Build a Successful Product Launch Strategy with These 4 Steps

Launching a new product can be a difficult - but rewarding - task.

This is because introducing a product to the market is a multi-dimensional process that requires many activities to get done, all based on a good strategy.

If you want to learn more about the strategy behind a successful launch process, we’ve got you covered.

In the following guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know including:

  • What a product launch strategy is
  • Why it’s important to have one
  • A step-by-step product launch strategy

As well as plenty of actionable tips for you to nail your new product launch.

If you’re excited as we are, let’s get started.

What is a Product Launch Strategy?

A product launch strategy is the planning of all the stages that makes releasing a new product to the market a success.

Those stages can include market research, competitor analysis, product development, marketing plans, and anything else that your go-to-market strategy consists of.

In simple terms, how will you execute them? What do you need to take into account? Which results do you need to measure? When will everything take place?

All those - plus more - are questions that need to be answered as part of your product launch strategy.

You can think of it as all the steps you have to take in order to put your product out there, from the pre-launch all the way up to the launch date and the post-launch period.

Let’s have a look at an example of a successful launch.

Lemlist, a cold email outreach software, released its product’s 2.0 version called Lemlist 2.0 on Product Hunt; one of the go-to places to raise awareness about your upcoming launch.

lemlist 2.0 product launch strategy example

Image Source: Product Hunt

By doing so, they managed to:

  • Get the tool in front of lots of people’s eyes - including their target audience 
  • Gather customer feedback  
  • Increase their customer base from day one - those users are known as "early adopters"
  • Reach the second spot amongst the most popular launches that week by receiving 1,500 upvotes

Although Product Hunt may not always be suitable for every company, being a part of an overall strategy can provide many benefits.

This is because it’s one of the many ways to create hype about your new product, so we strongly suggest taking advantage of it if you feel like it suits your business; if you get enough upvotes the results can be great.

We’ve said that having a product launch strategy is important so let’s dive deeper into the reasons why.

Why is it Important to Have a Product Launch Strategy?

It's important to have a solid launch strategy for your product because it helps you release a product successfully to the market without skipping a beat.

Imagine investing all of your time, energy, and funds into building a product that no one really needs or will ever hear about.

No business wants that.

It's exactly the reason why you need to have a clear and thought-through strategy in place. 

It might sound obvious, but there are far too many great products out there that fail because they lack a good underlying strategy that'll support everything.

According to Harvard Business School, 95% of products launched each year fail because they try to launch any product possible to the market with just the hope that it'll be successful.

What’s more, the main reasons why new products fail, according to Gartner, are:

  • They don’t meet the customers’ needs
  • They don’t have clear differentiating factors
  • Bad decisions were made during the development
  • The timing wasn’t right
  • Competition was fierce
key reasons why new product fail

Image Source: Gartner

As well as many more reasons that - at least to a certain extent - could be dealt with if a solid strategy had been implemented.

For example, 37.5% of the new products launched could avoid failure if they met their customers’ demands better and conducted market research.

To sum up, a launch strategy needs to be implemented early on so that potential customers learn about your new product and how it can help them.

Let’s move on to the next part of our guide.

What is the Difference Between a Product Launch Strategy and a Product Launch Plan?

A product launch strategy is often confused with a product launch plan so, in this part of our guide, we’re going to try and make the two terms as clear and differentiated as possible.

To put it simply, the former consists of all the stages that need to be executed step-by-step for a successful launch, while the latter includes a general outline of the launch and what it’s aiming to achieve.

Let’s break down what both terms consist of.

Product launch strategy

As we've said, your strategy should be based on every step you’ll take in order to make your product launch successful.

To be precise, strategy is all about:

  • Who the product is targeting  - the audience, demographics, buyer personas
  • How it'll be promoted using which marketing campaigns and channels
  • How it'll be differentiated from competitors - the unique value proposition
  • How it'll be developed
  • How the customer journey will be optimized
  • How the results will be measured and through which metrics
  • How any potential changes will be applied, such as new features
  • What'll happen on the launch day
  • What'll happen after the launch day

Those steps are - or should - be applied by any company, from corporations to small businesses and startups, in order to be fully ready to release a product to the market.

