Ultimate Product Launch Marketing Plan for Startups
Updated on June 17, 2021
The most important time in a startup’s life cycle is its launch. If you think that you can get through to this stage without having a product launch marketing plan then your startup idea might end up being your nightmare.
The most important aspect of a startup product launch strategy is how you will go about marketing your product at the launch stage.
Why Prepare a Product Launch Marketing Plan?
Elements of a product launch plan, identifying marketing strategies.
- Product Launch Marketing Checklist
The product launch marketing plan is a part of the ‘Product Launch Plan’.
What is a Product Launch Plan?
A product launch plan is a documented summary of ideas, activities, and processes a company uses to release its product in the market.
The product launch plan also includes pre-launch market research, beta testing plan, and user onboarding plan.
A product launch plan consists of strategies and procedures a company may use to develop communication channels for its target audience.
A marketing plan helps you target your potential customers, their channels of information and ways to target them. Your whole business is dependent on a solid digital marketing strategy and requires planning and timely execution at its launch stage. Having a product launch plan helps you in:
- Evaluating the effectiveness of your product launch marketing strategy.
- Listing resources you will need to put in place your plan.
- Knowing your customers and your competitors.
- Describing your business and its products and services.
- Identifying the marketing approaches you will use.
A Complete Marketing Plan for Your Startup Success
After analyzing some of the successful new product launches, we have come up with very specific elements to include while designing marketing plan for new product launch.
1. The Intent of Your Business
In this phase, you must figure out what your business intent s to meet. During the course of defining your marketing strategies, you must develop action-oriented insights into why your business is more dependable. By doing this, you are helping your customers to know your business better.
2. Identify the Potential Audience
The market is like an ocean of potential customers willing to buy a product; but what makes you think that they will buy your product as well?
First, you have to identify which category of consumers you are targeting. A detailed description of these categories would make your efforts worth it. You should describe the target audience in detail to have a clear understanding of what you’re trying to achieve.
Once this is done, test the effectiveness of your pitch and product viability. Building your product can take an incredible amount of money and resources. You can however build a quick MVP with online website builder tools that can bring down the cost of building your website .
3. Know Your Competitors
You must keep in focus that your competitor does not want you there because they might not welcome challenges. And not everyone wants you playing in the big league. Mind it. Coming up with an original idea will help you stand out and be prominent in a market full of saturated ideas.
More often than not, startups don’t spend much time to test their competitors. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses with a strong analysis of your competitors can give you a head start.
4. Solid Brand Positioning Statement
Your brand and what it intends to do for the customers will be an integral part of your marketing arsenal. This can be your strongest competitive advantage. A simple yet comprehensive statement of how you will meet your customers’ needs while edging out the competitors can do wonders for you.
The positioning statement with a target-oriented approach to solving problems is a better approach than those with wayward vision.
5. Conduct Beta Tests
After your product has hit the market, conduct tests and ask people for feedback. You should run these tests through actual customers. Ask them what is wrong with your product. How you can improve it further? Eric Ries from Lean Startup says that by conducting public beta tests they were able to bring a product to the market that the public actually wanted.
You should note that your customers see the product from another perspective that your team may not be able to provide.
6. Create and Perfect Your Pitching Deck
Once your MVP is ready, prepare a pitch deck to pitch investors in pitching sessions. Startup experts recommend that a pitch deck should not have more than 19 cards. In fact, we have a complete guide about preparing a pitch deck for you that can help investors understand your startup within the minimum time period.
Peter Thiel, the author of Zero to One and the Co-founder of Paypal advice to prepare two pitch decks. One you will use to pitch to investors during the sessions. It will have more visuals. Prepare a second pitch deck that has more detailed information. You will send it to investors and attendees through email. This will help them (especially the attendees) about the scope of your product. And, maybe the investors who may not have understood your idea in the pitching session become interested in it after reviewing its potential.
Here is a fine example of AirBnB Pitch Deck from Malcolm Lewis. Also, check out this inspirational resource containing 17 pitch deck templates from the best of the startups.
7. Participate in Startup Competitions
So, you have prepared a pitching deck. Now what? Participate in pitching competitions. Jodi Goldstein provides some golden rules for founders, they should follow to enter competitions.
Here is a summary but you can read the whole article on Forbes .
- Don’t go pitching blindly: Make sure you read the terms of the competition. There are many pitching sessions that would want a stake in your startup just for PITCHING!
- What benefit does pitching offer you? Before pitching in the session, evaluate the pros and cons of the competition. There is one rule of thumb. If the competition offers benefits even if you lose then you should apply. Otherwise, stay away. Benefits can be anything from networking with investors to meeting more partners and co-founders. Etc. But the benefits should be measurable.
- Keep control of the pitch: Yes these are experts that you are pitching to, but it is your startup. So, keep control of the pitch. Don’t be afraid if they say that your startup lacks potential or it isn’t going to solve the problem or something similar. Just be confident and boldly say that you are confident that your product can solve it. Pitching sessions aren’t about debating or arguments. The investors are just trying to check if you have potential.
In the end, pitching sessions aren’t just about finding investors but marketing your business. Who knows maybe you can get customers from these sessions.
8. Identify Platforms to Announce Startup Product Launch
While the above two points are a necessary part of the product launch marketing plan, they relate to investor pitches and funding. Not all startups are lucky enough to get funds and most of them are bootstrapped . But even with a bootstrapped startup, you can spread the word through launching platforms such as Product Hunt, Beta List, Hacker News, and many others.
Each of these new product launch platforms has its terms and conditions. Do ensure to read them before submitting your product to avoid getting banned.
We got really good traction by launching Cloudways Startup Program on Product Hunt. You should try it as well.
9. Promote through Announcement Sites and Press Releases
Similarly, you can promote your startup through press releases and announcement websites. Though online press release submission websites have now lost their charm, they are still relevant for a new product launch marketing plan. Why? Because these can send signals to search engines and even help get the word out among journalistic circles – these efforts combined benefit the digital marketing strategy for product launch.
Yes, we also do it!
Tips for Writing a Press Release:
- Write an attractive Headline
- Tell your (startup) story
- Describe briefly
- Write in the inverted pyramid style
- Don’t forget to add your contact information
Now that you have to figure out ways to reach your customers. Apart from the conventional approaches like print and broadcast media, we have put together a small list of some digital marketing channels that may benefit your business.
Social media is the face of modern-day marketing. It has become a crucial part of any business’ marketing plan because you can target a wider audience, which in turn may lead to potential customers. Through social media, budding entrepreneurs and startups can either make it or break it. You must focus on smaller goals by following a systematic approach.
This is the era of social media and digital marketing and it’s vital to analyze your worth on social media. An attractive blog site, an active Facebook and Twitter page can serve as weapons for your social media artillery.
Learn to Effectively Use Social Media to Generate Leads
Email marketing, indeed a tried-and-tested concept, is an effective and popular medium of promotion and marketing for many startups. Organizations can employ email marketing techniques to amplify their business’ reach. In addition to this, newsletters, promotional emails, and campaign emails can surely help the cause further.
Email Marketing Guide that Will Help You With Growth
No business can survive without an active blog today. It’s considered a building block of modern marketing. It helps in amplifying a company’s social positioning and promoting the brand. Maintaining and regularly updating your blog with helpful and useful articles will help keep visitors coming to your blog and get familiar with your business.
SEO and Link Building
Systematic SEO schemas can help in a number of ways to improve your web presence, digital PR, blog, and social media marketing activities. A strong SEO strategy can help in extending the content and have a better impact on your potential customers.
A Complete Guide to SEO Optimized Startup Website
Advertising is key. First, you have to get familiar with your brand and then you can advertise it to the proper audience and your target market. By targeting your audience and advertising the appropriate messages to them, you can woo them and amplify your business.
Product Launch Marketing Checklist:
- Develop a story behind the product launch
- Prepare a launch plan
- Define your success metrics
- Identify marketing channels for launch
- Successfully finish the Beta testing
- Select your product launch date
- Communicate the product launch with all the employees
- Outreach journalists (PR)
- Get the creatives ready
- Prepare for the launch event (if any)
- Plan social media posts and articles about the product launch
- Place lead magnets on your website/blog
Your Time Starts Now!
When you are running a startup, following your gut feeling is not always a nice idea. You must have a well-documented plan to go about things.
By following this product launch marketing plan, you will definitely find your way to a successful launch and you will be able to seek the attention of your target audience. Make sure that you keep these valuable points in focus before you start your entrepreneurial journey.
