If you’re going to launch a new product, you need to make sure you have a successful launch strategy in place.
Nothing is more frustrating than spending countless hours on a new product, only to find that the launch fails and you haven’t met your revenue target.
Yet despite the frustration, that’s what happens to most products.
In fact, according to Entrepreneur, 72 percent of new products fail to meet revenue targets.
While much of this is based on market variance and unexpected factors, the sad truth is many product creators never spend the time to plan a strategy to launch their product.
In this article, I’ll explain the best strategies I know for launching a product with massive success.
If you follow the techniques I outline here, you’ll have customers begging to buy even before you can sell.
But first, let’s start off with the most important lesson: have a plan.
How to plan your product launch
Everyone with a product needs to have a concrete plan to bring that product to market, generating a buzz around it, and selling the product to early adopters.
The first and most important realization behind this, however, is understanding that product launches take a lot of work.
Sometimes, the launch will take even more energy and resources than working on the product itself. But that’s OK, because the product won’t be successful without the launch.
According to Unbounce, you need to understand the scope of the product first.
Get a clear idea of which techniques you’re going to use, how long they’ll take, and what resources you need to make sure you use them successfully.
Once you have that in mind, you can plan the details and create a calendar to make those actions happen on time.
Without a solid set of tactics, however, no launch will ever be successful. Here are the most successful methods to making a huge marketing splash with your new product.
Find interested people before you launch
Very few products are successful without a dedicated group of fans promoting the product first.
To make your product successful, you need to get a core set of promoters onboard as early as possible.
If this happens before the product even launches, that’s best.
Get thought leaders on board early
One of the most effective and least costly methods of promoting a product is having major influencers promote it for you for free.
Of course, you’ll need to create a truly stellar product for this to work, but if you get it right, you can have a massively successful launch.
You should work to provide online influencers with pre-launch info and even product demos if possible to get their good word in early.
If you can, get testimonials from these experts and use them to promote the product.
To boost the marketing that these thought leaders do for you, consider starting an affiliate program.
That will get them to promote your new product even more than they would otherwise.
Promote through influencer marketing
While it isn’t a free way to market your product, this can be a great alternative if you don’t have connections with influencers at the top of your industry.
You can pay to promote through major influencers online and off.
To promote their new coffee product, Nitro Cold Brew, Califia Farms teamed up with the band Gravy Train for promotion.
This is a good way to spread the buzz more quickly than through traditional marketing.
Build a presence at conferences and trade shows
To get fans excited about what you have to offer early, make appearances at conferences and trade shows and display information about the product.
You don’t even need to set up a booth. Just make connections and be sure to get contact information so you can reach out to people later.
Speaking of which, you need to start using email.
Get an email list early
One of the most important things to do before you launch your product is to start generating an email list of potential leads.
This doesn’t have to be a list of buyers. It can just be a list of your current fans or even friends who have expressed interest in your product.
But you need to make sure you have a list.
Once you launch, you need to use effective email marketing to reach out to those people as early adopters.
Tease with suspense
The most famous launches in history were usually associated with suspense of some kind.
This is a great way to build excitement and create customer enthusiasm without giving away your innovations and leaving room for competitors.
Here’s how to do this.
Use secrecy about the product
When Microsoft wanted to launch the Lumia phone a few years back, they didn’t make a giant statement about it.
Instead, they used the subtlest of imagery to excite people about the product.
Their ad only showed a corner of the phone with the date “11.11.2014.”
It was a great way to build interest and let people know there was something to expect without giving away outright details.
Show behind-the-scenes content
When launching a new clothing line, Nixon Bui likes to show images of the clothes and fabrics before they’re available for sale.
While this isn’t the same as other teases, the behind-the-scenes glimpse of the new products is a great way to provide real details without giving away the actual product itself.
Acquire your first users by invitation only
Some of the biggest product launches have been with brands that created invitation-only launches.
It’s a great way to make people feel special and encourage them to share the invitation with friends and family.
Promote with content
Content marketing is a great way to drive leads in an ongoing fashion, but it can be just as effective when you’re looking to launch a new product.
In fact, content marketing can be one of the best ways to launch a new product, and there are a variety of ways to do it.
Here are some of the techniques I’ve seen used most effectively.
Provide guest-post blog content on other websites.
