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An Ultimate Guide to Planning a Successful Product Launch

Updated on February 23, 2017
Shane Barker profile image

Shane Barker has been a digital marketing consultant for 15 years, with a recent emphasis on influencer marketing.

Launching a new product is risky. Even after a thorough research of the market and developing unique features, your product launch may still fail. In fact, Nielsen [1] reports that two-thirds of newly-launched products don’t even manage to sell 10,000 units. According to this report, the best way to prevent this kind of failure (if there’s a market for the product and the product is well-developed), is to get the activation strategy right. So in order to ensure that your product launches successfully, you can use this ultimate guide to help you plan a successful product launch:

#1: Identifying and Researching Your Target Audience

One of the most crucial steps to your product launch is identifying your target audience so you can conduct your research on them. In order for your product to sell, you need people to buy it. So this step involves determining which types of people would be interested in the product and how to best approach them. Here’s what you need to do to find the best target customers for your product:

Examine Your Existing Customers – A closer look at your current customers can give you a clear picture of whom you should target next. What are the common characteristics of your existing customers? Do they share any common interests? Which customer personas yield the most revenues for you? Determining the answers to all of these can help you determine what your new target audience should look like.

You can use tools like Survey Gizmo or Survey Monkey to conduct research on your current customers. These survey tools will help you get into the minds of your top customers and then create a new target audience based on the insights.

Current Customer Research
Current Customer Research | Source
  • Get Inspired by the Competition – Study the customer profiles of your top competitors to gain some insights about whom you should target. What kind of people are they targeting? Are they missing out on any niche audience?

  • Determine Your Product Benefits – Examining the top benefits of your products can also help you find a relevant target audience. List out all the features of your products and the benefits they offer. And then try to determine which type of people would be most interested in enjoying those benefits. In other words, you’ll try to determine who needs your product.

  • Consider Various Demographics – Now study the various demographics and try to understand who would most likely buy your product. The important demographics to consider in your study include age, gender, location, income level, education level, ethnic background, occupation, religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, location, and native language.

    Once you’ve created an accurate audience persona based on these factors, you can begin your research on the target audience. Your research should be able to help you define different characteristics such as personality, values, interests, lifestyle, attitude, technological knowledge, and behavior. All of this will be able to help you determine the best possible way to position and introduce the product to them.

#2: Researching Your Competition

Whether you’re launching a new product or developing a new marketing campaign, competitor research is a crucial step. It helps you identify the big challenges you should prepare for while capitalizing on their setbacks. Take a look at some of the necessary steps involved in competitor research:

  • List Your Competitors – Make a list of your top competitors and direct competitors. These are companies/businesses that perform the same services or produce the same products as you. You can also list out a few indirect competitors as well but make sure you keep a close eye on the direct competitors.

  • Identify Their Strengths – Try to determine why people buy from your competition. What are their strengths and what can you learn from them? Are they offering anything you’re not? Are they positioning their product in a much more effective way than you? List all these out so you can get a clear idea what you’re doing wrong.

  • Identify Their Weaknesses – In addition to determining the strengths of your competitors, it’s equally important to determine their weaknesses. Do you see any way they could improve their marketing messages? Or are they failing to provide a pricing module to suit their target audience? Asking all of these questions can help you identify methods to exploit their weaknesses.

You can even use tools like WhatRunsWhere to conduct a study on your competitors’ PPC campaigns. Using this, you can find out what’s working for them, which ads perform the best, who is buying from them, etc.

Study the competitors PPC campaigns
Study the competitors PPC campaigns | Source

#3: Developing Your Unique Value Proposition

Another crucial step in a product launch involves developing a unique value proposition. You understand your target audience now and you know what they like, what would appeal to them, etc. You also know what your competitors are doing and how you can stand apart from them. Now combine this knowledge to develop a message that would attract your audience and compel them to buy the product. Follow these steps to develop a unique value proposition:

  • Step One – Identify the top three benefits of the product and make sure your message explains how these benefits are important to the customer.

  • Step Two – Determine what makes your product unique and how it’s different from the competitor’s products. Maybe it’s a certain feature that they don’t offer, for instance. Your unique value proposition or UVP should explain why consumers should choose your product over similar items.

  • Step Three – Think of all the problems your product can solve. Maybe it’s a frustrating task in their daily lives or a huge problem they sometimes face. Whatever the pain point may be, your UVP should showcase how your product addresses it.

  • Step Four – Now combine these three elements into a catchy phrase that immediately grabs the audience’s attention. You’ll need to come up with a compelling sentence that effectively relays your message. Even if you can’t combine all of these elements into one phrase, you should at least implement one of them to craft the perfect message.

Once you’ve developed your unique value proposition, you should be able to deliver on your promise. It shouldn’t just be a statement to catch the audience’s attention. If you’re unable to live up to the promise you’ve made in your UVP, it’s going to have a negative impact on your brand reputation.

