8 minute read · Published February 28, 2024

The ultimate product launch checklist

Latest Update March 11, 2024

Imagine you’ve poured months, or even years, of work into launching an incredible product. But when you introduce it to the market, it flops. Meanwhile, there’s a mediocre product that people quickly embrace.

What’s the critical difference here? The launch launch strategy. 

Failure to be strategic about the research, planning, and execution of your launch could sabotage your success, even if your product is better than the competition. 

Consider the Google Glass. What initially seemed innovative and ahead of its time quickly turned out disappointing results, partially due to a lackluster launch strategy and not doing enough research on their target market. 

We don’t want you to have the same fate as Google Glass and all of the other promising products that fell flat. So below is a product launch checklist to make sure that you’re putting your best foot forward at launch.

Pre-launch preparation

On top of thoroughly testing your product to make sure it’s ready to make a positive first impression with as little bugs as possible, there are some other pre-launch considerations you need to tick off your product launch checklist. 

Project management process

First, establish a reliable process to follow and decide which team or individual will own it. Getting clear about this from the beginning will give you a strong foundation to lean on when you’re juggling multiple moving pieces. 

We’d also recommend using some kind of software like Asana or Monday.com to lay out all of these steps ahead of time, plan out the timeline, assign tasks, and stay on top of any blockers that pop up in the process. 

Goal setting

Consider what success would look like for your product launch – is it a boost in traffic, demos, revenue, etc.? Clarity on your success factors helps you be more intentional about the exact steps you need to take to get there. 

Once you establish your goals, you want to decide how you’re going to track them. Typically this involves technology like your CRM, Google Analytics, your e-commerce platform, etc. Make sure you set up any relevant dashboards or trackers ahead of time so that you can not only capture results from your launch but also establish a baseline for your metrics. 

Market research

Before you begin to put together your strategy, you need to get clear on the exact audience(s) you want to target so that you know the best way to approach them. This requires in-depth market research

Your market research helps you to get inside of the brains of your ideal audience, helping you uncover everything from the best pricing strategy to effective branding to the best locations to reach them to broadly which messages resonate best. 

There are a variety of methods that you can use for market research, including:

  • Focus groups
  • Surveys
  • Social media listening
  • Interviews
  • Competitive analysis
  • Public domain data

One company that was great at checking market research off their product launch checklist was Slack

Before launching their now wildly popular communication platform, the team did extensive research into their target audience to validate their value proposition, understand the most pressing user needs, and craft their launch message around the feedback they got from beta users. 

This is the perfect example of a user-centric launch (and product), and Slack reaped the benefits, going from $0 to $7 billion in under 5 years. 

Positioning

To craft the most effective product launch strategy, you need to be able to clearly explain how your product fills a need in the market. In other words, you need to communicate your unique value proposition and which benefits you provide set you apart from competitors. 

This is known as your positioning statement. 

Typically, a positioning statement includes four main elements:

  • Who your target consumer is
  • What your product is
  • Why you do what you do
  • How you fill a need in a different way than your competitors. 

Here’s an example of a great positioning statement that keeps it simple while still clearly communicating their value: 

“Parse.ly is the new measure of content value. Its industry-leading content analytics system powers content strategy for its 300+ enterprise clients. Parse.ly is installed on over 3,000 high-traffic sites. Through its network data, Parse.ly can provide insight into the aggregate content habits of over 1 billion monthly internet users.”

Once you craft and validate your positioning statement, you want to ensure that every single person involved in the product launch is crystal clear on it. 

Crafting your launch strategy

Once you’re armed with all of the foundational information to fuel your product launch strategy, it’s time to start planning. 

Decide on marketing/promotional strategies

Based on the market research you did, you should be able to identify the most effective promotion channels. 

Some potential options are:

  • Search and social ads
  • Traditional media ads
  • Organic social
  • Press releases
  • Blog posts
  • Email
  • Newsletter sponsorships

Create all materials to support your channel-specific strategies

The next step on this product launch checklist is probably the lengthiest, but it’s critical. Once you decide on the channels that you want to hit, you need to create content specifically tailored for that platform. 

Although you can (and should) repurpose content as much as possible, what you blast on Instagram is going to look different from your press release, for example. 

Here are some common assets that are typically needed for a product launch: 

  • Website pages
  • Landing pages
  • Graphics for all channels
  • Demo videos
  • Promo videos
  • Written assets like blog posts, whitepapers, and eBooks
  • Emails (Both one-offs and emails for workflows)

It’s important to consider that these assets are not only necessary for promotion, but also for onboarding. That means that the content you create not only touches on boosting the perception of the value of your product, but also how users can increase the value by becoming power users. 

