Ten warning signs of a looming product launch disaster.

Working on a new product is exciting, but don't overlook the most critical part – launching it with impact. It's not just a matter of ticking deliverables off your checklist; you need to start planning early, set precise goals, and execute strategically across all marketing channels (before, on, and after launch day!).

In this article, we will discuss ten common pitfalls that lead to product launch failure and how to keep your launch on track.

1. Undefined launch goals

Launch goals are super important to guide your team in the right direction. If you don’t set goals early on, things can get messy, and people might not understand each other. You must establish and align your launch goals with everyone involved and make sure your organisation knows what’s happening and when. That way, no one is left out of the loop.

2. Checklist vs strategy

Just working from a launch checklist isn’t enough. The checklist usually exists because an earlier launch failed; I can tell you it won’t help you avoid failure this time. Instead, developing a strategy that supports your unique launch goals is a much better approach. This way, you can achieve your launch goals with laser-perfect launch tactics and content.

3. Unrealistic timeframes

Optimism can get you far, but a healthy dose of realism is paramount for a winning launch. Before launching your product, assess if your team (and product) is ready to market, sell, deliver, and support it. If your organisation isn’t fully prepared, postpone the launch day without hesitation, no matter what your boss tells you.

4. Sales enablement training

Product training merely on features isn’t enough. Your sales team (frankly, all your customer-facing teams) should know how your product solves problems, who it’s for, and how to handle the buying process. Understanding your customers helps your salespeople accelerate the buyer’s journey. You’ve got to be a customer expert and share this knowledge with your sales team all the time.

5. Unused content

It’s a huge mistake to create content and sales tools that nobody ever uses. That’s a waste of your time and resources. But often, this is the result of working from a generic checklist. To avoid that, you need to know your buyers inside out and use that insight when creating your content. By doing so, you can influence them effectively throughout their decision-making process. In other words, if you align your deliverables with your launch strategy, you can steer your buyers towards making a decision.

6. Lack of accountability

Launching a product is a team effort. You can’t do this in isolation. It would help if you had someone to take charge of the process and make sure things get done on time. That’s why you should assign a launch owner; that person could be you! The launch owner should be proactive, work closely with stakeholders, communicate regularly and keep everything on track.

7. Hunch-based planning

Relying solely on your gut feelings instead of market evidence can be risky. To minimise the risk of failure, you should base your launch decisions on actual customer and market data (a lot of it). An evidence-based approach will enable you to make informed decisions and craft a launch strategy that aligns with your customers’ needs. But remember, data is never perfect, and sometimes it’s good to follow your instincts, too.

8. Mimicking competitors

Copying your competitor’s strategy may seem an easy way out, but it can often lead to confusion and a lack of differentiation. Instead, it’s crucial to understand your customers and their journey to guide your launch tactics effectively. Rather than simply mimicking your competitors, focus on your unique value proposition and let that guide you.

9. Neglecting existing customers

Remember your existing customers when you roll out a new product or update. Make sure they have an easy transition to the latest version. Not communicating and ignoring their needs could leave them feeling unhappy and looking at what your competitors offer.

You can also invite them to join your beta test program. This way, you’ll test your product’s readiness and get valuable feedback and references from your existing customers before launch day. My rule is only to launch with a customer reference.

10. Ineffective launch team

Launching a product requires a collaborative effort. Each team member should contribute their talents and expertise to get the job done. Your team must have clear roles, like a launch owner who takes the lead, representation from each department, and an executive sponsor who provides support and advice (and, sometimes, the needed air cover).

If you ignore the warning signs, your product launch could end up disastrous. So, to avoid that happening, deal with the issues head-on. Set clear goals, get everyone in your team to work together, and plan strategically; everything you do must contribute to your launch goals. It’s not just about ticking off another task from your checklist. It’s about making sure you sell truckloads!

So let me ask you.

Are you ready to launch?

Every “yes” gets you one step closer to launching a successful product. But every “no” or “I don’t know” takes you further away from making that first customer win and second sale!