The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
Play up your product's successful history
Not everyone wants the latest and greatest. In fact, there are different customer types all over the product adoption curve that you can reach with a different positioning strategy. Your older product should position itself based on the number of customers you have had, case studies, testimonials, warranty coverage, online reviews, and anything else that communicates that your product is proven.
Explain the business value
Often the latest tech isn't what the customer needs -- yet. When the printing press debuted during the Renaissance, it was too slow to get news to people fast enough, so the press reverted back to pen and ink until printers got faster. This repeats itself in the digital age. It's about what drives business value, not pizzazz. Brands want to know a product will make back every dollar they invest and more.
Put it on clearance
There's no sense in spending precious resources marketing products that customers don't want. If you're sitting on old products, get rid of them as soon as possible via a clearance sale. Then focus the remainder of your time marketing your newest and greatest products. Always get people anticipating what's coming up soon so that you build a customer base of repeat and enthusiastic buyers.
Target brand influencers
Target your brand fanatics, the people who take the time to learn about new features or improvements and want to enthusiastically share their knowledge within their spheres of influence. They will be your representatives in a world where old tech is tossed in the bin without a second thought. Give them an incentive to try the second-generation product and encourage them to share their experiences.
Pick a new name
While specs and features tell consumers about the updates to a second- or third-generation product, nothing captures their attention like a catchy new name. You can choose a sequential naming strategy like Apple or PlayStation has adopted for its products, or consider a complete name change. Sometimes consumers feel that a sequential naming strategy means you've worked out the bugs.
Market through video content
We find that creating effective and engaging video content for a third-generation product is a good way to educate customers on the benefits of the product and showcase how well it still works. With video, you can show your target audience that this product has history to back it up and quality that has outlasted competitors over the years.
Add some color
One of the ways that Apple, Dell, and Amazon have taken old products and made them relevant again is by adding color options. In the earlier days of personal computing, all computers (whether IBM or Apple) were basic white until Steve Jobs and Apple came out with the colorful iMac series of computers. Dell eventually followed and Amazon recently started offering its Fire tablet in colors.
Redesign the outside
For economical purposes, the Swiss watch industry keeps mechanical movement designs the same for very long periods of time. To solve the latest/greatest problem, watch companies keep the mechanical movement the same but redesign the watch case every year with tremendous success. This approach can be used for all products; change the appearance of a physical product and change the interface of a software product.
Emphasize timeless quality
Tying a track record to value is easy to do. What wasn't better in the old days? Cars were classier, houses were classier, movie stars were classier... it goes on and on. There's a lot of value in tradition, but there's more to it than that. It's not just about nostalgia; it's about quality.
Highlight lower costs
In a world where everyone is trying to save a dollar, the easiest way to market a second- or third-generation product is to lower its cost while maintaining its value. If the consumer sees an older product with the same features as the newer one but at a significantly lower price, they are highly likely to purchase that older model.
Bring on paid spokespersons and celebrities
If you want to get attention these days, one of the best ways to accomplish this is through celebrity recommendations. You don't need to go after big name celebrities that could cost millions, but instead go for YouTube and internet stars at a fraction of the cost. Best of all, they have great online reach!