That’s why tutorial and support content is typically on the most strategic brands’ product launch checklists. 

Establish partnerships to expand your reach

Despite the current reach of your brand, there is always strength in numbers. Bringing influencers and partners into your launch strategy can help to expand your reach and deliver even stronger results. 

Identify partners that already have the attention of the audience that you want to reach, and see how you can get them involved in your launch. This could include incentivizing consulting firms to sell your product with a commission structure, paid placements in influencer videos, podcast collaborations, or a mention in a popular email newsletter. 

One example of a great brand partnership is Redbull and GoPro. Although these brands may not have a lot in common on the surface, there’s a lot of overlap in their adventurous, fun-loving audience. Their collaborative relationships included creating synergy between both of the brands’ content, brand integration, shared events, and cross-promotion. 

On the influencer side, the launch of the Apple Vision Pro is an incredible example. As with many other major Apple product launches, they provided product (and likely additional compensation) to these tech influencers like iJustine and Marques Brownlee whose audiences rely on them to keep their fingers on the pulse of new technology. This gets the most valuable target audience directly in front of Apple’s newest product, creating a really compelling launch. 

Decide on timing

The timing of your launch is critical, so you need to analyze the best time to launch based on your market research. You want to avoid competing with any major industry events or competitor launches. Also try to take advantage of times when your target audience is more likely to buy, like top-of-the-year planning, budget resets, or emerging trends. 

Once you have your official launch date, work back from that date to schedule the rest of the planning and creation activities. Be realistic with these timelines in build in padding for troubleshooting and unexpected delays. 

Time to execute and evaluate

You’ve checked all of the background research and planning off your product launch checklist, now it’s go time! But the work is still far from finished. This is where truly great product launches are made. 

Launch day logistics 

Hopefully, you’ll have everything ready to go on the day of the official launch, so it should be as simple as pressing a few buttons to schedule out posts and push everything live. But given Murphy’s law, plan for things to inevitably go wrong and have people on call to troubleshoot as needed. 

One great example of a brand that skillfully pivoted to deal with unexpected bumps in the road was Pokemon Go

On the day of their global launch, they experienced server overload when the demand for their product was much higher than they expected. Instead of panicking, they leaped into action and were able to overcome this barrier by:

  • Staggering their rollout instead of going forward with the planned global rollout
  • Working around the clock to boost their server capacity
  • Transparently communicating with their users to manage expectations. 

Provide support to new users

You’re suddenly going from zero users (or maybe just a handful if you did beta testing) to hopefully a lot all at once. That means that there are going to be tons of new users with questions about your product. Being able to respond effectively and proactively is extremely important to both provide a good user experience and to take advantage of the opportunity to create power users. 

This is where the how-to content that you created before will come in handy, but you can even take it a step further. Using software like Commandbar can leverage AI to provide relevant, in-the-moment support to help your new users get the most out of your product from day one. 

Monitoring and analytics

When the leads, orders, or traffic start rolling in, hold up these results to the goals you set before. It’s important to monitor these in the moment, and not just retroactively, so that you can make real-time adjustments. 

For example, let’s say that one paid channel is really pumping out results, while one is not. You can quickly shift some of the budget from the poor-performing channel to the lucrative one. 

If your launch is happening in multiple spurts, you can also use the analytics that you pull from this launch to adapt your messaging and overall strategy in the next iteration. 

Use feedback to continuously improve

The best brands are those that can flex to fit the market around them, so this last step on the product launch checklist may be the most important in the long-term. 

Given everything you learned during this product launch, from tracking your analytics to seeing which areas of your product are getting the most clicks to user feedback, continuously strive to improve in line with what your ideal users care about. 

For our final example of a brand that nailed its product launch, let’s take a look at Udemy

When they launched their product, they included contextual surveys and uncovered that many users outside English-speaking countries preferred courses taught in English, although they weren’t native speakers. 

This small nugget of insight was used to shift their strategy. They quickly integrated automatic captioning into their product to make it more accessible to a wider range of audiences. 

Nail your launch, boost your results

Don’t let your great product go to waste by skimping on the launch strategy. 

A product launch is a massive undertaking that shouldn’t be taken lightly. But if you follow every single step on this product launch checklist, you should be in good shape to burst confidently onto the market. 

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