New Product Launch Checklist

Launching a new product or service is an exciting time and it is possible to overlook something in the rush to get that product or service to market. I developed the following checklist to make certain that I didn't make the same mistake twice. Hopefully it will keep you from making a mistake the first time.

1. Target the Audience

Over my 30+ years of experience, I have been involved in lots of new product introductions and have witnessed even more. Failing to target the market is the most common mistake I see in new product introductions. If you haven't adequately defined the market, how can you be sure of what they want or need? Furthermore, how can you develop a plan to reach them? If you only get one thing from this article, make sure that you target your market.

2. Train and Focus the Sales Force

If you want your sales force to sell the new product, then you better make sure that they know and are comfortable with this product. Practice, role play, make calls with the sales force, but make sure they understand and can sell the product.

It is also important to make sure that selling the new product is their focus and that you have not confused them with multiple initiatives in the same or relatively close time frame. Clear the decks and make the new product launch their only focus.

3. Samples and Demos are ready and in place

New products generally need to be explained and samples and demos provide some of the best ways to do this. If you are going to use either, it is going to be critical to your success to insure that they are ready and in place prior to the launch.

4. Pricing is set

Your launch will not be a success if you don't sell your product or service and you will not be able to do that unless you have completed your pricing and terms. If you are selling through distribution, it will be important to provide them with guidelines as well.

5. Promotions are in place

Frequently new products are introduced with promotions, so making sure the details of that promotion are clear will be critical. It is also possible that there may be programs like co-op advertising or volume rebates that will be affected and making sure those bases are covered should not be overlooked.

6. Displays are ready

Merchandisers and displays can be very effective in a new product launch. First you must decide if that is a part of your plan and if it is, then to make sure that they are in the right place at the right time to make your launch a success. Nobody needs a merchandiser or display after the promotion and the product is taking up regular shelf sapce.

7. Distribution is ready

Make certain that your means of getting the product or service to the end user is in place and ready to go before your press releases and advertising kick in or you will have wasted your budget. Promotion without product doesn't serve you or the prospective customer or client.

8. Inventory is in stock

It isn't enough to have product in the channel of distribution. If your estimates are wrong or your sales exceed expectations, your future success will depend on being able to react to that customer demand. Make sure you have inventory on the shelf or coming off the production line in time to replenish your supplies.

9. Advertising is set

Making people aware of your new product is going to be an important part of your launch. Most media have a lead time that has to be a part of your consideration. Print publications can run several months. Getting your website listed in Google or some of the other search engines can take even longer. Production for websites and broadcast commercials take time as well. Don't wait till the last minute to begin this process.

10. Press Releases are timed

Just like with advertising, press releases need to be timed to the introduction. Lead times are long and talking to the outlets for your releases will be important in making sure that their timing and your timing work together to benefit the launch.

Different products in different markets will have variations on this checklist. Use this not as the end of your checklist, but rather as the base and build additional issues as required for your product or market.

Copyright Bob Cannon/The Cannon Advantage, 2005. All rights reserved.

Bob Cannon helps inventors, imagineers, importers and manufacturers successfully introduce new products to the Hardware / Hardlines Marketplace. Check out his blog at http: Bob can be reached at (216) 408-9495 or mailto:

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