When we think of a product launch, most people will envision a visionary like Steve Jobs presenting a breakthrough idea to throngs of press and brand fanatics. As idealistic as that image is, most companies don’t have product launches that look anything as luxurious as that and still find a way to succeed. Just because the end result or launch event isn’t a spectacle, doesn’t mean that there was any less time spent on research, planning and strategizing.
Whether you are launching the next big tech device that will revolutionize the world as we know it or you created an additional product that simply makes your customers’ lives easier, the steps taken to plan and execute your launch may have more to do with success than the actual new product itself.
A Successful Product Launch Depends on Research
Across industries and products, the one thing that transcends successful launches is thorough research and planning. By taking the time to plan and research from the outset, you can create a more cohesive strategy that speaks to your customers. We’ve broken the research and planning phase into four key areas that you will want to focus on.
Defining Your Target Audience
It’s natural to begin any assessment with the audience who will be buying your product. The more focused you can define your audience the better. If your business incorporates digital analytics into your strategies, you’ll be able to glean commonalities amongst demographics and interests quickly.
Every decision you will make from identifying your unique value proposition to the channels you market through will depend upon identifying your target audience. Having your audience in mind early on will allow you to frame the rest of your campaign which allows you to connect with your customers easily.
Solve a Problem for Your Target Audience
Once you have your audience selected, you need to think about the problems that your product is going to solve for them. When you think of great marketing messages, you don’t remember product specifications or pricing. Instead, you remember messages that highlighted how they could make your life easier, better or more fun. Identify the issues that you’ll resolve for your target audience and incorporate them into a resonating message.
Understand Your Customer’s Buying Journey
To effectively reach your customers, you need to understand the entire purchasing process. You’ll want to learn how customers find out about similar products, what sorts of reviews or influencers customers are paying attention to and if any particular events trigger purchases.
All of this data will show you the steps that a target customer could take going through your funnel. If you sell products or collect lead forms through your website, you can even outline a visitor’s path step-by-step across your site. Understanding these paths, allows you to create messaging that reaches customers where they get their information from.
Who Are Your Competitors and How do You Stand Out
Everything thus far has discussed looking inward or at your ideal customers to frame your marketing strategy. Before putting your plan into action, you need to consider the competitive landscape to ensure that your product is distinctive from the current marketplace.
Many companies do this by conducting SWOT analyses across the marketplace including your new product. This technique allows you to see where your product stacks up against the marketplace visually. It also gives you the ability to identify what differentiates your new offering from the pack.
This distinction should be used to form your unique value proposition. By tying your differentiating characteristics into the information you’ve learned about your target audience, you are well on your way to tailoring a value proposition that answers a customer’s problem using their language.
Launching a Product with a Go-To-Market Strategy
After you have developed your internal strategy, you need to execute a go-to-market strategy that takes into account everything you’ve learned about your target audience. An effective launch strategy involves three key concepts.
Going back a few decades, the most difficult part of a launch was finding an outlet to cover it. There just weren’t as many ways that people got their information. Fast forward to 2018 and finding a press outlet is easy considering more and more people are shifting to the internet to learn information. However, the new challenge has been finding an outlet that garners people’s attention.
Nowadays there are news outlets, bloggers, influencers, video reviewers and social media where you can begin to attract buzz for your launch. After considering where your target audience obtains their information, you’ll want to reach out well before your launch date to those outlets, influencers and bloggers about your launch.
This strategy is a two-fold approach. First, to create buzz, you’ll want discussion via articles, posts and videos to saturate the web a few months leading up to your scheduled launch so that the market is aware. Second, even if you don’t get the publicity you crave from more sought after outlets, your name will be familiar to them when you launch because you already formed a relationship.
Using outlets to create buzz for your launch is great to garner initial excitement. However, if you don’t nurture that excitement by engaging with your audience, it will likely fizzle out before your launch date. To ensure your customers remain engaged throughout your launch process, you should utilize social media, your partners and marketing channels and take advantage of your raving fans.
Social media has eliminated the barrier between your business and your customers. You can interact with future customers and find out what it excites them most about your launch. Some successful tactics can be posting speculation or suspenseful posts such as “leaked” photos or “behind the scenes” views of your design process. These tactics keep customers engaged and your brand at the forefront of their mind.
You’ll also want to take advantage of your partners and other marketing channels to support your launch strategy. Many businesses are always looking for new ways to engage their customers so you could develop a joint campaign or event with a complimentary business. This joint venture exposes both brands to each other’s customers, thus benefiting both businesses from an expanded customer base.
Another often overlooked opportunity to engage with your customers is to allow customers to pre-order your product. Your business has created a loyal customer base, and you should leverage that. Give your current customers an exclusive first opportunity to pre-order or try out your product. By offering these opportunities, you increase your chance of conversions while also elevating the buzz around your launch.
It Doesn’t End at Release
If you’ve followed these steps, you likely have made it to your launch day with some considerable press and engaged customers. Don’t lose your momentum at launch! Many companies drop the ball once the launch actually takes place when instead they should leverage everything leading up to launch like an accumulating snowball to drive you into the next quarter.
Many of the outlets, bloggers and influencers you reached out to may not have had much time to report on your product before the launch date. Reach back out to them to discuss the success you’ve seen and the impact your customers are enjoying. You should also continue a dialog with your customers to encourage adoption and improve your processes.
Questions About Launching Your Product
If you have any questions about using digital marketing channels to leverage your product launch, contact us to speak to a specialist.