In a previous life, I worked for a small company that released as many as five new products a year. As the product launch lead from the marketing side, I was tasked with handling everything from press releases to social media to emails and blogs. While I was constantly busy executing deliverables, I never knew exactly what we were striving towards – there were no concrete goals, no sales projections, and no trackable leads. This was an ineffective strategy that generated little, if any, revenue for the organization.
If you’ve ever experienced anything similar, you understand the pitfalls of an ineffective (or nonexistent) product communications strategy. How can companies ensure that their product launches will be successful and generate revenue? Start with these five steps.
1. IDENTIFY YOUR GOALS AND YOUR “WHY”.
Six months before the launch date, determine the key objectives of your product launch by identifying your target market. Be specific about what needs your product meets.
Determine what metrics you will use to measure product launch success. For example, organic web traffic, paid and organic social media engagement rates, lead conversion rates, and qualified lead rates are great indicators of product launch success.
Most importantly, you need to craft a positioning statement. This will serve as the foundation for both internal and external marketing efforts. By uncovering your “why,” the core purpose of your product, you can develop a positioning statement that sets you up for success in meeting your objectives and truly differentiates you from competitors.
2. Solidify your launch marketing plan.
Three months before your launch date, your marketing plan should be solidified. Ideally, this should take the form of a content calendar that highlights deliverables, responsible parties, timing, and marketing channels.
A master document should be created for approved messaging and terminology related to the product. Any logos or creative material should be included for reference. This should serve as the product “bible” for all internal teams and will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and uses the same language to promote the product.
Sales collateral, training, call center, and event materials should be developed and finalized.
3. Communicate with channel partners.
One month before product launch, communicate details of the launch to channel partners. Ensure that your sales staff and trainers are educated on all aspects of the project, and communicate processes internally.
4. Launch Day.
When this day finally arrives, this is where the hard work of having an effective communications strategy pays off. Marketing and communications professionals will be working hard to ensure that web pages, press releases, and social media posts are published and that no adjustments are needed. Keep a close eye on the media and news sources to see what kind of traction you are getting around the release and if initial responses to the product are negative or positive.
5. Post-launch and follow-up.
In the months following the product launch, you should be regularly evaluating the numbers tied to the metrics you identified in step 1. In addition to metrics from your marketing channels, you should be gathering feedback, both informally and formally, from customers, leads, and channel partners. Also check in regularly with internal teams to assess their opinions on the product’s success. You can capitalize on positive feedback by turning it into testimonials and continuing to infuse your marketing efforts with new content. Establish an ongoing plan for lead generation and awareness, and keep evaluating your marketing efforts for improvement opportunities.
Product launches can be a daunting task regardless of industry or company size. However, with effective and timely planning, a communications strategy can make a product launch truly successful, and ensure increased business, revenue, and brand presence for years to come.