The Three P’s of a Successful Launch
Updated: Jul 1, 2019
I’ll be honest. There are some projects, and some brands, which I never thought would succeed, and yet, so far, they seem to have done just that. My record of predicting success is not perfect.
But, when it comes to looking back on why some projects and brands failed, I can always find at least one critical flaw in one or more key areas.
Successful brands are built by stringing together a series of successful product launches, and successful product launches all have three things in common, what I’ve come to think of as the three P’s:
1. They had the right Product design.
2. They had the right Pricing strategy.
3. They did the right Promotion leading up to and following their launch.
For startups, it’s critical to understand that product design, pricing strategy, and promotion are like the three legs of a stool. You can’t compensate for one leg being too short, too weak, or entirely missing, by making the other two legs longer or stronger. All three must be present, and fully developed. We need balance.
But the sad reality is that most startup owners focus almost all of their time and effort on product design. I saw this constantly as a sales consultant working with software startups. They all built better mousetraps, but had no plan for getting their product in front of their target customer, and often couldn't figure out how to price their products.
Promotion in support of a launch is often an afterthought, and under-developed. As a result, many startups end up using value-pricing as their main promotional tool. The combination of weak promotion and weak pricing inevitably cripples the brand. Like a stool with one or more rotten legs - it's bound to collapse.
Mature, successful companies do three things which lead directly to a successful product launch. These are things startups can also do, if they know how, and plan ahead:
They use a fully developed product development process, which includes concept development/refinement, feasibility analysis, and field testing.
They treat every product as a stand-alone business, with its own profit-and-loss statement, in order to make sure that the full cycle of product development and production can be rationalized. This means the investment of time, energy and money in the development of the product can be justified by the projected revenue from selling it. There are no stand-alone products developed as loss-leaders.
They not only consider the marketing and promotion leading up to and after product launch, they actually include marketing personnel in the product development process, and make sure that the marketing needed to promote the product is going to be available, and effective, before they go to launch.
At each step in the process, the company has to decide – is it worth it? Is there enough market appetite for the product? Can it be sold at a high enough price, and in high enough volume, to be worth the investment in product development, production, and promotion? What will it cost to promote it? Bottom line - is the project FEASIBLE?
This is called "feasibility analysis", and it's critical to a successful launch, and a successful business. It's a constant part of the new model development process.
When companies use this sort of process, it reduces the risk that a new product will fall flat. When the process is consistently done, and done correctly, the successful launch of each new product becomes a foregone conclusion. The companies who do this right KNOW the product is going to be successful BEFORE they build it.
Sound too hard for a startup to do? It really isn’t. It’s just that most startups DON’T do it.