One of the most important and stressful responsibilities for a marketing team is supporting a new product launch. Everyone is excited about the upcoming product. Your colleagues and managers are hoping for a big impact. The whole company is looking at their marketing to create a buzz at launch time.
Obviously, the worst possible thing would be to send a product off into the market and hear nothing but crickets in return. The old adage that if you build it they will come is just not true. If you build it, you’ve got to promote it. You’ve got to construct that launch pad by beginning your marketing push early, months ahead of time.
Follow this checklist to give your new product the exciting launch it deserves.
Assemble the team
When we talk about team, we mean everyone you need to interact with in order to successfully launch the product. The list can be long: engineers, developers, subject matter experts, product managers, sales team, customer service, and even customers themselves. Most of them will only play a peripheral role in the product launch, but you must line up your resources and know who to go to for everything you need.
Clarify product positioning
With clear and specific product positioning, all other messaging flows. That means having a detailed positioning statement that describes the target audience, the problem they face, and how your product helps solve that problem. This statement can help guide your team to success.
Especially with the initial launch, you might want to keep the target audience narrow. If not, you should have a positioning statement for each audience segment you plan to market to. If you’re trying to be everything to everybody so as not to miss a single potential customer, you can end up appearing watered down and your messaging becomes vague and uncompelling. Keep the presentation specific to reach the respective customer base.
Write (and keep writing) an FAQ
An FAQ answers all potential questions customers might have about the new product: launch dates, key features and benefits, upgrade and support policies, and more. This is a living document that you can update and revise as you go.
You may need two or even three slightly different FAQs: for customers, channel partners/distributors, and internal. Adding multiple FAQs – or even just more sections to a single FAQ page – can help ensure that your customer has a thorough understanding of what you have to offer.
If your product has a beta program you should arrange to get endorsements and testimonials from early customers. It’s best if you can bake this right into the beta program. You’ll need these quotes to produce press releases and other marketing content.
Tease your audience
Announcement comes prior to the actual launch date. Start putting messages on your website or in your emails letting your audience know that a new product is coming. Create a dedicated page on your site where interested visitors can request more information about the new product. Make sure there is enough detail so you can reach your target audience, but not so much that they have no reason to check back later. Getting all the information at once can potentially overwhelm the customer. Anticipation is a very effective way to create buzz for a product.
You’ll support the product launch with a variety of content for your defined audiences. Make a list of all content you will use—articles, white papers, data sheets, webinars, videos, blog, and social media posts—determine how each will be used and begin the process of content creation. Create a plan for when to release each piece of content. Do you want to stagger the release of your content? Do you want to put everything out there at once? Decisions like this can create a streamlined campaign.
Meet the press
Prepare a press release announcing your new product and distribute it over the newswire and individually to any editors or reporters you have working relationships with. Ideally, the press release will contain quotes from beta customers as well as from leaders within your own company.
Determine special offers
Working with product managers and your sales team, you can develop any special offers or incentives around purchasing the new product. If you do decide on special offers, work these into your campaign materials. These generally take time to settle on since they involve number crunching and analytics to determine viable offers and pricing discounts.
Putting together integrated, multi-channel, goal-specific campaigns will be the bulk of your work. This large effort requires careful coordination, the ability to tap various creative and content resources, audience analysis, working with media partners, budgeting, and more. This effort results in less stress for your team overall. A well-planned campaign ensures consistent content across the board.
You might be planning a multi-touch email campaign to your own list and a newsletter/banner advertising campaign to reach a target audience in your industry. You might support those campaigns with content offers such as articles, webinars, or videos. You might create shareable content such as blog posts and social media posts. You need to have landing pages and contact forms tested and ready for action.
By the time the day comes that your company is ready to accept an order for a new product, your launch campaigns should already be out the door. It’s challenging to launch a new product, but if you plan ahead, you can avoid last-minute chaos and increase the likelihood of achieving launch goals.