The Perfect Product Launch
Natalie Ediger, January 15, 2020· Marketing
How launch a product successfully
You have developed a groundbreaking product? Congratulations! Your company is facing an exciting time. But unfortunately the good idea is not enough, because now comes the real challenge: The product launch.
Today’s competitive environment, changing communication channels, a highly dynamic market and the stimulus satiation of the digital age result in an ever greater hurdle to assert yourself in this mass market. Steve Jobs manages a successful product launch time and again. But even Steve Job does not just wave his magic wand quickly to guarantee a successful product launch. The product launch requires long-term and extremely detailed planning as well as an excellent marketing strategy.
In this article we explain which steps you should take to ensure a smooth product launch and which mistakes should be avoided at all costs.
What is a product launch?
We are referring to the release of a new product, which can be either a completely innovative one as well as an already existing product. The product launch includes various steps such as the analysis of the exact customer needs, the right product design, the test phase, the right marketing and distribution channels.
Especially larger companies organize big launch events with an incredibly staged show and some wow-effect. Role models for this are for example Apple, Google and Daimler. And not without reason: a successful product launch provides an initial boost to sales and a momentum on which the company can build in the future. In short: The product launch makes a decisive contribution to the future success of the product.
Without a successful launch, even the best and most innovative idea will fail. More precisely, 95% of all new products fail. Do not let yours be one of them.
Steps for a successful product launch
The product is new, the market may be new as well, and the target group does not know the product yet. Voilà: Let the challenge begin! Creating brand awareness, establishing credibility and the right budget planning are only a small part of the issues you will face when launching a product.
A good planning is the top priority for a product launch. Above all, allow for sufficient time. The last thing you want is unnecessary stress and ultimately a launch that is not carefully planned. A detailed schedule with important steps and deadlines can be very helpful at this point. Overall, the product launch comprises different phases: In the pre-pre launch phase, the main thing is to arouse interest in the innovative idea and attract attention, thus creating a good basis for the actual launch.
In the pre-launch phase it is important to use content marketing strategies to build a closer relationship with the audience and illustrate the added value of the product. In doing so, you should above all focus on the needs of the customer. This phase includes the analysis of important elements such as the target group and macroeconomic factors.
Once you have carefully worked out these phases, an important building block for the actual launch is laid. And what exactly makes a good product launch? Not everyone can afford a stage production à la Apple, Google & Co. But even without a philharmonic, jets flown in and 3D effects, a successful product launch can be organised. The following is a list of important steps.
Carefully analyze the target audience
Analyzing the target group down to the last detail is the basis for every marketing plan. Which pain points and needs should be addressed? How can the target group purchase the product and how do we communicate the new product to them? And who is “them” anyway? At this point it is advisable to develop a “Buyer Persona”, i.e. a fictitious representation of the ideal customer. This allows you to optimally adapt the marketing activities for the product launch to the customer’s needs. Only in this way will you be able to market the respective product as the ideal solution to a problem of the target group.
Set concrete goals
Before embarking on a complex launch campaign, you should determine precise sales targets and appropriate KPIs. Here, for example, the SMART method is suitable for defining accurate and measurable goals. The definition of such goals serves as a guideline to stay on the right track and at the same time measure the success of the launch. Regular reviews and, if necessary, corrections ensure that resources are used effectively.
The right product packaging
Do not underestimate the power of product design! Think of Apple: Whether it’s a Macbook, iPhone or headphones, the uniform elegant design makes the products enormously aesthetic, so that customers like to show such products in public. Attractive packaging automatically gives the product more reach.
Scalability of the supply strategy
Yes, we should definitely expect a “flop”. But we should also think in the other direction and be prepared: What happens if the demand is surprisingly high? Is it possible for you to increase production? If there are delays in delivery due to unplanned product shortages and you are no longer able to meet customer demand, even a successful product launch can quickly derail.
The right communication
A product launch is a groundbreaking event for many companies. And this should be communicated just as effectively. It is not enough to inform the target group about the new product on the actual day of the launch. An efficient communication strategy with a consistent message should be part of marketing from the pre-pre launch phase onwards.
The aim of so-called “pre-launch marketing” is to raise customer awareness of the new product, to arouse curiosity and generate leads. In this way you create an important foundation for the actual product launch. Today, there are different possibilities, depending on budget, target group and the actual product.
Social Media for more hype
Today nothing works without social media. And although many, especially traditional companies, still look at all the little hearts and thumbs with unease, these platforms offer enormous potential for attracting attention to innovations and reaching a large number of people.
Again, it is important not to put up the first images at the product launch, but to share the first content in the pre-pre launch phase to ensure a smooth launch. Let the community wait specifically and thus build up excitement. If you are looking for a little inspiration for social media marketing, we have already written a detailed article on this topic here.
Get Influencers on board! Influencer marketing is an enormously influential strategy, especially if your product appeals to Generation Z and the younger millenniums. Human beings are natural followers and are easily being influenced by the opinions of others. Influencers therefore help to bring your brand to the public in an authentic way.
By the way: Influencer marketing is by far not only a concept for large companies with a high budget. Nowadays, especially nano-influencers (with 1k-10k followers) are gaining importance, because they usually offer a much more authentic community with higher interaction.
But again, you have to plan in time to find the influencers in the right niche and create brand awareness before the actual launch. This way you can build a community that is looking forward to the product launch. Storytelling should be the focus of the campaign. Plan a brand story together with the influencers that will emotionally move the audience instead of just holding a product in the camera.
