Ready for launch?
If you’re second-guessing your product launch strategy, you have every right to be skeptical. Because product launches often represent a sort of “make-or-break” moment for your business.
Think about the time, energy and resources that go into rolling out a new product. Looming deadlines. All-nighters. All hands on deck as you push for your next promotion to go live.
The reality, though? Conventional wisdom tells us that an overwhelming majority of product launches fail.
Whereas a product launch should create buzz and result in a flood of new business, so many product launches result in, well, crickets. That’s why it quite literally pays to come up with a concrete launch strategy versus just winging it.
Maybe you’re in the planning stages of your next product launch strategy. Or perhaps you’re not happy with how your last launch turned out.
Either way, don’t panic.
We’ve put together a product launch strategy blueprint you can use regardless of what you’re selling. Here are eight actionable tips to help your new product cut through the noise and drive more sales:
1. Mind Your Timeline
First thing’s first: sticking to some sort of timetable is an absolute must-do. Without deadlines in place and milestones in mind, your planning pre-launch phase is doomed to drag on longer than it needs to. This results in wasted time and energy on behalf of your team.
On the flip side, you need to set realistic deadlines that your team can actually meet. Rushing to launch could result in sub-par marketing campaigns and technical errors (think: landing pages not being properly tested, etc). Likewise, businesses should have ample time to hype up their customers and build some much-needed buzz–especially on social media.
There is no “right” answer for how long it should take to launch a product. Depending on your industry and the size of your team, anywhere between 2 and 6 months is typical.
For reference, your launch timeline should account for the following:
- Conducting market research
- Gathering creatives for ad campaigns
- Preparing your sales infrastructure
- Setting up your reporting and analytics
- Communicating with customers, influencers and press
- Testing your funnel
When in doubt, err on the side of giving yourself some wiggle room in terms of your deadlines. It’s better to have your assets ready early rather than scramble when launch day rolls around.
Having a time-sensitive product launch strategy will ultimately help you avoid analysis paralysis, while also holding your team accountable. Below is a sample launch template to illustrate what your launch timeline might look like. Additionally, there are free templates out there which you can adapt to your own business’ goals.
Looking to upgrade from the standard templates? Try some of these recommended product launch tools:
- Trello: While Trello is free, it’s still an amazing tool to use to track progress, use calendar views and invite teams to collaborate.
- Asana: This paid tool is great for teams working on various product launches at different times and across departments.
- Airtable: Even though Airtable offers a free version, most businesses will get more value through the extensive paid plans that offer a ton of features.
- Monday: Another non-free tool to check out is Monday, which helps team measure progress, set deadlines and assign users.
2. Put Your Past Products Under the Microscope
Product launches are all about hype and “what’s next” for your business. But before you get too obsessed with what the future holds, it’s crucial to reflect on the past.
For example, do you know what customers dig about your current products? What’s a feature that many causes everyone a little frustration?
By understanding the positive and negative quirks with what you’re selling, you know what gets people stoked or disinterested. That’s why it’s important to emphasize the positive features your customers already love and talk about the upgrades in areas that caused the most problems throughout your launch.
PowerReviews’ Intelligence Suite drills down and uncovers terms and features your current customers love and want you to improve. Digging into your ratings and reviews lets you hone in on the exact upsides and benefits that appeal to real-life buyers.
If you’re launching a new version of a product, find the adjectives that reviewers felt with your product in the first place. You’re customers are already giving you the details, it’s up to you how you sift through and analyze your review content.
These details are key to your messaging and positioning. Highlighting your strengths helps you appeal to your target audience, and addressing your weaknesses gives customers some much-needed peace of mind.
3. Perfect Your Pitch
Piggybacking on the previous tip, a well-crafted pitch goes a long way when launching a product. Your customers and prospects are bombarded with marketing messages on a daily basis. Not to mention that our attention spans as consumers these days are practically microscopic.
And so your product should quickly and easily answer the question of “so what?”
From marketing messaging and tag lines to your sales copy and beyond–consider your elevator pitch that defines your product, including:
- Who is your product for? (hint: your target audience)
- Why should someone buy your product? (hint-hint: benefit-driven language)
- Why does your product launch matter? (hint-hint-hint: your unique selling proposition)
It might be unfair or cliche to use Apple as an example here, but they do a brilliant job of getting down to the nitty-gritty and answering “so what?” Check out the recent announcement of the Apple Card:
“This is Apple Card. A credit card created by Apple, not a bank. Built for simplicity, transparency and privacy. Coming this summer.”
This brief description coupled with the specifics of the announcement video answers everything a curious customer would need to know and get hyped.
We can likewise go back in time and apply the same rules to the launch of the latest generation of the Apple Watch:
“The largest Apple Watch display yet. A new electrical heart sensor. A Digital Crown with haptic feedback. New workouts. Advanced running features. And enhanced cellular connectivity. Introducing Apple Watch Series 4. Fundamentally redesigned and re-engineered to help you stay even more active, healthy, and connected.”
See how that works?
