When you’re launching a new product, it should be “ready, aim, fire” and not “ready, fire, aim”, yet that’s the approach that many business owners take.
They get excited about a new product, rush through some basic product research, and then launch. A few months later, they’re picking up the pieces and struggling to keep everything together as they hemorrhage money.
It may be something that you have experienced yourself. If you’re launching a new product, it’s probably a scenario that you’re worried about. And you should be worried about it.
But David Fradin is here to make the process run smoother and ensure you take the right steps.
The product manager and growth strategist has helped to launch several successful products and earned his spurs working for Apple at the same time as Steve Jobs. He knows his stuff, and he appeared on the latest This Week With Sabir show to offer some priceless insights into launching a product.
Here are some of the things he had to say:
- The Five-Step Process: Fradin outlined his 5-step process for launching a new product, one that has been used by massively successful companies like Apple.
- Understand What the Customer Wants: Success starts with the customer. Find what they want and learn how to give it to them.
- Avoid Unmet Needs: Why do innovative companies fail? Well, it’s largely because they don’t focus on meeting unmet needs. They might be innovative and exciting, but if customers aren’t interested in their services at that time, the product will fail.
- Risk Management: How do you prepare for catastrophic business outcomes like trade blocks, pandemics, and war? The answer is to plan, prepare, and ensure you’re ready for any eventuality. It’s something that many big companies have been doing for years.
These are just a few of the top tips provided by David Fradin. You can learn more by watching the full video or reading the accompanying guide. For Fradin’s $100,000 insight—his most valuable piece of advice—make sure you watch/read to the end.
How To Launch A Successful Product With Help From David Fradin
David Fradin is a master of innovation who has worked alongside some of the greatest innovators of recent times, including the late great Steve Jobs. He is the author of several books, including Building Insanely Great Products, and is the latest guest on This Week With Sabir.
Fradin spoke about his previous work with Apple and offered some insights into product development, giving us an idea of what it takes to launch the sort of product that changes how people live and work and leaves a lasting impact on the world.
You can watch the full episode on this blog or on YouTube. In the following guide, I’ll expand on some of the topics discussed and the insights provided, potentially helping you with your own product development.
How To Launch A Product—The 5 Key Steps
Fradin has written extensively about launching new products, taking business owners from conception right on through to marketing. There are five key steps involved with this process, including:
- Figure out what the customer wants to do
- Find a faster/cheaper/better way of getting it done
- Find a reason that customers would buy your product
- Find the shelf space where your product will go
- Prepare your marketing team with the information they need to succeed
Step 1: Begin With The Customer
A good product always starts by asking the right question, and that question is usually, “What problem do you have that needs to be solved?”
But this isn’t always enough.
Take elections as an example. In many parts of the world, including the United Kingdom, exit polls lean toward the center-left and need to be adjusted accordingly. This is especially true in parts of the country that are known to vote for center and left-leaning parties, such as in the north.
Imagine, for instance, that you like the policies of the Conversative party (right) and will be voting for them. But you live in an area that typically votes for the opposing party. Your friends, family, and co-workers will be voting for the opposing party. You’ll probably feel a little embarrassed by your decision, and so if someone stops you outside of a polling station and asks who you wanted for, you’ll be inclined to lie.
It’s not necessarily that you are ashamed, but that you want to be seen as sticking with the status quo to avoid any conflict.
This sort of bias is not just localized, either.
If you stop people on the street and ask them if they recycle, 99% will probably tell you that they do. We all know the damage caused by climate change, so no one wants to admit to not doing their best. But if we all recycled, we wouldn’t be sending so much waste to landfills, so many of those people are lying.
It’s like a dentist asking you how much sugar you eat and how often you brush your teeth. If dentists were the ones conducting these polls, you’d think that everyone was 100% devoted to their oral health and the sugar industry was on the verge of collapse, but that’s not true.
The hardest part, therefore, is not asking the question or even knowing what question to ask, but learning how to phrase it and who to ask.
In the above cases, it would make more sense to ask those questions anonymously or to pose them from a completely neutral perspective.
As another example, a friend of mine launched a new business several years ago. It was a flop, and it was a flop because the product idea was terrible.
He had sunk huge sums of money into this product and only just survived with his personal finances intact. When I asked him why he launched the product, he told me, “Everyone said it was a great idea”.
On pushing him for more information, I discovered that he had shown the product to friends and family members and had then conducted a short poll on a hyper-specific forum for people in his product’s demographic.
In other words, he had found the only people in the world who wouldn’t give him an honest opinion, followed by the only 10 people in the world who would actually buy his product.
What he was seeking was a form of confirmation bias. He wanted someone to confirm his beliefs and convince him to launch, as opposed to someone who would actually give him honest feedback and criticisms.
Wisdom Of The Crowds
Another thing to watch out for when conversing with the public is something known as the “wisdom of the crowds”. It’s the idea that you should side with the crowd—if everyone is going in one direction, then that must be the right way.
But that’s rarely the case.
One of the issues with this theory is that it assumes the average answer among a large pool of answers is more likely to be the right one. This can be true, but only if everyone is acting independently and without any bias.
Imagine you’re in a nightclub just as the lights turn on and it’s time to go home. The “EXIT” sign above the door doesn’t work, so people don’t immediately know where to turn.
They see a line of five people outside a door, so they head to that line. Before long, everyone is queuing. They see the line, assume it’s the line for the exit, and then join it.
5 minutes later, the toilet door opens, and everyone realizes they’re standing in a 100-person line for the bathroom.