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Start creating web apps on managed cloud servers now, arsalan sajid.
Arsalan, a Digital Marketer by profession, works as a Startups and Digital Agencies Community Manager at Cloudways. He loves all things entrepreneurial and wakes up every day with the desire to enable the dreams of aspiring entrepreneurs through his work!
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Plan For the Successful Launch of the New Product
There’s thorough planning and organization involved when launching a new product. It’s not easy at all because of the competitive state of the market. We think that there are a lot of similar products out there that can only make it with the promotion of their distinct features.
This is not necessarily true. Case studies show that a successful product launch mostly depends on a good product launch strategy. However, every good strategy requires a checklist. So, here’s a successful product launch checklist.
Understanding user needs
It’s necessary to be user-centered. This means that you need to understand who your users are, what their needs are, and why they need what they need. Answering these questions gives us the outlines of a product we want to design because the product is the answer.
User-centeredness can result in a successful product launch because it shows our users that we’re interested in them, it boosts the customer experience, and it can outline a strategy for further development and delivery.
Luckily, there are many things we can do to understand the needs of the users so we can meet them properly. These involve using analytics, doing surveys, creating your Buyer Persona , and reviewing different forms of feedback users provide. Another great way to understand them is to hire an agency to research users.
Understanding your competition
It’s essential to understand the competition. Fortunately, it’s easy to get to know your competition nowadays because we have almost everything online. This means that you can find out everything about the competitors by going to their website.
Also, many businesses have opted for automated customer service responses. Sometimes, improving customer service by automating responses can be bad for business because a competitor might use the customer service bot to their advantage.
Certain things are more important than others, and you should consider creating a slideshow to remember them. These are the things you should know before launching your product:
- Product : Know what the product is, and how it’s presented to potential customers. Study it, and try to understand what they might have done better.
- Logistics : Understand their distribution and delivery methods. There might be ways to improve that as well.
- Customer loyalty mechanisms : Try to analyze their loyalty programs and how they manage to retain customers.
- Design : It’s important to see what your competitor did to make the design appealing to the customers.
- Social media campaigns : Analyzing social media posts can help you organize your product campaigns.
- Price : The price is right when it’s better than what the other person is offering. However, you should account for the expenses when making a product.
Prototyping and testing the product
You must make a prototype of your product and test it. Testing a product before its official launch can solve so many things, and it can make the design and functionality much better to fit the customer’s needs. Prototyping a product helps in:
- Assessing the costs of production, the time it takes to produce it, and the materials that are used.
- Procuring adequate machines for the production process.
- Discovering issues early in the design stages.
- Receiving feedback from the customers and clients.
- Get additional funding for your product if necessary.
- Finalizing the product and distributing it to the customers.
Once you’ve prototyped the product and tested it, you can reconfigure it according to the previous research you’ve done on your potential users and the results of the tests. This should make a great ground for reconfiguration, and it can push the customers to make the purchase decision easier.
Run the numbers
Running the numbers means that you need to think about the margins. The profit you’re expecting to make versus the profit you’re making. Take a look at all the aspects of your production and try to set the expected profits realistically.
This means that you should account for everything and calculate the net profit of your products sold. Once you calculate that, you should be able to know what you can achieve, and you should look at these numbers for patterns and see if you can improve something.
Marketing before the launch
A smart move for a successful product launch is a marketing campaign building up to the launch. This means that your potential customers will build anticipation and awareness of the new product through social and email campaigns . Think big, and think about your reach:
- Email campaigns : People usually say that email is something that bothers them because they receive promotional emails most of the time. However, a good email with a good CTA can boost your product’s potential in the future.
- Blogs and social media : The most utilized marketing mediums, these offer you the possibility to build an entire community around a product that hasn’t been released yet.
- Ads : Don’t forget the good old-fashioned ads that are in places that people see. Even if you decide to advertise your product on a radio station, make it catchy, and people will notice it.
Think about logistics
Before launching the product make sure to analyze the approximate demand for the product. Also, make sure to establish connections and routes between manufacturers and stores for easier distribution.
It’s good to think about how much of the product you should have in stock. However, you can opt for just-in-time manufacturing, and that can work in your favor because it cuts certain costs. Plus, you give just the right amount to the customers.
Make the product public
Networking and sharing your product means that you need to make the product public to your friends, your followers, and everyone you think might be influential. It’s time to launch it, and there are tons of ways you can make the launch public.
The best way is to create compelling content to share your product with and make a good product presentation. It’s easy because you can use an online video editor to do it. People love visuals, and the most pleasing way to advertise something is through video content.
Reach out to media after the launch
Different types of media are always a good advertising opportunity. So, why not use some PR agencies to squeeze a little more marketing into the product launch. Share your product story, your initial idea with them, and how the product came to be.
Everyone enjoys a good story, and telling one about your product can help you increase your reach and improve customer satisfaction. Once you have a great product, and great customer experiences, the story can be the cherry on top. You can also revise the marketing budget and push it forward.
Analyze feedback after launch
Finalizing the product launch strategy means asking for feedback after the product is released. Feedback is the most valuable thing any business can get from its customers. Feedback helps us improve the product and adjust it more.
After receiving feedback from our customers, we can launch a new product line, an upgraded version of the product, and this can bring us much more profit. However, you need to be careful when interpreting the feedback.
Planning a successful product launch needs to be thorough, and it should involve all the mentioned steps. The good thing is that all these steps can be repeated when creating another product line.
Finally, don’t forget to use the feedback as much as possible, and remember that the feedback you get from the customers after the launch can help you reconfigure the product or make a new one that’s more successful.
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Product Launch Checklist: How to Launch a Product, According to HubSpot's Experts
Published: November 30, 2022
Like a tree falling in the woods, if you plan a product launch without spreading the word — will anyone use it? Will anyone even want it?
Probably not. Whether you're launching something huge, something small, or you're updating a current offering, you'll want to start your preparation well in advance of the launch date with a product launch checklist.
Because there are so many moving parts in this process, bringing your product to market can be intimidating and tricky. To help you, we've come up with a step-by-step checklist for a successful product launch and gathered the best product launch tips from a HubSpot Product Marketer.
Product Launch Checklist
- Learn about your customer.
- Write a positioning statement.
- Pitch your positioning to stakeholders.
- Plan your go-to-market strategy.
- Set a goal for the launch.
- Create promotional content.
- Prepare your team.
- Launch the product.
- See how well you did achieving your goals.
Marketing Planning & Strategy Template
Fill out the form to access your template..
1. Learn about your customer.
Whether you call it “market research,” or “customer development” it's key to learn about what drives your customer. Identifying their goals, motivations, and pain points could lead you to developing and marketing a valuable solution.
You don't need to perform years of intense research to learn about your customer. In fact, we suggest just talking to 12 to 15 current or prospective customers.
When speaking to them, pay extra attention when they start sentences with “I wish a product did this function…” or “Why can't products do this?” When they give these statements, respond with questions that go deeper, like “Can you get more specific about that?" If they don't bring up any pain points, ask them a few specific questions that will encourage them to give deeper answers.
These conversations will give you a solid idea of what their biggest pain points are and how you can market a solution to them. Once you learn these key details about your customers, you can develop a buyer persona that your team can focus on serving.
2. Write a positioning statement.
Write out a statement that can clearly and concisely answer these three questions:
- Who is the product for?
- What does the product do?
- Why is it different from other products out there?
If you'd like to go even deeper, create a statement that answers the following questions:
- What is your target audience?
- What segment of the target audience is most likely to buy the product?
- What brand name will you give your product or service?
- What product or service category does your product lie in?
- How is it different from competitors in the same category?
- What evidence or proof do you have to prove that your product is different?
Still need more guidance on how to write a positioning statement? Check out this template.
3. Pitch your positioning to stakeholders.
Once you've established your position statement, present it to stakeholders in your company so they are all on the same page.
If your employees have a hard time buying into the product, your customers might as well. If your team loves it, that might be a great sign that the product launch will go well.
4. Plan your go-to-market strategy.
This is the strategy that you will use to launch and promote your product. While some businesses prefer to build a funnel strategy, others prefer the flywheel approach.
Regardless of which method you choose, this process contains many moving parts. To create an organized strategy for launching your product, it can be helpful to use a template, like this one.
As you create the strategy, also start considering which type of content you'll use to attract a prospective customer's attention during the awareness, consideration, and purchase decision stage . You'll need to produce this content in the next step.
