Whether you’re starting a new business from scratch or adding a new product to the lineup you already have, product launches are massively important. Successful product launches can set you up for long-term success even if you’re already relatively well-established in your industry.
There’s a lot riding on this, which means that you need more than just a simple email announcement saying “it’s here!” with a single image of whatever it is that you’re rolling out.
It’s estimated than somewhere between 70-90 percent of new products “fail,” meaning they don’t sell at the scale and frequency needed to be profitable. Maybe a few purchases happen, and that’s it.
In many cases, a less-than-stellar product launch is the culprit between a product failure. Preparation is key, and in this post, we’ll help you ensure that you’re as prepared as you possibly can be to have a strong product launch that catapults you to success.
- What Makes for a Great Product Launch
- The Step-by-Step Process of a Strong Product Launch
- 1. Clearly Define the Product’s USP
- 2. Identify Your Target Audience Segments
- 3. Conduct Market Research
- 4. Roll Out a Small Pre-Launch Beta Test
- 5. Develop Your Marketing Strategy
- 6. Create Your Landing Pages & Product Listing
- 7. Have Your Launch Calendar Ready
- 8. Roll Out a Wider Beta-Testing Program
- 9. Ensure Everything Is Ready
- 10. Start Running Launch Announcements
- 11. Have An Official Launch Event
- 3 Examples of Incredible Product Launches
- Product Launch Mistakes to Avoid
- Want to Learn More?
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What Makes for a Great Product Launch
A great product launch must be strategic in its testing and marketing, which is a lengthy and involved process; it’s not simply enough to just list it online and have it available. While the product should be strong in its own right, it’s the marketing and everything that leads up to it that will make or break the launch, because if no one hears of how great your product is, they can’t buy it.
The process involves developing strategies, and then testing them, and then strategizing again, and then testing, all while working towards the goal of generating a lot of excitement and visibility for when the product page goes live online at your site. It’s a learning process rooted in how you’re going to reach your audience in a way that will be effective, which will be important both pre-launch and post-launch.
The Step-by-Step Process of a Strong Product Launch
Product launches aren’t something that should be rushed. This means that the process needs to start early, so let’s go through the process step by step.
1. Clearly Define the Product’s USP
A unique selling proposition (USP) is often something that will apply to a brand as a whole, but it can be defined for individual products, too. USPs will explain why someone should buy your product over a competitors’ by explaining what makes yours unique and valuable. They’ll affect what messaging you use and how you market the product, which will be key to your strategy development.
Rockin’ Green, for example, developed a strong USP centered around effectively cleaning activewear that’s been washed with other products but not clean.
They use videos and pictures of “clean” activewear soaking in a tub with their product and turning the water nauseatingly grey or brown or black, demonstrating what they can do that others can’t.
Understanding a possible USP is a good place to start, and should be identified early in the strategy development.
2. Identify Your Target Audience Segments
Once you have a solid idea of what makes your product different, you can start to break down who your target audience is. In many cases, there will be several distinct audience niches that your product can appeal to.
We’re going to look at Rockin’ Green again. They have some campaigns geared specifically towards younger women talking about how expensive their athleisure clothing is and how hard it is to care for it, knowing this audience will want to preserve their Lululemon investments. They also have ads like the example above, tailored towards moms of teenagers with houses full of smelly sports gear that just never seems clean.
These are two very separate audience segments, and by creating messaging for each one, they’ll be more successful in product promotion.
You need to tailor your strategy to your audience segments, so break down your audience niches into distinct buyer personas. These personas should be fleshed out to the point where you understand their basic demographics, their motivations, and the pain points they have that your product can resolve.
Each persona will likely be very different from the one next to it, but that’s good; the more detailed they are, the more they’ll be able to guide your content.
3. Conduct Market Research
If you’re creating a product launch checklist, this will always be towards the top of it. You want to look and see what’s already out there from your competitors, how they’re being marketed, and how well they’re doing.
What types of ad campaigns are your competitors running? Which features are being highlighted, and what sort of reception are the products seeing? Identify your top competitors and understand how you can stand out.
This can be used to strengthen or alter your USP, especially if you see new ways to present your product differently. You may also notice that your competition’s products are being described “great, but they’re hard to clean,” and if yours can be cleaned in five seconds flat, that’s something to note.
