If you work in technology, you’re familiar with the hype around a new product launch. Hardware product launches these days are made for the digital world, and that means throwing out a press release with a bulleted list of features and specs won’t cut it if you want your product to gain any real traction. Ninety-five percent of new products fail, and while a wide range of factors can influence success or failure, you’ll want to make sure a poorly planned launch isn’t a factor that brings your product down.
“Hardware product launches these days are made for the digital world, and that means throwing out a press release with a bulleted list of features and specs won’t cut it.”
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At Bonfire, we’ve learned from experience—including helping one of the country’s largest chipmakers promote numerous products—that meticulous planning is key for launch strategies. We’ve also learned you need to work hard to get people’s attention in a crowded field.
Effectively launching a new product requires some kind of demo—at a live in-person event, as part of a webinar, or even via a live social AMA. People want to be a part of the process, and a demo or live announcement enables that.
No matter what methods you use for your launch, you need a comprehensive go-to-market plan to keep things on track, prepare for hiccups, and make sure you hit your KPIs.
1. Set goals and select KPIs
Step one is really important: Determine what you want to achieve with your product launch. What would you and leaders at your company consider success? Do you want a certain number of sales? Leads? Website traffic? Press attention? Share of voice on social media during an event?
Your goals for launch will obviously be tied to the outlets you choose. Select the channels that make the most sense for your product and your intended audience and plan your KPIs accordingly. Once you’ve established what you need to accomplish, you can create detailed tactical plans.
2. Create a seamless experience
You want to catch people’s attention with your product launch, but not for the wrong reasons. An all-too-common mistake for businesses during a launch is not having their digital presence ready when a product goes to market. Imagine what happens when someone hears about your new product, heads to your website to learn more about it, and your landing page isn’t updated. Not a great situation, right?
Your website needs to be up to date and create a consistent experience. The same goes for all the content you’re using, whether you’re posting on social media, running ads, publishing a blog, or creating a video.
The types of content you should consider creating include:
- Pre-launch social media posts
- Press releases
- Website landing pages
- Blogs about features and specs
- Video teasers
- Sales sheets
- Post-release resources like case studies
You have plenty of options available to you, but don’t feel like you should use all of them. You only need the assets that will resonate with your audience. Once you decide what those are, prepare them ahead of time and deliver a clear, consistent message.
To make sure everything is ready on time, it’s wise to have an internal launch calendar for the months and weeks leading up to the event. Start by setting your launch date and working backward to put together a realistic timeline for everything you need to complete.
3. Align your teams
We’ve all heard the saying “Everything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Hopefully, that won’t actually be the case for your launch. But a little planning can go a long way in avoiding a disaster if mishaps do happen.
To get ready, make sure all of your teams are on the same page about messaging. In most cases, you’ll only have people’s attention for a short time, so convey the value of your product in a memorable way that will resonate with your core audience. If you’re releasing the next generation of a current product, you may already have established buyer personas that guide your messaging to your fan base. But if you’re new to the market, you’ll likely need to do some extra research about who you’re talking to. Marketing experts can help you with that.
To keep messaging consistent among your teams, it’s a good idea to have a central repository of information and resources related to the new product that people can reference if they need to.
Additionally, prepare for all scenarios. Someone might make negative comments or ask a tough question during a webinar or on social media. Make a plan for how you’ll address these challenges. Have talking points ready for anyone who will be interacting with the public or the media.
4. Get creative
In the tech industry—especially when you’re dealing with hardware—consumers often get a sense of product cycles and know when to expect something new. If your company releases products on a regular basis, people may speculate about what’s coming long before your announcement.
It’s easy to fall into patterns with product launches, especially if you’ve been through quite a few of them. But it’s worth trying to be creative with every launch and look for ways to surprise people. Tailor your tactics to your new offering. Consider unique ways to reach your target audience. Try something new and fun, and encourage audience interaction. You might think about announcing a new product at a local or national event. Tons of new products get launched at CES each year. Or you can even create your own event by hosting a release party or live social event.
If you’re launching a hardware product for the first time, being creative is just as (if not more) important. You need to capture the attention of people who possibly haven’t heard of you. Consider what makes your product different, its benefits, and why your audience should care about it. Think about your audience’s pain points too.
If you’re in the B2C space, what do consumers struggle with? If you work in B2B, what challenges do enterprises face? You need to convey those struggles in your messaging and position your product as a solution to them.
5. Plan for the long-term
Whatever channels and creative tactics you use during your launch, make sure you create a detailed plan that includes all of your efforts and incorporate those efforts into a longer-term strategy. The launch itself might last a day or a week, but you’ll need your product to receive lasting attention. This could mean you develop nurture campaigns, run ad campaigns, host follow-up events, or any other methods you deem appropriate.
Once a customer makes a purchase, you’ll also need to work to retain them through ongoing educational content. Webinars and case studies, for example, can help people use your product successfully. Consider creating sales enablement tools for your sales team to use going forward, too, such as product sheets and email templates to help them interact with customers and close sales.
And one last thing: Don’t forget to track your results. Armed with data about how this launch and subsequent campaigns go, you can be more proactive for the next one.