You’ll see similar methods employed on social networks. The idea is that the sites and links that get the most clicks and engagements are the most valuable, but people are more likely to engage with content that angers them or publishes outright lies. That’s why there are Facebook pages and YouTube channels creating intentionally incorrect and inflammatory content, as it feeds the algorithm.
One of the interesting things about innovators like Steve Jobs is that they pretty much ignored the crowds.
They adopted an attitude of “I know better”. But Jobs wasn’t just plucking ideas out of thin air and using good marketing to convince people that they worked.
Jobs was a keen observer of people and trends. He might not have actively listened to the opinion of the crowd, but he was always willing to watch the crowd, see how it behaved, and then use that information to innovate.
If we return to the nightclub scenario, imagine that there is a single exit and that everyone in the club queues up to leave at the end of the night. It creates a bottleneck and means it can take 5 to 10 minutes for those at the back to leave.
If you were to ask the people in the queue what they want, they might tell you that they want the queue to move faster or the people in front to be more considerate. Based on that info, your idea could be to install barriers or signs that promote a fast-moving queue.
But an innovator like Jobs would just create another exit.
Step 2: Learn How To Give The Customer What They Want
Once you figure out what the issue is, it’s time to learn how to fix it.
There are a few ways that you can do this.
You could be faster, better, more convenient, or cheaper.
If the issue is, “I can’t get enough fiber no matter how hard I try”. Your options might be:
- Easier = A fiber treat that tastes great.
- Better = A high-quality fiber supplement.
- Cheaper = A low-cost alternative to premium prebiotics, probiotics, and fiber.
- More Convenient = A fiber-based subscription service based on a consumer’s personal needs and preferences.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. In fact, the best products are often the ones that take an existing product and then improve upon it.
Step 3: Conduct Competitive Research And Market Research
The next step is to conduct research to discover why someone might buy your product, and what you can offer them. This is also when you need to think about who your competitors are and why you’re better than them.
In a previous episode, I spoke with one of the founders of the Magic Spoon cereal brand. He told me all about a previous company that he had founded with his business partner.
The idea for that company was to turn high-quality insect protein into protein bars. It was an interesting idea that allowed them to introduce a unique product to a very lucrative marketplace, something that doesn’t happen very often.
They also knew that they could market the product as being healthier and better for the planet, as well as low in fat.
But what they hadn’t accounted for was a major supply chain issue, as there were no companies producing food-grade cricket powder. They also had to convince the US public to eat insects, which wasn’t easy.
This is the stage where you iron out the issues and pay attention to the market.
Step 4: Find Your Place In The Market
The fourth step of the product launch process is to find out where you fit in the marketplace.
In the above example, the goal would be to determine who the target market is for that insect protein bar.
Is it okay for those on a keto diet? Are you targeting athletes and people into fitness? Is it better for bodybuilders? Or is it the sort of protein bar that people worried about climate change would buy?
It’s the same product, but vastly different marketplaces. Don’t just assume that you can target all of them, as having a specific focus will help you immensely going forward.
Step 5: Get The Info That Your Marketing Team Needs
The final step of the process is to prepare your marketing team. If you’re launching a small business, you might be doing all of the marketing yourself. Even then, this step is still important as it’ll help you to avoid a lot of costly trial and error mistakes when you get the ball rolling.
Think about pricing. What are your competitors charging and what should you charge? Does your price leave room for discounts and coupons? Can you offer any subscription models?
Your support strategy is also key. Consider how you will deal with customers who have issues with your product or need support in the future. By the same token, if there are add-ons and optional extras, you should consider how you’re going to market them to your customers.
Once you have considered all of these things, think a little more about your target demographic.
What media do they consume? What platforms do they use? Do they spend all of their time on Facebook and Instagram or do they prefer LinkedIn? Will they be spending a lot of time on the road in certain areas (billboards, radio advertising) or watching a lot of television?
There are many different marketing options out there, and you can’t simply throw lots of money at them and then hope that the right one will reveal itself. The more work you do beforehand, the more money you can spend on the absolute best platform and marketing methods.
How Do You Manage Things Out Of Your Control?
The importance of preparing for potential disasters has never been more apparent, with countless businesses affected by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. There isn’t much you can do to prevent the damage caused by these issues, but you can prepare for them.
When you’re putting things together, look at the “perfect storms” that are developing. It’s not about predicting that they will definitely occur, but about being prepared if they do.
Think about what will happen to your suppliers if war breaks out or your supplier shuts down. What is your plan B and plan C?
You’re not spending a huge amount of time or money on these plans, you’re just making sure you have options if the worst thing happens.
In other words, you don’t want to have all of your eggs in one basket, but that doesn’t mean you need to build a dozen other baskets and keep them in storage. Just plan for that eventuality so that when it happens, you’ll be prepared to take the necessary steps.
The $100,000 Question
At the end of this week’s episode, I asked David Fradin for his most valuable insight—advice that could generate over 6-figures in income for business owners.
He reiterated the importance of knowing your customer, stating that new product launches should begin with understanding your customer, knowing what they want, and learning how to give it to them.
Answer the whats, whys, hows, and whens—what do they want, why do they want it, how can I give it to them, and when do they need it?
About David Fradin
David Fradin was classically trained as an HP Product Manager and was then recruited by Apple to bring the first hard disk drive on a PC to market and later became the Apple /// Business Unit Manager at the same level as Steve Jobs. He is the author of “Building Insanely Great Products,” “Organizing and Managing Insanely Great Products,” and the Wiley published “Successful Product Design and Management” all available now on Amazon. He has trained companies such as Cisco on these topics worldwide. His mission is to help products succeed. Visit him on the Web at https://spicecatalyst.com.