When companies launch products, they aim for a strong consumer interest, high sales and profitability. Products that are launched are the result of many months and often years of new product development. Only the best ideas make it to this stage. But only with the right product launch strategy, the product will eventually be successful in the market. Here is a complete checklist to make sure that your product launch is a big success.
What is Considered a Successful Product Launch?
The objective of a product launch is typically to gain as much growth as possible in the shortest amount of time and success is typically measured in sales, sign-ups, or subscriptions. While traffic and social media engagement can be useful metrics, a successful product launch generates leads… and ultimately sales.
To ensure your product launch goes off without a hitch, the businesses’ focus should solely be on the customers and how the product meets their needs. There are a number of tasks that need to be accomplish to give your launch the best chance for success.
Successful product launches rely on having accurate knowledge of the ideal customer, their buying journey, pain-points and motivations.
We’ve developed this expert guide to help you turn your product launch into success.
Step-by-Step Guide to a Successful Product Launch Strategy
Customer Research & Buyer Personas
The first step in a successful product launch (assuming you have a product) is to know your customers. Creating a buyer persona that pinpoints the most lucrative and ideal customer segment is necessary. This buyer may be similar to your existing customers or a totally different person.
Your buyer persona should highlight the customer who will most appreciate your product and have an exceptionally positive experience using it. These customers will become your brand ambassadors, championing your product and recommending it through both word-of-mouth (WOM) and online reviews. It’s easy to see why having your first customers love and need your product is beneficial… and it is completely under your control.
Ask yourself who your target customer is, where they live, where they hang out online, what problems they have, and why they need your product.
Define Unique Selling Propositions
Businesses are built around their unique selling points/propositions (USP’s). These are the things that differentiate a brand from their competitors and are what drive a customer towards the company. Without them, a product launch strategy can never be complete.
These USP’s are the reasons why customers will choose your product over an alternative. If your product is not offering anything unique, than there is no motive for the consumer and during their research they will find your competitors who offer something that you do not.
Some examples of unique selling propositions could be superior product quality, the best price, incredible customer service or an invaluable leadership team.
Here is a useful guide to best identifying your unique selling propositions.
Map the Complete Customer Buying Journey
Simply map the customer at each of the 4 stages in the buying cycle: awareness/discovery, research, consideration, and purchase. This doesn’t need to be a fancy infographic that you’ll often come across, just make sure you cover the customers goals, questions, motivations/pain-points, emotions, barriers and the touchpoints at each stage.
This is a broad category but requires a lot of different research and data. We’ve assumed much of your market research has taken place before creating a product.
Things you must know when marketing your product/service during initial launch are:
- Competing brands – Who is currently solving the customer’s problems and who are the industry leaders?
- Competing products – What products/services can the customers currently choose?
- Types of marketing often used – How do these companies advertise and raise awareness for their product/services?
- Leading keywords – What keywords are customers using when searching for these products/services or when looking for solutions to the problem your company solves? Find both short and long tail keywords that you can rank for.
Establish Market Position
Market position is how customers perceive your business in the marketplace in relation to your competitors. Without understanding where your brand stands in the eyes of your target audience, it is very easy to accidentally compete with companies who offer a more valuable product for a specific category.
For example, consider your standard car manufacturers like VW, BMW, Mercedes, Chrysler, Honda, Toyota, Hyundai and so on. In this example you would consider Mercedes and BMW as more expensive, luxurious brand leaders. It would be a mistake for Honda or Hyundai to promote their products as leaders in this category as they simply won’t compete with the current market leaders.
They could however market themselves as the makers of price friendly cars, and compete against similarly priced products that they can outperform because of features or qualities they offer.
On the other side, if Mercedes offered a product priced the same as an entry level Honda, they would be seen not as luxurious but as a cheaper alternative, damaging their overall brand.
A market position strategy uses your USP’s and reasons-to believe, among other factors, to claim a segment of the market where your business can dominate. A perception map is often used to visualize this.
