A new product launch event is an excellent opportunity for product design services to make a great first impression and gain a lot of exposure in the media. A significant event with a lot of fanfare attracts journalists, reporters, influencers, public figures, and industry experts to write stories about your company and what your products can do. If the budget allowed it, most companies would be likely to organize a full-scale launch event in the biggest venue in town, complemented with an extensive marketing strategy.
Unfortunately, not everybody can afford to spend hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars to host a single event. That said, a soft launch has all the potential to deliver considerable success by relying on word-of-mouth marketing, proper advertising strategy before and after the launch, and of course, a significant focus on product quality. Social media has become the ultimate weapon to create a buzz in the market, and you too can utilize it to launch a new product. The action plan for a new product design launch can be broken down into three stages, as follows.
Stage 1 – Prior to Launch
The process of a product launch starts long before the act of “launching” actually takes place. In business, especially when concerning an announcement of a new product, there is no such thing as being over-prepared. Not only do you have to address the customers, but you also face fierce competition in the market regarding both product capabilities and marketing strategy. Prior to the launch, you have at least four tasks to complete, which are discussed below.
1. Understand Your Target Consumers
While all forms of marketing-related activity have their value and place in every industry, you should never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth. It is one of the most effective driving forces behind the emergence of a new business yet is still unsurprisingly a prominent strategy among the more established companies. Acquiring the endorsement of an early adopter as well as real potential customers can deliver an impressive impact on the general perception of your product among the public at large.
The main focus here is on customers who will most likely purchase the product once it is available. Such a group of customers may include previous buyers, early adopters, and anyone who has just bought similar products from competitors. As long as you offer better features and more acceptable value for money, you have an excellent chance of appealing to those potential prospects even before the product launch. Done correctly, the benefit of word-of-mouth marketing is there for the taking.
As effective as it may seem, this particular marketing strategy does not eliminate the necessity for your company to conduct an official product release. Word-of-mouth earns you a head start along with all the advantages that come with it – for example, a positive buzz in the market, a build-up of expectations among target customers, and possibly suspense in the broader target market as well.
Part of identifying potential customers is inviting them to get involved in the product development process. Instead of simply sending them the finished product – one that is exactly the same as the retail version – you might as well ask them to be independent beta testers. It goes without saying that customers love to have access to pre-released products.
This conveys the sense that you have a real intention of launching quality products that solve customers’ problems based on their feedback. In addition, have an online survey to understand what the majority of your target customers expect. Feedback from beta testers must be treated as a form of evaluation. It is important to know potential flaws in the product before you release it to the market.
Word-of-mouth marketing comes into its own in this process, through both social media and customers’ forums online. The market becomes aware of an imminent new product launch; on the other hand, potential buyers appreciate the fact that you accept feedback and implement improvements based on that.
2. Utilize Social Media to Inform the Public
Of course, you must announce the official release date beforehand. Timing is crucial here because you should not announce it too soon or too late. Send the announcement to all the channels you possibly can, and then monitor the response every day afterward. It is not uncommon to notice that the extent of buyers’ interest in the product goes up at first and reaches its peak before the official release date.
Social media is the most useful resource available to market a new product launch. It is also the easiest and most readily accessible compared to all others, such as TV ads and newspapers. Another advantage is the way it offers a somewhat obvious, straightforward outlook of how the public reacts to the new product. For example, you can see how many views, likes, and comments are attached to the announcement post.
Those who follow your brand are the most significant prospects and probably the most engaged customers too. Make sure you reach them in the platforms they use most often. As soon as you notice the interest starting to recede, be creative and use all means possible to keep the conversation going. Use the models created by your CAD service designers in the social media posts. Have the announcement updated with surveys, polls, sneak peeks, and a pre-order option if needs be. The main point is to maintain high levels of interest right from the beginning until the launch happens. Announcing too early makes the job harder, while doing it late may prevent you from reaching the peak point instead.
A single announcement on every social channel is not likely to gain the amount of exposure you want. Follow up with a variety of content to complement the original post. You want to keep the coverage coming, so diversify the post each time with different (but always positive) talking points through articles, interviews, reviews by influencers or industry experts, video explainers, research, statistics, etc.
Every update must act as either a response to the ongoing buzz or anticipation of upcoming criticism. This is where public relations play a vital role, by keeping negative feedback contained yet promptly addressed; the same thing applies to compliments. Adjust the campaign in a way that works best for you and the product.
3. Study Your Competition
It is surprisingly easy to get so overwhelmed by the amount of marketing work that needs to be done before the launch of a new product that you overlook one important task: the study of your competitors. It does not matter how unique your product is – you still have to overcome the existing alternatives in the market. Once you figure out who the strongest competitors are, start reviewing their products and marketing strategies including websites, social media, and offline activities such as brochures and public events.
