From the first category-creating consumer drone from an otherwise unknown tech player, to new software solutions for small business from one of the world’s largest technology companies -- and just about everything in between -- we’ve launched hundreds of new tech products across a variety of categories and industries.
While no two product launches are the same, Airfoil starts with a three-phased approach to build a customized, integrated launch program designed to impact business results:
- Phase 1 – Pre-launch infrastructure and seeding
- Phase 2 – Launch
- Phase 3 – Momentum
The most important phase is the one most companies tend to rush through: the pre-launch phase. Here are five considerations to work through prior to any launch to ensure your product launch communications plan is set up for success.
1. Significance – What are the business objectives of your product? Is your company a challenger brand, the market leader, or are you setting out to create an entirely new category? Will this product be a significant new introduction to the market or is it essentially a product update or new SKU in an otherwise established product portfolio?
>> By taking an honest stock of the significance of your new product -- not just to your company and internal stakeholders, but to the external world -- is essential as you develop your launch strategy. Understanding this significance is especially vital when determining the level of investment you should be prepared to spend on its launch.
2. Messaging – Who is the audience for your new product? Will you be targeting your current customers, or will your new offering help you grow your customer base? How does your new product measure up to the competition? What are the relevant industry trends and forecasts that this launch will align to?
>> Before you get ready to pull the curtain on your new product, do your research to get inside the heads of current and potential new audiences. By understanding what will be most exciting to them, what challenges your product solves, and even what they may criticize about your new product, you can begin to craft a meaningful and impactful narrative that will resonate. Just as importantly, by understanding where your product falls short, you can proactively develop messaging and materials to neutralize critiques before they are printed.
3. Channels – Who are the most important reporters, influencers, and analysts to help tell your story? What is going to make them care about your news? Identifying these people early and understanding their points of view can allow you to craft customized story angles and approaches to capture their attention.
>> As much as the industry has evolved, communications and marketing is still a relationship business first and foremost. Think about your relationships with the people you hope to work with and determine the best approach for each. For those you may not know well, it’s a good idea to reach out with an introduction and some background on your organization. These early connection points can make a world of difference.
4. Creativity – What are you going to do to get noticed and break through? Think outside the box with your approach and how your launch program can go that extra mile. Creativity could come in the form of an event, the visuals and style of the narrative, the content you produce or the influencers you choose to work with. Or maybe it’s simply the pitch angle and tools used to capture a reporter’s attention.
>> Creativity should never sacrifice depth. If you’re relying on a simple press release and a stock image here, you’re doing it wrong. Provide access to executives and subject matter experts, share research and industry forecasts, develop visually engaging and high-quality images and videos that are not overly branded, and of course, make sure reporters have an opportunity to test and demo your new product for themselves. Help make covering your product launch not only easy, but fun!
5. Envision Success – With the insights gained through this process, it’s important to set realistic short-term and long-term objectives for your program. What do you hope to achieve through this launch and what will be measured?
>> Gain alignment from your internal stakeholders so everyone understands what success looks like and can rally around their role in getting there. Evaluate the results of your program early and often to determine if and how you may need to pivot or tweak your approach to maximize your results.
Whatever you do, don’t rush through this all-important pre-launch phase. By investing the time and resources in developing a sound strategy and narrative, while infusing creativity and envisioning the finish line, you will be prepared to make the most of your moment in the spotlight. Once you have worked through these considerations, you can begin the fun part – launching your product!
Ready to get started? Download your product launch checklist below.