Before you launch and leave, read how to launch and lead.
Like a shotgun start to a race, you have officially launched your brand with a bang. Or, maybe you’re an established brand releasing a new product. Either way, a launch is a rush of adrenaline and emotions. Oh, what a feeling.
After all the time, money and energy it took to get to this point, you can’t help but exhale—and if sales are strong and consumers are loving it, even more so. No doubt, you should definitely have that champagne toast to celebrate the accomplishment. But after the adrenaline rush of a fast start subsides remember the quote by Gary Ryan Blair “many will start fast; few will finish strong”.
The launch is only the beginning. Imagine your brand or product saying, “don’t leave me now”. Without question, NOW, is the time to keep the gas down and focused on retaining the lead. NOW is not the time to bask in your initial success. This leaves the door open for a competitor to overtake you or an unexpected shift in the market to take you out.
If you’re not taking control of your next moves from this point on, you may already be slowing down. A wise mentor once said, “complacency is the fastest way to failure”.
Before you launch and leave, here’s how to launch and lead.
No doubt you’re off to an amazing start and now the race has begun. It’s time to lean in and learn.
Learning is a pillar of launching any consumer product. We’re talking about learning from both market research and R&D. After launch, the learning becomes even more essential and actionable. It’s time to shift up and LEARN from the market to increase your speed and distance yourself from your competitors. You can really get a feel for the space you’re in, see what your competitors are doing and, most importantly, hear from your customers.
You might not realize the size of the opportunity until it’s right in front of you. For example, a makeup artist developed a unique cloth to remove theatrical makeup. As the product was launched it was discovered that the specific market need wasn’t really there. However, we learned that the product was removing all types of makeup without cleanser or soap—a larger opportunity that opened up a wider audience.
Put your eyes and ears out there; you might discover something groundbreaking for your brand once the marketplace has a chance to experience it.
The market has a lot to say, especially about a new product. The best way to keep the gas down is to listen. When we helped a brand launch a body line with special edition fragrances, we listened to what customers were saying and found that one fragrance was wildly popular. We advised the brand to bring it into their portfolio as an ongoing SKU, a delight to customers that resulted in a sustained increase in sales.
Listening is also the main route to improving your product(s), packaging and customer experience. Another brand we supported launched a massage lotion for spa services. While the product was fantastic, the bottle itself was still too stiff for a massage therapist to open and squeeze with one hand. We quickly went back to the drawing board to put the product in a new, softer bottle that could easily be squeezed with one hand.
Your sales and marketing teams are certainly worth listening to as well, but they are, in many ways, just the messengers. Listen to your customers.
The opposite of a launch-and-leave is to launch and lead. Learning and listening enable you to iterate brilliantly. Even when a product becomes a mainstay, the savvy brand finds ways to extend its popularity. For instance, the iconic hairspray, Sebastian Shaper, is the ultimate hero product, loved by pretty much everyone who uses it. From the success of Shaper came Shaper Plus and, now, an entire line of Shaper products—all while Shaper continues its legacy.
The mark of an industry leader is an ongoing cycle of launching, learning, and listening. Whether it’s reaching a new demographic, finding a new utilization, or refocusing your brand as a whole, the only way it can happen is if you stay on after the launch. When you wait until you’re seeing a down curve, you’re relegated to simply catching and keeping up. And if you’re a new or smaller brand, the launch-and-lead mentality is even more crucial to fend off the large brands that have the resources to surpass you in the blink of an eye.
Be nimble. Be flexible. Keep the momentum going.