Planning a new product launch or promotional campaign in your business? Either for your online store, or wholesale?

There are a number of essential ingredients that produce a successful product launch or campaign result.

Make no mistake – “winging it” will never give you as good results!

(As they say – if you fail to plan, you plan to fail!)

So how do you do it the ‘right’ way, then?

Read on for my 7 essential components of a successful product launch or promotional campaign

At the end you’ll find my own planning spreadsheet which you can download for free and use yourself.

7 steps to a successful product launch

Ground rules

Before you even THINK about launching your brand or your new product, there are a few things you really need to consider first.

Why did you start your business? Is it to inspire people in some way? Will using or consuming your product help people to become healthier, or save money, change habits, take positive action or ….?

Bare in mind: people don’t get excited or obsessed about products.

Now, if people don’t get excited about products, and you want to sell a lot of products, then what can you do about it?

Success happens when preparation meets opportunity

Let’s assume, for the sake of this argument, that you’re launching a new product because you’ve seen a gap in the market – an opportunity.

So we then need to focus on the second ingredient in our recipe for a successful launch: preparation.

We already know that companies that plan grow 30% quicker than those that don’t, but if you’ve ever been responsible for planning then you already know that plans take time to make. And with so many new products launching every day, many entrepreneurs feel that if they don’t act immediately, they’ll be left behind.

The other thing I see in my business all the time, is business owners who feel like they need to incorporate absolutely every single possible promotional activity and every single channel available in order to have success, and then they feel overwhelmed because it’s all too much and they don’t know where to start.

Take your time to launch your product the right way

When planning a product launch, it is vital that your promotion strategy begins before the product is released and continues not just until the end of the launch period, but right through to getting your early adopters using your products successfully.

As the saying goes, there’s always more than one way to skin a cat, so when you have your end-goal in mind you can then choose the tactics and the channels that will not only have the biggest impact on achieve that goal but that you also have the resources and skills available to execute them.

So whilst I’m going to talk here about tips on ‘what to do’, make sure you also plan your ‘how to do it’ (as in, how you’ll execute these ideas). Maybe mention my launch planner downloadable?

7 Steps to a Successful Product Launch or Promotional Campaign

1. Put the focus on the people, not the product

In the past, traditional marketing advice was to describe a product’s features and benefits. In this way, we would tell customers what our product is, what it does and why they should buy it.

There’s one big problem with this. Customers don’t want to buy something because of what it is and what it does.

In fact, this tactic has zero value with your customers, they don’t care if you sell your widget, they care about their own problem or need that they want to solve.

Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘possession is nine 10ths of the law’? Well, in my world of marketing and selling online, PERCEPTION is nine 10ths of reality.

To that end, I talk a lot about story-telling, and I do that for a really important reason. It’s through telling stories that our audience (our customers) can relate to your brand or product.

While headlines capture people’s attention, stories capture people’s imagination and help customers to see themselves in the story.

The more accurately you can describe the problem, need or desire of the person you’re selling to, and if you can speak to them about this in a way that reflects their current emotional state – be able to describe exactly what they’re experiencing right now – the more automatically they will believe you have the solution to their need (in the form of your product).

Try to impart this through telling stories – real stories, either from past customers or from your own experience.

This tactic was hugely important to me in my last business, Cushie Tushies. Because the product was very niche and had a fairly high psychological barrier to entry (cloth nappies = “hard work” and “yuk factor” for many young adults these days), it was crucial to our success that we presented ‘regular’ parents, ‘real people’ using the products, in order to normalise the product as much as possible.

Our whole tagline, in fact, was ‘Life happens in Cushie Tushies’, and we represented this through images of babies and toddlers in highly relatable situations. This made the brand and the product much more accessible to new parents and helped give them the confidence and removed much of the risk around trying a product like this.

2. Get opinion leaders on-board early

I’m going to say something here that might be a little bit shocking in the world of online marketing, and that is this:

Content is not king anymore.

Pretty sure it was Bill Gates who coined the phrase ‘content is king’ nearly two decades ago now, but in 2016 we now live in a very noisy world of total information overload. Quality content alone is not enough anymore.

Now, in order to “cut through the noise”, to connect and engage with your audience, you need a thing I like to call ‘resonance’.

Like I said in point 1 above, people don’t buy products based on features and benefits, they buy a solution to their need, want or desire.

They buy because of their own ‘why’.

And by the same token, they are attracted to industry experts and opinion leaders who share that same “why”. These might be media sites, individual bloggers, Instagrammers, even specialist retailers in your industry (if you’re a wholesaler).

