As an entrepreneur or small business there’s nothing more nerve-wracking and exciting than a product launch.
Whether you’re launching a new product or service, launch day is the “final test” to determine whether or not your many months (sometimes years) of hard work paid off.
Of course, no matter how much you prepare, test, or tweak in preparation, there’s always a chance your launch won’t go as planned.
And when things go wrong… we call that a “failed product launch.”
Just a few weeks ago Pavlok launched its 3rd crowdfunding campaign and introduced Pavlok 2 (formerly Pavlok Rise) to the world. Despite spending months crafting the “perfect” message, surveying our community, and building a marketing strategy, the launch did not go according to plan.
Fortunately, we were able to quickly right the ship, and completely revamped our campaign in a matter of days and are now on the right track for our 3rd successful product launch.
Those critical few weeks after the launch when we were trying to pivot were an incredible learning experience for us to say the least, so we wanted to share a few of our learnings so you can hopefully avoid some costly mistakes.
You’re Only As Good As Your Last At Bat
During his sold out keynotes, entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk often says “You’re only as good as your last at bat.”
Prior to two weeks ago, I thought I knew what he meant, but it wasn’t until our campaign stumbled out of the gate that I really understood.
Launching two incredibly successful Kickstarter campaigns in the past, Pavlok had a lot of confidence in what we were offering with Pavlok 2.
No one ever thinks it’s going to be easy but having such a large community of original Pavlok supporters around the world gives us incredible confidence to move forward. We kept saying things like “we only need 10% of current owners to upgrade to make X dollars”, wrongly assuming that it would be clear to them why they should upgrade and that 10% was low-hanging fruit.
The problem however, was that during our most recent campaign we failed to communicate our new offer properly, and despite having success in the past, it didn’t matter because we failed to do our job. Just because someone bought from you once doesn’t mean they will automatically buy from you again – you need to communicate value every single time. It sounds obvious, but it is surprising how many businesses take their current customers for granted (us included, in this case).
Which brings us to our next point…
Focus On Benefits Not Features
After reflecting on where our messaging came up short with the latest launch, we realized our campaign page did a great job explaining the features of Pavlok 2 (new and improved hardware, better habit tracking etc) but we didn’t convey the benefits these new additions would provide.
One of our big goals with Pavlok 2 was to make it a “no brainer” upgrade for those who had purchased a Pavlok or Shock Clock in the past, however even our most loyal Pavlok users were unsure of why they needed to upgrade.
Had we done a better job tying in the features with the benefits the Pavlok 2 gave it’s users, we would have been much more successful in getting the Pavlok community to buy in early on.
It’s tempting, especially when you’re so heads down with your product or service, to assume your audience and potential customers know why your products features can help them. But in our experience, without properly communicating the benefits your product or service provides, your audience will more often than not remain scratching their heads and not move to buy.
When rewriting our campaign page, we looked at each line of the page to ensure we were not only sharing what’s new with Pavlok 2, but that we demonstrated exactly how these new features would benefit them in building better habits.
Create The Product Your Customers Actually Want
Another mistake many businesses make when launching their product or service is they create a product they think their audience wants rather what their audience actually wants.
Understanding the difference can make or break your launch.
While many users in the Pavlok community are definitely interested in building morning routines (which is why we originally marketed Pavlok 2 as Pavlok Rise), what they really wanted is a reliable and foolproof system to build better habits with the help of technology – morning routine or otherwise.
In our original campaign we spent 75% of our communication trying to explain to them why they should have a morning routine, when in reality, they were looking for something completely different.
Sure having a morning routine is nice, but we failed to communicate how Pavlok 2 would help them build great habits for life.
Had we taken the time to do some more in depth customer research prior to launching, we would have known we needed to tweak our copy to reflect what they were actually looking for.
Make sure to spend the time talking with actual customers, getting truthful feedback, and get into the psychology of those who you want to buy.
Fortunately, after our campaign got off to a poor start, we reached out to hundreds of Pavlok users (and potential buyers) to learn exactly what they were looking for.
Since making the adjustments in our campaign, the feedback has been nothing but positive and sales have doubled.
Get Outside Your Bubble
It’s important before you launch your product to get the opinion of those you trust outside your industry. This will often give you a new insight and perspective that is potentially helpful in crafting the perfect messaging for your product.
We don’t mean to suggest you need to listen to the advice of those who know nothing about your product, but it is helpful to get some perspective from those who don’t live and breathe it every day As you know, both you and your team spend months building your offering, so you can sometimes miss things that would otherwise be easily noticed.
For example, with the launch of Pavlok 2, we didn’t even mention what Pavlok was until half way down the page. We were so heads down building and preparing the Pavlok 2, that we forget to communicate the most important part!
While this of course may seem silly, you’d be surprised at how many entrepreneurs and teams fail to execute on even the most obvious actions.
Once we went back and explained what Pavlok actually was, we were able to significantly increase the amount of backers for the campaign.
Spend the time getting some feedback from outside your bubble. It will save you a ton of time and money. Trust us.
Don’t Be Afraid To Pivot
One of the final, and perhaps most important, lessons we learned from the recent launch of Pavlok 2, is that you can never be afraid to pivot.
After a few days of lackluster results, the team debated internally on what we should do.
Is canceling the campaign and refunding our customers the right thing to do? Should the name be changed? Should we get into AI or chatbots?
There was a variety of options and alternative courses of action to take before ultimately deciding to make the switch.
It was decided that we would re-brand our latest offering of “Pavlok Rise” which focused on morning routines and began marketing Pavlok 2 which focused on the improved hardware and habit tracking technology. We had spent so much time wanting to create a morning routine product and seeking validation for that idea, we totally ignored that our second product should probably answer the most common complaint about the first, what was “how does it know when I’m doing my habit?”.
We had actually created a solution for this (gesture detection) as part of Rise, but we failed to tell our users about it – big mistake. As part of the Pavlok 2 pivot, we made sure that fact was front and center.
During the rebrand we still shared the benefits of a morning routine and how our Pavlok Rise app would help them get a great start to their day, but we made sure to be as clear as possible on why Pavlok 2 is the best wearable to help you change your habits.
We’ll be the first to admit, it’s hard to pivot, especially after you’ve spent so many months in preparation, but had we not made the call to rebrand, the launch would have been a “true” failure and set us back as a company.
Righting The Ship
Whether you’re launching for the first time or have a few under your belt, not every launch will go as planned.
And that’s okay. You should expect that.
What matters is how you deal with a less than ideal launch.
Sure, you can throw in the towel and give in, or you can do what needs to be done to right the ship.
The last few weeks were a huge learning opportunity for Pavlok and we hope the lessons we learned help you have the best launch possible.
To view the results of the turnaround, check out the crowdfunding page:
Please comment below if you have any stories, questions, or suggestions with any part of this – I will be responding to everything immediately for the next couple of days.
Good luck, and talk to you below!