Now that the calendar page has been turned to signal the start of another year, you can feel the excitement mounting. After building a strong foundation of high-quality items, as well as customers who want them, you know that the time has come to expand by launching a new product. So, what is the best way to go about this all-important task?
Pre-plan with care.
As a veteran entrepreneur, you already recognize the importance of forethought. After all, that is one of the key vehicles that brought you to your current success. Loop back to the same tried-and-true strategies now that you are preparing to expand your offerings.
Ask yourself the following questions about the new item you are looking to send out into the world:
- Why are you creating this product? What needs or customer pain points do you believe it will relieve?
- What is unique about your new product that separates it from everything else that is available? (This will be the core of your brand messaging.)
- Who are your target customers? Once you recognize who you will be marketing your new product to, you can tailor your advertising campaign accordingly.
- What specific segments of customers will you be serving? Identifying them and tailoring your marketing strategies to appeal to each one’s different wants and needs will lead to a more successful launch.
- Who are your competitors, and what are they doing to attract buyers of similar products? Specific areas to focus on can include their blogs, social media accounts, search engine results pages, Google keywords, and the influencers they have relationships with.
With this valuable set of data in hand, you can move on to the next stage of your product launch.
Select your launch type.
There are two ways you can introduce your new item to your customers. Each has advantages and downsides.
As the name implies, this type of launch allows customers to order and pay for the item before it is available on your website. This strategy allows you to generate a great deal of buzz about your exciting new piece of merchandise. Practically speaking, you benefit from the money that flows in from the pre-orders and can often use these funds to cover your initial costs. In addition, your brand can get a big boost from the insider exclusivity vibe you create. However, there is always the chance that delays in product rollout could lead to dissatisfaction among these pre-order customers.
With this traditional model, you introduce your product on your site and enable everyone to purchase it immediately. They pay for it in the usual ways, and receive it according to your normal schedule. This also applies if you accept international payments on your site. Although this method might not create the same degree of excitement as does its pre-order counterpart, you can get the best of both worlds by giving your current customers the option to be notified by email as soon as the new product comes live onto your site. That way they can be among the first to obtain it.
Pick a launch theme.
You already know what you want to sell, and you have a good idea of who your customers are, and what categories you can divide them into. So why not use that intel to craft an overarching message that will be seen throughout your launch? Make sure your message both appeals to those all-important potential buyers, and integrates seamlessly with your brand’s broader themes.
Write your launch calendar.
This document should not exist solely in your head. Instead, it should be clearly spelled out, and shared (preferably online) for easier editing, distribution, and collaboration with other stakeholders. At a minimum, your timeline should include the following benchmarks:
- Research and development.
- Product launch.
- Marketing strategy completion.
- Planning for customer relations and logistics.
- Pre-launch marketing campaign to generate hype.
- Product launch.
Of course, you can then divide each of these into sub-categories with their own dates and milestones that should then be shared with all stakeholders. These include sales and support, logistics, investors, etc.
Choose the right tools.
Technology can make your product launch infinitely easier by assisting you with streamlining and organizing the many tasks involved. Consider onboarding the following tools:
- Task organization software.
- Email and database tools.
- Pay-per-click tools.
- Design tools.
- Shopping cart software.
- Project management systems.
- Promotional page design.
Outline your marketing campaign.
How well you boost excitement and encourage customers to part with their money will determine the success of your new product. Your campaign will probably feature the following stages:
- A hype stage to generate buzz before the launch.
- “Coming soon” promotions to ramp up the sense of urgency.
- An incentive stage to lure customers with a promotional free gift or discount.
- A PR stage where your marketing campaign goes live, including support from affiliates or influencers.
- The official launch of the product.
Select effective marketing strategies.
There are numerous ways to get the word out about your new offering. A few of the most important include:
- Email campaigns.
- Pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns.
- Content and organic funnel marketing to spread product information to your targeted fans and customers.
- Influencer marketing that leverages the power of online micro- and macro-celebrities to increase product-related hype.
You can also harness the power of offline strategies like pop-up stores and local print media.
Design landing and promotion pages.
These will funnel shoppers to your new product’s landing pages no matter what stage they are at in your shopping process. Pop-ups are a great way to grab potential customers’ attention and encourage them to click to find out more about your innovative new item. Vivid images, photos, and videos, as well as clear and concise text, are the content you’ll want to create.
No launch should be implemented without first making a dry run. To that end, allow some of your best customers to be beta testers. Offer them the chance to have an, “exclusive first peak” at your new product, as well as the newly designed pages you have developed for it. Solicit feedback on every step of the process, implementing what works, and making adjustments where needed. You can even use the reviews that your beta testers provide in future promotional campaigns.
Introducing a new product or line of products is no small undertaking. Every step should be meticulously thought through. When care is taken, you can understand your goals, set clear messages, make contingency plans to pivot in case of emergency and conduct instructive pre-launch testing that will maximize the likelihood of success. When it comes to telling the world about your Next Big Thing, the importance of step-by-step preparation cannot be overstated.