4. Roll Out a Small Pre-Launch Beta Test
Early testing is so essential, because it allows you to pretest early concepts before you invest significant money to go all-in on one product or strategy that may not work.
In many cases, using small focus groups is a good call. You can identify enthusiastic members of your target audience, which includes current customers, and ask them to test the product for free in response for their genuine feedback.
Buffy is currently doing this with their new in-development pillows. They’ve recently sent out surveys to some of their customers to identify potential users for a very early test of their product to give feedback.
You can also use hyper-targeted Facebook Ads using tight geographical or interest restrictions to find test participants or to evaluate the reception and interest in your new product.
Monitor the tests carefully, and then apply the information you learn to adapt. Make sure that you’re asking your audience about the product, how they used it, and what they thought of the marketing.
5. Develop Your Marketing Strategy
Marketing is everything in a product launch, and at this point you have plenty of data to work with. You can create your marketing mix, which is the blend of strategies and platforms you’ll use to reach target audiences.
At this point, you should do the following:
- Decide what platforms you want to use, and how much you want to invest in each
- Define some of the copy that you’ll use
- Choose specific strategies to implement, like whether you want to leverage discounts, referral programs, or influencer marketing
Different platforms serve different purposes, and each one has its own strengths and weaknesses. When making your choice, consider the following:
- Email marketing is low cost and often has high ROI, connecting you with people already interested in you.
- Search Ads (like those on Google, Bing, and Pinterest) allow you to show your products to users actively searching for them. They often have higher costs, but can capture users further in the sales funnel.
- Influencer marketing is a good choice for major visibility boosts quickly and generating hype fast.
- Social ads like Facebook and Instagram can help you introduce your product to users who fit certain targeting criteria, catching their interest and generating demand. They’re often slightly cheaper than other PPC campaigns, but typically require longer funnels to move users to conversion.
- Product review campaigns and referral campaigns are highly effective and low cost, and utilize word of mouth marketing and social proof in your favor. You need reviews to get started, but these programs should be implemented before the product launch to keep momentum going quickly.
Using a blend of different marketing strategies and platforms is typically a good call, because users in different stages of the funnel are going to require specific messages at specific times. Keep this in mind, knowing that casting a wider net will mean more success quickly.
6. Create Your Landing Pages & Product Listing
After you know how you want to market your product, it’s time to get any landing pages and product listings up and running. Have them ready to go on your site, and have some ad campaigns uploaded into the ad managers for approval.
You don’t have to officially launch anything yet. You can schedule your ad campaigns so they’re approved in the system but don’t begin until you’re ready for them to.
You can also keep your product listing page unfindable if you choose, removing it from Google’s search console so it isn’t findable in search and keeping it out of your current’s site navigation menu. You still want it ready to go, though, so do this early.
7. Have Your Launch Calendar Ready
Before you start releasing your campaigns, you need to have your launch calendar ready. Know exactly when you want to do the big public release so that you can start promoting it in advance and have things in place when the time is right.
At this point, make sure you have a clear beta test scheduled and clear deadlines for when you need the results back. It’s also good to have clear internal deadlines, because it’s sometimes easy to want to keep testing and testing. True perfection, however, is an illusion, so stay accountable to your current calendar unless legitimate product safety or malfunctioning issues are coming up.
During this stage, go ahead and create a product launch checklist for every single thing you need to do from this stage on. Things can be chaotic and move quickly, so you don’t want anything to slip between the cracks.
8. Roll Out a Wider Beta-Testing Program
Next, you’re going to do a wider-release beta-testing program. You can reach out to influencers and more customers, stressing that you want reviews and their honest feedback. Be ready to adapt your campaigns and strategy if needed, because even though it’s late game, it’s good to do it before the products are officially released if needed.
Ideally, try to leverage exclusive beta-testing spots to increase FOMO and drive early interest. People can sign up on an email list to be notified once the product is available if they aren’t accepted for the beta testing.
9. Ensure Everything Is Ready
Before the launch starts rolling out, make sure everything is ready.
Do you have enough inventory for the first projected wave of sales? Are they accessible, and do you know how long it will take to get restocked?
Are your shipping processes in order?