Reasons-to-believe are an important insight you clearly define when creating your positioning strategy. They are fact based statistics and statements backing up your claims about your product. If you’ve got a better priced alternative, reasons-to-believe would be a comparison to competitors. Arguing about superior quality would be best with facts about materials used, product durability, etc.
Research Mediums to Access Your Ideal Target Audience
Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, TikTok, YouTube, and Snapchat are among the top platforms and mediums where customers become aware of products and services. Google search is another place where users search for solutions and come across new products.
Where is your audience active and what kind of content works best for them? Look for groups related to your industry on Reddit or Facebook, and browse competitors pages along with industry influencers to learn about what content is posted where and when.
You want to focus your efforts on the most lucrative mediums where you will reach the highest number of target customers for the least amount of resources. Efficient marketing for your product launch can be the difference between a successful or failed attempt.
Make a Media List
Jot down a number of publications that write about or cover related products or industries that you may want publicity from. Include thought leaders, experts and social media influencers that you can contact for promotions or collaborations.
Finding smaller niche blogs that have more specific audiences resembling your target customer are much easier to get coverage from in comparison to major outlets. Don’t skip over these as the value provided from a featured blog post or published press-release can be huge for your product launch strategy.
Develop a Brand Message & Story
Having a well written brand message that tells the story of your brand along with the company mission is essential for selling any product. This should touch on the emotions of your audience and outline exactly how and in what ways your product will improve their lives.
Pre-Launch Promotional Content & Awareness Strategies
It would be useful to have some promotional content that raises awareness of your upcoming product launch leading up to your set release day. Writing blog post and press releases are simple things you can create to draw some attention to your brand.
Using your media list, send out your press-release and informative articles that provide value a publication may want to share with their readers. Do not use this as an opportunity to sell your product through another publication as they will see this as free advertising.
This type of content should be focused on providing value to the readers of the publication that you wish to share your press-release. Read competitors press-releases and those published by the website(s) you’re targeting for ideas how to best structure it to meet their specific needs.
Create a Content Strategy
A content strategy should be an integral part of every product launch strategy. Brainstorm different content ideas that answer customer questions and can attract potential buyers. Use the insights from your buyer persona and customer journey map to tailor the content specifically for users at different stages in their buying cycle.
Content should be heavily created for the awareness/discover stage of your buyers and answer the concerns that they may have to move them along your sales funnel.
Use some of these brainstorming techniques to generate new content ideas that can be published at launch to ensure buyers have all the information needed to confirm their purchase.
If your product is difficult to use, include how-to’s. You should also provide information about use cases or highlight your unique selling points and explain why your product is superior to the competition.
With the keyword research you’ve conducted earlier, and by scanning related forums, Facebook groups or subreddits you can answer questions people have directly in your content. This will be useful not only providing the necessary information to move customers along your sales funnel but will ultimately help for discovery through Google search (SEO).
Infographics are highly effective for helping your audience visualize your product/service and the use cases or benefits. Good infographics are easy to understand and highly shareable.
Well designed infographics and images are often shared among social media platforms and websites which can help spread your brand leading up to and during the beginning of a product launch.
You can repurpose infographics for use across several platforms like Instagram or Facebook as well as in your company blog or press-releases. Watermarking these images is a good practice, but remember that you want the images to focus on what is important. Use illustrations, include lots of empty space, and only write words that are 100% necessary.
Create an Editorial Calendar
An editorial calendar is useful in planning your content strategy and aligning your team. Being prepared with what content is being published and when is essential for creating follow-up content beyond your initial awareness campaigns to keep your brand relevant and growing.
Bonus Tips to Ensure the Most Successful Product Launch Strategy Possible
Consider Upcoming Holidays & Events
Both national & international holidays are plentiful with different things being celebrated daily. If you’re launching a new flavor of doughnuts, consider launching or creating content for National Doughnut Day (June 5th) or Eat an Extra Dessert Day (September 4th). You could even try and steal some thunder from Chocolate Cake Day (January 27th) or create a specially designed ‘Ninja’ themed doughnut for Day of the Ninja (December 5th).