Make objective comparisons between your product and theirs to determine in what way yours is superior or better for customers. Highlight the difference in your marketing pitches. In addition to function, features, materials, and form factor, please also consider little details such as packaging and labeling. You have to be different and make a strong point of that difference. Otherwise, customers see no real benefit in purchasing your product, especially if it is in the same price range as many others.
4. Evaluate Your Readiness
Because you have invested so much in the product, it would be foolish not to perform a preliminary test. Do not overthink the method; the most useful test is to send the product to real-world users, in this case, a group of potential customers. Ask them to describe their experience, or just complete a simple online research activity. There is a tendency in every company to sensationalize a new product or particular features. There is nothing wrong with the use of exaggeration and superlatives as long as everything is based on facts.
An objective approach to testing and re-evaluating the new product plays a deciding factor in determining the success (or failure) of the launch. Have multiple tests done to see if you get consistent results. Regardless of the marketing strategy and methods, all information delivered to customers must be nothing but the truth. While the efficacy of “under-promise and over-deliver” remains open to debate, overselling is certainly a bad idea. Exceeding expectations is much better.
Sometimes it is difficult to predict how customers will receive the product when it becomes available. Even large companies can still face catastrophic failures in a product launch despite strong financial investments in marketing efforts. It does not hurt to spend time on a little introspective study to evaluate your businesses overall readiness amid a new product launch. More specifically, you may want to look at these points:
- Increased demand that follows a successful product. Before launching, make sure you have a plan to access a more capable manufacturing facility.
- Staffing or supply lines to sustain professional customer support.
- Immediate growth thanks to larger market share with the newly released product.
- Availability of after-sale services.
If your company is still lacking in any of those points, postpone the launch date until all the required resources are ready for use. At the very least, establish a plan for how you would acquire the resources prior to sending the product to the market.
One thing to be aware of with internal evaluation is the seemingly unavoidable temptation to overlook negative results. When it comes to a new product launch, companies will naturally want to get it done as quickly as possible for the sake of being the fastest to arrive at the market. However, overlooking poor outcomes after every test can put the product, or the company in general, at risk.
Remember there is no “perfect” product; everything has a downside – no matter how small it is – that some customers will notice. Sending out a product that fails to deliver what it promises to do will create a backlash. Even worse, competitors can use even the slightest inaccuracy in your marketing to bring about irreversible damage your company’s reputation.
Stage 2 – Launching
Most marketing pitches from 3D modeling companies carried out during the pre-launch stage. When the big day comes, you have very little time to make final preparations, so make sure that the following points have been in the works for quite a while and are ready to deploy immediately.
1. Make It Big
The ideal choice is to conduct the launch at a major event. Let us take a look at how Apple often does it. When the company launches a new smartphone or tablet, you don’t just see an unfamiliar person reading a press release in front of a mall building. Instead, it stages an entire big event around the launch, attended not only by fans but also reporters and even the company’s executives. Back in the day, Steve Jobs took the stage and demonstrated the product to the whole world. Apple makes a big deal about its product launches, and no one says you cannot do exactly the same thing if you have the budget of course.
Holding a major event, however, is not for everybody, although it is certainly the first impulse when launching a product. Unless the product is in fact groundbreaking in a lot of aspects, it can be difficult to get people to enthusiastically attend. Your new product may not be a device to reverse climate change, a true 3D computer operating system, an affordable version of Google Glass, or a vacuum cleaner smarter than Roomba, but that does not mean you cannot organize an event that attracts a lot of people. A combination of a good social media marketing strategy and deep understanding of your target customers should help you create a lot of buzz and draw crowds for the product launch.
If a big event is not possible due to financial reasons and other issues, at least host it online. A virtual event can be as interactive as anything done in the physical world. It may even attract more visitors given the event is accessible on mobile devices. Some services allow for a vast array of customizations to the event regarding theme, venue, or space, so that it looks like you’re hosting it in any specific spot in the world.
A virtual event does not require registered attendees to visit any physical address to attend, potentially saving them thousands of dollars’ worth of travel expenses. An affordable alternative is to host a live video on social media or a chat session on online forums. You may not have as many people joining the event as you expect, but these platforms keep that particular event up and running all the time for everybody to access as they like at a later date. While initial exposure may be below your expectations, continuous marketing can pile up more audience in the long run.
