While the success of a new product depends on multiple marketing and non-marketing factors, the product launch strategy plays a crucial role and requires considerable planning.
Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen estimates that out of 30,000 products that are launched each year, 5% are successful.
It takes perfect preparation and a significant degree of creativity to make your product the 1 out of 20 that conquers its target market and generates juicy profits for your business.
In this article, we will explore the most important steps and requirements involved in a new product launch planning and explain how the right type of product launch event can help your business maximize the chances of success.
Stages of a New Product Launch
Stage #1: Research and Segmentation
The foundation of any successful product launch lies in understanding the market’s opportunities and threats, as well as locating the right market segment or niche for your offering.
Market segmentation refers to grouping potential customers into so-called segments, that is, sets of customers who have similar needs and tend to respond uniformly to marketing actions.
Segmentation can be based on demographic, geographic, psychographic, and behavioral criteria, as well as a combination of them.
When segmenting the market, a boat manufacturer will notice significant differences between the needs and features of high-income customers living on the west coast and amateur fishermen from a town on the great lakes.
It’s also important to get a full picture of the main competing businesses operating in each business, including their main strengths and weaknesses.
Stage #2: Targeting
The next step is targeting the most attractive market segment based on
- your product’s features
- the segment’s needs
- the intensity of the competition
The key is to select a market segment in which your product can:
- cater to an unsatisfied consumer need
- satisfy that need effectively
- satisfy that need better than the competing products
The previous boat builder may determine that a certain design of its 35-to-43-foot model can satisfy the needs of a young, middle-class married couple in Southern California better than current competitors in the same geographic area and thus decide to target that specific market.
At this stage, it’s very useful to define your buying persona, that is, a detailed depiction and description of a person that represents your target market. This will include not just demographic information but also his or her life goals, challenges, and needs that can be satisfied by your product.
Stage #3: Positioning
Market positioning means defining the place you want your product (or in general your brand) to have in the mind of your target customers.
The goal is for your target audience to positively distinguish your product from those of your competitors.
This is usually done by differentiating your products on certain key attributes and setting your marketing communications accordingly.
Our boat producer may rely on an innovative design and a below-market-price repair service to differentiate its 35-foot yacht from those of competing boat builders.
A formal step during this stage is drafting a positioning statement that clearly describes your product, your target market segment, your buying persona, and how the product differentiates itself from the competition.
In the photo below, Calik Denim’s marketing agency partnered with our coordinators to bring a world-wide launch to Los Angeles during their Calik 30th event. We secured the 30th floor of a downtown LA penthouse to add symmetry to their concept and coordinated the launch event.
Stage #4: Stakeholders’ Feedback
You may also want to run your positioning statement by your most important stakeholders, including your product development team, your marketing team, and possibly your most trusted advisors.
It’s very important that those involved in marketing the product at all levels have a clear and deep understanding of your positioning objectives.
That’s because your desired positioning doesn’t automatically equal obtaining the actual positioning (how your target audience perceives the product).
Your product, communications, pricing, distribution, and service efforts must all converge towards the goal of matching your desired positioning with the actual one.
For this to happen all parties involved in designing, promoting, and delivering its products and annexed services must work symbiotically to shape the perception of your target audience.
Presenting your positioning statement to your stakeholders is also a good way to obtain useful feedback and do the necessary adjustments or improvements.
People with different types of knowledge and expertise may highlight things that you hadn’t considered in the previous stages. This may lead to changes in the promotional strategy or release date based on market trends.
In some cases, the feedback stage may even lead to a partial redesign of the product.
Stage #5: Go-to-Market Strategy Definition
The goal of a go-to-market strategy is to ensure that your product or your entry into a new market segment happens smoothly.
It details how a new product will reach your target customers.
First, you will have to set out the type of marketing tactics you are planning to use. These can be:
– inbound tactics (aimed at drawing customers)
– outbound tactics (proactively reaching out to customers)
– a combination of both
For example, our boat builder may use a combination of SEO (creating quality content that ranks high in search engines and draws customers to its website) and billboard advertising in the areas where your target customers tend to live.
In this stage, you will also have to decide the most appropriate pricing strategy based on your desired positioning goals and put a solid distribution plan in place for the new product.
Stage #6: Launch Date Definition
To properly set your product launch date, you need to consider:
- how long it will take to conclude product development
- how long it will take to prepare a marketing campaign
- how to take advantage of market trends
For example, our boat producer may set its launch date after analyzing seasonal trends and realizing that boat sales in Southern California are highest during a certain period of the year. That is why establishing a potential timeline for your corporate event is critical to its success.
