A lot of what marketing departments do on a daily basis may be focused on continuing to nurture demand and build brand affinity, but when the time comes to bring a new product to customers, nothing takes greater priority.
For those in the sales department, a new product may not mean much until after the launch, when they can actually go to customers and use it as part of their pitch. The same goes for customer service teams, who may spend much of the pre-launch time simply making sure they’ll know how to deal with any glitches users might encounter.
It’s different for the marketing team. A product launch not only represents a “peak period” in terms of their activity -- it also serves as a sort of showcase for the unique value they bring to the company. If the product launch is successful, it can lead to new revenue and new perceptions about the organization. If the product launch goes badly . . . well, let’s just say it’s not going to make life for those in the marketing team any easier.
One of the big challenges with any product launch is all the competition. Given the global reach of the web, there are bound to be multiple product launches on any given day, all from companies that believe theirs is the one that should really get everyone’s attention. That’s why it’s not enough to make the announcement through a single channel, but to develop a launch strategy that makes creative and strategic use of multiple different content marketing assets, all managed within tools like Marketing Cloud.
If you can tell a compelling story about your new product with each of these tactics, you stand a much better chance of launching something that positions your product’s rollout for long-term success.
In the old days, most companies issued a press release when they were launching a new product. You can still do that, but it makes just as much sense to leverage whatever kind of audience you’ve built through your company blog. The post can be bylined by your CEO or another senior person on the team, but think through the “storyline” that makes the most sense for this medium.
Beyond announcing the new product, for instance, how might you use a blog post to offer greater insight than a traditional press release would allow? Talk about the genesis of the product, what kind of challenges the firm might have overcome to create it, or how it might change the way you talk about your firm’s mission, vision and values.
Better yet, write the post from the customer’s perspective. Start with the key pain point or challenge your industry is facing, and how direct feedback or insight you received from customers at events helped shape the feature set the new product offers. If you have strong reference customers, skip the canned quote that’s often included in a press release and ask them a real question about how they might use the product and why.
Take advantage of the more personal, conversational nature of a blog post and show your audience what kind of customer experience you hope to build around the new product.
A lot of companies make the mistake of sending out e-mail messages to their database with little more than a message that reads, “WE HAVE A NEW PRODUCT!” and hope their audience will care.
Instead, think about the journey on which you could take your audience through a special version of your e-mail newsletter. The body copy could simply be the first few paragraphs of the blog post, for instance, with a link to the full offering at the end. From the blog post, they might have a call-to-action to click through to a demo video or register for a webinar. Whatever you do, don’t just look at e-mail as something where you try to shove a message in your customers’ faces.
Another approach could involve linking to helpful background information, such as third-party market research reports that validate your thinking in launching a product in this category, or recent media coverage that references the pain points the product is addressing.
As with e-mail, the content you create for social media channels like Twitter and LinkedIn need to do more than simply tell people you’ve launched a product. Get immediately into the “why” subjects, such as why the industry is facing a particular challenge the product can help solve, or why your company is entering into a category that customers may not have expected.
Every social post should have a call to action of some kind, with the simplest being to check out other assets developed for the launch. A tweet can end with a link to the blog post, for instance, or a LinkedIn post can suggest they download an eBook. Also, think about how you might get influential people in your industry discussing your product launch by using the real-time nature of social platforms to have a Twitter chat, or maybe shooting a roundtable-style video that gets posted to LinkedIn.
There’s no hard-and-fast rule, but generally speaking the more you get into long-form content, the less the content should be about the product launch itself than the business problem it addresses. This is particularly true of an eBook. Nobody’s going to want to download something that feels like a glorified product brochure (which are assets your sales team should already have up their sleeves, by the way).
Instead, think about the bigger picture. If your product helps customers in a sector like financial services save time, for instance, your eBook might want to look at the changing role of the typical customer in that sector and dig deeper into why they are facing tighter deadlines than ever before. You can still talk about the new product in the eBook, but it will feel like a more natural point to make when it’s part of a bigger discussion.
Some customers would much prefer to watch something than to read something. If you’re launching a product that you can actually show in action, you’re one of the lucky ones.
For other firms, animation might be a way of creating a sort of “living infographic” that walks people through the basics of why the product is necessary and how it works. If that sounds too expensive, turn the camera on some of your internal subject matter experts so they can talk about what they’ve personally seen and heard in terms of the challenges the new product could help customers overcome.
Make sure these assets don’t necessarily sit in isolation but reference and link back to each other, giving customers the maximum choice of what to consume. Also think of how you might create iterations or versions of the content that talks about a specific vertical market or customer role. The more you can personalize, the better.
Post-launch, think about things like webinars and live events that will not only allow you to capture sales leads, but to get real-time feedback on the messages customers have been hearing so far, and to delve into more complex questions with greater depth.
And of course, track everything in Marketing Cloud, because the data you capture from this product launch will only make your next one even stronger.