22 November 2019  4 min read

Go-to-market strategy and a new product launch process

Startegy moves - chess - digital - connection

New products and product innovation are the best ways to promote growth. Apple, Microsoft, Sony, and thousands of small and mid-sized companies' managers understand that the launch of new products is necessary. Customers are impatient, they expect new features, enhancements, and continuously developing a value proposition, and they are ready to pay for it (either with money or data).

At the same time, 95% of products fail because companies are mostly busy with building features, and they don't develop effective Go-To-Market strategies. Figuring out and mastering a go-to-market approach is no trivial task — it separates the organizations that will be prosperous and sustainable from those that won't.

Products developed in isolation from their potential customers often fail and crash when they come in contact with the real world of customers' expectations. A Go-to-Market strategy prevents this collapse by shifting the focus from the product to the customers.

The great go-to-market strategy requires answers to the six, specific questions:

  1. What are the trends, which need to be taken into consideration while launching new products or services?
  2. What is the landscape which will influence the product launch?
  3. How to make sure that the product launching process is customer-centric, and the product reflects customers' expectations?
  4. How to test the value proposition and the new product business model? 
  5. How to control the launching process before making the product accessible to the broad market?
  6. How to measure a new product/service performance?

The Go-to-Market strategy intersects with many aspects, including value proposition discovery, product design and development, positioning, customer discovery, and market partition, as well as growth track.

Let me share a short definition:

The go-to-market strategy is focused on what offerings and how the firm will put the offerings into the market to reach growth - Arek Skuza

Let me explain why I think the goal of launching a new product is not always revenue. There are successful business models (products, services, or microservices) that generate referrals, data streams, traffic redirection, which bring a lot of growth, and it's not strictly revenue. For instance:

  • LaunchRock (acquired by Fundable), helped startups to build traffic and send it to their landing pages. LaunchRock figured out how to redirect traffic (generate traffic for others and itself) and was free (LaunchRock captures a lot of data, the same as Google Maps - it's free, but we share a lot of data which is monetized by Google).
  • Another example is Amazon, which launches "Shop Style" microservice in its app. It's a sophisticated image and pattern recognition based feature, which is available for free, but it brings growth (retention) to the company. End-users have another reason to use the Amazon app more frequently (growth).

Every product manager and product launch manager wants to maximize the chances of success, and launch a product or service which will bring growth (acquisition, activation, retention, referrals, or revenue).

In our company, we have developed the framework which I am more than happy to share in this post and resolve the details in future posts. It will help you to start and conduct the customer-centric, systemized, trackable process of building your unique go-to-market strategy quickly and launch a product or service more efficiently.

Picture 1: Go-to-market strategy building & product/service launch framework (click the image to enlarge).

The framework consists of 8 steps, which are driving the effort towards figuring out the most compelling go-to-market strategy as well as launching a new product or service eventually.

Please note that the grey color represents strategy building steps; the cayenne color represents product launch phases. I believe that separate those two is impossible, as the best go-to-market strategies are built with customers as well as products and services. Meaning the best strategies can't be developed inhouse solely or be delegated or be outsourced.

Designing and implementing go-to-market strategy requires going out of the office, co-creating the strategy with customers, and embedding extensive feedback into strategy assumptions. It's a healthy root system for launching a future product.

Here are the eight steps of the process:

Step 1 - Trends capture - the phase consists of a series of activities that focus on understanding the market trends.

Step 2 - Landscape capture - product managers need to have a full understanding of what happens in the landscape in which a new product or service will be launched. The landscape is more than only competitors scan.

Step 3 - Value Proposition (VP) design and test - customers and end-users expect powerful value proposition, not features. Step 3 answered the question of how to find a compelling value proposition (what customers' pains should be removed, what benefits should be delivered and how, what is the niche which will be served by VP), and make sure (test VP) it will resonate.

Step 4 - Business model design and test - it's the first step when go-to-market strategy mixes with a product launch. Go-to-market strategy guidelines are in place, and the strategy can be executed. At this stage, product launch managers focus on designing and testing the business model (growth streams, cost structure, distribution, resources). It's a first step in the whole framework where strategy mixes with the product launch.

Step 5 - Product/service design and test - at this stage working prototype (product launch) or framework (service launch) is available. It can be exposed to customers via various experiments.

Step 6 - Limited launch - after value proposition, business model, and product/service tests, it's high time for controlled launch. Product launch managers distribute products or services to a closed group of end-users in a strictly controlled way.

Step 7 - Complete launch - Step 6 provided technical and business feedback; now it's a time for a real launch.

Step 8 - Product managers control the new product performance by applying various metrics. It's a step that protects the company assets by shutting down quickly offerings that don't work.

If you don't want to miss my next posts explaining the Go-To-Market Strategy & Product/Service Launch process, subscribe to my newsletter (click here).

Of course, no framework will guarantee market victory, but, as the compass needle moves, Go-To-Market Strategy & Product/Service Launch process will get product launch managers' effort pointed in the right, trackable direction.

My next will explain how to approach step 1 - Trends Capture.

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