Purple ketchup. Crystal Pepsi. Cheeto chapstick. Google Glass.
But contrary to what we learn from the biggest market flops, they don’t fail because they’re faulty products. Instead, flaws in the marketing process could mean new products aren’t reaching their ideal audience. The same concept applies to product enhancements.
When planning your campaign calendar, you should use the 80/20 rule: 80% of your content and programs should be prepared in advance, centered around a quarterly or yearly theme. That leaves you with 20% of your budget to respond to market changes and plan programming in real-time.
You want your customers and leads to know about new offerings and changes to products. But this requires balancing your advertising strategy with the knowledge that not every update is relevant to your customers.
With limited time and resources outside of your planned campaign, how can you most effectively incorporate product launches and enhancements into your planning?
4 Keys to Strategic Product Launches
There are a lot of reasons product launches fail. However, from the initial product development stage to your social media marketing playbook, unsuccessful launches come to one primary error: failing to consider buyer needs. An effective strategy should be focused on the customer—not the product.
- Be selective. You can’t plan a full-out launch for every product enhancement. And, launching 10 new products and features at the same time tends to flood the market, overwhelming your customers and throwing off your cadence. Timing is everything, so be selective with which updates you choose to launch and when you launch them.
- Have a customer-focused strategy. Before you even think about getting your product to market, you need to define who your customers are and what value propositions they hold. You should clearly identify which customers you’re targeting, what their needs are, and how this product will meet their needs. A successful launch will be backed by data, not by a gut feeling.
- Build consensus. A marketing strategy can quickly fall apart if you don’t have consensus across development, marketing, sales, and production. Start by clearly defining across teams which enhancements merit a strategized launch. This saves you the trouble of planning a marketing campaign for every operating upgrade and helps you strategically focus on the most essential updates for your core customers.
- Explore different tactics. Your strategy shouldn’t look the same for a brand-new product and a product enhancement. Clearly establish the core components of your strategy for each type of release. Maybe enhancements are released via email and web content targeted toward existing customers, while new products rely on a social media blitz backed by mid- and bottom-funnel content.
Maximize Your 20% With a Focused Launch
When EVS needed to launch the mobe3 warehouse management system, they started by laying the groundwork. That meant conducting thorough user research and beta testing to identify their target audience’s decision factors and pain points.
EVS also formulated its launch as a continuum, not an event. In the context of the 80/20 rule, this could mean fitting product launches into your planned campaign content for the year and leaving upgrades and time-sensitive content for the 20% bucket.
The EVS strategy created content for each stage of the marketing funnel: coverage in trade outlets and tech journals; web content and infographics and a launch video; a social media strategy and outreach, including speaking engagements and coverage from industry analysts.
While much of this content could be planned ahead of time, a core component of the mobe3 launch was front-page coverage of early adopters in selected trade outlets. EVS lassoed the power of selectivity by focusing on getting coverage of customer successes out into the world.
EVS also used ongoing campaign evaluation to reallocate resources; for example, they learned that SEO was one of their least impactful tactics. Customers researching on their own were smaller than the client’s ideal customer, so EVS reinvested resources into different avenues to more effectively target their audience.
This award-winning campaign ultimately demonstrated the core components of a successful product launch: a tightly honed, customer-focused strategy with room for reevaluation based on customer research along the way.