The 5 Key Stages to Product Launch Marketing Plan Success—For Any Team, In Any Industry
Sometimes you have to wait months to see if your product launch marketing strategy was successful.
On rare occasions, you get confirmation in 1 hour or less.
In June of 2019, I experienced Marketing Director’s Nirvana when my team and I watched in real-time as our eCommerce client sold over $400,000 worth of new product in just 40 minutes on Kickstarter. (Disclaimer: This is NOT an article about Kickstarter. It’s about marketing strategy fundamentals.)
We would go on to sell more than $1 Million of photography retail product in 60 days during a crowdfunding launch campaign that was supported by integrated content marketing, influencer marketing, PPC advertising, P.R. and SEO.
In my 16 years in marketing, never have I reaped this kind of “instant” gratification.
I put the word “instant” in quotes because, in reality, getting these results actually took months of planning . . . and a dedicated team of in-house marketing staff, plus agencies for support.
Whether your marketing team is starting with millions of warm prospects or an email list of just a few thousand, careful, data-driven planning is how you win at product launch.
That might sound overwhelming, but here’s the good news: there are fundamentals that go into any good digital marketing strategy for a product launch or rebrand—whether you’re a B2B or B2C marketer.
So, how can your marketing team pull off a massively successful product launch? There’s 5 key stages.
In this article, we’re going to show you how to build a successful new product launch marketing plan for any product or service—via any (preferably several——we’ll get to that later) marketing channels.
Marketing Strategy Fundamentals
Before we get to those 5 key stages for product launch marketing, you might be wondering why an eCommerce brand would turn to Kickstarter to launch new products.
There’s a misconception that crowdfunding is only for startups. Not true. Established companies release new products on Kickstarter or its competitor, Indiegogo, too. See: Peak Design and Delta Faucet, among others.
For retailers, crowdfunding is a cost-effective way to vet a concept before investing in expensive production runs, which can cost millions. Instead of dipping into the company kitty or turning to investors (which would require giving up equity or taking a loan), the initial product run is financed by end-users.
Even better: crowdfunding can be a great Public Relations vehicle if you do it right.
It certainly was for my photography eComm client. They launched 4 new product lines on Kickstarter in 5 years, and each time they did, their brand awareness benefited from an intense P.R. splash—and lots of great authority-building backlinks. The company leveraged that digital P.R., developing relationships with influencers to break into a crowded, niche market. (There’s only 100,000 professional photographers in the United States, according to the U.S. Census—not the biggest market.)
And they grew 688% in 5 years, expanding from a solo-preneur operation to a 25-person company, landing on the Inc. 5000.
For their 4th product launch, my eComm client utilized agencies for video production, pay-per-click advertising, and marketing strategy, but also had an in-house marketing team of 11–all of us hard at work on executing our product launch plan. (Teamwork makes the dream work—more on that and identifying your gaps later.)
Here’s what went into that plan. These are the 5 key stages for product launch marketing strategy success:
- Write a Business Case
- Set S.M.A.R.T. goals
- Create Collateral
- Maintain Momentum
In stage 1, you’re gonna gather data out the wazoo in order to keep your team focused on the right marketing priorities. This is the longest stage of the process because, even though you’re prepping a product launch plan, the data you’ll be compiling will have important implications for long-term digital marketing strategy.
Stage 1: Planning Your Product Launch
When I think of the key to a successful product launch, I can’t help but think of a quote from my favorite action movie, The Mechanic:
“Victory Loves Preparation.”
Even though I first heard that quote in a Jason Statham movie about assassins, it is totally applicable to marketing strategy in general. (Fun fact: the quote is from Latin and is attributed to Roman poet Gaius Victorious Catullus. The Romans conquered the world at one point, so you should take their advice.)
If you release a new product to the market without a definitive plan, the response will be crickets.
Remember: marketing is math. Not magic.
Sadly, a lot of marketers forget this. According to a Gartner report, only 11 percent of businesses meet all their targets after launching a product. 11 percent! Yikes. Sounds like poor planning to me.
The Importance of a Product Launch Marketing Strategy
You don’t want to be part of the 89% that falls short. You’re smarter than that. So you’re going to put together a thorough plan.
