The Launch Lab

Beginner's Guide to Product Launch: Prepare



The next donut in the BrainKraft Product Launch Framework is Prepare. It’s another big topic that is an entire book by itself. Just like the previous articles in this series, I’ll stay focused on beginners.


Basic Preparation Guidelines

I started preparing (pun intended) this article with a question. If I could provide a few guidelines to help newbies prepare their organization for a product launch, what would they be? Here we go…

  1. Be annoyingly curious and apply critical thinking. Don’t take anything at face value unless you know it to be true.

  2. Remove the obstacles that pose the greatest risk to achieving your launch objectives.

  3. Not everyone needs to be prepared, only the ones that matter to your launch objectives.

  4. Make the right people happy, no matter how many people are complaining

As I worked through the guidelines I realized it was a good list to frame this article. If it isn’t obvious, all four are connected to your launch objectives.


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Preparation is a Process That Takes Discipline

What I call Prepare is what other people call Readiness. Readiness is a state that results from preparation. So… you need to prepare people before they can become ready to do the thing you need them to do. Right?


I can be mentally ready to run a marathon - get new running shoes, a cool running outfit, and watch YouTube videos to study techniques - but did I do the things to prepare me to run a marathon?


Preparation and readiness go hand-in-hand. You provide the methods and tools by which people can become prepared. And then you need the mechanisms to assess that they are prepared (ready).


Focus on Your Launch Objectives

If there is one, overarching principle I can offer to launch beginners is to view all your product launch preparation through the lens of your launch objectives. Everything else is a distraction.


Another thing is that you can’t make everyone happy. Don’t try.


Be Annoyingly Curious

The point of being annoyingly curious is to find situations before they become problems. Use your curiosity to identify the situations. Then apply critical thinking to distinguish between the situations you can ignore and those you can’t. If you’re new to launching a product, find someone who knows more than you and ask them for advice.


If someone tells you not to worry about something, ignore them. Likewise, if someone is overly optimistic about something, pay special attention to it. Maybe they’re glossing over some issues that need a lot of preparation.


Disclosure… a part of me tends to be overly optimistic. I admit it. I balance that optimism with a dose of reality and you should too.


Optimism doesn’t overcome obstacles. Careful planning and relentless execution do.


Not Everyone Needs to be Prepared

It can be terrifying to look at your organization and for the first time realize the scope of preparing everyone for a product launch.


Here’s a secret… not everyone needs to be prepared.


I was once asked by a VP of Sales to prove that each of his salespeople was ready to sell a new product my team was launching. I spent hours in meetings discussing how to make that happen. It turned out we didn’t need every salesperson ready.


We only needed enough of them ready, in the right markets, to achieve our launch objectives. It was a moment of clarity (and relief).


Beginners need to focus on these big areas of preparation. Other areas of preparation are important too, but if you don’t get these right the others won’t matter:

  1. You need to get access to the customers you want. If you don’t have access to customers your launch will fail.

  2. You need to talk the language your customers talk and follow the practices they expect. If potential customers are confused about what you do or how you do it, your launch will fail.

  3. You need to be able to deliver the products you sold. If you can’t deliver products to customers who bought them, your launch will fail.

  4. You need to support the products you sold. If you can’t help your customers work through issues with your product, your launch will fail.

It’s a basic set of rules to follow. The obstacles you have in these four areas should be your focus.


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Make the Right People Happy

This is a direct connection to your launch objectives. By following the BrainKraft Product Launch Framework you proposed and negotiated launch objectives with your leadership team.


Of course, your launch objectives can change as you learn more about the market environment you are targeting. But that requires renegotiation and careful consideration. Don’t make promises beyond your launch objectives. It will only distract you from your mission.


Regularly communicate your launch objectives to ensure your leadership team is on the same page. Don’t assume they’ll remember the details of your launch objectives. It’s up to you to remind them.

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