5. Set a goal for the launch.
Before you get started on implementing your strategy, make sure you write down your goals for the launch.
Alex Girard, a Product Marketing Manager at HubSpot, says, "Create specific goals for the launch's success. Keeping these goals in mind will help you focus your efforts on launch tactics that will help you achieve those goals."
For example, the goals of your product launch could be to effectively establish a new product name, build awareness, or create sales opportunities.
One of the best ways to set goals for your launch team is to write them out like SMART goals . A SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
6. Create promotional content.
After planning out your go-to-market strategy and writing your SMART goals, start producing content that will support and align with those promotional efforts. This can include blog posts related to your product or industry, demos and tutorials , and landing pages.
Our go-to-market template will also help you determine which content you should create for each phase of your prospective customer's buyer's journey.
7. Prepare your team.
Be sure that your company and key stakeholders are ready for you to launch and begin marketing the product. Communicate with the company through internal presentations, Slack, or email to keep your company updated on your launch plan.
8. Launch the product
Once you've completed all the above steps, you can launch the product.
9. See how well you did in achieving your goals.
After you launch your product, track how the go-to-market strategy is performing. Be prepared to pivot or adjust aspects of your plan if they aren't going smoothly.
Additionally, don't forget about the goals you set before the launch. See how well you did in achieving those goals. If the launch didn't meet expectations, you can rethink your go-to-market strategy and adjust from there.
How much money do you need to launch a new product?
Launching a product can cost anywhere from $10,000 to over $10 million — but for most cases, the range is somewhere between $20,000 to $500,000. However, the cost of launching a new product varies significantly depending on the type of product, industry, competition, and the goals you're hoping to achieve.
The cost of launching a new product varies significantly. For instance, an entrepreneur will see vastly different costs for launching a product on Amazon than an enterprise company might see for launching a product in a million-dollar market.
Let's consider two examples to explore this more closely.
In the first example, let's say you're an entrepreneur who has invented a design app you're hoping to sell online. You might conduct market research to determine which marketing strategies work best for your goals, which messaging resonates best with your audience, and which design elements appeal to your desired prospects. If you use a few focus groups to determine these answers, you might expect to spend roughly $5,000.
When you're bringing a new app to the market, you'll need to choose the best go-to marketing strategy for your needs. Regardless of the strategy you choose, they all cost money. For instance, product branding could cost roughly $1,000 if you're paying a designer to help you out, and website design could cost anywhere from $500-$3,000 if you're paying a web designer a one-off fee.
These fees don't include the cost you need to pay yourself and any employees if this is a full-time job. It also doesn't include the costs of hiring an engineer to update the app's features and ensure the app is running smoothly.
With this simplified example, you're looking at roughly $8,000 . Of course, you can cut some costs if you choose to do any of these tasks yourself, but you might risk creating a subpar customer experience.
On the other end of the spectrum, let's consider a large enterprise company that is launching a new product. Here, you'll likely pay upwards of $30,000 - $50,000 for market research.
Perhaps you'll spend $15,000 on brand positioning and the marketing materials necessary to differentiate yourself against competitors, and you might pay upwards of $30,000 for all the product design and brand packaging. Finally, your marketing team could need a budget of roughly $20,000 for SEO, paid advertising, social, content creation, etc.
All said and done, launching a product against other enterprise competitors' could cost roughly $125,000 . Again, that doesn't include the costs you'll pay your marketing, product development, and engineering teams.
How to Launch a Product Online
To launch your product online, you'll want to ensure you've followed the steps above. However, there are a few additional steps you'll want to follow to gain traction primarily online.
1. Figure out the story you want to tell regarding your product's bigger purpose.
What story do you want to tell across social platforms, landing pages, and email? This is similar to your positioning statement but needs to be geared entirely toward your target audience. Ask questions like, Why should they purchase your product? And How will your product or service make their lives better?
Communicating cross-functionally ensures the communication materials you use across various online channels align — which is key when it comes to establishing a new product in the marketplace.
Consider, for instance, how Living Proof announced its new product, Advanced Clean Dry Shampoo, on its Instagram page. The story revolves around a simple nuisance common with most other dry shampoos — How consumers still want that just-washed feeling, even when using a dry shampoo.
By focusing on how the product will benefit consumers through storytelling, and using a new hashtag #NoWastedWashes, Living Proof builds excitement and demand for its new product.
2. Display customer testimonials, case studies, and other social evidence to positively frame your new product.
Consumers want to see that other consumers have already taken the risk and purchased your new product before doing it themselves. This is where social proof comes into play.
In the weeks leading up to a product launch, or shortly after it's launch, begin posting customer testimonials, reviews, and case studies to showcase how your new product has already helped other people. Take this a step further and employ influencers to share the word about your product as well, if it's a good fit for your brand.
Consumers are smart enough to know they shouldn't trust every advertisement they see — but they can trust fellow consumers. So leverage that trust through social proof methods.
3. Create a social and email campaign.
Create a full, comprehensive social media campaign to increase interest and awareness of your new product.
Use paid advertising to reach new audiences, create full product explainer videos to use across your social channels, and use email to reach existing customers and provide an exclusive, first look at your new product's features.
Additionally, you might consider hosting a live stream to connect directly with prospects and existing customers and invite experts from your product development team to explain the new features of your product.
It's important to note — in this stage, you'll want to pay attention to how consumers are interacting with the communication materials regarding your new product. Share concerns and feedback with the product development team — it's important to trust your consumers and use their feedback to strengthen your product.
4. Have a pre-order option.
If a consumer is excited to purchase your new product, don't make them wait — provide an option to pre-order the product or service before it's even available. This helps spread out demand while enabling consumers to purchase the product whenever they're feeling most inclined to do so.
Product Launch Best Practices by Industry
1. how to launch a digital product.
When launching a digital product, you'll want to begin building anticipation with a strong content marketing strategy. Use blog posts, email marketing, social media, and other channels of distribution to increase interest and demand for your digital product.
You'll also want to ensure you're leveraging lead generation strategies to reach existing customers and prospects.
For instance, let's say you're launching an online course on SEO. In the weeks leading up to the launch, you might create SEO-related blog content to send to your email subscribers with an option to join the SEO course's waitlist. This helps you gauge the effectiveness of your marketing materials while reaching an audience that has already demonstrated interest in your brand.
How to Launch a Product on Amazon
Anyone who's ever shopped on Amazon knows the importance of a good product listing. In the weeks leading up to launch, take the time to create a strong, high-converting product listing — including taking high-resolution photos of your product, writing a description that outlines your product's differentiating features, and using keywords to help your product rank on Amazon .
Additionally, product reviews are incredibly important on Amazon, so you'll want to ensure you have reviews ready to go before you even launch your product on Amazon. To do this, ensure you've either launched your product on your own website first (which gives you time to earn reviews before launching on Amazon), or send your product to a select group of interested buyers ahead of the full launch, and collect reviews from them.
Finally, ensure you're ready for an Amazon product launch by checking inventory. You never know how quickly your product might gain traction on the eCommerce superstore, so make sure you have enough products to fulfill Amazon orders quickly.
Take a look at HubSpot's The Ultimate Guide to Selling on Amazon for more information related to Amazon.
How to Launch a SaaS Product
To launch a SaaS product, you'll want to start by researching competitors and understanding the marketplace at large. There's plenty of demand for SaaS products, as the industry is expected to grow by more than 16% by 2026 . However, the SaaS industry is also well-saturated, so before launching a SaaS product, you'll want to determine how your product differs from all the others in the industry.
To create a successful product launch, you'll want to conduct market research and focus groups to determine the true benefits and differentiators of your product.
Next, you'll want to employ a strong content marketing strategy to increase your website's visibility on search engines and to ensure your business is appearing in search results for topics related to your product.
Since you aren't launching a physical product, your marketing efforts need to convince businesses that your product can solve their needs. For instance, take a look at how HubSpot positioned the new Operations Hub product.
Additionally, you might want to offer free trials or a freemium option for smaller businesses on lower budgets to test out your offerings before committing.
For a full SaaS rundown, take a look at HubSpot's Ultimate Guide to Software as a Service (SaaS) .
How to Launch a Food Product
To launch a food product, you'll first need to ensure you're prepared for the costs required to do so — including how much it costs to package and store the product (including packaging, warehousing, and distribution), and how much it costs to sell the product (including branding and digital marketing).
