Most new products fail to become sustainable businesses. And one of the most significant — and brutally honest — reasons is that there is simply no need for them in the market.
When I was starting my career in crowdfunding, entrepreneurs asked me what I thought of their product, how much they would raise, whether their brand would become the next Oculus or Peloton and a million other things about their imminent future success.
So I’d share my predictions. I always had strong opinions based on my experience in this area and tried to make projections based on current or previous industry trends. And guess what? I was wrong … a lot.
You’d think that as you gain experience within this niche, your ability to predict success would increase. But it turned out to be the exact opposite. The more I learned, the more I realized Socrates would always be right — the only thing I know is that I know nothing. Seriously. I. Don’t. Know.
If I can’t predict success after seven years in product launching, how can founders, entrepreneurs and startup owners expect to?
Why Most Product Launches Fail
It doesn’t matter what you think about your product. There’s a simple piece of wisdom that comes with experience: You are probably not your ideal customer. And this small fact doesn’t come cheap.
Founders typically spend months coming up with and refining their ideas by themselves or with a very small group of friends. They spend thousands of dollars on developing their first working prototypes and then up to hundreds of thousands to produce their first batch. And they have to learn the intricacies of modern digital marketing on top of everything else!
But when they actually launch, they realize that journalists ignore their pitches, influencers don’t want to promote their product — even when they’re paid — and potential customers aren’t buying it. And soon, they realize that it’s not going anywhere. As Marc Andreessen famously popularized, “Market is the most important factor in a startup’s success or failure”... and they don’t have one.
As a top marketing agency specializing in product launches, we receive lots of applications — and just like founders, we can’t afford to waste our time, money and resources on launches that fail. So, we had to develop a reliable methodology to assess projects. The prelaunch methodology we developed was simple and reliable, and over the course of three years has given us extremely accurate predictions.
So, how does our prelaunch methodology work?
The Prelaunch Methodology
Most launches involve some form of lead generation. Ads drive traffic to a landing page where visitors can subscribe to join a mailing list. Then they receive a carefully crafted sequence of emails that warm them up and get them ready to buy upon launch.
Prelaunching takes this idea a step further, with a simple, two-page website. The first page showcases the concept, the USP, the main benefits and some nice visuals. Depending on the length of the page, there are one to three forms throughout the page that ask visitors to subscribe to discover more about the product.
This takes them to the second page, where they see the price and some additional information about the product. Here, they’re asked to reserve their discount with a small fee that goes toward their future purchase. Depending on the price of the product, this can be $5-10 or 5-10% if it’s above $1,000.
After setting up the site, you drive traffic to the first page and carefully monitor the results against a set of benchmarks. If enough people subscribe to learn more about the product on the first page, it means they love the concept and you have market interest. And if enough people pay the reservation fee, they’re ready to buy and you have price validation.
Yes, it’s that simple. But it’s much more reliable than surveys and focus groups combined — which only show what customers think they’ll do, and not what they’ll actually do — as it shows real purchase intent.
How To Predict The Unexpected
Although you probably already see how prelaunch is better than gut feeling at estimating a product’s success, it can be surprising how off-base an initial prediction is. Last year, we had two products surprise us with unexpected results.
One of the products had an amazing proposition — a smartwatch and earbuds in one. When they launched their original watch on Kickstarter in 2019, it resonated with people around the world who kept losing or forgetting their headphones. Now they were back for round two, and everything pointed toward the updated version being a success.
The other campaign, on the other hand, was an identity-protecting modular face mask that looked like an egg. We had just run a $5 million high-tech mask campaign, and in comparison, this looked like a joke.
We put them both into our product-market fit validation system and saw how ready people were to give their cash to support these campaigners via our proprietary validation mechanism. And to our surprise, no matter what we did, the egg-shaped mask kept outperforming the high-tech smartwatch. Both products ended up launching, and both campaigns successfully reached their funding goals. But the mask did end up outperforming the watch — by nearly 400%!
Properly prelaunching a product saves product owners and creators resources and time. Creators can use this as a chance to meet their consumers at earlier stages of product creation and build a community around the goal of creating a great product together. So, rather than simply believing your idea is amazing and going to market blindly, use this prelaunch methodology to validate your idea and price before starting development.