Let’s now have a look at what the launch plan is.

Product launch plan

A product launch plan revolves around the product’s messaging and purpose so that all stakeholders can be on the same page.

More specifically, the launch plan is about:

  • The product’s vision
  • Which market gap it’s aiming to fill
  • Who will be included, e.g. sales teams, marketing teams, product managers
  • The short- and long-term goals
  • The launch’s roadmap, including pre-launch, launch, and post-launch phases

All in all, the plan puts the product launch in a certain context and provides everyone involved with the necessary information, whereas the strategy is a step-by-step process of how each activity will be accomplished.

If you’re wondering what that process looks like, let’s dive deeper into it.

Step-by-Step Product Launch Strategy

In this part of our guide, we’re going to show you the steps you have to take in order to build an effective product launch strategy.

We’ll cover the most important stages of the process you need to follow to release your product to market successfully, based on a hypothetical scenario.

Let’s assume we’re a new fintech company that's building a digital product in the stock trading niche that could challenge the traditional brokers.

Let’s get started.

Step #1: Conduct competitive analysis

The first step is to conduct a competitive analysis.

To begin with, we can conduct a SWOT analysis, where we’ll list all of our product’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats; the last one is particularly important since we have to look at our direct and indirect competitors.

Swot analysis viral loops Product launch strategy

That’ll help us have a better overview of who our competitors are so we can research them further.

Author’s Note: A separate SWOT analysis can be made for your own product as well as for each of your competitors, too.

In our case, some prominent ones would be Robinhood, eToro, and WeBull, so our competitive analysis can be based on them.

It’s now time to identify exactly what they offer; despite being similar companies to us, their product features might be different or maybe they offer something that makes them slightly unique in their users’ eyes.

Things to research about them and take into account are:

  • Exactly how their product is built
  • What, if any, unique sell proposition (USP) they have
  • The marketing tactics they use
  • How they launched - or are planning to launch - their product
  • Their business model, including pricing strategy
  • How they handle customer support

Plus, any other aspect that you need to include in your analysis in order to know where you stand compared to your competitors.

Ideally, you want to analyze their product lifecycle and quality, since it'll help you spot potential gaps that you can fill yourself.

In our case, for example, assuming that our direct competitors don’t offer many stock options for users to trade, this could be a sign that adding a wide variety of stocks from different sectors could become our USP.

Moreover, if they don’t use certain marketing tactics, it’s good to examine why; maybe they’ve proven to be ineffective for users interested in stock trading or maybe they’ve simply not been utilized or tested enough.

This could potentially be another indication that we can take advantage of something that’ll make us unique.

Also, research the competitors’ customer acquisition methods; how do they acquire new users? How do they retain them? What lead capture tactics are being used? 

We need to pinpoint answers to all these questions and compare them to our own methods of acquiring users. 

This will help to improve potential areas so that we become more competitive.

For instance, a primary customer acquisition tactic for stock trading apps is referral marketing.

Just to give you an example, Robinhood - one of our hypothetical direct competitors - managed to acquire 1 million new users before its launch through this method.

A SaaS referral program is still active and it offers both the referrer and the referred person a free stock.

robinhood referral program product launch strategy example

Image Source: Robinhood

A similar tactic has also been used by eToro:

etoro product launch strategy example referral marketing

Image Source: eToro

WeBull also got in on the act:

product launch strategy example webull

Image Source: Webull

This is a pretty clear indication that referral programs work for our competitors so it would be rational to follow the same approach to keep up with them. 

Of course, each case and industry is different so you need to do your own research when it comes to your product’s competitors and their marketing tactics.

All in all, you'll need to be:

  • Making a list of your direct competitors
  • Researching where they stand in the market
  • Listing their advantages and disadvantages
  • Examining their marketing plans
  • Examining their pricing models
  • Identifying their pain points

Taking advantage of tools to help you throughout the process can be very beneficial for your product launch.

Let’s move on to the next step of the strategy.

Step #2: Define your customer personas

Now you know who your competitors are and where they stand in the market.

It’s now time to define your target market so you can be aware of who your audience is.

