You’ve been trucking along quite well, having good revenues from your product sales. You’ve been expanding your reach and garnering new customers. But you know it can’t last forever like this, and part of your plan to keep growing is to introduce new products. And you have plenty of ideas, but which one or ones should you focus on first? While it will be somewhat easier than your first, you aren’t guaranteed success.
Launching a product is something anyone can do; launching a product successfully is a very tall order. To do that, you need to have a plan for that success, and it starts sooner than you might think. Here we’ll help you with a game plan of 25 strategies that should help make that next product launch more likely to succeed.
1 Product Selection
Sometimes even this first strategy can be a challenge to move beyond. While there are times where you might be hard-pressed to come up with a product idea, more often, you have the issue of sorting through all of your product ideas to pull out the best one. But which one is the right one? That’s where you should look at your past successes to give you a clue of a direction. Do you have one or several products already that are bringing in the bulk of your revenue? If so, can you launch a new product that complements those others without overlapping? Conversely, are you seeing some products that are dogs and should be avoided? Often your current crop of products will help to give you a direction for your new product. With this information, you should be able to weed out quite a few ideas.
2 Customer Input
Your customers are a gold mine of information for you, and you just need to engage them. If you aren’t already, start to connect with your customers to learn why they chose you and your products, what they like about your products, what they don’t like about your products. Listen to what they say and how they say it. Your customers will be giving you your marketing pitches to use in the future this way! It is important to let the customers speak their minds, not interrupt them, ask them open-ended questions, and see where they take things. You will likely learn something about your current products that you never knew, and hopefully, it will help with your new product as well.
3 What Does the Public Say
When you start researching information about similar products to your product idea, you will always hear to do market research. You need to study the market to find out if there is a product out there already similar to yours. Odds are you will likely find something similar to your product, but that shouldn’t be a discouraging issue; rather, learn more about that product to see how it is selling. If it sells well, you might have something to your product idea; if it isn’t selling, find out why.
If you don’t find a similar product, that also tells you something. It might be that your idea was already tried, but was found not to have a demand, so that product was quickly abandoned. Or, you may have a new product idea that hasn’t been tried. If that is the case, then you’ll need to try to find anything remotely close to your product to try to get an understanding of if your idea might have merit in the marketplace.
4 Develop A Following
Just because you make a new product doesn’t mean that people will beat a path to your door to buy it. People need to know that the product exists, and that means that you need to develop a following for you and your product. But what does that entail? It means going to where people are looking for your potential new product.
Consider writing about your company and the new product on places like Medium, or you could answer questions on sites like Quora and Reddit. On these sites, you are likely to get some great feedback from people, so don’t think this is a one-way communication. You may also consider trying to build a following on Pinterest or Instagram, especially if you have a product that can benefit from being seen rather than just read about. In all of it, talk about the product and why you developed it, which will resonate with people.
5 Build Anticipation
While you are talking about your new product and showing images of the product prototype, you will naturally have interested people. You need to capture that interest by building a waiting list. Get people to sign up with their email addresses to show interest in your product. Try to make that list something that people want to join by showcasing aspects of the new product before anyone else can see it. Maybe seek feedback from those interested to help shape the final version of the product. You might seek input for the color of the product by surveying everyone on your waiting list by email. If you can involve people, you’ll have them get excited for the launch of your product, and you can have them help you spread the word even before the product officially comes out.
6 Ideal Customer – Who is this for?
When you are thinking about your product and who would use it, you want to figure out who the product is really for. “Everyone” isn’t a workable answer, because no product (except for perhaps water) is universally needed. So you need to work on narrowing down who your product is actually for. Is it for men, women, or both? Do children need this, or is it only for adults? Do the customers need to have any special education or skills to use the product? These and more questions will help you to narrow down who the product is actually for.
7 What’s the Story Behind the Product
Everyone likes a good story, and the story that is behind the birth of your new product would be a great story to tell and showcase. What did you struggle with that gave you the idea for the product? Did you try other products that just didn’t work as advertised, so you made your own? These backstories to products and how they came to life resonate with people because they’ve been there as well. The story helps to keep them engaged and sells the product.
8 Get Some Press
A phrase attributed to P.T. Barnum is “there is no such thing as bad publicity.” While this statement might be debatable, the simple fact is that you want to get some publicity for your new product launch, and preferably have it be good publicity. But how do you get the publicity that you seek? You use the tried and true option of the press release.
