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Make Your Product Launch A Success With A Test-And-Learn Approach

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Take the guesswork out of product launches by using a test-and-learn approach. It's one of the fastest, most cost-effective ways to identify or validate a successful go-to-market strategy to launch a new product.

Kip Botirius, CEO
November 19, 2019

Originally published on Marketing Profs

Launching a new product can be a lot like throwing a dart at a map—when that map is in another room, the power is out, you’re fresh from the optometrist and your pupils are dilated.

Launching a new product can be a lot like throwing a dart at a map—when that map is in another room, the power is out, you’re fresh from the optometrist and your pupils are dilated.

What I’m getting at here is that brands still spend copious amounts of money launching (and relaunching) products despite having minimal amounts of data. Even when companies manage to dig up plenty of data, they often focus their market research on the wrong people—so the messaging never entirely aligns with the customer journey.

Poor market research isn’t the sole culprit, though. In some cases, there’s simply a lack of sales and marketing alignment. Sales teams often have the data, info and knowledge that marketers need. But if the two departments aren’t communicating properly, it’s easy for things to get lost in translation. Throw IT into the mix, and all bets are off.

The success (or failure) of most marketing decisions hinge on data, but modern marketers are forced to cover a lot of ground. In fact, only 6% of marketing executives say their teams are martech conversant, while more than 50% say the most significant barrier to success is martech competency.

The success (or failure) of most marketing decisions hinge on data

You don’t have to launch products—or even campaigns—with guesswork as your guide. It’s time to put old-school tactics to bed and replace them with a test-and-learn approach.

This testing strategy offers one of the most effective ways to identify exactly where to allocate your budget before a product launch. Instead of placing large wagers that your campaign messaging is right, you spend a small amount to prove that you’re right—adjusting as necessary and scaling from there.

Test & Learn For More Predictable Results

With a test-and-learn approach, you spend a small amount of money to confirm assumptions. You can then move forward with all the data you need to be successful, such as the ideal audience, where the audience congregates online, what messaging resonates with that audience, etc.

Here’s an example of how it can play out:

Our marketing agency was asked to determine how to best market Battle Toss, a new-to-market game for adults and children. The initial three test-and-learn approach lasted about three weeks. We built a presence on various social media platforms to gather customer feedback, gain visibility and identify consumers with the greatest affinity for the product. Plus, we hosted an event at a local bar to gather feedback and capture video footage of people playing the game.

We used the data and feedback to identify the game’s niche and key adopters. We then used that information (and the footage we captured) to build a product website and start a YouTube channel with any information our potential customers might want. We also fine-tuned the marketing message and began a Google paid-search campaign, which led to the product selling out in only a month. That success led to extended sales to Amazon, tripling orders for the game within a week.

Read the full Case Study: Quick & Affordable Validation of a New Product Concept

Without testing, it would have taken us much longer to validate the product—and the time we spent developing and planning the marketing campaign would have pushed the full launch back by months.

What You Can Learn From A Test-And-Learn Approach

Testing can help validate—or invalidate—your assumptions, preventing you from wasting your marketing budget on a product that isn’t ready for market. Here are five areas where rapid testing can offer a wealth of marketing information:

1. Revenue Forecasting

Proving ROI can be one of the trickiest jobs for any marketer. You can put in plenty of effort, but conjecture isn’t all that persuasive when pitching a big-spend campaign. A test-and-learn approach gives you a clear idea of the resulting revenue, arming you with the information you need to make informed decisions on marketing investments. It takes the guesswork out of the equation.

2. Consumer Insights

The information you’ve already gleaned from customers is no doubt astounding, and it hopefully has informed your marketing campaigns for the past several years. Testing gives you a next-level understanding, rendering a picture of what language they use and at what point along the path they purchase products. By basing your decisions on this testing data, you’re effectively putting your campaign on steroids.

3. Market Fit

Many companies are so close to their products that they overlook whether it’s something consumers would even want. Validating your products in the marketplace before you get too far into launch minimizes risk and maximizes results. Testing makes it possible to watch how your target audience interacts with your product. You can then make decisions based on those interactions rather than on your expectations.

4. Customer Journey

Most customers have a variety of interactions with a product before they make a purchase decision. The goal is to always get the right message in front of the right person at the right time. Validating your products in the marketplace does more than reveal that it “fits,” however. When you test your messaging and interactions in small doses with real audiences, you’ll have an in-depth look at their buyer journeys—showing you when and where (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) to message your target audience.

5. More-Targeted Messaging

Let’s start with the obvious: Targeted messaging is always best. A test-and-learn approach offers real-world results rather than assumptions, showing you precisely what resonates with consumers. Instead of making hunches based on personas described in slide decks, all of your information stems from the actual behavior of your target audience.

* * *

It’s next to impossible to guarantee a successful product launch. What you can do is increase your odds of success by ensuring your product is ready to launch with a little testing. The best way to figure out what to expect in the future is use a test-and-learn approach to gather as much information as possible in the present.

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With 20+ years of experience in digital marketing and account services, Kip leads a diverse team built to develop strategies for successful marketing and brand-building for clients.

Kip Botirius, CEO

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