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Why Your Product Launch Failed and How to Prevent it From Happening Again

What do New Coke, McDonald’s Arch Deluxe, and Crystal Pepsi have in common?  If you are saying to yourself, “what’s Crystal Pepsi” you’ve already answered the question.  These products are among some of the biggest product failures of all time.  They were built up to be the next big thing but when they hit the market, they failed to deliver.

So you’ve spent time and money developing your product?  You’re ready for the launch right?  All of those millions of people waiting to get a piece of what you have to offer.  Well, before you hit the release button, make sure you are not setting yourself up for failure.  The last thing you want is to join the list of overly hyped, but ultimately forgotten products.
Don’t worry, this article will help you understand what can go wrong before, during, and after a product launch.  Learn from these mistakes and you can avoid tragedy.

Flawed Marketing Plan

If you believe in the potential your product has, you will probably spend in an enormous amount of time designing, developing and manufacturing.  Pouring that effort into your product is great but the same type of effort should be applied to your marketing plan.
There are several ways to botch your marketing plan.  One of them is to develop that plan too late.   Putting together a marketing plan late is going to hurt your product especially if you are in a highly competitive space.  Your product may be revolutionary but if you show up late in the game, you will have to do more to catch up.

Under-Delivered What Was Promised

Many product launches fail because the business’s product fails to deliver what it promised.  If your sales and marketing plan goes well, you will have the public knocking down your door. So you better give them something worth their time and money.  There is nothing worse than a product not doing what was promised.
Offering your customers more than they expected is not only a great way to help your launch succeed, it’s also a great way to keep your customers coming back.  Making sure that your product does what it is supposed to do is a given. But that alone may not be enough to sustain longevity.  Giving customers more than they paid for is the best way to over-deliver.


Also, don’t underestimate how important good customer service really is.   I once had an ebook for sale that my customers had issues downloading.  When I realized this was happening, I made sure to contact each customer personally and offer my apologies as well as offering myself as a resource if they needed any other assistance. The approach worked very well and none of the customers asked for a refund.

Editor’s Note:  Just in case you were wondering what the biggest product launches in history are, here you go.

TOP 5 Product Launch Failures

1. New Coke (1985)
2. Crystal Pepsi (1995)
3. McDonald’s Arch Deluxe (1996)
4. Ben-Gay Aspirin
5. The Zune (2006)
*Courtesy of Forbes Magazine

Other ways to over-deliver is to offer promotions and discounts for your customers.  Over-delivering is all about making your clients and customers feel valued.  Leave them thinking that they are getting more than what they are paying for.

Didn’t Do Your Research

The classic question of “Who is going to buy this and how much will they pay” needs to be answered before you present your product to the public.  Developing a great new product is a waste of time if there is nobody out there that is willing to pay for it.  This was McDonald’s mistake with the Arch Deluxe.  They overestimated what your typical McDonald’s customer would pay for a gourmet sandwich.
Market research must answer the right questions as well as look at the results objectively.  If you are so hyped about your new product but do not look at how the market views your product, you may be setting yourself up for failure.
I once launched of an ebook that I wanted to develop into a published guide.  Before I put the time and effort into developing the book, I offered a shorter version for free.  From there, I offered a discount for those who pre-ordered the guide.
Doing this gave me the answer to the two questions that mentioned above.  Try using similar and other creative strategies to gain the answer to the questions you need to know to make sure your product launch succeeds.

Too Much Confusion about the Product

You may have the next Facebook on your hands but if nobody understands it or knows how its going to benefit them, it’s pretty much useless.  Many products fail to capitalize on their advantages because the PR and marketing team did a poor job explaining the full benefits of the product.
I remember when I first heard about Twitter in late 2006.  I visited the site and I watched a video that was posted about what Twitter was and how it worked (this was way before it really got popular so they had to explain it to us).
I can remember thinking that it was going to be the next big thing in blogging and social media.  But when I started to explain to people they couldn’t understand the point.  Usually, I would get back a bunch of blank stares.  Apparently, just telling people about it wasn’t good enough.  Sometimes you have to show the public how great the product is.
I guess Twitter understood this concept too.  They saw their growth increase in 2007 at the South By Southwest Festival when they place a 60” plasma screen streaming updated Twitter messages about the conference.  To be sure that the public understands what you and your business is all about, find creative ways to show them how your products and services work and how they will benefit.

Recommended Reading on Product Launching

Ralph Paul on Twitter
Ralph Paul
Ralph is the Managing Editor at StartUp Mindset. The StartUp Mindset team consists of dedicated individuals and is designed to help new, seasoned, and aspiring entrepreneurs succeed.

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Ralph is the Managing Editor at StartUp Mindset. The StartUp Mindset team consists of dedicated individuals and is designed to help new, seasoned, and aspiring entrepreneurs succeed.

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