The press release is a complex document that needs to be a fast read and get to the point very quickly; otherwise, people will lose interest. And don’t think that journalists will care about your product, they care about a story. So, you have to give them a story that they will care about. Lots of people swear by using the Amazon press release template, and it’s fairly easy to follow.
You start with a heading, or the name of the product, followed by the subheading, which describes the market the product is for. Next is a summary of the product, and this gives the benefits of the product. You can then list a problem and show the product as the solution. Give a quote from a company spokesperson (probably you), describe how to get the product, have a hypothetical quote from a customer, and then give a call to action for how to get the product.
9 Reach Out to Press, Partners, & Affiliates
Once you have that press release written up, you then need to get it out to places that will print it and let people know about your product. Start to make a list of the press outlets that you can send it to. But beyond this, who else do you know? What about the different partners that you deal with, can you let them know about it and have them circulate it amongst their employees and partners? Do you know any influencers in the space that could help promote your product? Give them a free product to have them talk about it and use it. Will you be running an affiliate program? If so, reach out to those who would be part of that program to get them involved as well.
10 Create Your Marketing Page
You need to set up your product marketing page before the product launches so you have a place to send people once you launch. This needs to be compelling so that people going to the page will be converted to buy the new product. Spend time making this as good as you can. This page will include the tagline for the product, your solution, the core features of the product, social proof from early reviewers, and finally have your call to action to get them to buy. Everything you’ve learned from talking with your customers and listening to the feedback and your own internal research will be put to use on this marketing page.
11 Remember that Ideal Customer?
Earlier, we talked about understanding who your customer really is for your new product. Now you need to make efforts to reach that customer and to reach them enough times that you will convince them to take the action desired. Each interaction you have with your ideal customers is referred to as a “touch point”, and these could be seeing an ad on social media, reading about the product online, hearing an ad for the product, and more.
So how do you get these “touch points” to happen? You need to start asking questions to learn where those ideal customers are so you can reach them. Where do these ideal customers hang out online? Who are people that they trust? Where did they first hear about you and your product? Do you currently have, or can you get, their email address? These and other questions will give you an idea of where and how to get these “touches” with the customers. Maybe you need to appear on podcasts, or perhaps you should make some videos showcasing the product. It might be beneficial to do a question and answer session on Reddit or Quora.
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12 Create Shareable Content
As you continue to make connections and have those “touch points” with your customers, you will find that people want to share your new product. This is a great thing that you want to support, because not only is it free advertising, but it means much more than paid advertising because it is a friendly recommendation. Make short videos, have plenty of pictures, share the review quotes, and make sure that you make it easy to find these and share them wherever your customers want to share them.
The ultimate goal is to sell your product, and if there is a way to allow pre-orders or pre-sales of your product before it officially launches, you should do that. You might provide a discount to people placing pre-orders before launch day. This is a way to market your product by offering a discount to people right away as an incentive to purchase now and not wait. If you can create scarcity for these discounts, you may increase attention as well.
14 Be Super Organized & Track Everything
Launching your new product has dozens and dozens of moving parts, and it can be easy to lose track of what you have done and what still needs to be done. Organization will be an important piece in your quest for a successful new product launch. Use a spreadsheet, or a project management software, but plan to have something to track all of the tasks associated with the product launch. This is even more important if you have other people helping with the launch to keep them accountable.
15 Aim High
You don’t do a product launch and set small goals that are easily attainable. No, you want to set loft goals that require some effort, because if they pay off, you’ll sell tons of your new product. That’s what everyone wants. Keep the goals realistic, but reach for the stars and help everyone to buy into the goals and work toward them. By the same token, don’t set goals that are really vanity metrics, such as social shares and likes.
16 The Big Day – The Right Platforms
Launch day is finally here! You’ve invested time to learn about your ideal customer, as well as where those customers are located, and now it’s time to get on those platforms to announce the big day. Be careful about spreading yourself too thin by trying to be everywhere, as that’s a losing strategy. Instead, pick the right platform where your anchor announcement will be. This will be where you KNOW your ideal audience is, and where you will spend the most time getting people to take action on your new product. Also, be sure your message matches the platform you anchor yourself on; copy and paste is not necessarily the best option here.
17 Get People Involved
Some of the biggest product launches are put on by Apple, but you don’t need to go that extreme to launch your latest product. However, you want to get people involved in your launch, and that can take on many forms. With the attention you have generated pre-launch, you can work into launch day attention as well. Perhaps consider hosting a webinar that talks about the benefits of the new product, or the issues it solves. Organizations also do Ask Me Anything events where you interact with your audience by addressing questions directly asked of your potential customers. The more you can get people involved the more people will want to be involved.