So if you can identify which experts and opinion leaders your audience follow, then you might be in a position to leverage the attention those experts enjoy and the influence they wield over your audience.

By approaching these experts in advance with great content and products to sample, possibly products to give away or a great offer they can sell to their audience, you can not only expand your media coverage and generate more publicity around your product launch, but you can also expand your influence over your target audience.

These people might not have heard of you or listen to you, but they’re sure as heck gonna pay attention to their favourite blogger or Instagrammer!

3. Be Revolutionary

Or, at the very least, make sure your brand stands for something meaningful!

As mentioned above, people don’t get obsessed with gizmos, products, widgets or services. The reality is, people really couldn’t give a stuff about your thing that you sell.

Give people a reason to care, though, and then they not only take notice but also motivated to join in.

Paint a picture of a future world, a better society, or a lifestyle that inspires passion. That’s how you create true obsession and generate the desire, enthusiasm and momentum amongst your audience.

This really only works if it’s authentic to you, if it’s something you truly believe in. Your passion for your vision is what resonates most with people.

In my last business, I had a couple of catch phrases that I used in my promotions. Such as, ‘will you join the cloth nappy revolution?’ and ‘the future is in your hands’.

Other well-known examples of businesses that stand for something include:

  • Birdsnest, who promote healthy body image for women of all shapes and sizes;
  • Thankyou, who donate 100% of profits towards ending poverty; and
  • WholeKids, whose mission is to nurture healthy kids and a health world.

4. Turn your product launch into an event (even online)

Just because you sell online doesn’t mean you can’t make a big song and dance about your launch or your campaign!

If you’re a woman and you spend any time on Facebook at all, you’ve probably seen make-up brand ‘Younique’ taking off like a rocket into outta space!

Not everyone has a product that lends itself to video demonstration, but if you do, then consider virtual ‘parties’ using Facebook Live video, or webinar-style online events.

Products that work well in online events would include things like:

  • Aromatherapy,
  • Make-up,
  • Reusable products,
  • Products that are difficult to describe or show clearly in photographs, or really
  • Anything that people need to see in order to understand how it works.

Engaging video presentations can educate people, show them how your products work, and give you the opportunity to make a special offer for those watching live. (I suggest giving viewers a limited time to take up your offer!)

5. Draw out the suspense as long as you can

Hint at what’s new and coming up! Use social media, your website and your email newsletters to tease your audience with tid-bits.

Tantalise with behind-the-scenes photos of the product being manufactured, of an unidentifiable segment of the new product, or the new range in transit.

Build the excitement every step of the way! If you have a photoshoot, snap a behind-the-scenes photo to show your fans, or use your phone to take a photo of your website as you upload the new products to your store.

Post these images to your social media channels in the days and weeks leading up to your launch, so by the time you actually do launch people will be champing at the bit to get their hands on them!

6. Release a product your customers will want to show off

And don’t just leave it at that – actively encourage engagement and interaction with your customers.

Tips to encourage this type of engagement:

  • Run a competition or giveaway featuring one of your new products as the prize.
  • Run a naming competition for customers to give your new product, print or design, a fun name!
  • In your post-purchase email sequence, invite customers to show off their new purchase via social media. (Read my previous blog for tips on how to build this in.)
  • Entice people to share images on social media platforms – make it FUN! Don’t just say, ‘join us on social media’ (booooooringggg!!!) What will they find there?
  • Encourage referrals and word of mouth.

7. Take pre-orders

After you’ve finished your Big Tease and you’ve done your Big Reveal, ideally you’ll have people clamouring for your stuff.

Take advantage of all the anticipation and excitement by offering a special pre-order price. This can be a fantastic way of keeping cash flow under control and paying for production and shipping bills!

However, if you do take pre-orders, make sure the delivery date is locked in stone. You don’t want to make your customers wait for months whilst your factory gets their sh!t together!

Bottom line?

Give your campaign the best chance of success and plan your product launch or promotional campaign before you hit the ‘go’ button!

Don’t fly by the seat of your pants. Don’t launch on a wing and a prayer.

Building a business and a brand is a little bit like playing chess: You need to be strategic and be prepared.

Download my free planning tool

To help you plan your next successful product launch or promotional campaign, I invite you to download my planning spreadsheet.

Use it to keep track of all the different stages or strategies within your campaign, and under each stage or strategy you can itemise the individual tasks or activities and the time and budget needed to complete them.

Happy planning!

Need some help?

As always, if you need some help planning your next campaign or figuring out how these strategies work in your own business – give me a call!

This stuff is my bread and butter and I love it!

Click here to find out about working with Catherine Langman