Is your sales team and/or customer service and tech support trained on the new product, knowing how it works, why it benefits customers, and how to use it?
Dropshippers will also want to ensure that the supplier is ready for a big deluge of orders, especially if you’re relying on the supplier to have enough quantity in stock. Let them know what’s coming and how many orders you’re anticipating.
10. Start Running Launch Announcements
At least one week before, announce that you’ll be releasing the new product soon via email campaigns and social media.
As soon as the product launches, mention that the products may be limited. This will leverage scarcity and can help drive sales early. Do this on social, email, and use Facebook Ad campaigns to generate more interest early on.
If there are any influencers talking about your product, ask them to do so right at the launch so people can start purchasing right away. This reduces the likelihood that they’ll click, see that it’s not available yet, and write it off.
11. Have An Official Launch Event
It’s product launch day, or product launch week! Having some sort of official product launch event can help kick things off right.
There are so many different great new product launch ideas to consider, including the following:
- Short Facebook Lives demonstrating how to use the product
- A webinar related to the product you’re releasing
- Social contests that can build social proof while capturing lead information to generate interest and social buzz; you can use a giveaway of the new product as the key prize
- In-store events if you have a brick and mortar store, featuring a few giveaways or product samples
Make sure that you’re generating as much interest as you can, leveraging each platform to its fullest.
3 Examples of Incredible Product Launches
There are plenty of great examples of product launch campaigns, but let’s take a close look at three different recent examples of product launch marketing plans that could easily be adapted and replicated by businesses of all sizes.
Brooklinen is an ecommerce store selling sheets, comforter, towels, and more. They have strong product launch campaign marketing tactics, including always announcing new products through SMS messaging. Most brands don’t do this, so it helps them stand out with existing customers and demands their attention.
Not long after releasing the text message announcement, they followed up with a review campaign. These reviews likely came from early beta testers, giving the launch enormous momentum.
ThirdLove is a lingerie company that consistently has strong marketing campaigns, and has since they first started. Their product launch campaigns are all solid. Every time new products are available, they send an email to their customer base explaining what the new product is, how to wear it, and why they need it.
In addition to explaining the value of the new products well, they also use clear cues to indicate to the reader subtly that this is new and that you need to see it. Subject lines like “Hello, Geo” indicate a new product, which piques interest. They always stress comfort, inclusivity, and perfect fit, which are their big USPs.
Draper James just released their Spirit Collection, which has all the clothing and accessories you need to cheer on your favorite teams.
As soon as the product launched (right before college football season, making it a timely and incredibly good choice), they started marketing hard. Multiple email campaigns came within a two week period, showing some of the different products on a sliding carousel and reminding users that sports gear can look great, too.
There’s an entire section of their site focused on selling the new products, allowing ad campaigns to funnel interested users to the general landing page so they can browse multiple products quickly to find what they need.
Consistently going big on launch marketing is important, and this is a good way to show how consistency and mass marketing is a good choice.
Product Launch Mistakes to Avoid
When you’re going through the product launch steps, it’s important to avoid several common mistakes that could drag down your campaign quickly. These include the following:
- Failing to define your product launch ideas before you start. Preliminary testing and strategy development need to happen early. It’s not something that you can stumble upon if you have no idea where you’re going.
- Neglecting to properly have a soft launch. Soft launches and beta tests give you the early momentum you need to really go for the full launch and give you actionable feedback.
- Not having a backup plan. Sometimes even the best-tested strategies go sideways. Have a backup plan at different stages of the process so you can keep going even if it’s not as expected.
- Not having a USP. So many new products don’t have original marketing ideas and USPs, and it’s hard to pull people away from their established brands if you can’t promise them something new and great.
New product launches can be stressful, but with the vast majority of new products coming to the market struggling to ever really take off, they’re something you need to invest time and money into. A strong product launch can give you the momentum to keep things going.
It’s important to remember that product launches often throw some surprises our way. We need to take what we learn during the process and adjust as we go. Agility will be a key skill in many successful launches, and as long as the ultimate focus is on best connecting with your audience, you’re likely headed in the right direction.
Want to Learn More?
Excited to learn more about product launches and how to make yours a success? Check out these links to learn more about setting up your brand for success: