In a way, launching a new product is like unveiling a new website. You can create the website with flashy content and compelling copy, but if you do nothing to promote it, our traffic will be disappointing. In the same way, pre-launch promotion tactics set the stage for product launch success.
What are some of the benefits of a pre-launch?
By utilizing social media channels, a pre-launch enables us to:
- Build buzz around our new product
- Generate anticipation for the actual release of the product
- Get a conversation going between the business and our target audience
- Develop a quality list of prospective customers who interested in our bee products.
The conversation offers many of its own inherent benefits like:
- We can build influence and credibility in the marketplace during the pre-launch if it is well-written (or produced well, in the case of video’s) and is relevant to the target audience.
- We can make our product even more appealing by listening to feedback from the target audience and making tweaks accordingly.
- We need to listen to craft a marketing message in the audience’s own language.
A pre-launch done well can help to foster growth of the “know” “like” “trust” factor between our business and our target audience.
The size of the launch, doesn’t really matter. The benefits are so compelling that a concentration of effort into a great pre-launch is part of every good product launch management plan.
It takes a village to launch a product.
These six key areas need to be identified:
- Engineering / Manufacturing
- Customer Service
- Public Relations (often a distributor)
- Channel or Strategic Partners
Sometimes these functional areas are within the company, and sometimes these functions are represented by outside distributors (channel partners and public relations).
Some of these groups may be needed throughout the entire launch process; others may be involved only during the launch planning and implementation phase. Most launches involve marketing and manufacturing, but the sales organization is sometimes left out. In fact, involvement of the sales organization is especially critical during the entire launch process – to provide feedback regarding existing customers and identify the marketing and sales materials that may be needed for the actual launch.
There are three main phases of the process, each with several steps:
- Data Gathering and Analysis Phase:
- Product Definition
- Strategic Objectives
- The Customer
- Market Analysis
- Distribution Plan
- Market Strategy and Programs Phase:
- Market Strategy
- Message Development
- External Marketing
- PR and Advertising
- Internal Marketing
- Marketing Plan
- Launch Planning and Implementation Phase:
- Planning Process
- Launch Team
- Launch Schedule
- Launch Budget
- Launch Plan
- Launch Implementation
First There Was The Product (or Was it a Market?)
The first phase of the launch process is the Data Gathering and Analysis Phase, and the first tasks are to assess what is being launched and how much of the work has been done so far. Sometimes the initial analysis and strategy has already been done as part of a ‘marketing requirements’ document before the product was developed and may just need to be updated. Quite often, however, none of the marketing work has been done at all because the company may be operating under the ‘product push’ rather than ‘market pull’ philosophy (common in high-tech). Whatever the case, it’s imperative to develop a crisp and detailed description of the product or service being launched, and then the rest of the steps can begin: the strategic objectives; analyzing and characterizing the customer and market; a thorough competitive analysis; and developing a distribution plan.
The Strategy Drives the Marketing Campaign The Market Strategy and Programs Phase relies upon the results of the Data Gathering and Analysis Phase. From the results of the competitive analysis and the customer characteristics, the overall market strategy, positioning statements and a hierarchy of key messages are developed. The next step is identifying the right marketing programs and venues for reaching the target customer and convincing them to buy the product or service. Marketing programs include External and Internal Marketing, PR and Advertising. All of the results of the first two phases are captured in the marketing plan, along with narrative that ties everything together and tells a story. This plan is not only useful for the launch team to use as a guide during launch, but it is also a very useful document to share with outside vendors who may be helping with the launch, such as website designers or P.R. agencies.
These first two phases of the launch process are critical because they help the launch team think through the launch before the work is done and the money is spent.