Launching a new product can be a lot like throwing a dart at a map—when that the map is in another room, the power is out, and you're fresh from the optometrist and your pupils are dilated.

What I'm getting at here is that brands still spend copious amounts of money launching (and relaunching) products despite having minimal amounts of data. Even when companies manage to dig up plenty of data, they often focus their market research on the wrong people—so the messaging never entirely aligns with the customer journey.

Poor market research isn't the sole culprit, though. In some cases, there's simply a disconnect between Sales and Marketing. Sales teams often have the data, info, and knowledge that marketers need; but, if the two departments aren't communicating properly, it's easy for things to get lost in translation. Throw IT into the mix, and all bets are off.

The success (or failure) of most marketing decisions hinge on data, but modern marketers are forced to cover a lot of ground. In fact, only 6% of marketing executives say their teams are martech conversant, while more than 50% say the most significant barrier to success is martech competency.

You don't have to launch products—or even campaigns—with guesswork as your guide. It's time to put old-school tactics to bed and replace them with rapid market-testing.

Rapid testing offers one of the most effective ways to identify exactly where to allocate your budget before a product launch. Instead of placing large wagers that your campaign messaging is right, you spend a small amount to prove that you're right—adjusting as necessary and scaling from there.

Quick-Fire Forecasting

With rapid market-testing, you spend a small amount of money to confirm assumptions. You can then move forward with all the data you need to be successful, such as the ideal audience, where the audience congregates online, what messaging resonates with that audience, etc.

Here's an example of how it can play out.

Our company was brought in to determine how to best market Battle Toss, a new-to-market game for adults and children. The initial testing lasted about three weeks, and we worked to build a presence on various social media platforms to gather customer feedback, gain visibility, and identify consumers with the greatest affinity for the product.

We also hosted an event at a local bar to gather feedback on the product and to use a drone to shoot video of people playing the game. The feedback revealed the game's niche and helped us identify key adopters. We then used that information (and the footage we captured) to build a product website and start a YouTube channel with any information our potential customers might want.

Based on the data we gathered, we fine-tuned our marketing message and began a Google paid-search campaign, which led to the product's being sold out in only a month. That success led to extended sales to Amazon, tripling orders for the game within a week.

Without rapid testing, it would have taken us much longer to validate the product—and the time we spent developing and planning the marketing campaign would have pushed the full launch back by months.

What You Can Learn From Rapid Market-Testing

Rapid market testing can help validate—or invalidate—your assumptions, preventing you from wasting your marketing budget on a product that isn't ready for market. Here are five areas where rapid market testing can offer a wealth of information:

1. Revenue Forecasting

Proving ROI can be one of the trickiest jobs for any marketer. You can put in plenty of effort, but conjecture isn't all that persuasive when pitching a big-spend campaign. Rapid testing gives you a clear idea of the resulting revenue, arming you with the information you need to make informed decisions on marketing investments. It takes the guesswork out of the equation.

2. Consumer Insights

The information you've already gleaned from customers is no doubt astounding, and it hopefully has informed your marketing campaigns for the past several years. Rapid testing gives you a next-level understanding, rendering a picture of what language they use and at what point along the path they purchase products. By basing your decisions on this testing data, you're effectively putting your campaign on steroids.

3. Market Fit

Many companies are so close to their products that they overlook whether it's something consumers would even want. Validating your products in the marketplace before you get too far into launch minimizes risk and maximizes results. Rapid market-testing makes it possible to watch your target audience interacts with your product. You can then make decisions based on those interactions rather than on your expectations.

4. Customer Journey

Most customers have a variety of interactions with a product before they make a purchase decision. The goal is to always get the right message in front of the right person at the right time. Validating your products in the marketplace does more than reveal that it "fits," however. When you test your messaging and interactions in small doses with real audiences, you'll have an in-depth look at their buyer journeys—showing you when and where (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) to message your target audience.

5. More-Targeted Messaging

Let's start with the obvious: Targeted messaging is always best. Rapid testing offers real-world results rather than assumptions, showing you precisely what resonates with consumers. Instead of making hunches based on personas described in slide decks, all of your information stems from the actual behavior of your target audience.

* * *

It's next to impossible to guarantee a successful product launch. What you can do is increase your odds of success by ensuring your product is ready to launch with a little rapid market-testing. The best way to figure out what to expect in the future is to gather as much information as possible in the present.

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Can You Ensure Your Product Launch Isn't a Dud? Yes, Rapid Market-Testing Can Do That

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image of Kip Botirius

Kip Botirius is the CEO of Tenlo, a pipeline marketing agency in Cleveland. Kip leads a diverse team to develop marketing and brand-building strategies.

LinkedIn: Kip Botirius