You’re prepared, right? Preparation and planning are critical to a successful new product launch. The good news is there are resources—like the SBA’s Marketing 101 Worksheets—to help organize all the details of a launch into a written marketing plan. The bad news is, even those pretty amazing resources may not have caught everything. Here’s what else you may still need to do.
No two marketing plans are ever alike, but common elements include:
A marketing budget helps guide the spending during the launch phase because you’ll have to advertise it.
The target market and buyer persona definitions guide marketing messages. A target market describes the ideal customer, while personas dig into the details. For example, the target market for a carry-out meal service might be anyone who wants to avoid cooking. The buyer personas would include detailed descriptions like:
Not every launch has the same priority. One launch may value increased revenue while another prioritizes customer acquisition—those certainly won’t be measured with the same yardstick. That’s why you should decide in advance which metrics matter to you and how to measure them.
Communication guidelines help identify the brand voice, the selling points, and even the social media tactics to address positive and negative feedback.
As you plan your launch, include a grand opening event. That could be in-person or a live video stream. The key is to generate consumer interest before the debut by dropping hints that something new is coming. Jennifer Phar Davis, the owner of Blue Ridge Hiking, did just that with 2 weeks of teasers (“something exciting is in the works”) before debuting a new hiking trail.
If your target market includes your existing customers, great! You know them, and they know you. Use what you know about them through buying behaviors and preferences to segment them into groups and personalize communications. Speak directly to their pain points and entice them to try it with an explanation or demonstration of how your new offering relieves the proverbial pain.
Remember the buyer persona from before? Customers similar to “Bob” could receive an email highlighting friendly phone operators. The email sent to “Joan” could emphasize the time savings of carry-out meals on soccer night.
You could even try some surprise and delight marketing. For example, I once declined to order a food truck owner’s suggestion to try the new spicy shredded chicken. A few minutes later, the owner delivered a sample of the new item and my original order to our table. Unexpected? Yes! Delightful? Absolutely. Effective? You betcha! I promptly ordered a whole serving and then encouraged the table next to us to do the same.
Launching into an established market requires a laser focus on your product’s unique selling proposition (USP)—also known as the reason buyers will switch to your product. You’ve probably already identified the USP in the competitor section of your SWOT analysis.
Promotion or discount codes may also entice buyers to try your product. One study reported that 80% of shoppers were willing to switch brands or stores based on a promotion. That number jumps to as high as 92% as inflation makes shoppers even more cost-conscious.
Digital media tactics can also help establish a foothold in an existing market. That could include:
Launching into an existing market may require allocating more of your marketing budget to acquire customers. A CMO survey indicated that, on average, companies spend 14.7% more on customer acquisition versus customer retention.
First, know that lackluster launches happen. Second, pat yourself on the back for knowing what you need to relaunch successfully.
Relaunching a product is similar to selling a house that’s been on the market too long. Sure, the house can be taken off the market for a few weeks and then re-listed to make it appear as a new listing. But without identifying why no one bought it, it’s not likely to sell.
Similarly, relaunching a product requires addressing whatever caused the initial launch to be an underperformer. Was the marketing budget underfunded? Are there product quality issues to address? Did the messaging go off-track across channels? The good news is the metrics you tracked during launch can show you what to correct.
A great relaunch example is Old Spice, which came out with a new messaging strategy to connect with a younger target market after decades as the stuffy old man brand.
Sometimes, launching requires more budget than initially anticipated. Perhaps the development phase took longer than expected, inflation impacted original estimates, or the launch goals have shifted. One survey indicated that in 2022, companies plan to increase marketing budgets for introducing new products (8.8%) and services (5.3%).
How will you know when to seek more financing for a launch (or relaunch)? Often, metrics will show:
Let’s talk about that first one.
Every launch has different goals, so dig into your objectives and metrics to identify missed opportunities and how financing could help.
For example, suppose your marketing plan defines an ideal buy-to-detail rate (how many users visited a product page versus product purchase). If yours is low, then it may be helpful to seek financing to hire professionals to revise your website to motivate individuals to buy versus browse.
As for the second point above, if your launch may have been so successful that you exceed the ability to keep up with demand, financing can help increase production capacity (e.g., securing an equipment loan to buy a 2nd food truck).
Whatever you do, stay on top of your data. Metrics will show when it makes sense to use financing to meet demand and keep your reputation solid and your customers happy.
A: You get your new market noticed first and foremost with a strong marketing plan that targets the people most likely to buy your product and hits them with the message they need to buy. Lendio’s product launch guide can help.
A: Don’t give up if your launch fails. It’s possible the timing of the launch was off, the marketing budget was under-funded, or the wrong customer was targeted. Take time to rethink what needs to be addressed for a successful relaunch.
A: The cycle is not complete when you launch. To ensure continued success, you’ll repeat the cycle again and again to capture new markets, meet changing consumer demands, and grow your company. Take time to evaluate your last launch, including what went right and what could be improved upon next time. Every time you develop and launch a new offering, you strengthen that “new offering” muscle and enable your business to continue to survive and thrive.