18 Get People Talking
This part is also a crucial part of your launch-day activities. You want those people who expressed interest in your product or even pre-ordered their own, to talk about it with anyone and everyone. Do your follow-up with the bloggers, the journalists, and even all of your friends and family that your product is now live, and ask them to share this with their circle of friends and family. Give priority to those who ran stories about you earlier or responded favorably to you. When you contact them, be sure to send them a link to your marketing page so they have the right place to tell people to go to. Also include any other helpful links you have, such as product review videos and more. Finally, if possible and if it helps you, share social proof of interest in the product; if you can show a building interest in the product, that just helps your cause.
19 Follow Up with the Press
Earlier, you reached out to various members of the press with your press release, and maybe a video or two. Hopefully, you have recorded the responses from these folks, so that you can reach back out to them appropriately. If the local television station did a report on your upcoming product, you could thank them for that while you let them know that your product is now available. Building relationships with members of the press does take time, but it does pay off, and it helps if you can let those who responded positively to you know first when the launch happens.
20 Website Optimization
It seems like such a long time ago, but you created a marketing page on your website for your product. This had all sorts of information about the product and hopefully, you were able to capture the emails of interested customers at least, or better yet you could take pre-sales from those who were really interested. Now it’s time to beef up that page and add to it. For those who have already purchased the product and are awaiting news of shipping details, add a portion that addresses this. Consider adding in a Frequently Asked Questions section or page about the product. If you haven’t already, you will likely start to receive questions from people, inquiries and more. This is where you need to have your customer service plan in place to address this and make sure that your customers and would-be customers have a positive experience. You may have to work to improve your website speed if your site gets inundated with lots of people looking to buy your product. Increase your bandwidth to handle the increased traffic, otherwise you’ll have people complaining that they could never reach your website.
21 Inform Current Customers
While all of this is going on around your new product launch, don’t forget that you have existing customers of your other products that might also be interested in learning what is happening with your company and your new product. You don’t want to overload them with details, but certainly an email to them to let them know that you have this new product is a great idea. Let them know that you recently launch the new product, and if you have some noteworthy news or reviews, share those. While your existing customers might not purchase your new product, it keeps your brand in their mind, and they might share with their circle of friends, thereby doing some marketing for you.
22 Convert Leads
Hopefully, during all of the effort before launch day, you were able to accumulate plenty of potential leads for your sales team. Now is the time to let your sales team know all of the details about the new product so that they can speak intelligently about the product and help to sell those leads on your product. Find out what your sales team might need, then provide it to them to close the sales. This is a team effort.
23 Post-Launch – Make Assessments
There was a whirlwind of activity on launch day and even the days surrounding launch day. But once you are past launch day, it’s time to evaluate things and see where the numbers fall. There is a lot of data to review, so don’t think this an easy part; there is a lot of good information that will come from this analysis. Pull out those goals you put in your project management software and compare them against the actual results that you achieved. There are plenty of questions to ask: did you get the number of sales you were planning? If not, can you determine why? Did your email marketing work? What social media platforms worked the best for you? How did your affiliates and partners perform? How did your marketing page do on conversions? These and many more questions will help you craft a better product launch for the future and adjust your marketing efforts for this current product.
24 Follow-up on the Potential Customers
While you were doing everything that you could do, trying to blanket the market with your message, that doesn’t mean that your target market was equally hit with your efforts. Earlier, we talked about “touch points” with your target audience and that they need to see your message 6-8 times in order to take action. Now is the time to follow up on those who didn’t quite pull the trigger on your product and give them additional “touch points.” You might consider adding in some social media ad buys to keep your brand and product top of mind for people. Also, take the time to talk with existing customers of the new product to learn what caused them to decide to buy the product. Chances are some of these reasons will resonate with those who haven’t yet made their decision.
25 Assess Your Marketing Strategy
Here you will take a higher-up view of your entire strategy. Were there things you missed doing, either because you were too busy, and it fell off your radar? Maybe there were some strategies that you opted not to execute on at the time, but you might readdress those now post-launch to try them. Did things happen in the time frame you expected, or did things take longer to happen? This overall view will help with future launches so that you plan better knowing the correct time frames that various efforts took.
Product launches are stressful times, with lots and lots of work to do. In the end, you will always find something else that you possibly could have crammed into the mix, but now is not the time to fret about that. Celebrate your product launch because you did something that most people won’t do, and hopefully, it was well-received. This list of strategies should help to focus your efforts on things that will make a difference in the project, and your new-found experience will be invaluable for future product launches.
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