2. Have an Influencer as a Representative
Your company decides the content of all advertisements for the product. Even if you are truly honest in every ad (as you should be), some customers will always know that your words are clouded with bias. Spokespeople, more specifically industry experts and influencers, are at another level of trustworthiness in customers’ minds. As long as the influencers present themselves with professionalism, they have a greater chance of attracting potential buyers and perhaps turning skeptics into believers. In this modern age of marketing, reputable, independent online reviewers should be shortlisted as potential spokespeople. The more popular they are, the better exposure you gain.
A launch event by a startup company, hosted either virtually or in the real world, can benefit from having popular public figures as product presenters – ones who demonstrate what the product can do. People hear about those people more often than they do your company, and their opinions are much appreciated by their followers. Famous spokespeople will not change how the product performs in any way, but it adds the much-needed credibility when presented in fun, engaging manner by familiar faces.
Popularity is not the only thing to consider because you also have to take expertise into account. For example, if you are launching a cosmetic product, hire a makeup artist to do the talking; if it is new cookware, hire the most popular chef in town to demonstrate its functions and features on stage; for a new power tool, ask a famous online DIY-er to handle the presentation. Hiring “big name” celebrities costs a lot of money, so if the budget is tight, hire micro influencers – whose opinions are largely considered objective – instead. Opinions from “experts” have credence.
Your collaboration with a credible group of influencers in the beta-testing phase also gives the audience a good reason to go and join the event. Not only do the influencers provide constructive feedback useful for product development, but they also help spread the word. In some cases, influencers may take the liberty to act as a company’s representative by answering their followers’ questions about the product too. When “key figures” are talking about your product in the media, you can think of it as a trial product launch.
Some people are regarded as influencers because they have the power to inform and persuade many others to do something. Working together with bloggers, socialites, online celebrities, journalists, and others who have large numbers of followers is a great way to generate excitement about the product long before the release date. Positive content from influencers increases their followers’ willingness to stay up to date with how the product develops until it is officially launched.
3. Shift Focus to the Most Effective Social Channel
In the pre-launch phase, you use a lot of social channels to inform customers nearly everything they need to know about the product, including what they can expect from it. Some channels may gain a lot of attention, while others have not performed as effectively as expected. During the launch, shift your focus to one or two specific media channels with the most intense customer engagement.
Inform the audience that you will be taking questions on those specific channels. This makes your job easier without losing the benefit of online exposure. If possible, have people – those with vested interests such as investors, beta-testers, and influencer partners – to do the same thing and provide assistance in communicating with a curious audience. Basically, use all means at your disposal to make the event as big as it can get with the available budget.
Stage 3 – Launch Aftermath
A new product launch starts with an announcement and is followed by frequent updates about feature improvement, influencers’ testimonials, test results, and everything else to gain more exposure. You are trying to keep the momentum and build up excitement right from the beginning to the actual launch event. After the event, however, there is still work to do.
A successful launch does not automatically translate to a successful product. A lot of companies make mistakes by focusing all their energy on both the pre-launch and the launch event, but then ignore the importance of the post-launch phase. To keep the momentum rolling, stay in communication with customers through social media. Sprinkle messages and retain collaboration with influencers over a long period. Show the buyers that you care about their experience and appreciate feedback, including harsh criticisms.
Now that the product is officially released, make sure that more people have easy access to it. Post detailed information about specifications, how-to-use articles, positive reviews, and videos demonstrating the product being used by real buyers. Do not hesitate to ask them about their experience; positive and negative reviews are nothing unusual, but the good thing is that you can use those stories as part of further marketing strategy. Marketing generally plays a bigger role in attracting new buyers, and this time you can take advantage of existing customers’ stories to generate more sales. Once again, avoid overselling but address negative criticisms with respectful responses.
Analyze the results of your efforts based on sales data and product reviews. Figure out what aspects of the product are considered positive and those regarded as flaws. This is where you can see if there was anything that you ignored or failed to anticipate in the plan. Make a report and be committed to making improvements. At some points, customers will lose interest. Your advertising campaign has become a little bit stale, too. Your marketing strategy, therefore, needs to change. As long as you keep track of the campaign, you will immediately notice which parts lose their effectiveness and replace them with something fresh.
Sometimes it is not your fault at all because changes in market trends may also render your product out of date anyway, as customers have better, more modern alternatives to choose from. Competitors are always trying to outperform you; they are always in the process of creating something better and more attractive to shift customers’ preferences. Be prepared to deal with this challenge because your product will eventually reach its course. And when it is time to organize a newer product launch, you have all the data you need to make it even better than before.
Cad Crowd Can Make Your Product Launch Easier
If you’re in the process of launching your product or are simply looking for help getting your product started, let us help. We have a network of 3D modeling designers and CAD services ready to help. Using our 3d models in your marketing efforts will help you impress investors and potential clients. If you’re interested, get in touch with us for a free quote today.