4. Make Sure Your Team is On the Same Page
A quick tip, but one that bears repeating–your entire team needs to be totally on board when it comes to your product launch!
After all, preparation and promotion don’t happen in a vacuum.
For example, is your sales team equipped for the leads that your marketing team is generated? Do they know where those leads are coming from? Does your tech team have all of the creatives and campaign information ready for your product to go live?
Oh, and does your customer service team understand the features of your new products and feel comfortable answering questions about them?
These questions highlight why collaboration is so important during a launch.
Whether through face-to-face meetings or the project management tools we listed, don’t be shy about frequent check-ins in preparation for a product launch. Your team should be comfortable with communicating to guarantee everything goes smoothly.
5. Choose Your Marketing Channels Carefully
Businesses are spoiled for choice when it comes to marketing channels for a product launch.
For example, some companies might be content with Facebook ads, email and an organic social campaign. Other brands might incorporate direct mail or a PR blitz in order to drum up interest.
Although marketing channels will vary from business to business, any combination of the following can help cover your bases and maximize your exposure:
- Owned Media: blog posts, images, videos, emails and social content that your brand creates and publishes itself
- Earned Media: organic advertising via press mentions, reviews and shout-outs from industry players
- Paid Media: advertising (social and PPC) and influencer marketing campaigns
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing your new products. This again speaks to the need for businesses to look backward and see what channels have paid off in the past.
Also, this signals the importance of planning early. Although you may be able to create in-house emails and ads in no time flat, conducting outreach with influencers and industry publications might take a few weeks.
6. Encourage Others to Promote Your Launch
Much of the success of a product launch hinges on how much buzz you’re able to build. And arguably the best ways to build buzz is to let others do the talking.
Social shout-out. Working with micro-influencers. Getting more mentions. The works.
This is especially important for reaching new customers. Because while you may have instant access to your own customers, having others promote your launch allows you to tap into entirely new audiences. Doing so also serves as social proof that you’re worth talking about and therefore worth buying from.
While you can score mentions and shout-outs organically, try to ensure folks talk up your launch with the help of a product sampling campaign. In short, product sampling puts what you’re selling in the hands of people who are the most likely to sing your praises.
PowerReviews’ product sampling suite taps into millions of influencers, allowing businesses to find the right fit based on their target audience demographics and buying behavior.
Our analytics tools allow brands to track performance on product sample campaigns as well. Know how many reviews came from product samples, images uploaded to your site and who’s mentioning your product on social.
The more mentions you win via product sampling and everyday influencers, the more eyes are on your product. This has the potential to create a sort of snowball effect that results in more customers, higher social engagement and a flurry of positive feedback.
7. Don’t Neglect Your Current Customers
This might seem like a no brainer, but you don’t forget the value of your current customers as part of your product launch strategy!
Yes, a product launch is a prime time to win over new customers. But given the relatively high cost of customer acquisition, you arguably have the most to gain from the ones you already have.
For example, consider how you can engage your email list with exclusive discounts and sneak previews. If nothing else, you can hype them up with teases and launch announcements out-of-the-blue, too.
Similarly, a product launch is the perfect time to curate reviews, testimonials and encourage your customers to share their user-generated content to get your mentions up before the big day. Modcloth does a great job at mentioning their biggest fans and using their content to promote (with permission) on their own Instagram.
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Sprinkles and smiles at the end of the rainbow 🌈 // #modclothsquad member @simplyshannah in our Unbridled Enthusiasm Wide-Leg Jumpsuit // Tap the photo to shop the look ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #modcloth #ootd #springstyle #summerfashion #popofcolor #rainbowstyle #stpatricksday
8. Reflect on the Long-Term Impact of Your Launch
Last but not least, there’s so much more to a product launch than the day that everything finally goes live. And sure, you have every right to pop champagne and celebrate.
However, don’t forget the long-term implications of your launch. To squeeze as much out of your product launch strategy as possible, you obviously want the momentum for your launch to last as long as possible.
This concept is a two-way street. For starters, businesses should continue to promote their latest products and encourage customers to share their experiences (hint: user-generated content and reviews) that you can use as future marketing firepower for your next launch.
Tracking ratings and reviews analytics can help you dissect and learn from your customers to have a better product launch. Also, these features help you benchmark new launches by tracking new and incoming reviews as well as total review coverage.
Keep a keen eye on your sales performance and analytics as well. This will clue you in on where you can improve next time. Get answers to questions like, what were your most valuable marketing channels? Were you able to reach your sales goals?
Once you understand these data points, rinse and repeat the steps above to make sure that you maximize the returns from future launches.
And with that, we wrap up our list!
Is Your Product Launch Strategy Squared Away?
There’s no denying that a product launch can be daunting. With so many moving pieces, businesses are tasked with finding a balance between planning and getting their product out in the open.
By paying attention to the pointers above, approach your next product launch with a renewed sense of confidence as you have your most important details covered.
And with the help of PowerReviews, we make it easier to streamline the process of building buzz and winning more customers in the process.
Sounds like a pretty good product launch strategy, right?