You did it! You have used the best of your experience and expert knowledge to design an ingenious product or create a whole new service. Congratulations! Now, how are you going to make your innovation known and understood to the world? Most important, how will you reach your target audience and help them realize that you can solve their problem or fill their need in a different way?
The success of your product launch relies on effective preparation. Invest the same energy and the same enthusiasm in the pre-launch phase as in the creation of your new product: this is decisive for your future sales. Successful product launch marketing requires 3 essential steps that cannot be skipped:
Step 1: Develop the product launch marketing strategy
Step 2: Build the product launch marketing plan
Step 3: Create the product launch marketing collateral
From target audience definition and communication channel selection, through product positioning and careful planning, until preparation of digital and non-digital material, here is a guideline of the most important product launch marketing activities.
Develop the product launch marketing strategy
First and foremost, you need to clarify several key points relating to the launch of your new product, in order to develop a relevant market approach strategy as well as precise and effective communication.
Define your target audience
Your new product has been designed to fill an unmet need or answer a customer demand. This specific need or demand may be very regional or more global, and not relevant to all market segments. The first step of your product launch marketing strategy is to identify the relevant markets and segments for your new product.Afterwards, investigate the leading brands, the market evolution and the competition. What are the technical requirements, the regulatory issues and the current challenges?
At that point, you should have a better idea of who your target customers are. Divide them in different categories, and incorporate insights about their needs, motivations and interests. To go further and figure out who amongst your target audience is the best fit for your new product, take some time to create buyer personas. Put yourself in the shoes of your prospects and customers. Find out their position in the company, their way of working, and the size of their team. Explore their motivations, challenges, and pain points. Consider why they would need your product.
Gather as much information as possible so that you know exactly whom you are going to promote your new product to.
Determine the positioning of the product
Consider your new product features, take a look at competitor products, and examine how your new product solves a specific customer problem in a very different way. If your product is highly innovative and there is no comparable product on the market, think about the customer problem and the way they tried to solve it so far: how will your new product bring them a much better solution than the one they used until now?
The USPs (or Unique Selling Points) are the differentiators that make your product unique on the market. To formulate the value proposition, take the USPs and express in a few words what differentiates your new product from competitors’ products and how it solves a problem or answers a demand from the customers.
Take time to find the right formulation for the value proposition: if you are not clear about it, no one else will be.
Before you go to the market, you need to develop a messaging which includes all aspects of the communication about the new product. It encompasses everything from the tagline until the introduction to the customers, through presentation to the media. Use the buyer personas to check what resonates to your target customers.
Further develop your messaging by writing the story of the new product. Explain how you identified the need or demand behind it, and how you managed to develop a product to help customers in a unique way.
Select appropriate communication channels
Once your messaging and stories are ready, you need to decide which channels to use to spread the word. Take your buyer personas and find out where they typically go to when they need information. It’s a safe bet that they use at least one social media, but consider as well other digital channels, like your website, your blog or emails.
The benefit of using social media is that it can help you reach easily a wide audience.
However, make sure that you target the right one in order to generate useful leads. Otherwise, you may simply not awake the interest of the readers.
The best way to reach your target audience directly is still to send a launch email to your current list of customers, leads and prospects. If you do not own yet an appropriate email list, pay particular attention to your website.
An up-to-date website with valuable and relevant content helps you attract the right leads and convert them to customers.
In digital times, mailing may be a good way to differentiate from competition, create awareness, and arouse interest for your product. Sending a nice brochure, eventually accompanied by some small give-aways, or even a sample of your product if suitable, will make your recipients remember about you.
In most B2B businesses, trade media are very important. Find out the relevant ones for your business and target those with the broadest distribution lists. They are the right place to publish press releases, adverts and promotional articles. In B2C, it is also worth learning which magazines are specialized in your field to reach out to them shortly before the launch.
Finally, trade-shows are generally an excellent opportunity to promote your new products. Both current loyal customers and potential leads will stop by and you will have the possibility to talk about your product. You may also be able to book some speaker slot in the trade-show conference program.
List the marketing collateral
Using multiple platforms to promote your new product increases your chance to create awareness with your target audience. Depending on the communication mix you want to use, you will need a bunch of marketing documents as varied as brochures, videos, FAQ, press release, web pages, articles, blog content, launch letters, launch emails, etc… Make a list so that you don´t miss anything.
Design promotional launch actions
Depending on the nature of your new product, samples may be a pre-requisite before customers take the decision to buy. If samples are not relevant for your business, consider the possibility for your customers to try the product, or at least to see a demo showing how it works.
At this stage of your planning, think also about giveaways, to be distributed during the launch event for example, but also later, when the customers should remember about your brand and product. Design something that is useful or nice and that customers like to use every day.
There are still many ways to get attention to your product.
Organising contests is a popular method to drive interest of your audience.
Indeed, it is interesting both for the participants – as they can win something – and also for you – as an efficient way to collect contact details of prospects. Once again, the selection of the right communication channel is essential to reach people with a real interest for your product.
Product launches are often linked to a commercial action. In agreement with the sales team, you could consider offering a discount during the launch period. Plan it already now, and discuss in detail the quantity and timing.
Whatever makes sense for your business and product – beta-testing or a test marketing phase – pre-launching with the right test users and customers brings you valuable feedbacks. Choose the right timing, when your product is advanced enough to be tested and it is still time either to bring some modifications to it or to rethink your messaging.
Budget your costs
All those activities have a cost. Once you have a clear picture of all the marketing activities needed to support your product launch, it is time to budget your costs and list the resources you need to put in place. Consider how much you want to spend for advertising the product and the launch event, and promoting the product on social media. If you decided to hand out samples or give-aways, they need to be budgeted accordingly. If you have budgetary constraints, select the key marketing vehicle that will work best to reach your target audience.
In any case, keep in mind that you have to invest money in your product launch before you can make money with your product.
Set the product launch goals
Then decide about your product launch marketing goals and success metrics. How will you measure the success and ROI of your product launch marketing activities? Are you for example looking for press mentions? Do you want to attract leads on your website? Do you want people to subscribe to your blog? Use the experience gained after previous launches, if any, to quantify your objectives and the timeframe to get to it. Even if marketing goals are not sales goals, make sure your activities and objectives will effectively contribute to generate real sales.
Build the product launch marketing plan
If you have prepared all of the elements of step one, your launch strategy has a solid foundation and you have all the cards in hand to start developing your launch marketing plan.
Classify the tasks into categories
For a better readability and clarity, your marketing plan should be divided in categories, like launch event, social media, press, website, brochures, samples, give-aways, contests, pre-launch if relevant, etc…
List all tasks under these categories and then divide the tasks in sub-tasks. Make sure you don’t miss to plan any essential step that you could delay all the activities. Indicate the status of each task and sub-task (not started, on-going, completed).
Precise the timing
One of the most important aspect of the marketing plan is to evaluate the right duration of each task and define the right timing.
Organize the work in the order it needs to happen. To know when a task can start, you need to find out the interdependencies between each task: while some can be done in parallel, others need to be completed before the next ones can start. That way, you can adjust your timing as closely as possible to reality.
Assign the responsibilities
Each task and sub-task are assigned to a responsible person. Clear responsibilities, associated with a clear timing, allow to find calendar conflicts from the beginning and discuss the delays with the team.
Besides the task responsibility, you need to understand who should approve before you can move to the next step. Plan extra time to get the necessary approvals.
Share your plan with the stakeholders
Share your product marketing launch plan with your entire team to keep everyone on the same page.
Coordinate the inputs, keep your plan up-to-date and upload it on a platform where all stakeholders have access. Use it to consolidate all your launch marketing and communication activities.
Create the product launch marketing collateral
The final stretch before launching your product is to create all the marketing materials that you have defined in your strategy and within the deadlines you have set in your marketing plan.
Design the product visuals
Working on the design of your product brand should happen prior to the development of the marketing collateral. First step is to precise the look and feel around your brand. Define the colours you will use and the images that illustrate your message. Finally design a logo for your new product.