After all, how can you launch your product without knowing who’s going to purchase it?

A good practice to understand your audience is to define customer personas, that is, your ideal customers’ profiles.

How old are they? Where are they from? What’s their gender? Do they have certain behaviors?

All those questions, plus more, need to be answered; let’s construct our own persona.

For our hypothetical example, we assume that we’re targeting men and women with the following characteristics: 

  • Located in the USA
  • Aged 18-25
  • Tech-savvy
  • Looking for an alternative way of investing
  • Have an annual income that doesn’t exceed $60,000

As you can see, we've used data that refers both to our audience’s demographics and their behaviors.

You can identify those by conducting market research and surveys; they’ll give you valuable insights into who your potential customers are so that you can perform targeted marketing efforts to attract them.

Some key characteristics to consider when building your customer persona are:

  • Demographics
  • Psychographics
  • Geographics
  • Behavioral aspects

Plus, anything else that will help you understand your ideal customer.

In fact, according to research, 93% of companies who exceed lead and revenue goals segment their database by buyer persona.

Another thing to take into account is where your ideal customers are most likely to be found; for example, if they’re active on a certain social media platform, you can perform marketing actions to target them.

All in all, creating a customer persona is an integral part of any successful product launch strategy.

Let’s continue.

Step #3: Define your positioning

The next step of your strategy should be to define your product positioning.

This is the process of deciding how the market will feel about your product and how it'll be distinguished from competing ones. 

What's your customers’ perception of your product? What problem do they think you’re solving? How much do they trust and recognize your product?

Those are all things you need to take into consideration for effective product positioning.

Here are a few more reasons why it’s important:

  • It'll show how and why it stands out from the crowd
  • People will get to know and trust you better
  • You can communicate your product’s value and justify its price
  • Good story-telling supports word-of-mouth buzz

Author’s Note: Product positioning is all about changing your audience’s view about you, not changing the product itself.

For example, in our case, Robinhood uses the phrase “Investing for Everyone” on the website’s homepage.

product launch strategy example robinhood brand positioning

Image Source: Robinhood

This allows users to understand that the product is for everyone and no one is excluded; this is a great case of good product positioning and we can follow a similar approach for our own hypothetical product.

All in all, finding creative ways to effectively communicate your product’s value and vision to your target audience should be an integral part of your product launch strategy.

Let’s now dive deeper into another factor that your strategy should include, the marketing plan.

Step #4: Define your product marketing strategy

Setting a product launch marketing strategy is an integral part of any successful launch.

It consists of the actions you’ll take in order to promote your product to the right people and through the right marketing channels.

Those actions can be:

  • Content marketing efforts
  • Paid digital marketing actions
  • Social media campaigns
  • Influencer marketing campaigns
  • Email marketing campaigns
  • Referral marketing campaigns
  • Webinars

Along with any other marketing activity that'll get your product in front of the right people and create a buzz around it, like press releases and launching on Product Hunt.

product launch marketing strategy example viral loops

In our case, we can promote our stock trading app through social media content, paid ads, email campaigns, as well as referral programs; these are particularly important considering we found earlier that our competitors are using them.

Author’s Note: It’s common for new products to go through a lot of trial and error during marketing. You need to test different tactics to find what works best for you.

Each and every marketing action will help us raise brand awareness and promote the product in front of the right types of consumers, who will hopefully buy it.

Overall, you should carefully plan out your product launch strategy, and all the steps inside it, in order to successfully launch your new product to the market.

Without a strategy in place, achieving your goals will be much harder.

Let’s wrap things up with some final words.

Before You Go

There you have it.

That was our guide on what a product launch strategy is all about, as well as its most important elements.

We hope that you’ll revisit this article next time you’re planning on launching a product; having a strategy will help you raise product awareness and acquire new users effectively.

If you feel a little overwhelmed with everything you need to consider, no need to worry!

We’ve put together a product launch checklist so you can keep track of all your product launch activities and stay on schedule.

Thanks for reading.

Written by:

Nikitas Filosofof

Nikitas is responsible for growth at Viral Loops and also helps customers on 1-on-1 basis to reach success with their referral campaigns. Let's connect on LinkedIn