Have you ever heard of a Pet Rocks? I’m guessing you have because it was a total phenomenon in the mid-70s. Like Disco, except with rocks.
For the uninitiated, Pet Rocks were collectible rocks (yes, rocks) that were marketed as pets. They came in cardboard boxes with straw beds and holes for breathing. The guy who came up with the idea, Gary Dahl, became a millionaire in a year.
The fad didn’t last long, and they were soon just some novelty that people remembered with equal parts fondness and confusion.
Dahl may not have been an expert product developer, but he sure did teach us something about the value of marketing. If he could go to market with nothing but rocks and become a millionaire, a well-made product with some utility can go a long way with effective.
This is probably the most important aspect of any product launch. A successful launch is the product of many individual actions happening in sync with one another.
For example, a lot of product launches will involve advertisements. Ads are really only useful if they’re directing somebody somewhere. So, if you put out ads online before you have a landing page that the ads direct to, you’ll lose a lot of the benefit of your ads.
Given the large number of tasks involved in a product launch, it’s a good idea to use some sort of organizational tool. Gantt charts are a favorite for many. These charts help visualize and manage the release of a product and see dependencies across teams. There are plenty of software options that offer Gantt charts or you can even create one with Excel.
Image courtesy of Smartsheet
You’re likely going to need one point-person to manage the entire process. They are the intermediary between everybody completing related tasks, and they make sure that everything is getting done according to the timeline.
One of the tougher parts about getting started with the planning process is figuring out everything that goes into a product release. You need to make sure you have all your bases covered, so we’re going to go through some common pieces of product launches.
Creating buzz around your soon-to-be-released product isn’t the only component of a product launch, but is sure is crucial. So, let’s take a look at a few ways to create some momentum around your product, so it doesn’t fall flat upon release.
You could pay for every single bit of attention your new product gets, but that’s probably not the best option for most businesses. There are tons of strategies to get eyes on you without having to fork over all your money.
People check their email. They check it often, so take advantage of that and use your newsletter to boost awareness about your new product among those who are already fans of yours.
Newsletters that announce new products or features are hugely successful because the audience is made up of people who have actively shown interest in what you’re offering. If you use a company’s product and love it and then see an announcement for a new product they are offering, your interest will naturally be piqued.
A product or feature announcement email should be simple and to the point. You don’t need to tell your audience everything about the product, just enough to make sure they want to learn more. Use your newsletter as a means to get people to the webpage where they can learn more or make a purchase.
Your blog is a great opportunity for you to control the messaging around your product. You get to frame things as you’d like and make sure your audience gets the right picture.
How successful your blog is in creating buzz for your product will largely begin with how popular it is to begin with. If you don’t already have a blog or you rarely contribute to it, it’s not going to be much of a boost for your product. However, if you’ve been blogging for awhile and get a decent amount of traffic, it can be a huge boon to the success of your product.
If you differentiate between your blog and your website (after all, some people’s blog is their website), you need to make sure to promote your new product on your site. This might be as simple as a “New Product Coming Soon” spot on your homepage, but just that will go a long way.
As I mentioned earlier, there are tons of ways to create buzz, so here are some other options>
- Announcement in your email signature
- Landing page
- Opt-in forms on your website
- Video demo
- Social media campaigns
If you want your product launch to be successful, you’re more likely than not going to need to fork over a little dough, mostly in the form of advertising. The good news is, it’s much easier to gauge ROI on ads than it was in days past.
What AdWords ads look like
Buying ads on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter provides another great opportunity to get your product noticed while being able to easily measure return on investment. With these, you can also ensure your ads are targeted at the right people thanks to all the data they keep (oops).
Sure you want to spend a lot of your time building hype around your soon-to-release product, but that doesn’t mean you can skirt some of the more practical tasks that come with launching a product.
Great marketing might mean a lot of people buying your product right off the bat, but if they don’t know how to get the most out of it you’ll lose on repeat and word-of-mouth business. That’s why customer education is crucial.
This obviously depends on the product, as some things are going to be more intuitive and self-explanatory than other things. For example, there’s no need to have a multi-page manual if your product is a whiffle ball bat, but unless your product is totally derivative, you’re going to need some sort of education.
When you’re releasing a new product, your entire organization has to be on the same page. That means your sales team, customer support, product development. Everybody.
If sales is saying something incongruent with marketing’s messaging, you’re going to convert prospects at a low rate. And you’ll have trouble retaining customers if your support team is not consistent with your sales team.
In order to have a successful launch, everybody needs to be working in unison. Like a three-legged race, except with a lot more legs and a lot more potato sacks.
It’s launch time
Pour yourself a drink. You’ve made it to the finish line. Well, kind of. A product launch is just the beginning of a long process which requires listening to your customers and iterating in chase of elusive perfection.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy all the hard work you put in to get to this point. So take a day or two and reward yourself for all your hard work.