How to Nail Your Next Product Launch
Even a great product can crash and burn if it’s not launched properly.
A press release and a blog post alone aren’t enough to make the sales start rolling in, and if you’re sitting on the next big thing, you need an equally innovative and comprehensive strategy to launch your product. Launching a new product is a huge endeavor that involves many moving pieces and clear communications across departments. It takes time, and it’s not something you can slap together in an afternoon.
If you’re ready to embark into the new frontier of your product’s journey to market, then you need to a detailed product launch plan.
Get Ready to Launch!
The pre-launch stage is when product managers, developers, marketers, salespeople, and testers come together to share ideas and build one comprehensive vision for the product. The person who has been chosen to lead marketing for the product launch needs to understand not only how the product works but also the philosophy of the product and how to communicate that with others both in- and outside of the organization.
During the weeks and months leading up to launch, you must take the time to not only build messaging and creative but also to get to know the product and the people involved with bringing it to market.
Create and Share Your Go-to-Market Guide
It’s likely that you and others in your organization have already put a fair amount of thought into this product’s space in the market, but now’s the time to solidify that thinking and turn it into a comprehensive reference document that you can share to everyone involved in the launch. That guide should include:
- Market Research: To sell a product, you need to understand the market and how your product fits into it. This isn’t just about the problem the product solves but rather the entire ecosystem that surrounds it, including the competitors, customers, and obstacles that exist in that space.
- Buyer Persona: Upon launch of a new product, it’s smart to focus your energy on a single buyer persona. Who is your primary audience for this product? How does your product solve their problem? If you spread yourself to thin at launch by hitting upon multiple buyer personas, you risk muddying your messaging.
- Product Messaging: Consider how exactly you’ll convince people to buy your product. This includes your value proposition, tagline, and short positioning statement. You’ll likely need to refine this messaging as you begin to share it with salespeople and executives and see how it aligns with experiences you hear from beta testers.
- All Launch Day Events and Activities: Plan out the key channels, advertising, and events you’ll use to promote your product. Like with the buyer persona, it’s best to keep the focus narrow for now as you put your focus into the activities that are most likely to yield results.
- Goals and Milestones for Success: What’s the best possible outcome you could hope to achieve? If 500 is your ceiling, would you be happy with 450? What about 350? Consider possible outcomes to create realistic, yet still ambitious, goals.
Gather Testimonials During Beta
Prior to launch, your product will likely go through testing to ensure that all systems are go. This testing is a great opportunity to get some initial testimonials that you can use in your marketing materials.
Understandably, people want to know that their money will be well-spent, so they wait to see how well the product performs for others before they take that chance. Launching your product with testimonials and reviews already in place can help to overcome initial distrust and skepticism that comes with any new product.
Start Taking Preorders
You don’t need to wait until a product launches to make a sale. In fact, it’s better if you don’t.
You can start taking pre-orders way before the product actually launches, and this will give you a better idea of how well your product will sell after it goes live. Plus, if pre-order sales are good, it will create another opportunity to overcome that initial skepticism of your new product. (“If these 100 people have already pre-ordered, then maybe I should too!”)
Try promoting preorders to your existing base of customers who already know and trust your business to deliver a quality product.
Before you introduce your product, you want to take the opportunity to prime the pump by writing and releasing content related to the problem that your product seeks solve. If your business is going “where no man has gone before” (i.e. a space where it does not currently have a lot of experience or recognition), this content will give you a chance to establish your authority, build trust, and boost SEO.
If you’re lucky, you may even gain some valuable insight into what content best resonates with your audience so that you can better position your product at launch.
Educate Your Salespeople
If your marketing team is the ground support that plans and coordinates the launch, then your salespeople are the astronauts. They’re responsible for carrying out the mission by communicating with customers and making sales.
That means that they need to understand not just the key sales points but also how the product works and how to best communicate those benefits to your target audience. Take time to ensure that everyone is on the same page, and don’t forget to check in with salespeople throughout the pre-launch process. They’ll likely have information and insights that will help you to build out your messaging.
