to get the full plan to take your business to the next level. Elite tools and resources will help you learn about business budgeting, strategic planning and building momentum at every stage of business.

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Ramsey Solutions

About the author

Ramsey

Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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