As management consultant Peter Drucker once said, “Business has only two functions—marketing and innovation.” The lifeline of any business is the innovation of new products and services and the comprehensive marketing plan to support it. This post will evaluate some of the key steps to ensure a successful launch.
It is essential to develop the launch plan while the company is developing the product. Too many companies develop the product and then say to themselves, “Let’s promote it now.” Both actions are important and you want momentum with new sales and inquiring leads when the product is available. The new product planning should start around six months prior to launch.
*Develop a strategic launch plan based on goals/objectives/strategies, competition, strengths and weaknesses, marketing channels, team and personnel responsibilities, budget, pricing, packaging, features, benefits, tech and customer support and more
*Develop a tactical plan with calendar items with a three-phrase launch program (pre/during/post)
*Write all background and marketing collateral for the product
*Develop key messaging such as differentiation, value proposition, talking points, and solving customer needs/pain
*Show it to analysts under non disclosure and try to secure a quote and line up references and analyst commentary
*Line up other third-party “endorsers” such as customers, associations, professors, influencers and thought leaders
*Develop a beta program with beta customers and get testimonials
*Touch base with all other marketing, sales, communication staff to ensure timing and messaging is integrated, coordinated, leveraged, and timely
*Seek out beta product reviewers for a sneak peek/first look/beta review
*Draft a new product news release and make sure it is optimized for online and formatted for social media
*Offer it to long lead publications (and in some cases weekly press) for their book under NDA
*Get all images, photography and screenshots lined up and ready to go
*Write product reviewer’s guidelines and have in place to send to reviewers
*Line up product demo capability (software, download, access to server, etc.) and be prepared to work with reviewers
*Develop and have ready all other sensory communications on behalf of the product: videos, podcasts, newsletter, data sheets, white paper
*Ensure that a special communiqué is in place for existing customers and key stakeholders
*Make sure that all marketing campaigns and outlets (e.g. Website) and all corporate kits (marketing, sales, and press) are in sync with the same message and reflect new product mission--update all background and news material
*Develop a measuring and tracking capability to monitor success of campaign from start to finish
*Meet with spokespeople on behalf of the product and perform media training to prep them for interviews with press and analysts
*Launch at a trade show event and leverage all opportunities at the venue. Click here for more about trade show PR: <a href='http://prdialoguer.wordpress.com/2010/12/02/twelve-pr-tips-for-your-next-trade-show/'>twelve-pr-tips-for-your-next-trade-show</a>
*Develop a multi-faceted press list based on as many angles as possible (new product, the focus of the product, regional press, marketing channels, bloggers, vertical industry ramifications)
*Get the release out to all on your press list
*Coordinate media and analyst calls about new product--phone interviews, emails, tour, at trade show
*Develop a briefing book for spokesperson for all media and analyst interviews
*Broadcast and provide content and news (based on social media etiquette) to your social media channels and external social media outlets
*Follow up with all press to secure delivery of background material, images, interviews and story
*Launch press release over free distribution channels and paid (if necessary) after exhausting all media delivery from in-house
POST LAUNCH (DAY AFTER LAUNCHED)
*Offer product as a stand-alone product review and try to get involved in industry round-up reviews
*Get product listed in all buyer’s guides and back of the book product write-ups
*Write and pitch all customer win press releases: try to secure news, local, business, and vertical press
*Seek out industry awards and submit the product per specific category
*Leverage the technical details and industry solution from the white paper and distribute across numerous outlets
*Work on securing case studies about the problem and corresponding product solution
*Keep an eye on the next product rollout (minor revision, major revision brand new product, etc) and be prepared to start all over
The key to all this is the planning and execution. It sounds like a lot of work but to a seasoned professional in the field; accomplishments, accolades, and great outcomes on behalf of the new product are expected. These objectives can occur by promoting the product on a daily basis (per the plan) over the six-month campaign.
If you have any questions about this post or about rolling out new products, please let me know and I will be glad to get back to you. You can fill out the form below. If you think I missed any important steps, feel free to share your feedback.
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