Next, you'll want to follow federal and state food regulations . For instance, you need to ensure you're following health department rules for food preparation surfaces, refrigeration, and sanitation.
You'll also need to make sure the labeling you use on your product's packaging is accurate, which requires you to send your food product to a lab for analysis and check with your state commerce to see what it requires when it comes to nutrition labels.
When launching a food product, you'll likely want to hire a food broker. A food broker can foster relationships with national or local grocery stores and will create a promotional plan to help increase sales as soon as your food hits the shelves.
Typically, a supermarket will test out your product for a few months before determining if there's enough consumer interest to keep it stocked — which is why a food broker can be incredibly useful for using business intelligence and industry knowledge to ensure a successful food product launch.
Product Launch Tips
To learn the best practices for a successful product launch, I talked to Alex Girard again.
The HubSpot Product Marketing Manager said he had three main tips for a successful product launch:
- Your product positioning should reflect a shift you're seeing in the world, and how your product helps your customers take advantage of that shift.
- Create a recurring schedule for you and the core stakeholders for the launch to check in and ensure you're all on the same page.
- Make sure you keep the product team in the loop on your marketing plans. The product team could have insights that inform your overall marketing campaign.
However, sometimes, external factors might impact your ability to launch a product. When that happens, you might need to delay your launch.
How to Know When to Delay a Product Launch
To understand when, and why, you might hold off on a product launch, Girard told me there are three key reasons why you might want to delay a product launch, including:
- When your product itself isn't ready and you need to change your timeline to create the best customer experience possible.
- If a situation occurs where your current customers are having a less-than-optimal experience with one of your current products. Before launching and promoting a new product, you should make sure your current customers are satisfied with your existing product offering.
- If something occurs on an international, national, state, or local level that requires your audience to readjust their priorities and shift focus away from your company and its product launch. Make sure that when the time comes to launch, your target audience is ready to learn about your new product.
If you're looking for templates to coordinate your team efforts and align your company around your new product's messaging, download our free product marketing kit below.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in November 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
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What is a Product Launch Plan?
1 what is product management, 2 roles and responsibilities, 3 skills and strategies, 4 documents and templates.
- What is a Business Case?
- Market Requirements Document – What is a MRD?
- Product Requirements Document – What is a PRD?
- What is a Product Roadmap?
- What is a Go-To-Market Strategy Template?
- What is a Beta Program?
What size product launch are you working on, creating a product launch plan.
- What is a Marketing Plan Template?
- What is a Product End of Life (EOL) Plan?
5 Agile Product Management
6 the ultimate guide to digital product management.
A product launch is a planned effort to bring a new product to market. The goal is to make sure that everyone inside the company, your partners and target customers know about your new product. If you don’t do the product launch effectively, customers won’t be aware of your solution, or may potentially have a bad impression of your product, and you may not hit your revenue and profitability goals.
Launching your product is just as important as developing a great product. If you don’t do the product launch effectively, customers won’t be aware of your solution, potentially have a bad impression of your product, and you may not hit your revenue and profitability goals. As such, planning early is critical. Start your product launch plan 4-6 months before launch so that when the product is ready for sale you will be ready to effectively execute a launch that meets your goals.
Product launch plans help you sequence the events that lead up to and even past a product launch date. Your goal is to make sure that everyone inside the company, your partners and target customers know about your new product.
Not all products launch and even those that do don’t all have the same type of product launches. Products that are continually updated such as web-based software or smartphone apps use marketing techniques to remind customers that their product is available.
Product launches come in different sizes and types:
- Soft Launch : When your product sneaks into the market without much fanfare. Often products sold from one business to another launch this way. You don’t get a lot of attention, but maybe you product isn’t quite ready for prime time so it makes more sense for a few customers at a time to have a look.
- Minimal Launch : for smaller products or small incremental product changes, the minimal launch gets the word out without a huge amount of marketing spend.
- Full-scale Launch : To let the whole world (OK, your target markets) know about your product, aim for a full-scale launch. You’ll spend a lot of time and energy making this happen. It also has the best chance for success.
Decide which type of product launch is best for your product before you start your product launch plan.
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Your launch will tell your company and stakeholders what you are planning and how it impacts them. The process of creating it will help you think about the different aspects of the launch so that you are well-prepared to execute on the plan.
Recognizing the Importance of the Product Launch Plan
As with all things in life, spending some time upfront planning your launch will likely pay off with great success. If you have an idea of what your goals are and have a well-thought through plan, you’re at least headed in the right direction.
Your Market Requirements (MRD) , Go-To-Market Strategy and Product Requirements (PRD) documents are good sources for the topics needed at the beginning of each product launch plan.
Filling Out the Product Launch Plan Template
A product launch plan template includes a brief back story to the launch. Most of the launch plan is a long list of launch activities and reasons for each of them. The better you can tell the overall launch story and how all the pieces fit together, the better you can defend your launch plan and the budget you’ll need to execute the launch properly.
- Summarize the goals of your campaign: company messages, product audience, goals for the launch, and how you’ll measure the launch success. Identify key features of the product you’re launching here, including features, functions, and system requirements.
- Complete this after everything else is written.
Include a brief description of the product (2-3 paragraphs) that describes what the product is, the main features and benefits it provides and how it solves customer problems.
- Who is your target customer?
- Who are the product personas?
- What are your target market segments?
- What business segments are you targeting?
What are your key messages for the product? For your company? This information comes from the messaging platform based on your product positioning .
Critical Success Factors
Include the specific criteria that indicate that the launch has been a success. Include concrete and measurable goals such as revenue targets, number of partners carrying the product, and channel availability.
Critical dates and milestones
List all critical dates and milestones including product availability, finalizing product name, budget, positioning, and press activities.
Internal commitments and owners
Who is allocated to support customers through the beta program?
What key marketing vehicles will work best for you given your budgetary constraints and your target audience? This should include:
- Collateral materials: Datasheets, brochures
- Press events
- Product evaluations
- Online communications
- Company web pages
List an overall timeline of all activities in the launch plan that need to happen.
Financials and Launch budget allocation
What is the budget for your launch plan? Provide a pie chart of how you’re allocating the launch budget and give the details in a table.
- Risk Analysis
- Open Issues
- Document Approval
- Core team members
A product launch is exciting. Make sure to add elements of market excitement in your plan for the best results. Good luck!
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How to Create a Product Launch Roadmap: 10 Tactics & Examples
Learn how to use a product launch plan to get your teams on the same page, communicate with users, and realize your product goals.
- What is a product launch plan all about?
- 10 tactics to create the product launch plan that your new release deserves
- 1. Start with customer research
- 2. Create actionable product launch goals
- 3. Organize your product roadmap template
- 4. Expand your roadmap color palette
- 5. Create a product launch plan index
- 6. Add milestone highlights
- 7. Add calls to action
- 8. Visualize your product launch timelines
- 9. Use a checklist
- 10. Include dates to be updated
- Wrapping up product launch planning
The launch of a new product or feature is a stressful time for a company, particularly for Product Managers and Product Marketing Managers. You want a successful launch that acts as a springboard for new deals and helps the sales team move leads into the pipeline. For that to happen, your team needs to decide which strategies to execute and which to ditch.
How to create an effective product launch plan? We’re about to walk you through the actionable steps that will help you prepare for the launch and keep your whole team on the same page.
Start with customer research – ask your existing users or potential customers for their feedback. Understand their needs and pain points before you go into planning a launch strategy.
Create actionable goals for your product launch. Instead of focusing on one end goal, break it into smaller goals for each phase.
Visualize your product launch on a timeline . Depending on the scope of your launch, you can prepare customer journey maps, product roadmap, launch plan or a roadmap, and more assets as needed. See the examples and templates below 👇
Define roles and responsibilities for everyone on your team, and keep communication clear across teams within your org.
Use a product launch checklist to break bigger tasks into actionable steps and make sure all relevant steps are covered.
Keep your launch plan flexible to be able to quickly address all the changes along the way, especially if you work in an agile environment.
What is a product launch plan all about? #
A product launch plan is a document that details the tasks and timelines behind getting users to interact with your new product or a new feature. It is an essential part of any marketing strategy behind a new product.
Creating a solid product launch plan will make it easier to identify your goals, set out your strategy, and designate tasks for different teams and members. It sounds like this one document has a lot to cover, but with a good online roadmap maker , you can design a roadmap that will help you implement your launch strategy and get your whole organization aligned around a single source of truth.
