Question, hot shot. You have 3 months to launch a new product, what would be your game plan?
Get to know and deeply understand the product, what the product solves and who the product’s potential customer base is (customer profiles), get to understand and potentially become part of that market. Do your competitive research. This would really be the research phase before the launch started. In general, as marketing gears up, I would share our messaging and content with the other departments’ emissaries (I’m looking at Product Development, CS and Operations) to make sure it is technically on point and covers any questions from that angle I may not have addressed. Make sure the product is thoroughly tested and evaluated internally before launch.
Formulate messaging, language, voice, tone – in an effort of congruency and speak to the ears of your customer profile(s). Align your imagery, videos, and other sensory branding in the same manner (there are very successful companies that will actually scent their packages and/or stores with a brand smell – a supplement powder has a smell one might capitalize on). If multiple customer styles – segment and optimize messaging to those unique ears.
Part of this will be your content marketing which will be online, video, scripting to sales (if necessary), in print via catalog and packaging. In my opinion, it is important to sell, as they say, the sizzle before the steak. In other words, focus on the benefits to the customer, at least initially, rather than the features. I find huge value in telling the product’s story, as in why it exists, what inspired it, and so on, in a very theatrical, comical or otherwise interesting and engaging manner. There is more and more research showing that storytelling is quite powerful as is testimonials.
A lot of this is happening before the launch and evolving as the launch develops. On the product management end, you want to set goals, KPIs and anticipated ROI so you have your guidelines and target to gauge your levels of success. Online you’ll want to set up your funnels and conversion points (custom analytics). One may want to set up a go to market guide and branding style guide if none exist.
If the company already has a “following”, then that would warrant pre-launch emails and socials which would hint at the upcoming product, much as a movie trailer does a movie or a phone company, a new phone. Give hints and imagery they really draw this audience in and start courting the influencers, evangelical and early adopters.
2. Press Release
Targeted press release which is written very clearly. Use a service like PRWeb or PR Newswire (if budget allows) to assure to get the word out to as many agents in the vertical as possible. Contact and stoke any friendlies in the press or networks that the company may have already nurtured.
3. Amazon/Ebay Store/Google Shopping
Create and optimize the product presentation for Amazon. This includes an optimum product feed (both images and content just like a site or brochure), work closely with the Amazon Representative (if you get big enough you get one of these) and seller support. Consider paying for ads as a sponsored product in the category, eliciting vine reviews as well as natural testimonials. Use autoresponder emails after purchase asking the client how things are and so on.
eBay and Google Shopping are different yet the same general concept and strategies apply.
4. Tradeshows/Events/Partner Stores
Go to the popular B2C (in this case) events or tradeshows. Set up booths to promote and talk about the product. If there are speakers there that we could sponsor and have to promote the product in their lectures do that as well.
If there are partner stores that sell the product, one may pay them or reward them for priority space (an endcap in a store and so on). We could also hold events at the stores provided they merit that. A further option would be to offer the sales staff itself to sell the item in store through perks or a commission. If desperate Groupon and similar partners may be an option (they take a big cut).
Affiliate marketing can fit in here – offer a percentage to people who sell your product on their site via a customized link and tracking. Encourage a large affiliate community to cover ground that even the authority figures may not reach. Often an affiliate, to the customer, may appear as a word-of-mouth lead which can be one of the most valuable of all.
Samples are great to give out at events, stores or through online registration. If a sample would merit a positive feeling this can have a powerful immediate effect on the most important (to me) marketing tactic – word of mouth. Would a first-time purchase discount or deal do the same without diluting or sabotaging your MSRP or general pricing strategy? If not, then this should be considered. Overall when a sample gets in the hands of the community as a sample and has a noticeably positive effect, this is quite agreeable.
Make sure to have business cards, flyers, brochure and whatever support the sales staff needs to be successful, leave an impression and ease of contact.
5. Authority Figures
Speakers and influencers that we sponsor would cross promote with their sites, events, and videos. This doesn’t have to be limited to your traditional athlete or actor, it can also be bloggers, forum leaders, Reddit writers and more. The goal is to get them and the earlier adopters to evangelize the product and the rest will follow. This is similar to Malcolm Gladwell’s mavens, connectors, and salespeople from his book The Tipping Point.
6. Social Channel Distribution
Look at the various marketing channels and determine which ones house the most potential audience reach. Create content focused on the audience in these channels and then distribute across them.
Social – what social sites is our audience actively involved in. Target that.
YouTube – the second largest search engine and something we would definitely want to create content for. Serves a dual purpose of gaining and audience and eyes on YouTube itself and our channel plus the videos then came be used on the sites or other mediums (events and so on).
Print and Direct Mail – the traditional mode of attraction is not dead. The question is does it have value for the product and getting the word out versus cost.
LinkedIn – Targeting specific groups with promoted content can be very powerful to attracted the professional potentially influential clientele.
Others – There are a number of other social channels (Facebook, Instagram and the like but don’t forget forums and Reddit) that may be places where our targeted audience congregates. Again, the research phase will point the best ones to be utilized.