When you appear on someone else’s blog, you show that you have valuable content to provide, and you make people interested in reading more about what you have to offer.
Remember to make sure you link everything to a landing page about the product you’re launching so you make the best use of this tactic.
Include images in your marketing campaigns.
If you’re using social media to promote (which I’ll cover in a minute), you should be using images.
According to Easel.ly, this is one of the most effective ways of communication, since people are 17 percent more like to be persuaded by content with imagery.
So, use images on social media and in your blog posts. One of the best types of images to use: an infographic.
Create and spread shareable infographics.
Infographics are images that display facts and statistics in a creative and engaging manner. It’s the perfect way to generate a buzz about the product you’re launching.
According to Social Media Today, 41.5 percent of marketers said that infographics and other original images were the most engaging.
Just one infographic can be enough to make your product launch a success.
Appear as a guest on podcasts.
Similar to guest posting on blogs, you can and should be a guest on the podcasts of others.
Don’t focus solely on the biggest podcasts, though. Some of the smaller ones have a more engaged audience, and this targeting might actually provide a better result.
Look for audiences that are interested in the product or genre of product, and present a compelling story behind what you’re selling.
Create an event
Nothing draws a buzz like an event.
Here are a few ways to turn your product launch into something people will want to talk about on social media and even in the news and in publications.
Pitch reporters on HARO
If you haven’t joined Help a Reporter Out (aka HARO) yet, you should do so immediately.
Basically, you’ll get requests for stories and quotes three times a day. If you respond with something useful for the reporter, you’ll get featured in his or her publication.
This is an excellent way to drive awareness about your product through traditional media.
Declare and promote milestones.
Milestones can turn a usually nondescript event into a big day.
Find specific places where you’d like to announce what you’re doing, and make it something people would want to share.
You could announce when you release the mockups of your product, when they’re finally on sale, when you’ve reached 10,000 customers, and a variety of other events.
Send out press releases.
While HARO is a free way to get publicity, don’t forget about the old-fashioned way, either.
According to Entrepreneur, you should use press releases and fact sheets to promote your product to the media.
Having this information on hand ahead of time will save you the effort on launch day.
Let social media take it viral
There’s a reason most big product launches use social media nowadays. According to Unbounce, social media is a great way to target relevant communities.
I’ve personally seen tons of things go viral on social media, and it’s something you can work hard at and become very successful with for your new product.
Here are a few ways to do that.
Create viral quizzes.
Everyone loves quizzes on social media, and if they’re about your product, it’s a great way to spread the word.
As far as I’m concerned, the easiest way to make quizzes is through Woobox.
Create a simple personality quiz showing how different users can adapt your product to their own needs.
Design an online game.
If you want to go big, consider creating an entire online game about the product you have to launch.
When Coldplay released their album Ghost Stories, they created a massive game that they promoted on social media.
While you don’t need to create a giant scavenger hunt like this, a simple game can draw attention and make your product infinitely shareable.
Hold giveaways and contests.
The simplest way to get attention for your launch is to hold a contest.
Make this simple and give away something basic, perhaps even the product you’re going to sell. People will want to share this to earn whatever you have to offer.
Create branded hashtags.
If you’ll be using Twitter or Instagram to launch your product, make sure to create a branded hashtag.
This is a great way to get people involved with and sharing the product you’re creating.
When Ben & Jerry’s launched a new flavor, they used the hashtag #benjerryflavor to encourage sharing of the new product.
Let users generate their own content to share.
User-generated content is a great way to get people to share your product with their friends via their own content.
To promote the next season of Game of Thrones, the GOT team created a custom filter for users to transform themselves into characters from the TV show.
Create a share-worthy landing page.
Ultimately, you want people to visit your landing page. And what better way than to have them share it with their friends?
To make this happen, you need to create a compelling and engaging page that’s worth sharing.
When launching the new product Muzzle, the creators designed a website that shows fake, embarrassing notifications.
It’s a hilarious page that makes you want to share it with friends and spread the word of the new products.
Use referral marketing.
One of the easiest ways to get fans to share your product is by allowing them to use referrals.
This can encourage new people to sign up for your product since it’s already been vetted by a friend.
Unfortunately, this is difficult to code and manage manually. I’d recommend a program like Prefinery to make this work best.
Let’s be honest: the best products are the ones we’re excited about before they arrive.