10 tactics to create the product launch plan that your new release deserves #
When in the planning process for your next product launch, you need to ensure that all bases are covered. Start from customer and UX research then progress steadily through all other key actions, like adding milestones and checklists. Here are our top tips for product management team success with their product launch plans.
1. Start with customer research #
Your product roadmap is focused on a specific goal: the launch of your product. But getting there requires high-level feedback from the target audience of your launch, and the chief among them are your customers.
Though this may seem like a labor-intensive task, product launches will not be complete without asking your customers for their thoughts on product features you have produced so far, and what they wish you would do differently.
Here at Chameleon , we add beta users of new products and features to our Slack channels to have a direct line of communication for support, bug hunting, and—as a great end result—improving feature adoption among beta users.
Have you had customers who weren’t happy with how a product worked? Find out before creating your roadmap. Applying firmographic segmentation strategies to shape your ideal customer profiles and knowing what makes customers happy will help you map out the customer journey , organize your launch, and streamline the further development of your product.
The above example of a customer journey map outlines what the process for customers is now and how it can be changed in the future. A chart like this could be the starting point for creating a plan for your new product launch.
Depending on your customer journeys, you can decide the scope of your launch and iterate your product roadmap. Also, don't forget to validate it with your users first .
🎬 Webinar: Validating Product Roadmaps With Your Users
2. create actionable product launch goals #.
With customer research complete, you also need to think about what kinds of goals you have to outline to complete your product launch formula . But, more importantly, you need to decide what does and doesn’t impact your overall goal.
💡 Take a look at the series of best practices on how to announce a new feature , along with a specific framework to make this section even easier.
A little bit of analysis is needed for this phase of your roadmap. Dive into your product analytics to find which product goals, marketing goals, and sales goals to achieve. Then, list out the key performance indicators (KPIs) for each goal. What resources do you need, and how much effort and man-hours are required?
Once you have the answers to these questions, then understand what launch activities you have to undertake to achieve your goals.
3. Organize your product roadmap template #
Using a roadmap template can help you visualize your strategy and save time. For example, you can start with Roadmunk's roadmap templates with a swimlane or a timeline view.
Once you have chosen a roadmap format that suits your needs, you can add your brand identity. According to the latest branding statistics , high-level branding is a necessity for both external and internal company communications. And, it's particularly important for launches since they often involve both employees and customers.
With your branding in place, you should be looking at choosing a select set of icons as a visual reference in your launch roadmap. Icons are a simple, yet poignant tool for sharing and organizing information effectively. Icons also remove the need for adding long paragraphs to explain a subject, as you can see in the example below.
4. Expand your roadmap color palette #
Visuals like icons help better with recall, as do colors. Using a set of contrasting colors in your roadmap will make information stand out and lead to people remembering points better. Using a unique color palette is also an effective way to add personality to your brand . You can also use colors to demarcate sections or phases of the product launch. This will make it easier for your team members to access the section most relevant to them.
Alongside a varied color palette, you should also use shades of colors, especially if you only have access to a limited color palette. You can see in the roadmap below how shades of a single color have been used to create sections.
By using shades of the same color, you can expand the number of colors you can use, while still remaining minimalist.
5. Create a product launch plan index #
An index provides a brief description of what your plan is all about and which ideas you are looking to implement. It also outlines the various phases of the launch. You can choose to show this in a variety of ways: as a standard index, a timeline, a mind map, a graph, or a table.
For anyone reading your plan, an index will ease them into the project and give them the lay of the land before they begin working.
6. Add milestone highlights #
A product roadmap, especially one for a significant new product or feature launch, is likely to cover a lot of information no matter which roadmap format your choose. If you want to hold your teammates' attention, make sure the document is skimmable.
The modern human is increasingly busier and more overloaded with information than ever, and our attention spans have decreased as a result. We're used to skimming over headlines in our social media feeds, and quickly scanning through any articles we do click on.
Add visual hierarchy to your roadmap by pinpointing the salient points you need team members to focus on and highlighting them. You can achieve this in a number of ways - you can use bold or italics, break sections down to include more subheadings, or underline key phrases so they are immediately noticeable, as you can see in the example below.
What you will also have noticed is that these highlights don’t only extend to headings or subheadings; you could emphasize different words and phrases within the body text of your product roadmap. This will ensure that your teammates know exactly what is the most pertinent information they need to get from that section.
7. Add calls to action #
Product roadmaps have sections that are relevant to some staff members, but not others. But you don’t want the team members who aren’t involved in every step of the product launch to miss key deadlines or deliverables, which is why you need to include calls to action across your roadmap.
Instead of focusing on one end goal—the launch of the actual product—break down your phases into smaller goals and include a call to action for each of them.
For every phase of the project, include a section about what needs to be achieved or produced by the end of it. Use the aforementioned ways of highlighting text to make this call to action stand out to the reader.
Including calls to action, every step of the way will make the end goal feel more achievable, while also making your roadmap relevant to those who may not be involved in every aspect of the new product launch.
8. Visualize your product launch timelines #
A great way to structure your roadmap is by creating a timeline. Using a simple timeline maker tool or taking advantage of timeline infographic templates , you can design a timeline that shows every step of your product launch with the amount of time required for each phase. You can also include what needs to be achieved within each phase.
You can see in this timeline roadmap below how each step towards the goal has been clearly outlined.
A timeline is a great way to show a project at a high level so everyone has a clear understanding of what needs to be achieved and by when.
9. Use a checklist #
Aside from timelines, checklists are also one of the great product management tools to use in your product roadmap planning. Checklists break down a massive project, like a product launch, into smaller actionable tasks that can be achieved and marked off when completed.
This will help you ensure none of the important steps are missed. For example, as you prepare for your new product release, make sure that your Product Marketers are working along to prepare product announcements for different channels, including emails, blog posts, and in-app messages .
A checklist will require some work to create as it needs bigger goals to be broken down into its minutest components. But once that part is decided, the checklist will make it so much easier for everyone involved in the project to manage their workload.
Look at this checklist below which breaks down a marketing campaign into smaller, achievable tasks.
Checklists also make the Product Manager’s job better; they will no longer need to keep following up with colleagues about whether or not tasks have been completed. A quick glance at the checklist will tell you everything you need to know, so you can move on to the next task. Using a specialized tool like ProductPlan also makes sharing a roadmap overview an easy task.
10. Include dates to be updated #
A project as big as a product launch will require many hands to be involved from different departments. Not everyone will be privy to changes or updates made to the plan—and we all know that plans are constantly subject to change. You don’t want someone to be working off of redundant information, but you can hardly email every single person about every slight change on your way to the big launch date.
This is why a successful product launch roadmap needs to have a section that includes the date it was last updated. This doesn’t need to be overly large or interfere with your design. You can choose to tuck it away in a corner—but make it visible enough that everyone can easily notice it when they look at the roadmap. And, of course, keep your roadmap flexible to be able to quickly address all the changes along the way, especially if you work in an agile environment.
Also, the important thing to remember is that everyone is looking to this one document for their workflow so they need to know when things have changed. A key aspect of product management skills is ensuring that everyone is on board and in the know at all times.
Adding a small note about the date it was last updated will make it easier for everyone to work, and save you the hassle of coordinating endless email exchanges. This will also help you manage your product launch email campaign.
Wrapping up product launch planning #
With a few key tactics, you can create a product launch plan that is succinct, informative, and goal-oriented .
You need to do a little bit of research, make sure that your roadmap is easy to skim through without losing out on the salient features of the project, and keep in mind that the ever-changing nature of a live project needs to be reflected.
Incorporate the building blocks of your plan into a roadmap for a successful product launch. And don't forget to prepare positioning messages and in-app messages that will help your users realize the value of your new product quickly.
Boost product adoption with in-app messaging
This article is written by Ronita Mohan, content marketer at Venngage , the online infographic and design platform. Ronita specializes in writing about visual content, online engagement, and digital marketing. All images in the article are sourced from Venngage.
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How To Write the Perfect Business Plan in 9 Steps (2023)
- by Desirae Odjick
- Dec 3, 2022
- 25 minute read
A great business plan can help you clarify your strategy, identify potential roadblocks, decide what you’ll need in the way of resources, and evaluate the viability of your idea or your growth plans before you start a business .
Not every successful business launches with a formal business plan, but many founders find value in taking time to step back, research their idea and the market they’re looking to enter, and understand the scope and the strategy behind their tactics. That’s where writing a business plan comes in.