Consider Crowdfunding Platforms to Gain Pre-Orders & Build Hype
Crowdfunding websites have gained popularity in recent years by offering entrepreneurs the ability to test their product ideas while obtaining pre-orders and growing hype. Kickstarter and IndieGoGo can be great tools when used correctly.
If you have the budget to create a campaign on one of these platforms it can definitely prove valuable, but many people go half-in on these and ultimately damage their brand. If you choose to go this route, make sure you create a high quality explanatory video, have an informative profile page and create landing pages where potential backers can go to further research your product.
Set your campaign goals realistically and start by reaching out to friends, family and the media list you created to build the initial momentum for your crowdfunding project to succeed and go viral.
Build a Community
Building a community is an effective way to create a loyal base that discusses pain-points, questions and concerns. This is not a place to sell your products but a place for potential customers to gain value and provide value.
You could start by creating a Facebook group or a subreddit relating to your product/service and the problem(s) they solve for users.
Expect Disaster to Happen (things go wrong)
So your product launch flops… you’ve targeted the wrong audience or had your web hosting server crash on you. Do you give up? No. You turn to your next strategy, your backup plan. Make sure you have multiple.
Have different ad designs you can test, separate buyer personas to target, or access to technical support if the company website goes down.
By expecting the worst you can be prepared with counter strategies that will get your product launch back on course.
Expect Some Bad Publicity
Your product is not for everyone. Some people may be so dedicated to a competitor or huge believers in an alternative. What are the negatives about your brand, product, and strategy? Prepare for them to be broadcasted.
By having your reasons-to-believe laid out you can provide facts and evidence backing up your products claims and why customers need it over the competitions offerings.
Prepare for Success
If your product launch goes off without a hitch, be prepared to fulfill orders and deliver what customers are paying for. The last thing you want to happen to a successful product launch is to turn down or disappoint customers by not being prepared.
Leaving customers empty handed when they arrive to solve a specific need with your product could simply direct them to search for a competing product.
You should have a clear plan for your business several months into the future, whether it’s re-targeting interested visitors on your website or maximizing customer value by gathering their emails for email marketing campaigns.
This doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to sell out, but if this is the case, have information available to present your would-be customers with a date where you will re-stock.
Have Multiple Awareness Campaigns Ready
Nobody knows about your product until they are told. Develop campaigns, whether they are videos, advertisements or blog posts to raise brand awareness. Use multiple techniques both leading up to and immediately following your initial product release.
Some awareness campaign strategies you can use in tandem are:
- Paid advertising
- Influencer campaigns
- Guest blogs in addition to content on your own site
- Product giveaways, contests and promotions
- Social media marketing campaigns
- A press-release
- Offer a referral program
Marketing Mistakes to Avoid During a Product Launch
A product launch requires taking many steps to ensure success, but there are a few common mistakes you must avoid making. In the following list are things to remember NOT to do:
- Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Launch your product using multiple avenues and execute a handful of awareness campaigns.
- Counter to the previous, don’t spread too thin. It’s one thing to diversify, another to try to be everywhere at all times. Wherever you go, offer the best quality content that represents your brand well.
- Send your product launch information to as many people you can. Friends and family are often skipped by some people, while others fail to alert media outlets that cover their industry. You may be ignored by most people and media companies, but a single share or promotion could boost your business beyond belief. In the wise words of NHL great Wayne Gretzky (and Michael Scott of The Office), “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Even though there is only a 1-5% probability of scoring.” So shoot that message off!
- Failure to complete product/market research resulting in business decisions made from assumptions
- Failure to create buyer personas to target the right customers
- Failure to map the customer journey resulting in missed opportunities and areas where customers need/can’t find the information they’re looking for to push them towards making the final purchase
Product launches can be a tricky endeavor. Without preparation, they can quickly turn into disaster. Having the best product launch strategy possible at hand is an absolute prerequisite for success. Follow the guidelines above to ensure that your next product launch is crowned with success.