There are many different channels, some listed separately in this document. Social and YouTube are monsters that we would want to leverage and those plus everything else in here warrant a completely separate post. I cover these and my thoughts a bit deeper on my site under services.
A key thing to remember with all these channels is that we want to review the performance of any channel we use, create new mixes of channels as we move forward and grow as well as research and score other channels for potentiality and involvement in the future.
Optimize the site based on educated keyword and competitive keyword research. Create content that targets what users are searching for in the vertical with the goal of getting in the top three top search results (at least on the first page of the SERP). Make sure the landing page is optimized both for the reader and the search engine (write for the reader, optimize for the search engine), has very relevant content, gives value and shows authority.
Utilize paid advertising on major channels like Google, Bing and strategic social platforms where budget allows. Very carefully watch your ROI and make adjustments to encourage your well-performing keywords and ads with the constant action of always refining and improving. Use the given targeting methods to your advantage and try multiple methods such as interest, topics, placement, search and display. If budget is limited I would encourage the use of remarketing (targeting people who have already visited your site but have not converted – the ads that follow you around) as it is working on consumers that are already engaged with the brand at some level and are thus more likely to convert, become ambassadors and/or repeat visits.
9. Site Itself
Set up e-commerce on the site and use optimize content to bring value, conversions, and sales. Build your email marketing list. Offer loyalty programs, bulk discounts, sharing rewards, affiliates, infographics, videos and persist in building out your leads/email database preferably connect to a CRM or similar lead cultivation and management system. Remember the site itself is the hub and in many cases, all aspect of your marketing program (with the exception of Amazon and similar sales venues) should point to it where the consumer can engage directly with you, under your influence and your direct conversions or funnel points.
10. Email Marketing
Email remains one of the strongest ways to be in direct contact with consumers. If they are on the list, they have opted in and shown interest – very important customers. Find the sweet spot of content length, how often you email, what time and the visual design presentation. Stay on top of this with your analytics and encourage A/B testing (as you should with all public facing digital interactions) while refining and making adjustments.
Respond to any email/form contact queries as fast and personally as possible.
11. Customer Service
Make sure your customer service department is on it. Responds quickly, with care and intelligently to any questions or issues. No point in losing the customer due to some misunderstanding after the sales or due to some dissatisfaction which you could remedy nicely by being there and caring. This is not limited to direct calls or emails but also includes monitoring social comments, setting alerts (like Google alerts for your brand or product name) and responding to them. Don’t ignore Amazon testimonials or other market venues, and make sure to respond to the negative ones with a manufacturers response or similar. Marketing and CS should work hand and hand and in tangent. CS is very important.
After the three months.
Review your analytics – this is something we would be doing throughout. However, if three months is the set point for a success or failure – we will want to deeply look at all levels. ROI, general profit, future expectation (growth rate curving), upcoming possible tipping influences, market and channel success, online success, the general time and energy it takes to keep the product growing (are these resources growing or diminishing or simply stagnating and becoming disinterested) and the general health of the product launch itself. Was it a success? If not, is it forecasted to become a success in the near future? These types of questions.
After launch support.
Survey people using the product to find out what works, what lacks and what they would like. Take this advice where appropriate and optimize or spin off the product.
Continue to create content (blogs, articles, YouTubes, emails, socials and so on) targeted at the audience and their interest.
Continue to create events around the product or sponsor, get involved in events that align with the product.
Thank and support any influencers, bloggers and authority figures that are helping. Persist in nurturing this relationship.
In many ways continue with your launch, optimize it, figure out the success and grow them while soothing over any failures, rectifying and improving them. If the product is valid the launch will become the lifecycle and like our own, we will nurture it and grow it from cradle to the grave.
This is by no means an exhaustive, detailed list but rather it is a brief summary and stream-of-conscious of some options I would consider utilizing for a successful product launch. As each product and customer profile is different, a fact which then would relegate more effort in some areas whereas less in others. A big part of the launch is going to be the research and the intelligent consideration of data as it comes in and making an informed choice based on what that data indicates.
I did not break my thoughts down into a week to week plan as much of this needs to initiated and continued on a week to week basis. Meaning that one may be writing blogs, working in Amazon, creating videos, nurturing influencers, doing social channels, SEO, SEM and all of it throughout the 3 months. It would not be a week 1, write the blog, week 2 open and post on your social account – rather these would all have to occur constantly and consistently. They all have to integrate and sync for the betterment of the product and brand with intelligence and awareness of resource and how to strategically direct them based on analytics and successes.
The initial research of knowing the product and the audience will then help us predict where to put our energies in and what best channels to utilize.
The pre-launch is when the site is set up, packaging is done, content is written and reviewed, as well as social channels opened, SEO, influencers courted and the entire marketing engine setup, reviving and sitting at the starting line.
The launch itself, beginning with the day of is when the messaging hits the public directly (with the exception of teaser launches) and all chosen channels are enabled. The time breakdown depends on when it is optimal to hit a particular channel, that channel’s contact threshold, resources and later history…
Just some random musings on product launches.