Ideally, the product should be announced on the market by means of a press release. Emphasize the individual features, its benefits and the actual release date. On the one hand, press releases enable direct traffic from the press, on the other hand they increase the chance of a media presence.
Testimonials before the actual launch
Make sure you have enough positive experience reports in advance. This will provide you with an important basis for the actual publication, because with the help of experience reports the respective customer feels confirmed in his interest and is more likely to decide to buy. For example, you can already search for test persons who could benefit from the product during the product development. Offer the product for free and ask for a testimonial in return. This will also allow you to get valuable feedback and adapt the product if necessary.
Involve the customers
Nowadays, customers want to be actively involved in the brand process before they decide to buy. Share necessary information on social networks, interact with the target group, answer emerging questions. On the one hand, you will create an active community even before the product launch, which is eagerly awaiting the launch. On the other hand, you can build more trust. And the more trust we build, the more we allow ourselves to be influenced.
The landing page
A landing page is an independent website with the focus on the new product, independent of the actual company homepage. A landing page supports you in raising brand awareness, directing more traffic to the website and strengthening the SEO. Especially important is the integration of an e-mail “subscribe” list to keep interested parties up to date.
Make sure that the site is not overloaded with unnecessary information. A short and precise message should inform visitors about the product and its benefits. Product pictures or an explainer video are ideal for this. Websites with which such landing pages can be designed are e.g. Instapage, Launchrock or Leadpages.
The actual product launch
If the planning and communication so far has been successful, an important building block has been laid. The actual launch day should of course generate the biggest buzz. A giant show à la Daimler creates a great wow effect, but not every entrepreneur has the necessary budget to fly the product in with a Boeing. Nevertheless, even with a small budget, a “big deal” can be created on this day, for example in the form of an online event.
Think about special promotions or give-aways in advance, which you can offer the audience as an extra “treat”. Giveaways in particular spread quickly on social networks and can therefore contribute decisively to higher reach, more commitment and ultimately better conversions. Here we are again at the keyword “social media”, because it goes without saying that the product release on launch day should be effectively distributed through various communication channels.
For an effective launch campaign, video marketing as well as interactive content can be used to place the product in the long-term memory through visual storytelling and active involvement of the audience.
Avoid typical mistakes
A failed product can be based on many reasons. Nevertheless, there are always stumbling blocks that are repeated again and again by founders.
The following is an overview of some of the errors that you should avoid at all costs:
Lack of product and target group analysis
Which problem should the product solve? Does the problem really exist and can the target group gain any benefit from the product? If so, how much is they willing to pay? A not exactly defined product goal, as well as missing target group analysis and market research are the starting point of all problems. If you have not worked carefully here, further steps will be without success.
Planning not enough time
Probably the most common problem is the wrong timing. Only rarely does everything go according to plan, new hurdles keep appearing which you have to take into account in your planning. Lack of time not only results in a lot of pressure and unnecessary stress, so that mistakes can be made, but can also, in the worst case, lead to a postponement of the product launch.
A lack of employee communication
Internal communication is at least as important as external communication. Therefore, make sure that the entire team is trained and can respond quickly to customer questions, especially on the launch day.
No Pre-Launch Marketing
“Let’s throw a big event and it’ll be fine” – if you work with this way of thinking, the product flop is guaranteed. As explained in detail earlier, the launch strategy should be based on several stages and should already arouse interest in the pre-pre launch phase.
Develop a detailed marketing plan for all phases with detailed budget planning, the right communication channels and optimally coordinated content. In this way you will achieve a smooth process and can anchor the new product in the consciousness of the target group over a longer period of time.
No Soft-launch/ Lack of Beta test
Does the product work at all? What does the target group say? Are there any errors that should be eliminated? These are important steps that should be considered before the actual launch. Product defects quickly manifest themselves in dissatisfied customers, financial losses and above all damage the company’s reputation.
Unrealistic publication date
Did you promise customers a product sensation on day “XY”? Then you must keep that promise. Take into account all the important factors and steps that still need to be taken before you have to announce a date that is too short and, in the worst case, postpone it. From a marketing point of view, too, the process from the announcement of the date to the actual launch should be a smooth one that builds up more and more tension. If you cannot keep to the date, the target group will quickly lose confidence and ultimately interest.
No performance tracking after the launch
Have you defined important KPIs in advance? Are you prepared for unexpected events? What’s plan B? You can be 100% sure that even with the most groundbreaking idea and a well prepared launch strategy, not everything will go according to plan. It is therefore important to continuously measure performance and adjust the strategy to unexpected situations.
See oneself as a robot
A point that is all too often ignored in everyday business life and, to be honest, is the most important point of all. A launch can take up a lot of time and also nerves. Nevertheless, do not forget that you are only human. You can of course fight your way through one night shift after the other with a lot of Red Bull, or you can plan the steps so well in advance that this largely fails. There is no point in straining your body and endangering your health. In the long run, this will result in a loss of performance anyway and will lead to unwanted mistakes.
Conclusion: Every beginning is difficult
Will the product launch be absolutely flawless? Unlikely. We don’t want to dash your hopes, but life is no piece of cake. A product launch is a complex but not impossible process. Keep an eye on the important points, plan enough time and develop a detailed launch strategy. Don’t forget that it is also an enormously exciting time for the entire team and should also provide a decisive benefit to the customer. Therefore, despite all the hurdles, the motivation and joy of the product launch should not be neglected.
And if it does not go that well, don’t lose courage, but learn from it and see it as a chance to improve the next product launch. Any further interest in this topic? Then stay tuned, in the next article we will tell you the most important steps to a successful product video.