What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Have you ever participated in a pre-mortem? 

It is an exercise that you conduct before a project starts to allow you to imagine what could go wrong and what you might have done to change that course. The good news is that you do it before you start the project as you anticipate problems BEFORE they occur. 

I like this idea because it gives you a chance to see a project you are starting and to pick apart the weak part of the design. You imagine you are at the end of the launch and it failed. You ask why. Instead of doing this as a post mortem, when it is too late, you do this before the product (or service) launches. 

You also invite people who aren't invested in the outcome to the pre-mortem party. Let them pick apart each and every detail and question your approach. If you can accept the criticism without taking it personally, you will increase the success of your launch. Someone in finance will see a risk you aren't thinking about. Someone in IT will share an insight that could prevent a technical glitch. An outside marketing friend might see a flaw in your strategy that requires more work prior to launch. 

Here are ten questions asked during a typical pre-mortem event that are thought provoking. 

Ten Key Questions To Ask Before You Launch

1. What made you believe that the consumer needed every feature you added to this new and exciting product? You packaged it as innovative? Who said it was innovative? 

2. Why didn’t you know that your distributor makes such a higher margin on all her other products that she’ll never pay attention to your new product launch?

3. How come you didn’t understand that to get shelf space in most of these stores, you would be required to discount the product 4X each year reducing most of your margin? 

4. You knew there were two other products that had 80% of the same features – why did you believe this product would stand out and be seen as different? Where did your confidence come from believing that the difference would be noticed? 

5. Where did your belief come from that your brand could extend into this category without confusing the marketplace? How can your brand be on both sides of these competitive categories? 

6. Why did you miss that you didn't have a clear and simple story to tell so no one was sharing your brand story?

7. When you did get a little momentum going, your supplier failed you and couldn't keep up with the surge in orders. How did you miss that your sole supplier was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy? Did you run a D&B? Did you know their financial condition?

8. Your packaging failed to stand out on the shelf yet you spent tons of money on the design?  Did you ever put the product on a shelf and look at it in context compared to your competitors? 

9. Did you really have a clear target in mind or were you just hoping someone would pick up the product and buy it? Was hope your main marketing strategy? 

10. What problem were you trying to solve with your product? Did you share that with potential customers through your communications or did you hide your key selling point? 

What could possibly go wrong? 

Ask these types of questions early and often. Do it before you launch not after the fact. A pre-mortem can be a powerful muscle to exercise at your company to help you make an average 'go to market' strategy become superb. This pre-mortem exercise may save your product, your business or your job. 

So do this little workout at work before not after the fact. And don't be afraid to ask for criticism before you go to market. 

Notes: If you enjoy my posts, would you share it with your marketing friends? And check out my new book on Amazon. At $2.99 it is a great value. 21 useful lessons based on my marketing experiences. Thanks. 

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