Table of Contents
What is a business plan?
Why write a business plan, business plan formats, how to write a business plan in 9 steps, tips for creating a small business plan, common mistakes when writing a business plan, prepare your business plan today, business plan faq.
A business plan is a document describing a business, its products or services, how it earns (or will earn) money, its leadership and staffing, its financing, its operations model, and many other details essential to its success.
We had a marketing background but not much experience in the other functions needed to run a fashion ecommerce business, like operations, finance, production, and tech. Laying out a business plan helped us identify the “unknowns” and made it easier to spot the gaps where we’d need help or, at the very least, to skill up ourselves. Jordan Barnett, Kapow Meggings
Investors rely on business plans to evaluate the feasibility of a business before funding it, which is why business plans are commonly associated with getting a loan. But there are several compelling reasons to consider writing a business plan, even if you don’t need funding.
- Strategic planning: Writing out your plan is an invaluable exercise for clarifying your ideas and can help you understand the scope of your business, as well as the amount of time, money, and resources you’ll need to get started.
- Evaluating ideas: If you’ve got multiple ideas in mind, a rough business plan for each can help you focus your time and energy on the ones with the highest chance of success.
- Research: To write a business plan, you’ll need to research your ideal customer and your competitors—information that will help you make more strategic decisions.
- Recruiting: Your business plan is one of the easiest ways to communicate your vision to potential new hires and can help build their confidence in the venture, especially if you’re in the early stages of growth.
- Partnerships: If you plan to approach other companies to collaborate, having a clear overview of your vision, your audience, and your business strategy will make it much easier for them to identify whether your business is a good fit for theirs—especially if they’re further along than you in their growth trajectory.
- Competitions: There are many business plan competitions offering prizes such as mentorships, grants, or investment capital. To find relevant competitions in your industry and area, try Googling “business plan competition + [your location]” and “business plan competition + [your industry].”
If you’re looking for a structured way to lay out your thoughts and ideas, and to share those ideas with people who can have a big impact on your success, a business plan is an excellent starting point.
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Business plans can span from one page to multiple pages with detailed graphs and reports. There’s no one way to create a business plan. The goal is to convey the most important information about your company for readers.
Common types of business plans we see include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Traditional. These are the most common business plans. Below, we’ll cover the standard elements of a business plan and go into detail for each section. Traditional business plans take longer to write and can be dozens of pages long. Venture capitalist firms and lenders ask for this plan.
- Lean. A lean business plan is a shorter version of a traditional business plan. It follows the same format, but only includes the most important information. Businesses use this plan to onboard new hires or modify existing plans for a specific target market.
- Nonprofit. A nonprofit business plan is for any entity that operates for public or social benefit. It covers everything you’ll find in a traditional business plan, plus a section describing the impact the company plans to make. For example, a speaker and headphone brand that aims to help people with hearing disabilities. Donors often request this plan.
Check out real-world examples of different business plans by reading The Road to Success: Business Plan Examples to Inspire Your Own .
- Draft an executive summary
- Describe your company
- Perform a market analysis
- Outline the management and organization
- List your products and services
- Perform customer segmentation
- Define a marketing plan
- Provide a logistics and operations plan
- Make a financial plan
Few things are more intimidating than a blank page. Starting your business plan with a structured outline and key elements for what you’ll include in each section is the best first step you can take.
Since an outline is such an important step in the process of writing a business plan, we’ve put together a high-level overview you can copy into your blank document to get you started (and avoid the terror of facing a blank page). You can also start with a free business plan template and use it to inform the structure of your plan.
Once you’ve got your business plan outline in place, it’s time to fill it in. We’ve broken it down by section to help you build your plan step by step.
1. Draft an executive summary
A good executive summary is one of the most crucial sections of your plan—it’s also the last section you should write.
The executive summary’s purpose is to distill everything that follows and give time-crunched reviewers (e.g., potential investors and lenders) a high-level overview of your business that persuades them to read further.
Again, it’s a summary, so highlight the key points you’ve uncovered while writing your plan. If you’re writing for your own planning purposes, you can skip the summary altogether—although you might want to give it a try anyway, just for practice.
An executive summary shouldn’t exceed one page. Admittedly, that space constraint can make squeezing in all of the salient information a bit stressful—but it’s not impossible. Here’s what your business plan’s executive summary should include:
- Business concept. What does your business do?
- Business goals and vision. What does your business want to do?
- Product description and differentiation. What do you sell, and why is it different?
- Target market. Who do you sell to?
- Marketing strategy. How do you plan on reaching your customers?
- Current financial state. What do you currently earn in revenue?
- Projected financial state. What do you foresee earning in revenue?
- The ask. How much money are you asking for?
- The team. strong> Who’s involved in the business?
2. Describe your company
This section of your business plan should answer two fundamental questions: who are you, and what do you plan to do? Answering these questions with a company description provides an introduction to why you’re in business, why you’re different, what you have going for you, and why you’re a good investment bet. For example, clean makeup brand Saie shares a letter from its founder on the company’s mission and why it exists.
Clarifying these details is still a useful exercise, even if you’re the only person who’s going to see them. It’s an opportunity to put to paper some of the more intangible facets of your business, like your principles, ideals, and cultural philosophies.
Here are some of the components you should include in your company description:
- Your business structure (Are you a sole proprietorship, general partnership, limited partnership, or incorporated company?)
- Your business model
- Your industry
- Your business’s vision, mission, and value proposition
- Background information on your business or its history
- Business objectives, both short and long term
- Your team, including key personnel and their salaries
Some of these points are statements of fact, but others will require a bit more thought to define, especially when it comes to your business’s vision, mission, and values. This is where you start getting to the core of why your business exists, what you hope to accomplish, and what you stand for.
This is where you start getting to the core of why your business exists, what you hope to accomplish, and what you stand for.
To define your values, think about all the people your company is accountable to, including owners, employees, suppliers, customers, and investors. Now consider how you’d like to conduct business with each of them. As you make a list, your core values should start to emerge.
Once you know your values, you can write a mission statement . Your statement should explain, in a convincing manner, why your business exists, and should be no longer than a single sentence.
As an example, Shopify’s mission statement is “Making commerce better for everyone.” It’s the “why” behind everything we do and clear enough that it needs no further explanation.
What impact do you envision your business having on the world once you’ve achieved your vision?
Next, craft your vision statement: what impact do you envision your business having on the world once you’ve achieved your vision? Phrase this impact as an assertion—begin the statement with “We will” and you’ll be off to a great start. Your vision statement, unlike your mission statement, can be longer than a single sentence, but try to keep it to three at most. The best vision statements are concise.
Finally, your company description should include both short- and long-term goals. Short-term goals, generally, should be achievable within the next year, while one to five years is a good window for long-term goals. Make sure all your goals are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.
3. Perform a market analysis
No matter what type of business you start, it’s no exaggeration to say your market can make or break it. Choose the right market for your products—one with plenty of customers who understand and need your product—and you’ll have a head start on success. If you choose the wrong market, or the right market at the wrong time, you may find yourself struggling for each sale.
Market analysis is a key section of your business plan, whether or not you ever intend for anyone else to read it.
This is why market research and analysis is a key section of your business plan, whether or not you ever intend for anyone else to read it. It should include an overview of how big you estimate the market is for your products, an analysis of your business’s position in the market, and an overview of the competitive landscape. Thorough research supporting your conclusions is important both to persuade investors and to validate your own assumptions as you work through your plan.
How big is your potential market?
The potential market is an estimate of how many people need your product. While it’s exciting to imagine sky-high sales figures, you’ll want to use as much relevant independent data as possible to validate your estimated potential market.
Since this can be a daunting process, here are some general tips to help you begin your research:
- Understand your ideal customer profile . If you’re targeting millennial consumers in the US, you first can look for government data about the size of that group. You also could look at projected changes to the number of people in your target age range over the next few years.
- Research relevant industry trends and trajectory. If your product serves retirees, try to find data about how many people will be retiring in the next five years, as well as any information you can find about consumption patterns among that group. If you’re selling fitness equipment, you could look at trends in gym memberships and overall health and fitness among your target audience or the population at large. Finally, look for information on whether your general industry is projected to grow or decline over the next few years.
- Make informed guesses. You’ll never have perfect, complete information about the size of your total addressable market. Your goal is to base your estimates on as many verifiable data points as necessary for a confident guess.
Some sources to consult for market data include government statistics offices, industry associations, academic research, and respected news outlets covering your industry.