To drive this kind of anticipation and to make your product a true success, you need to use some carefully crafted strategies that are designed to encourage excitement early on.
If you’re launching any kind of physical product, you should start taking pre-orders before it’s available for purchase.
This is a great way to drive excitement and sales before your product even hits the stories.
Author Gretchen Rubin is using pre-order forms for her upcoming book The Four Tendencies, which helps to drive new sales before it even arrives in stores.
Build a wait list.
People want what they can’t have. To have a successful launch, you need to create exclusivity.
When he was launching his new guitar-practice lesson program, Tony Polecastro (of Tony’s Acoustic Challenge) created a wait list.
This prevented people from signing up whenever they wanted, and it created a sense of excitement when the program finally did open up.
Start with a beta release.
If you have a software product, there are two good reasons to do a closed beta release.
The first is that you can get a set of people to test the product before you release it “into the wild,” so to speak. This helps you remove bugs and prepare it for market.
But second, and most importantly, you can make sure everyone knows it’s only available for a few people — not everyone just yet.
This builds anticipation for when the beta opens to the general public. HubSpot provides a great example of how to run a launch campaign with a beta launch as part of the promotion.
Hold a countdown to the launch date.
As the date draws near, you need to provide a constant reminder so everyone knows when to expect the product to be available.
To do this, I recommend using a countdown. This is a simple way to keep people engaged without constantly promoting what you have to sell.
Kendall Jenner ran a countdown for the new Mango clothing campaign. This helped promote the clothing line before it officially launched to the public.
Present the product
Once the launch arrives, you still need to work hard to drive buzz around it.
There are plenty of channels to use for this, but the best channel according to Five by Five is through social media, with sales promotion and email running second and third, respectively.
Here’s how to create a great presentation of the product that drives buzz and encourages purchases long after you launch.
Use content marketing to explain the product.
I mentioned earlier that content marketing can help drive suspense, but it’s also needed to explain the purpose of your product and how it helps.
The branding voice you use in your content marketing will seek to acquire new customers and explain exactly what it is you have to offer.
According to Pardot Marketing, you can use this method to generate interest, engage the buyer, show the needs the buyer has for your product, and secure their confidence.
Look to use all of these to inspire more sales.
Show the problem clearly.
If a customer doesn’t know why he or she needs your product, you’ll have a difficult time selling it to them.
With the launch of Microsoft Seeing AI, Microsoft used a compelling video to show exactly what the problem is that the product solves.
Explaining in detail how the product helps visually impaired individuals wasn’t as powerful as demonstrating it in real time.
Give away a version of the product.
While this may not work for every kind of product, it can be a great strategy if you want to gain momentum fast.
That’s how Mixpanel was able to get a higher valuation than my company Kissmetrics. They created a similar product and offered a free version that became wildly popular.
Talk about the benefits to people, not the features of the product.
When Spotify.me wanted to engage subscribers with their analytics app, they didn’t show how the analytics worked.
Instead, they showed how this impacted the user.
Make sure you show the benefits to the user in your explanation, not just the exciting technical side of the product creation.
Create an explanation video.
If your product has a visual component, you need to use a video to fully explain what you have to offer.
One of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns ever, the Coolest Cooler, used a clear and engaging video to explain the features of the coolers.
This is a great way to explain the product to new customers and, if it’s funny and helpful, it can encourage shares.
Use multiple channels.
While you could just choose the single-most effective channel for your marketing efforts, you’re better served to use different channels that reach different segments of your audience.
According to Pardot Marketing, you can create a flow of content marketing by using different types of content and different channels.
Don’t let your marketing go to waste by failing to use the right channel at the right time.
If you have a new product you’re looking to launch, you need to be wary about the strategies you use to get it on the market.
If you’re not careful, you can create an awesome product that disappears because there wasn’t enough drive when you started the launch campaign.
Don’t do this.
Plan ahead and have a set of tactics ready to go. The strategies included in this article are a great place to start, but be creative.
There’s nothing wrong with trying a variety of tactics and seeing what works best.
Focus on the areas you see the most growth with, and quickly direct your efforts away from strategies that aren’t building a lot of traction.
With some foresight and strategy, you can create a tidal wave of excitement about your creation before it’s even available for sale.
How will you create a buzz when you launch a new product?
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