Once you’ve asked the essential questions and have decided to move forward with a product/service launch, you want to create a plan that has the greatest chance for success possible. Considering that 19 out of 20 newly launched products fail, it’s important to proactively assess your launch from every angle and consider potential reasons why your product may struggle in the market. One of the best tools for success to equip your marketing, sales, operations and other key product launch teams is with a research panel.

In this blog, we’ll look at the primary considerations for determining if a research panel is worth leveraging for your next product or service launch.

Connect with Your Most Invested Customers

In order to build your most effective research panel, you want to utilize the customers (current and future) in your database who are most genuinely aligned with your offering. In other words, you want your research panel to be comprised of buyers who have a legitimate interest in your current products and feel invested in the growth of your entire product line. By using customers who are familiar with your brand, they’ll be able to not only point out what works and what they’re most interested in seeing more of, but they can also highlight any elements that don’t feel consistent with your brand or where your launch materials miss the mark.

Deciding on who your most genuine customers are will involve multiple teams within your company. The marketing team will have the insight to identify leads who may frequently engage with your company’s marketing, such as downloading your content or engaging with your email sends. Sales will also have an important understanding of clients who would be invested in your new offering as a supplement or upgrade to their current solution. The sales team can access their database to determine clients who have been long-time customers or purchased a variety of products, or even the products/services that might be similar or in the same vein as the product you’re getting ready to launch.

Once your teams have determined the clients and prospects who are best suited to be a part of your panel, then your customer-facing teams can reach out and gauge their interest. Any opportunity to engage with your buyers is a good one. Customers will appreciate hearing from your company and having the opportunity to provide feedback that is valued and implemented. Plus, you can offer your loyal customers incentives for their participation, such as discounts on your product or exclusive pieces of content. While incentives are a natural part of building a research panel, you and the clients participating in the panel should view them as a “thank you” gift for participating, as opposed to the primary reason they’re taking part in your research panel. This will help ensure their reasoning behind taking part in your panel is objective and authentic.

Pinpoint Your Launch Target Audience

A large element of your product/service launch is ensuring that you’re launching the product to the most appropriate target audience. Even if you build a comprehensive launch that’s been thoroughly researched, it will be ineffective if it’s being presented to an audience who isn’t even interested in the product/offering your launching. You’ll want your marketing and/or product teams to build a research panel that is reflective of the intended audience.

When building your research panel, understanding the demographics and pain points of your future buyers will aid in forming your optimal panel. Inevitably, this will help you build the personas that you want to reach during your launch. Some questions that will help you define your target audience include:

  • What are their top pain points?
  • What are the top factors they take into consideration when researching a new product/service?
  • What budget are they working with when considering a new product/service?
  • Are they involved with the use of products within their organization?

Understand Where Your Marketing Team Should Focus Their Efforts

Your research panel comprised of current and thoughtful customers will be an ideal barometer for not only testing the demand and need for the product you’re launching but will also be a great way to measure what marketing methods work and which don’t. An effective product launch will incorporate a strategic mix of marketing elements.

A strong research panel will help your marketing and product development teams test out some of the basic—but very important—launch elements. The product/service name, messaging, branding and design will all be easy points to gauge the response from your panel. Once your internal teams receive panel feedback, they can modify accordingly and feel more confident about adding accurate messaging elements and branding elements to the rest of their launch materials.

Content marketing is also a viable tool that your marketing team can utilize when outreaching and engaging with current and prospective audiences about your latest product/service offering. This research panel will be a great place to do preliminary testing on the kind of content potential customers are looking for most. Does a particular white paper perform the best? Or maybe a smaller, more succinct infographic is receiving the most engagement with your panel? Using your research panel to understand these elements of your content marketing will help eliminate any uncertainty when you start reaching out to your wider audience after you’ve initiated the launch.

The Big Value of Even a Small Research Panel

While it may seem like a research panel is something reserved for bigger companies with more resources and a larger budget, a research panel can be executed for any size company. Often, if done using a pre-existing customer base, the return on your investment will be much higher than the incentives and time invested in creating the panel. The value of creating a product that is a success and not a failure can be priceless. Ultimately, what matters most when developing a research panel is not the size of the panel, but the members that comprise it. By selecting panel members who are invested in your product, brand and company, you’re setting your launch up for success. A product/service launch that leverages authentic feedback from handpicked panelists will help your internal team’s launch efforts be more strategic and targeted.