Houston, We Have Lift-Off!
While the pre-planning stage can take weeks, even months, you have just a short timeframe to officially introduce your product to the public, so you want to make the most of that initial excitement while you still can. When the official launch date comes around, you’ll want to make sure to have plenty of promotional content and events lined up to kick things off.
Writing a press release is one of the most basic and essential steps to any product launch. It includes the “who,” “what,” “where,” and “how” of your launch, and it’s how you inform publications and their readers about your new product. Keep in mind that this is an informative, not persuasive, document. You should be able to imagine it fitting seamlessly into the news publication to which you’re submitting it.
Your press release should include the following:
- Company Letterhead or Logo
- Media Contact Information
- Release Date (Either “For Immediate Release” or a Later Date If Requesting a News Embargo)
- Catchy Heading and Subheading
- Two to Three Paragraphs of Information (Including Details, Statistics, Etc.)
- Boilerplate (i.e. A Short Description of Your Company)
- The Symbol “-###-” at the Bottom to Indicate the End of the Document
Prior to launch, you’ll want to set aside some time to increase your social media activity and build up your fan base.
Make sure to plan out your posts well in advance (complete with eye-catching creative and messaging, of course) so that you can focus on one-to-one interactions. It’s not enough to just put out a post, you need to be active in your niche by commenting, reaching out, and responding to others’ content. That’s how you build a community.
Continue to ramp up your social media presence as the launch grows closer. Maybe start a countdown or plan a giveaway to build excitement as the date draws near.
While an in-person event is a great opportunity to celebrate all the work that’s gone into developing and launching a new product, its primary goal is to build hype. It should feel exciting and memorable. Commonly, it will include speakers, activities, and/or social sharing opportunities to keep guests entertained and engaged with the event.
Even if this isn’t an in-person event, you can still put on a show by planning to do a livestream, a Reddit AMA, or a webinar. You can even send out invitations to the event to make it feel more special.
How exactly does your product work? You don’t want to leave your audience guessing on the fundamental function of your product, especially if what you’re offering is especially innovative or different from what is currently available.
A short, simple video is often the best format to explain your product succinctly in a way that is entertaining and easy to understand. You don’t need to go in-depth here. (That’s the job of your salespeople and customer support staff). You just need to show what the product does and why the viewer should care.
These are just some of the basic elements of your launch strategy, and there are many more things you can do to capture your audience’s attention at launch. You could try angling for a guest spots in leading blogs or podcasts, releasing a “making of” video if the production process was especially exciting, or enlisting influencers to help market your product.
While the sky’s the limit for launch day activities, it may not be for your budget or your resources, so plan to first tackle the essentials. Then decide how much you can spend on flashy “extras.”
Coming Back Down to Earth…
After the months of excitement leading up to launch and the high of launch day itself, there will inevitably come the time to settle back down into a normal routine and focus on keeping the momentum going.
All the effort and resources you’ve poured into your launch activities and promotions will undoubtedly pay off with a nice preliminary boost in sales, but there will also be a fair number of people who require more touches until they’re ready to buy. While the iron’s still hot, you’ll want to continue nurturing those “interested but not quite ready” leads. Try giving them a taste of what they’re missing out on by offering a demo, webinar, or free trial, or just continue reaching out over phone or email.
As for the sales you did manage to land, make sure you don’t take those new customers for granted. You’ll want to continue pushing out content to those users and providing incentives for them to stick around. For example, once your product has been on the market for a few months, try gathering and publishing testimonials and success stories to show what they can achieve. Or, create a new webinar to show users how to make the most of every available feature. Work with your product team to find out exactly what content your users will want and appreciate most.
Remember, the launch is only the beginning of any successful product’s journey. To keep your sales flying high, you’ll need to continue supporting the mission by reflecting on your goals, tweaking your approach, and creating fresh campaigns.