A product launch is often a much-anticipated activity in business circles, especially for entrepreneurs in the tech space. A product launch is not a case of something falling out of the skies. It is mostly applicable when you have spent time developing a product, whether physical or digital, and are now ready to take it out to the consumers.
So, do you just take it to the market? Do you just put the app on the playstores, and expect the download numbers to start climbing? Do you just send your product to the store shelves, and expect that consumers will see it and just decide to buy it in dozens?
No, you don’t.
Check out some of the top international brands you admire. There are almost always a line-up of activities building up to the product launch. While you may not have as much funds to invest in pre-launch activities and Publicity, there is a whole lot more you can do. In fact, there is a lot to be done and they do not all involve funds.
Define your target audience and how you intend to reach them with your product.
You should have defined your target audience before even designing your product, so in the pre-launch phase, what you are trying to do is really define how you want to reach them with your product. This will largely determine and influence your messaging and marketing approach, because the language, channels and information suitable for one demographic may not even be appropriate for another.
Imagine having a product targeted at pre-teens, and having another product targeted at adults (25-45 years). Nothing about the two product launches would be the same. From the choice of marketing channels, the language and even the product packaging, each product would have to be uniquely targeted at its audience.
Also identify how you want to reach the audience physically with your ads, and mentally and psychologically as well. People mostly make purchase decisions based on emotions, not necessarily logic. You should understand the mind of your audience, and how to get them to take the required action.
Prepare your Go-to-market campaign
Before the product launch is the right time to prepare your Go-to-market campaign. It could have a line-up of activities from months before the launch, building up anticipation till the actual date. You could decide on activities to spike curiousity and interest in your launch. Your campaign may include interviews and PR publications here and there, perhaps touching on the pain points your product wants to address, or merely keeping the conversations on going.
A good example would be the Etisalat launch in October 2008. In the months preceding the launch, the campaign started with a poster of sealed lips on major media channels including billboards on highways across Nigeria. In the following months, the zipper opened gradually until the launch date on 23rd October 2008, when the first call was made from an Etisalat mobile line. The tagline ‘Etisalat, Now you are talking” suddenly put a meaning to the sealed lips which had tickled a lot of curiosity in the buildup.
You may not adopt a similar approach, but the idea is to have a plan. Don’t go to the market to launch a product without telling people about it.
Understand The Buyers Journey
This can become the basis for all your marketing event? Who does the customer go to and who are they listening to when they have that problem (pain point)? Is there an influencer you need to engage? Is there a website or mall your customers visit regularly? How can you get your product to these places and people?
If you do not understand your buyers journey, from the point they discover and promotion activities. What is the specific event that triggers a purchase? Is it a single event or series of they have a problem/pain to the point they make the actual purchase, how would you know where to meet them? Or at what point in that journey your message would be most effective.
Secure Your Online Identity
This may sound a tad funny, but it actually is more serious than you think. There are numerous cyber squatters just waiting to take advantage of you, your brand and the product you are about to launch. Before you launch your product anywhere (offline or online), ensure to secure your product from trademark, to domain name, and even social media account.
You don’t want to spend ridiculous prices to buy back your domain, or have to hang your product on a .net website, simply because the .com has already been taken over.
Create A Beta version for testing and offer Free Trial
Now this tip is important to get you all the feedback you need before the official launch. When done right, this product demo and free trial stage can let you know how the market will receive your product. For physical products, this can be applied as well. The idea is to get your product into the hands of willing consumers, get them to try it out and give you their feedback. Experts would say “test it until it breaks and then test it some more”.
You can draw from users feedback on their experience, to make major and minor fixes before the official launch. The users would become interested in the product as well, especially if it delivers on its promises. By the time you do the official launch, you would already have reviews, and possibly some brand loyalists for your product.
Bonus – Create a checklist
There’s so much more you can do while preparing for your product launch, but you should avoid being a ‘me too’ brand. You do not have to replicate what the competition has done. Create and stick with your unique product campaign and you will stand out from the rest.
As you outline all you need to do before your product launch, a checklist can help make sure you leave nothing out.