A SWOT analysis looks at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. What are the best things about your company? What are you not so good at? What market or industry shifts can you take advantage of and turn into opportunities? Are there external factors threatening your ability to succeed?
These breakdowns often are presented as a grid, with bullet points in each section breaking down the most relevant information—so you can probably skip writing full paragraphs here. Strengths and weaknesses—both internal company factors—are listed first, with opportunities and threats following in the next row. With this visual presentation, your reader can quickly see the factors that may impact your business and determine your competitive advantage in the market.
Here’s an example:
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There are three overarching factors you can use to differentiate your business in the face of competition:
- Cost leadership. You have the capacity to maximize profits by offering lower prices than the majority of your competitors. Examples include companies like Mejuri and Endy .
- Differentiation. Your product or service offers something distinct from the current cost leaders in your industry and banks on standing out based on your uniqueness. Think of companies like Knix and Qalo .
- Segmentation. You focus on a very specific, or niche, target market, and aim to build traction with a smaller audience before moving on to a broader market. Companies like TomboyX and Heyday Footwear are great examples of this strategy.
To understand which is the best fit, you’ll need to understand your business as well as the competitive landscape.
You’ll always have competition in the market, even with an innovative product, so it’s important to include a competitive overview in your business plan. If you’re entering an established market, include a list of a few companies you consider direct competitors and explain how you plan to differentiate your products and business from theirs.
You’ll always have competition in the market, even with an innovative product.
For example, if you’re selling jewelry, your competitive differentiation could be that, unlike many high-end competitors, you donate a percentage of your profits to a notable charity or pass savings on to your customers.
If you’re entering a market where you can’t easily identify direct competitors, consider your indirect competitors—companies offering products that are substitutes for yours. For example, if you’re selling an innovative new piece of kitchen equipment, it’s too easy to say that because your product is new, you have no competition. Consider what your potential customers are doing to solve the same problems your product solves.
4. Outline management and organization
The management and organization section of your business plan should tell readers about who’s running your company. Detail the legal structure of your business. Communicate whether you’ll incorporate your business as an S corporation or create a limited partnership or sole proprietorship.
If you have a management team, use an organizational chart to show your company’s internal structure, including the roles, responsibilities, and relationships between people in your chart. Communicate how each person will contribute to the success of your startup.
5. List your products and services
Your products or services will feature prominently in most areas of your business plan, but it’s important to provide a section that outlines key details about them for interested readers.
If you sell many items, you can include more general information on each of your product lines; if you only sell a few, provide additional information on each. For example, bag shop BAGGU sells a large selection of different types of bags, in addition to home goods and other accessories. Its business plan would list out those bags and key details about each.
Describe new products you’ll launch in the near future and any intellectual property you own. Express how they’ll improve profitability.
It’s also important to note where products are coming from—handmade crafts are sourced differently than trending products for a dropshipping business, for instance.
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6. perform customer segmentation.
Your ideal customer, also known as your target market, is the foundation of your marketing plan , if not your business plan as a whole. You’ll want to keep this person in mind as you make strategic decisions, which is why an overview of who they are is important to understand and include in your plan.
To give a holistic overview of your ideal customer, describe a number of general and specific demographic characteristics. Customer segmentation often includes:
- Where they live
- Their age range
- Their level of education
- Some common behavior patterns
- How they spend their free time
- Where they work
- What technology they use
- How much they earn
- Where they’re commonly employed
- Their values, beliefs, or opinions
This information will vary based on what you’re selling, but you should be specific enough that it’s unquestionably clear who you’re trying to reach—and more importantly, why you’ve made the choices you have based on who your customers are and what they value.
For example, a college student has different interests, shopping habits, and pricing sensitivity than a 50-year-old executive at a Fortune 500 company. Your business plan and decisions would look very different based on which one was your ideal customer.
7. Define a marketing plan
Your marketing efforts are directly informed by your ideal customer. Your marketing plan should outline your current decisions and your future strategy, with a focus on how your ideas are a fit for that ideal customer.
If you’re planning to invest heavily in > Instagram marketing , for example, it might make sense to include whether Instagram is a leading platform for your audience—if it’s not, that might be a sign to rethink your marketing plan.
Most marketing plans include information on four key subjects. How much detail you present on each will depend on both your business and your plan’s audience.
- Price. How much do your products cost, and why have you made that decision?
- Product. What are you selling and how do you differentiate it in the market?
- Promotion. How will you get your products in front of your ideal customer?
- Place. Where will you sell your products?
Promotion may be the bulk of your plan since you can more readily dive into tactical details, but the other three areas should be covered at least briefly—each is an important strategic lever in your marketing mix.
8. Provide a logistics and operations plan
Logistics and operations are the workflows you’ll implement to make your ideas a reality. If you’re writing a business plan for your own planning purposes, this is still an important section to consider, even though you might not need to include the same level of detail as if you were seeking investment.
Cover all parts of your planned operations, including:
- Suppliers. Where do you get the raw materials you need for production, or where are your products produced?
- Production. Will you make, manufacture, wholesale , or dropship your products? How long does it take to produce your products and get them shipped to you? How will you handle a busy season or an unexpected spike in demand?
- Facilities. Where will you and any team members work? Do you plan to have a physical retail space? If yes, where?
- Equipment. What tools and technology do you require to be up and running? This includes everything from computers to lightbulbs and everything in between.
- Shipping and fulfillment. Will you be handling all the fulfillment tasks in-house, or will you use a third-party fulfillment partner?
- Inventory. How much will you keep on hand, and where will it be stored? How will you ship it to partners if required, and how will you approach inventory management ?
This section should signal to your reader that you’ve got a solid understanding of your supply chain and strong contingency plans in place to cover potential uncertainty. If your reader is you, it should give you a basis to make other important decisions, like how to price your products to cover your estimated costs, and at what point you plan to break even on your initial spending.
9. Make a financial plan
No matter how great your idea is, and regardless of the effort, time, and money you invest, a business lives or dies based on its financial health. At the end of the day, people want to work with a business they expect to be viable for the foreseeable future.
The level of detail required in your financial plan will depend on your audience and goals, but typically you’ll want to include three major views of your financials: an income statement, a balance sheet, and a cash-flow statement. It also may be appropriate to include financial data and projections.
Here’s a spreadsheet template that includes everything you’ll need to create an income statement, balance sheet, and cash-flow statement, including some sample numbers. You can edit it to reflect projections if needed.
Your income statement is designed to give readers a look at your revenue sources and expenses over a given time period. With those two pieces of information, they can see the all-important bottom line or the profit or loss your business experienced during that time. If you haven’t launched your business yet, you can project future milestones of the same information.
Your balance sheet offers a look at how much equity you have in your business. On one side, you list all your business assets (what you own), and on the other side, all your liabilities (what you owe). This provides a snapshot of your business’s shareholder equity, which is calculated as:
Assets - Liabilities = Equity
Cash flow statement
Your cash flow statement is similar to your income statement, with one important difference: it takes into account when revenues are collected and when expenses are paid.
When the cash you have coming in is greater than the cash you have going out, your cash flow is positive. When the opposite scenario is true, your cash flow is negative. Ideally, your cash flow statement will help you see when cash is low, when you might have a surplus, and where you might need to have a contingency plan to access funding to keep your business solvent .
It can be especially helpful to forecast your cash-flow statement to identify gaps or negative cash flow and adjust operations as required. Here’s a full guide to working through cash-flow projections for your business.
Download your copy of these templates to build out these financial statements for your business plan.
Know your audience
When you know who will be reading your plan—even if you’re just writing it for yourself to clarify your ideas—you can tailor the language and level of detail to them. This can also help you make sure you’re including the most relevant information and figure out when to omit sections that aren’t as impactful.
Have a clear goal
You’ll need to put in more work and deliver a more thorough plan if your goal is to secure funding for your business versus working through a plan for yourself or even your team.
Invest time in research
Sections of your business plan will primarily be informed by your ideas and vision, but some of the most crucial information you’ll need requires research from independent sources. This is where you can invest time in understanding who you’re selling to, whether there’s demand for your products, and who else is selling similar products or services.
Keep it short and to the point
No matter who you’re writing for, your business plan should be short and readable—generally no longer than 15 to 20 pages. If you do have additional documents you think may be valuable to your audience and your goals, consider adding them as appendices.
Keep the tone, style, and voice consistent
This is best managed by having a single person write the plan or by allowing time for the plan to be properly edited before distributing it.
