In the article titled How to Evaluate Product Launch Uncertainty (aka Risk) I introduced a simple tool to help you articulate that uncomfortable feeling you have about the progress of product launch planning. That feeling you get when lots of things are getting done but you're worried that progress isn't being made.
In this article I want to share another risk assessment tool: the Product Launch Risk Matrix. It's a handy tool to use after conducting a Product Launch Planning Session with your core launch team. My friend Steve Johnson at Under 10 Consulting and I built it during one of the many long collaboration sessions we do.
The first and the biggest risk is product-market fit. If you don’t get that right (even directionally right), your launch will fail. An excellent product-market fit doesn’t gaurantee launch success.
Tip: No amount of marketing genius overcomes the weakness of a product that solves a problem no one cares about
Launch risk can be evaluated long before product development is complete using the Product Launch Risk Matrix.
At the top of the Launch Risk Matrix are 4 columns: Complement, New Version, New Product, and New Category.
A Complement is a product or service that is an add-on to an existing product. An example of a Complement can be a service to help customers implement your product. A New Version is a new version of an existing product. It’s an incremental improvement. It’s the “New and Improved” product. Sometimes the New Version changes so radically it can be considered a new product by your customers so be careful (they might see it as a new product). A New Product is a new offering within your product portfolio. It’s something you have never sold or delivered before. A New Product competes within an established product category. A New Category is something that is a change to the status quo. It’s a new way of doing things. It’s disruptive for customers and it’s disruptive to the established vendors servicing the market. Along the side of the Product Launch Risk Matrix are 2 rows: Familiar Market Segment, and New Market Segment. A Familiar Market Segment is a market segment that your organization serves today. You know the market segment well and have customers in the segment. You sell and deliver products to this market segment. Your organization has tribal knowledge of the market segment that can be leveraged. A New Market Segment is a market segment that your organization wants to enter. In other words, your organization has not served this market segment before.
Evaluating Launch Risk
The colors in the Launch Risk Matrix illustrate degrees of launch risk. Green is lower risk, yellow is medium risk, and red is higher risk.
The higher the degree of risk, the more planning is required to reduce the risk of a launch failure.
Apply the Product Launch Risk Matrix to a product launch you're planning. Pick the one square that matches your current situation. Is it higher risk than you expected?
You can download a PowerPoint slide of the Product Launch Risk Matrix below. Share it with your friends, it's a great party starter.