You’ve done it. After months or even years of research and development, you’ve successfully created a product that’s reflective of consumer demand but unique in its value proposition, sure to reel in your audience and edge out the competition.
Pat yourself on the back – but know that’s only half the battle. Now it’s up to your PR and marketing teams to take this product across the finish line.
Contrary to popular belief, a killer press release will do little on its own to drive success. Executing a successful product launch means committing to a meticulous multi-phase process – not only giving your product a burst of promotion to debut with but giving it sturdy legs to stand on so it will see sustained success well beyond the launch period.
Since every product is different, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a successful roll out. But we’ve narrowed down a few surefire best practices to help pave the way toward a triumphant launch.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff
I know it’s tempting to skip right into the fun stuff, but it’s crucial that you pump the brakes and spend a decent amount of time with the nitty gritty. Any successful product launch strategy begins with a methodical, strategic PR plan designed to see you all the way through your launch. (You’ll thank yourself later!)
To start, your engineers and product managers can speak to the need they identified ahead of developing this product; use this insight to inform further third-party research that will round out your buyer persona (we’ve got your roadmap for that process right here.) Surveys and focus groups can be another great way to identify what challenges customers want this product to solve, revealing valuable contextual information that can help significantly when it comes to laying out messaging that resonates.
Engage your spokespeople in media training and get them comfortable with the concept of media relations early on. Identify your KPIs for this campaign and set expectations for what coverage you’re looking to achieve and how. Start considering logistics for events you want to produce or partake in fresh out the gate, and make sure you’re aligned with your creative team to supplement all these efforts with the necessary supportive assets.
- Stay two steps ahead with media
Do your due diligence and understand what your barrier to entry is with target media. What is getting competing products coverage? How can you meet this threshold, but also differentiate your product’s unique value?
Engage with key media personnel ahead of the launch by offering samples under embargo, if possible. This is not only valuable from a relationship building perspective, but also gives you better control over the narrative, as reporters will have exclusive access to experiment thoroughly with the product and ask questions freely without the pressure of an impending deadline rushing things along.
Before any outreach, embargoed or otherwise, try to get some hands-on experience with the product yourself. The product manager or the engineer can tell you one thing about what the experience is going to be, but certain intended functions can be less obvious for the end user. Airfoil encountered this situation when preparing to launch our client Big Fig’s line of adjustable bed pillows: this product is designed to be manipulated to each customer’s ideal level of firmness, but after several product testers revealed they were unaware of the customizable nature of the pillows and had poor first impressions of their base-level firmness as a result, we knew it was critical to drive this point home with media.
Finally, don’t underestimate the value of a thorough reviewer’s guide. Call out those key benefits, clarify any less-than-obvious features and clue reviewers in on exactly who this product is intended for, so they evaluate it through the right lens. Anticipating reporters’ needs from a multimedia perspective is also a good move – have high-res images and/or b-roll of your products on a white background, in a lifestyle case, and/or from multiple angles on stand-by.
- Identify ways to lift the product off the page
Any time you can showcase your products in action, the better. Tradeshows can be a great avenue for this: When Airfoil visited CES to promote our client Parrot's new drone, we pre-programmed a collection of drones to perform a synchronized, choreographed dance right there on the showroom floor. The response was overwhelmingly positive – in a sea of relatively similar looking booths, how could you look away from a group of dancing robots?
Some products are less easy to demonstrate at a convention – but don’t let this deter you from getting out there. Identify creative ways to simulate user experience on the showroom floor; and get as surgical as possible with which reporters you approach and how. (Read more on how to maximize your tradeshow presence in our CES blog!)
- Evaluate what worked and what didn’t
Reach and share-of-voice are the standard baseline measurements, but there are plenty of other considerations to make when evaluating how your product launch went over.
In addition to the number of placements, what percentage of coverage leaned positive versus negative? How much of this coverage included the key messages you outlined in step one of this launch?
Getting a placement in a Wall Street Journal-level publication will surely feel good – but that’s not always the best meeting point between you and your target audience. How well have you penetrated the media your ideal customers are tuned into? Which placements and affiliate links are introducing the most traffic to the shopping site?
- Keep up the momentum
Sustain the hype you generated throughout the launch period by identifying ways to keep your product competitive in its space. Amplify the coverage you’ve gotten; nurture the media relationships you’ve forged and keep a pulse on relevant holidays or industry trends that might present a window to earn new story placements. If there’s an upcoming product roundup that your product fits the bill for, make sure to pull out all the stops to reinforce its value to your audience, well after the launch.
Looking for a media relations partner with experience and expertise to help your product launch with an impact? Reach out to learn how Airfoil Group can support your team today.