Use a business plan software
Writing a business plan isn’t the easiest task for business owners. But it’s important for anyone starting or expanding a business. Fortunately, there are tools to help with everything from planning, drafting, creating graphics, syncing financial data, and more. Business plan software also have templates and tutorials to help you finish a comprehensive plan in hours, rather than days.
A few curated picks include:
- LivePlan : the most affordable option with samples and templates
- Bizplan : tailored for startups seeking investment
- GoSmallBiz : budget-friendly option with industry-specific templates
For a more in-depth look at the available options, read Get Guidance: 6 Business Plan Software to Help Write Your Future .
Other articles on business plans would never tell you what we’re about to tell you: your business plan can fail. The last thing you want is for time and effort to go down the drain. Avoid these common mistakes:
- Bad business idea. Not every idea is going to win. Sometimes your idea may be too risky and you won’t be able to get funding for it. Other times it’s too expensive or there’s no market. Aim for small business ideas that require little money and bypass traditional startup costs.
- No exit strategy. Investors reading your business plan want to know one thing: will your venture make them money? If you don’t show an exit strategy, or a plan for them to leave the business with maximum profits, you’ll have little luck finding capital.
- Unbalanced teams. A great product is the cost of entry to starting a business. But an incredible team will take it to the top. Unfortunately, many business owners overlook a balanced team. They assume readers want to see potential profits, without worrying about how you’ll get it done. If you’re pitching a new software idea, it makes sense to have at least one developer or IT specialist on your team.
- Missing financial projections. Your numbers are the most interesting part for readers. Don’t leave out your balance sheet, cash flow statements, P&L statements, and income statements. Include your break-even analysis and return-on-investment calculations to create a successful business plan.
- Spelling and grammar errors. Some businesses think hiring a professional editor is overkill. The reality is, all the best organizations have an editor review their documents. If someone spots typos while reading your business plan, how can they believe you’ll run a successful company?
Read through the following business plan example. You can download a copy in Microsoft Word or Google Docs and use it to inspire your own business planning.
Download sample business plan example (.doc)
A business plan can help you identify clear, deliberate next steps for your business, even if you never plan to pitch investors—and it can help you see gaps in your plan before they become issues. Whether you’ve written a business plan for a new online business idea , a retail storefront, growing your established business, or purchasing an existing business , you now have a comprehensive guide and the information you need to help you start working on the next phase of your own business.
Illustrations by Rachel Tunstall
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How do i write a business plan.
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Market analysis
- Management and organization
- Products and services
- Customer segmentation
- Marketing plan
- Logistics and operations
- Financial plan
What is a good business plan?
What are the 3 main purposes of a business plan, what are the different types of business plans, about the author.
Desirae is a senior product marketing manager at Shopify, and has zero chill when it comes to helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses.
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- Learning Center
How to Create a Product Launch Plan Roadmap
A successful product launch can create significant benefits for a company. In addition to generating revenue, a launch can build anticipation and market awareness for the product. It also provides feedback from early users, which the product team can use to improve the product. First, however, you need a product launch plan roadmap.
Creating a successful product launch requires planning and coordination across many departments throughout the company. Because it’s such a complex and strategic undertaking, you will want to develop your product launch plan using a strategic roadmap.
The following are some tips and strategies for developing a practical product launch roadmap.
1. Reacquaint your team with your user and buyer personas.
As they developed the product, the day-to-day details of the product launch temporarily diverted your cross-functional team’s time from learning the product’s personas.
While you prepare your product launch plan, this is the time to familiarize yourself with those people. Getting reacquainted with your target users and buyers will help you with several aspects of your launch plan. This knowledge will then inform where to focus on market-awareness campaigns, which publications your public relations team will talk to about your new product, and more.
While you and your team study these personas, address what they care about, which of their problems you developed your product to fix, and where they spend their time.
2. Remind yourselves about the “why” behind your product.
Like every other strategic undertaking you drive as a product manager, your product launch will have limited resources and budget. To maximize the impact of your launch, you will need to direct those limited resources into those strategies and channels that will have the most significant impact.
For example, you’ll want to identify the most compelling messages about your product’s value proposition—the “why” behind why you built it and for whom. Then, using those high-level messages will help you cut through the noise and make a case for the product to your user personas.
3. Make sure you have the right tool to build your roadmap.
A product launch is such a complex initiative that involves contributions from many teams across the company. Therefore, as you present your launch roadmap to these various teams, you should be prepared to focus on different details of the plan with each team.
Also, because product launch plans can span six months or more, you should assume that details in the plans will change over time.
With these things in mind, you will want to use the right tool to develop, share, and update your product launch roadmap. That tool should be a web-based app explicitly built for roadmaps.
4. Keep your roadmap’s contents brief, high-level, and jargon-free.
A roadmap is a strategic blueprint that represents the high-level plans and goals for an initiative. For example, your product launch roadmap should not be a detailed to-do list. Instead, you will use other tools, such as project management apps and your product backlog, to create and track the individual tasks your team agrees on.
You will also want to limit the amount of department-specific jargon you include on your roadmap. Remember, the cross-functional team driving your product launch includes marketing, sales, customer support, development, and other stakeholders. These departments all have a unique language.
5. Create a timeline for your product launch plan.
Because it will tie to the product’s planned release date, your product launch plan should be built on a timeline working backward from that date. This timeframe is usually six months.
As you can see from our product launch roadmap template above, the first months of a six-month launch roadmap represent the early stages of planning and research. The marketing team begins working on product branding and messaging, for example. Over the next couple of months, product management finalizes its pricing model while the sales and post-sales teams conduct training on the product. As the launch date nears, the cross-functional team will complete many additional milestones. These milestones include launching a beta version to early users, briefing industry analysts, building the process for CRM, and lead reporting.
The product management training company 280group outlines a product launch as a six-month initiative as well. They divide the timeframe into the following six steps:
As you build your product launch roadmap, you might want to develop your plans using 280group’s six-step model.
6. Use roadmap swimlanes to divide responsibilities.
If you look again at the launch plan roadmap template above, you’ll see this roadmap divides responsibilities into four swimlanes:
1. Product/service management
3. Channel management
These swimlanes help teams or individuals contribute to the product launch in any way to and easily find their responsibilities and each job’s timeframe.
7. Build in a review process and timeframe for each initiative.
Your launch roadmap should also include dates that indicate when feedback from the team must be collected, reviewed, and agreed upon before the team can consider that milestone complete.
This preparation will help ensure that all major projects in your launch plan receive the review and scrutiny they deserve before your team deems them ready. It will also help keep everyone focused on gathering relevant information and formulating their opinions. Then, during these reviews, your team can have productive conversations that lead to intelligent decisions.
8. Include the product metrics you’ll be monitoring post-launch.
You should also include in your launch roadmap the specific metrics you will use to determine whether or not your product launch is a success. It will align everyone’s focus and make sure everyone on your cross-functional team knows what the team is striving for. Keep the team working toward the optimal outcome: a successful product launch.
The 7 Strategic Phases of the Product Planning Process
Product teams who understand the strategic phases of the product planning process can effectively launch a product to market.
How to Run a Collaborative Roadmapping Exercise with Your Team
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Elements of a Product Launch Plan · 1. The Intent of Your Business · 2. Identify the Potential Audience · 3. Know Your Competitors · 4. Solid Brand
Plan For the Successful Launch of the New Product · Understanding user needs · Understanding your competition · Prototyping and testing the product.
1. Define your product or service · 2. Research your target audience · 3. Develop your marketing strategy · 4. Designate your core team members · 5.
Learn about your customer. · Write a positioning statement. · Pitch your positioning to stakeholders. · Plan your go-to-market strategy. · Set a
What is a Product Launch Plan? · Product launches come in different sizes and types: Soft Launch: When your product sneaks into the market without much fanfare.
A product launch plan is a document that details the tasks and timelines behind getting users to interact with your new product or a new feature.
Business concept. What does your business do? Business goals and vision. What does your business want to do? Product description and
The pre-launch stage is often the busiest and most impactful stage of a new product launch. Rushed or poorly planned product launches will flop.
10 stages of launching a new product · 1. Meeting users' needs · 2. Know your competition · 3. Make a prototype and test it · 4. Reconfigure your
How to Create a Product Launch Plan Roadmap · 1. Reacquaint your team with your user and buyer personas. · 2. Remind yourselves about the “why” behind your