To better understand a well-developed UVP, let’s take a look at Insightpool, an influencer marketing platform. Its unique value proposition is focused on speed and efficiency. As you can see in the screenshot below, it invites users to “identify influencers in seconds” and convert them into advocates “in minutes” using their Universal Search. These clearly stress on the speed of the tool, which makes it unique from similar tools.

Identify Influencers
Identify Influencers | Source

Their messaging remains consistent throughout the website. If you scroll lower, Insightpool further illustrates that their tool can help users “discover 600 million influencers in seconds”.

Discover Influencer
Discover Influencer | Source

#4: Identifying the Best Distribution Channels

In order to come up with a thorough product launch plan, you need to figure out how you’re going to get your product to the customers. This involves determining a distribution channel that would work best for you and the target audience. You can use the audience insights you already have to complete this task. And make sure you cover the following points in the process:

  • Find out where and how they want to buy the product. Will they want to buy it through a retail distributor or an ecommerce retailer? Or would they rather buy it directly from you through your website?

  • If your product needs some kind of expertise, will your website be enough for educating potential customers? Or would you rather have a sales team providing hands-on education on how to use it.

  • If your product needs professional installation, will you be able to provide online support or will you need to send one of your techs out for at-home installation?

All of these could play a role in determining the best channel for distributing your new product. Whatever you decide to do, you need to make sure it’s convenient for the end user and the pricing remains the same for them.

#5: Developing Your Product Launch Schedule

Having a proper schedule in place helps you stay on track with your product launch. Although there may be many other steps involved in the product development and testing stages, here’s what you need to consider specifically for the launch schedule:

  • Set a Launch Date – To develop a product launch schedule, you need to begin by setting a launch date. This can help you get started with developing a timeline to complete everything else involved in the launch. Now as for the best launch date, it is the date that will offer you maximum exposure. This means you could try unveiling the product during trade shows and conferences, where the maximum number of people can find out about it.

  • Set Up a Due Date for Pre-Launch Promotions – In addition to setting up a definite launch date, you should also time your pre-launch promotions accordingly. When should you start launching your PPC campaigns? When should you connect with the media and send out your press kits? When would it be best to start sending out samples so the product gets better exposure in time for the launch?

#6: Promoting Your Product Launch

One of the most crucial elements of your product launch plan is the promotion. Even if you have the perfect product in place and have done a thorough research of the market, your product could still fail if you can’t promote it properly. Take a look at some of the following promotion ideas to help you out:

Launch during Trade Shows and Conferences – Trade shows and conferences bring together individuals with an interest in certain niches. So if you’re launching a physical product, these could serve as the perfect location for unveiling your new product. Launching during trade shows and conferences not only help you connect with thousands of potential customers at a time. It also helps you gain free coverage by industry publications.

For instance, L’Oreal and Withings teamed up to develop the world’s first “smart brush”, a hairbrush that examines the quality of hair while brushing. They unveiled the product during the Consumer Electronic Show 2017 [2], which helped them gain plenty of coverage from news and media outlets.

Promoting Smart Brush
Promoting Smart Brush | Source
  • Have a Press Kit Ready for Media Features – You can conduct an outreach campaign to connect with reputable publications and news websites related to your industry. The goal is to have them feature your new product in their publication. Make sure you have a press kit ready for journalists and influential publications so they can get every necessary piece of information easily.

Connect with Early Adopters and Industry Influencers – Early adopters and industry influencers can be your best bet at effectively promoting your new product. You can set up a contest or launch a giveaway campaign in which some of your loyal customers get to try your new product for free. They will not only jump at the chance but also help you in promoting the product both online and offline.

And you can conduct an influencer outreach and send out samples some of the most influential individuals in your industry. They could be bloggers, internet celebrities, experts, or industry leaders. What they say about your product can make or break your launch, so be careful about how you approach them.

MAC, for instance, promoted their new line of MAC Liptensity products by providing exclusive sneak peeks to influential individuals relevant to makeup and beauty. Influencers like Aureylian [3], a gaming and beauty influencer with more than 107,000 Instagram followers posted images featuring the products.

MAC Liptensity
MAC Liptensity | Source
  • Engage in Social Media Promotions – In addition to launch social media PPC campaigns, make sure you regularly connect with your social media audience. Keep them posted on the latest updates about your product development and try to engage them in conversations around the product. You can use social media to answer people’s questions, collect their feedback, and build hype about the launch.

Conclusion

The steps covered in this guide are crucial for planning a successful product launch. There may be additional steps involved based on your requirement, your industry, and the product you’re promoting. But you now understand the basics of planning a product launch for better chance of success. Got any questions about planning your product launch? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

[1]http://www.nielsen.com/uk/en/press-room/2014/Nielsen-cracks-the-DNA-of-breakthrough-innovation-success-following-study-of-12000-product-launches-across-Europe.html

[2] https://www.dezeen.com/2017/01/04/worlds-first-smart-hairbrush-scores-hair-quality-loreal-withings-kerastase-ces/

[3] https://www.instagram.com/p/BKE3F-0harM/?taken-by=aureylian

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