Remember back in 2001 when Apple released the first ever iPod, and then they rested on their laurels and didn’t release anything else?
Of course not! Apple doesn’t just release new products all the time – they make major events out of it. And it’s easy to see why: product launches are exciting: they encourage loyalty and create that oh-so-unique pain point of want.
The question is - how can YOU add new products to your current offerings and create a buzz to get your customers excited about them? Here are some strategies to create a successful product launch:
Step 1: Don’t Come Up With An Idea...Yet
This sounds counterintuitive, but hear me out: the idea/product you’re putting out there, the execution – that answers the question of “What” (as in: “What are we doing this holiday season.”) That said, in traditional marketing, the “What” comes after the “Why,” as in, “Why are we launching a product this season?”
To find the answer, you’ll need to work backwards. What you want to do is determine what your business goals are. For instance: “I want to grow my revenue by X% this year.” To do that, you’ll need a marketing goal, such as: “I want 3x the amount of email subscribers on my marketing email.” And once you have that – then you can figure out your product release!
That seems complicated, but here’s how the basic math of it all will work out. In the example above, here’s what I might do:
(The “Why”) Business Goal: A larger mailing list will make it more likely that you can drive greater revenue this year.
(The “How”) Marketing Goal: The above will increase the volume of your mailing list
(The “What”) Product Launch Idea: Never before seen holiday centerpiece, run with free raffle giveaway if people sign up for your mailing list
That’s one example. Try it yourself – think of a business goal, then a marketing goal to support that, then a product launch to support that. It’s a game of dominos, sure, but the good news is – you will be creating a set of tangible goals with an actual game plan!
Step 2: Think About Past Seasonal Events. Analyze. And Optimize.
Whether or not you’ve given this much thought to it, you have probably done a product launch in the past. A fall wreath, a new type of centerpieces to kick off wedding season, etc.
Now what you’ll want to do is try your best to remember what worked, what didn’t, and what you would do differently. Analyzing these insights will be key into unlocking the puzzle of what your market and your customers desire.
The key here is not to overthink this step. If flower dog arrangements have sold like hotcakes in the past – sell those*! If those didn’t sell – try something else! There is no such thing as bad data, so if you know something didn’t work, that still gets you one step closer to what will.
*Your product launch can also be a variation on one of your top sellers. In the example of little arrangements of dogs made out of sola wood flowers, maybe try adding in a line of cats. Or for the winter holiday season, give your flower dog a Santa hat!
Step 3: Check Out Your Competition. Then, React.
There’s a thing in marketing called a USP, which stands for a Unique Selling Proposition. It’s a fancy schmancy way of saying: what can you do that the other folks can’t? The idea being that if your brand has exclusivity over a product, a capability, a means of saving time, etc. – then it will make your brand that much more alluring.
So – as we get closer to the holidays, it never hurts to scout out the competitors in your market and zig where the rest of them are zagging.
As an easy example, let’s say you and your competitors are all thinking about doing a new product launch around a limited-time Christmas-specific wreath. Now, Christmas has a lot of traditional seasonal colors. For the sake of argument, let’s say the field looks as follows:
Competitor X: Red and Green Wreath
Competitor Y: Red and Green Wreath
How would you make a USP out of this scenario? Easy! You do this:
Competitor X: Red and Green Wreath
Competitor Y: Red and Green Wreath
Your Wreath: Silver and Gold
Just like that, you’ve created something unique about your product that the other folks aren’t offering. Does this mean you’ll lose the red and green customers? Maybe. You could have a few red and green wreaths in stock just in case (since you know that is a customer demand) but with multiple people already offering red and green, that space can become pretty diluted. Once there is an overabundance of a particular product in the market, it usually becomes a battle of who is the loudest (ie - who puts the most into marketing and self-promotion) and who is the least expensive. Let the red and green folks duke it out while you run a monopoly over silver and gold town.
