There are well documented methodologies for Product Development, but I began to wonder… these things aside, what are some things that Product Managers can do that are within their immediate control to launch a new product successfully? What are some things to look out for? Here’s what I came up with.
Sounds obvious, but don’t release a launch date in the market unless you’re 110% sure you’re going to make it. Your company can look pretty silly in the eyes of a customer if it’s not available when you say it will be available. Also, look out when you use ‘Coming Soon..’ How soon is soon? I’ve seen companies advertise a new product on their website when ‘soon’ is 6 months! That’s not very soon in my opinion.
Make sure you’ve got company buy in to what you’re developing… you may have sign off and the budget to create the product but that doesn’t necessarily mean that people are supportive. Don’t underestimate a little internal PR. Make sure that people understand why you’re creating a product. If you’re creating a loss leading product you’ll need the CFO onboard with your strategy, they’re not usually keen on putting money into things that have no pay off in the short term. Use the Intranet, company bulletins, meet with people, call them, and attend other team meetings to give updates on where you’re at.
Product Briefing Sessions
Make times to go and meet with the people who will be selling and serving your customers. Personally brief them about your product. Explain why you created the product and provide some market information that they may not have got in a formal training session. For example – what makes your product better than your competitors? Tailor your message – Sales have different needs to Customer Service people.
Adopt a similar strategy to ‘train the trainer’. Create your own mini-me’s with Product Champions. Identify one person from key sales and service teams who will champion your product for their team. Bring them all together for an afternoon or on a conference call and make them an expert in the product. If there is one person in a team of ten who can champion your product for you, that’s a whole lot of understanding that can be passed on to the people they work with. Better yet, let them trial and experience the product for free.
Questions and Feedback
Make yourself available and open for people to ask questions and provide feedback, even if it means that your frontline sales and service people can email or contact you directly. Put your name on internal communications that go out. If you start getting the same questions then there may have been a big hole in the communications and training. If your organization is too large to do this make sure there is still a process for questions and feedback.
These are just some things I thought of.. feel free to add to this and make comments..