During this stage, you can also decide whether you want the official launch to be preceded by a so-called soft launch, which would allow you to “test the waters”, assess how a sample of your target market reacts to your product, and obtain precious feedback. In the photo below, Weber Metals opted to dedicate a week to the unveiling of its new, record breaking press (see the event recap here). Each day was selected to unveil the machine to share holders, investors and partners as well as a day dedicated to the press and another to employees and the community. The production won awards with its unique concept on opening the virtual “vault”doors, which were massive LED screens on a track.
Stage #7: Promotional Channel and Content Choice
There are several promotional channels you can use during the launch of your products and various types of content that can be shared through such channels.
Your success will likely depend on choosing the right combination.
You must ask yourself which channels are the most effective at reaching your target market and showcase the key attributes that make your product superior to the competition.
For example, here is a possible multi-channel and multi-content strategy our boat manufacturer could use:
PR marketing tools: by pursuing relationships with relevant media, our boat producer could have magazines, blogs, or YouTube channels for boat lovers dedicate an entire section to its new product in the form of a consumer review. It may also use influencer marketing and invite a popular internet celebrity to host some of his/her videos on one of the manufacturer’s shiny new boats
Billboard advertising: as we shortly mentioned before, our manufacturer may use the geographic information obtained during the market research and segmentation stage to locate the districts where its target customers are more likely to live and use billboard advertisements as a form of outbound marketing.
Launch event: our boat builder can also organize a dedicated product launch event to showcase its new product to its target audience. The choice of the location, time, and tools to promote the event itself will be all essential for the success of the event and can make the difference between and mediocre launch and a great launch. That is where we come in.
Your Launch Event
When organizing any brand activation or marketing event, the choice of the right event management partner can highly increase the chances of success of your product launch. Collaborating early can help you secure ideas that will make it stand out in the market. You’ll also lock in best venues in your area (or plan for fabrication and design of your own location), develop themes, design, and production.
In addition to helping you plan, locate, theme, prepare, promote, and manage the event, the right partner can also assist in you deciding whether you want your event to be live, digital, or a combination of both, as well as making sure the event has the maximum event ROI (which is especially important when product launching).
At Event Solutions, we have organized product launch events for years and we are ready to assist you by answering any questions you may have about the right type of event for launching your new product or service. Check out this case study from an award-winning launch and brand activation we did for XOS Trucks during Fleet Week.
Stage #8: Team Preparation
It’s essential that all members of your team are adequately prepared to manage and control all the different aspects of your product launch. Our event coordinators work directly with your marketing agency, departments heads, and vendors to act as one in the pursuit of the common goal of making the launch a success.
For this, it’s necessary that they understand what a successful launch for that specific product looks like and what they are expected to do to make it happen. When we worked with NEOM on their concept launch and brand activation event, it was a group effort to drive action among their invite-only attendees.
Our example boat build will also need its PR managers, event staff members, event promoters, billboard advertisement designers, website administrators, and sale point staff to act as consistently as possible during the entire product launch phase.
Stage #9: Performance Tracking
Now that you have everything set up, it’s time to put things in motion and regularly check your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to measure the success of your product launch.
Examples of KPIs are:
- Product adoption metrics (e.g., trials, usage, retention)
- Market metrics (e.g., revenues, market share, competitive win rate)
- Internal feedback (e.g., from salespeople, product managers, and event staff)
- External feedback (e.g., customer reactions and reviews)
Tracking your performance is essential whether your launch is going to turn out successful. You will gain precious insights that will turn out to be very useful for future product launches.
The Product Launch Checklist
As you go through the various stages of your product launch, make sure your check all the items on this checklist:
- Identify market threats and opportunities
- Divide the market into useful segments by using a combination of:
- Demographic segmentation
- Geographic segmentation
- Psychographic segmentation
- Behavioral segmentation
- Analyze competitors in each candidate segment
- Select the most attractive market segments based on
- Your product features
- Customer needs
- Competition intensity
- Choose your desired positioning
- Create a positioning statement
- Run your positioning statement by your stakeholders
- Receive feedback from your stakeholders
- Define your go-to-market strategy, including
- Outbound / Inbound tactics
- Pricing strategy
- Distribution plan
- Determine your launch date based on
- Product development timeline
- Marketing campaign preparation timeline
- Market trend analysis
- Choose your promotional channel
- Define your promotional content
- Prepare your team
- Set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
- Track your performance
Make Your Product Launch Event Your Ace in the Hole
A well-designed planned and executed product launch event can be the highlight of your overall launch strategy.
A product launch event can build the right degree of anticipation and add a tone of memorability to the introduction of the new product to the market.
It can also have a positive word-of-mouth effect on your potential customers by turning event attendees into natural promoters of your product and brand.
Get in touch so that we can help you organize and manage product launch events that make a real difference in today’s competitive market.
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