(It should be noted that color options are just one example of where you could create space for yourself. Take a look at your competitors and get creative!)
Step 4: NOW...You Can Come Up With A Product
Wait, so this blog is about product launches and we’re not even talking about the new product until step 4? Yes, that’s absolutely right.
A lot of product launches operate on a 4D Schedule, which stands for:
Discovery: Research, analysis, planning
Design: Concepting based on the previous step (<- YOU ARE HERE!)
Development: Creating the actual, physical products
Deployment: Marketing, selling, shipping, etc.
Which is all to say: a whole bunch of research before coming up with your product is not a bad thing!
Ok so – you’ve analyzed your competition, you’ve remembered past successes and areas of opportunity, and you have marketing and business goals in mind. NOW get to concepting! Blend all that wonderful preparation into a product that’s going to wow your market!
And once you’ve done that, you’re done, right? Welllll...not so fast.
Step 5: Think About Your Materials
Original ideas, cooked up in a vacuum, have a bad habit of really enjoying the full amount of space afforded by said vacuum. Big ideas change the world, but they don’t always take into account what it will cost to actually make the idea a reality.
This is where you’ll need to do a little gut check. Once you’ve come up with a product launch idea, take some time to figure out things like:
- How long will it take to produce each piece?
- What materials will it take to produce each piece?
- How available are the materials?
- Once you account for parts and labor, how much will each product cost?
- How much will you have to charge to make each piece worth your time?
Answering the above will help you focus on the realities of your product development.
Step 6: Keep an Eye on the Clock
Once you have everything above figured out, you’ll want to make sure you account for timing as well. As we’ve discussed before, holiday shipping can be its own beast. Adding in all the intricacies of a product launch makes it doubly so.
We suggest reviewing the tips in the blog linked above and trying to work backward to ensure you’ve got the proper amount of time to make everything work.
And we’ve got one final step…
Step 7: Who Gives, Who Dyes, Who Tells Your Story?
(Any Hamilton fans out there?!)
Have you ever watched the Super Bowl just for the commercials? Even if you haven’t, some of those commercials are talked about for days, weeks, even years after they air and among the most memorable, there is a common thread - they tell a story. Now, the story itself can be funny, it can bring back a memory or it can help instill a joy of the season. But the biggest thing is that it connects the customer with emotion.
Think about your story and what emotions you want to evoke from your potential customers!
How is your product a part of the celebration of Christmas? How does it connect to the love on Valentine’s Day? How will the warm glow of the fireplace reflect and dance off of your design? What does the room smell like?
If you can find a way to tell your product story while talking about those topics? Then you’ll have another problem on your hands: you’ll be sold out before you know it.
Step 8: Hype It Up!
Now that you have your goals, your new product and your story...get ready to promote the heck out of it!
Set a launch date
If you are launching a seasonal product, think about your shipping times and any lead time you need to actually make the product. The launch needs to includes a buffer of time to ensure your customers will be getting the product before the holiday.
Set a date to start talking about your new product release
This should be around 2-4 weeks prior to the launch. You want to give your customers and potential customers enough time to get excited for the launch but not too much time to lose interest in what you will be offering.
Plan out your marketing content
Do you want to show some product sneak peeks? Do you want to create a video to tell your story behind the new product? What about behind the scenes photos of the preparations behind the launch?
All of these can be great ideas to help build that excitement. Once you have an idea of what content you want to include leading up to your launch, sit down and plan out what days you will be sharing what content to your social media platforms. Be sure to mix up the type of content and be consistent! For a product launch, you likely want to post some type of content at least 3-5 times each week about it.
Put everything in motion and get excited!
Sharing your enthusiasm around the launch can be contagious. And that is exactly what you want - your customers to be engaged and excited about what you will be doing next!
Now, we covered a LOT of topics above. But with a little practice, foresight, planning, and clever storytelling, you can make a huge impact this holiday season. Good luck and happy planning!