Create a full world around your brand, and check whether it is working in all the media and communication channels you intend to use.
These elements should be consistent to make your product easily recognizable. In addition, don’t forget to get professional photos of your product.
Make the printed material ready
You may have decided to combine digital and non-digital communication channels. Write the text of your brochures, set up the design based on the product visuals and get your documents printed.
At the same time, prepare your launch letter that will be sent together with your brochures to your current customers, leads and prospects.
Also devote time for writing the articles that will be published in trade magazines and finalise the adverts for the promotion in the press.
Prepare the digital material
Start with your website. Create new pages and start creating content to promote your product. If you launch a new product in a space where your company doesn’t have much authority, you may already post in your blog or news section to awake interest and excitement shortly before your product launch.
Prepare the engaging, educational and valuable content (articles, videos) that will be posted during the launch time on your website and social media. Just as your product meets a need, your articles should answer the questions that your prospects are asking. That way, they will become aware of your brand as a reliable resource and recognize you as an expert in your field.
By creating content that answers the questions of your potential leads and customers, relevant traffic will significantly increase on your website.
If relevant, adapt your ecommerce page. Write your product description and include all details needed to order the product in collaboration with the commercial team.
Prepare the launch email that will reach your customers, leads and prospects on the launch day. Increase the open rate with well-thought title and header. Optimize the text for readability with short sentences, keeping in mind what your readers should take away and what action you want them to take. You may consider sending pre-launch emails to announce that you will be launching a new product and create interest.
If not yet done, set up social accounts. Prepare your social media posts. Talk about the reasons behind your new products, your motivation to solve problems.
Be specific, and write messages that suits to the social media, resonates with your audience and are easily shareable.
Draft the press release
You can do more with a press release than just sending it to journalists. You can link it to social media and add it to the news on your website. Note that it will still appear in the results of the searching engines months and even years after the product launch. So, write it carefully. A great press release should tell your product story. Write an attractive headline. Put the most important information right at the beginning. Follow with secondary information and end with company description and contact details. If you have conducted beta programs during the pre-launch phase, include customer product endorsements in your press release.
Prepare your press pitch and train some internal key people for media interviews, like the product and business managers in charge of the new product, or like technical and scientific experts if relevant.
Write articles that you can supply to trade journals. If they are informative about your field, or if they are linked to an advertisement that you will publish in the same journal, you may be able to publish them for free.
Organize the events
Whatever event you have selected to launch your product, you need to prepare it well in advance. If you organize or participate to a physical event, such as a tradeshow or a conference, design your booth, prepare the promotional material, choose and train your speakers.
If you stage an online event by going live via video on social media, organising a webinar or showing a life demo, plan it in detail and give it a try before the big day.
In all cases, make sure your target audience hears about your launch event in advance via social media or trade press, and send them invitations per email.
Train the sales team
When a product is about to be launched, it is crucial to train sales and distributors on the product features and messaging. Make sure they understand how to sell the product to various buyer personas and prepare the slide deck for customer presentations. Prepare a sales pitch that stands out. Bear in mind that buyers might receive many requests every month about new products. Train your sales people to present it. Put together a Q&A to answer the questions customers may ask them. Don’t forget to train customer service teams as well on the new product details and provide them with necessary support materials.
Finally, inform all people involved in the product launch about the timing. Make sure that everyone is clear and aligned about what they have to do during the launch period. Ensure as well that your teams feel impatient and enthusiastic about the launch to come!
Launching a new product is an adventure that needs to be carefully prepared. Well-planned product launch marketing activities are essential to the success of your launch. Do not skip the strategic part. Be accurate in the definition of your target audience, the determination of the value proposition and the selection of the communication channels.
Start well in advance of your product launch date to set up all activities and prepare the documentation that will be needed during the launch phase. Do not forget to train and align your teams before the big day.
With a good anticipation, you will just need to roll out the launch activities following your plan and the launch of your new product will run smoothly. In conclusion, plan enough time for the upstream activities: the better your preparation, the more likely your product launch is to be successful.
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