By the time you're ready to launch a new product, you've done your homework, optimized the details, set your pricing and digital marketing strategies, and know where your point of entry will be. The key now is making sure your target consumers hear what you want them to hear.
Consider the following to ensure your audience is aware and informed by the time your product hits the market:
Identify your type of "new"
The way you generate awareness largely depends on how your company defines "new." Some define it as any additional SKU, which often is simply a line extension. Others reserve "new" for truly innovative products that fulfill an unmet want, need, or desire not previously seen in the marketplace (think draft beer in a single-serve can). Be real about how "new" your target consumer will think this product is, and proceed accordingly with your rollout strategy.
Be deliberate in your messaging
Promote the introduction of your new product in a way that ensures your online audience will intersect with the message. The more targeted the effort, the more meaningful it is. That being said, there is more than one way to accomplish this and, in this discussion, more than one way to position a product. Always be open to accepting alternate positioning -- it just might land you in a whole new category, use, target base, price point, or value perception.
Make it easy to experience
In the innovation world, we like to say that most consumers are able to grasp a new form or a new flavor, but they are rarely capable of accepting both a new form and flavor without trying it. So, the more innovative your new product is, the more you'll want to rely on sampling, coupled with couponing, to encourage trial.
Build brand advocates
One successful product rollout will not create an online brand advocate. You'll have to create a platform or portfolio of products that make our lives more pleasurable, safe, healthy, fun, or interesting in order to create a brand advocate or evangelist. For example, consider the iPod versus other MP3 players. The iPod was not the first player; however, it was the first integrated music platform when you combined it with iTunes. Now there's something to be an advocate for. This is a classic example of innovation versus product development. Think beyond the product to how you can connect the experience with the brand and, ultimately, the customer -- this is where brand advocacy happens.
Now that you have your action items, here are a few pitfalls to watch out for:
- Falling short on the introduction. None of the hard work to bring a relevant and rightly timed innovation to market will matter if you don't tell anyone about it.
- Having a poorly calculated budget. It's important to include adequate rollout budgets from the beginning and protect them -- that way, you'll ensure you have enough resources to tell the world you have this new, life-changing product. Simply putting your product on the shelf and hoping it will sell is a travesty (and I've seen it happen all too many times).
- Being blind to opportunity. The greatest compliment a new product can receive is the power of a willing and vocal user base. If they're so pleased with their new discovery that they want to tell the world about it, help them! There are far more of them than you can ever possibly employ. The best platform for this is online, so digital marketing is key here. A recent example of this is Chobani Greek yogurt. They are not the first Greek yogurt company on the shelf today, but they arguably have the most loyal following (and have built a billion-dollar brand in five years as a result).
So, when you're counting down to the launch of your next product, ask yourself, "Are we positioning this new product in the most meaningful way online to make an impact in our target's life?" Hopefully, the answer is yes. And remember: If you run with this consumer-focused attitude, remaining open to feedback, you never know where your launch might lead.
Doug Austin is the VP of business development and in charge of growth and innovation for The Marlin Network.
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"An open covered launch button" image via Shutterstock.