Launch strategy for startups

Startup companies have the challenge of deciding when they should start investing in sales and marketing efforts, so that when their product/ service/ offering is ready for release, they have a deal that is nearly ready to close.  It’s challenging because there are many unknown variables – sales cycle length, “bugs” in the offering, commercial production, etc.  Obviously having a quality product is the most important thing.  The big question is how do you determine when to start selling the product, so that it is timed with the actual launch?

We’ve worked with many startups in many different stages of funding.  Based on our experiences with these organizations, we’ve come up with the following process and timing for successful launches:

  • Product launch –
    Zero Hour
  • Commercial Sales Commence –
    Zero Hour minus sales cycle length
  • Prototype sales commence –
    Half a sales cycle before Commercial Sales Commence
  • Marketing promotion –
    6 months before Commercial Sales Commence

To have a successful launch, the offering must be ready and fairly robust, which is why we generally suggest a prototype stage.  The market must also be receptive, and we ensure market readiness by having a clear understanding of brand identity and the offering’s strategic advantage, and then testing these with a simple communication plan and feedback loop.  An easy method is to list a few simple “interview” questions that will provide valuable market intelligence:

  • What are your pains?
  • How do you find solutions to help you?
  • What solutions are out there?
  • What are their advantages/disadvantages?
  • What does an ideal solution look like?
  • How would you learn about an ideal solution?

Anyone that is speaking to a buyer or influencer should ask at least one of these questions during the conversation, and all the input should be collected for regular review.  The data should be analyzed for general trends, rather than specific responses.  In this way, the aggregated feedback will help fine-tune the messaging and the product over the six month promotional timeframe, ensuring that the launch is successful.

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