Your product launch marketing plan will outline the selling ideas, activities and procedures your brand will use to introduce a product or service to the market.
With a well-researched launch strategy, you will:
- Identify your potential customers & competitors
- Describe your product offering, key differentiators & messaging
- Assess the viability of product launch strategy
- Define resources for launch
- Determine the most effective digital marketing channels to employ
The planning stage helps you pull all of those critical details into one neat package: a business case. You’re going to learn about your audience (more than you ever wanted to know!), including where they hang out on the internet and what they truly need from your product.
Plus, you’re going to define what your launch goals look like—and assign metrics to measure those goals.
Ready to dive into that all-important prep work? It all starts with a business case.
Start by Writing Your Business Case
You (your whole company, actually) needs a business case document for product launch. And you, marketing leader, are going to be a driver of it.
A business case is a data-backed justification for a product launch.
Business cases compile all sorts of important information—revenue projections, market research, product details, timelines, competitive analysis, personas and more — everything that CEOs and their leadership teams need in order to understand if launching a new product is viable (read: gonna bring in the moolah). It also contains a high-level marketing plan for the product launch.
For marketing teams, a business case document is a crucial a road map for:
- Competitive positioning
- Marketing collateral
- Acquisition channels & communication strategy
- KPIs & Projected ROI
Business cases begin with market research — yes, even if you’re at an established company. Sorry, friends: there’s no shortcuts here.
You have to figure out who your market is, and then validate that idea with data. (That’s the “market” part of “Marketing.” ) How many people want your product? And is it possible for your company to capture a slice of the pie in that industry?
Pro Tip: For effective business case writing, get all of the key stakeholders in your company involved. Have product development handle one part, marketing another and finance another. There might be other folks you need to involve, too. Collaboration is key to getting everyone aligned on realistic product launch goals.
You’ll be taking the lead on the market research and persona development sections of the business case, and you’ll likely be a contributor to or influencer of sales projections. Because, at the end of the day, the marketing department makes money.
Use Data to Inform Personas & Acquisition Channels
Persona development that describes features end-users want and the pain points your product solves are key components of a business case. (Not sure how to build effective personas? Now’s the time to get on that.)
Nailing your personas, or target audience, by making them super-specific is the key to saving a lot of time later when you start creating sales and marketing collateral. Without well-researched personas, you’re throwing spaghetti at a wall and seeing what sticks.
You may think you know who your audience is, but without clearly defined personas and an understanding of where they shop and how to talk to them so you demand their attention, you won’t hit your revenue goals. (Don’t believe me? I’m gonna refer you back to Gartner: only 11 percent of marketing teams hit their product launch goals.) A big part of the business case focuses on this.
Once you have accurate, well-researched personas, you can zero in on the best acquisition channels, copywriting, design, UX and public relations for launch. You’ll need to do qualitative and quantitative research to accomplish this.
Gathering Quantitative Business Case Data in Google Analytics
The first place you’re going to look for quantitative data is Google Analytics — you’re using the information you already have about the audience that already buys from you.
Use Google Analytics to find key conversion metrics, such as your company’s average order value (AOV), revenue generated per user, how many buyers are new vs. returning, and which content on your site gets visited by “converters.”
Look at conversions by channel and find total revenue for the last year (at least). This data lets us associate indisputable, cold hard numbers, known as Lifetime Value or Total Contract Value, with our current products. Because these calculations represent what the average customer is comfortable spending with our brand, they have implications for product launch pricing. So this information goes into your business case.
While you’re in Google getting quantitative, gather data on your best acquisition channels. When you’re deciding on product launch strategy, you need to know which of your marketing channels has historically been most effective. If you’ve got your Google Analytics goals set up properly, you’ll be able to find a lot of the information you need just by looking at a few reports.
You want to allocate your launch marketing budget to channels that have given you get the best ROI historically. This is a big part of your launch strategy.
Let’s say the example below was a report you pulled from your Google Analytics account. You can see that this website gets the highest conversion rate on referral traffic. “Referral” traffic tells you the main domains that traffic to your site originated from. This is a goldmine for learning which blogs, social influencers and publications you should concentrate on for launch P.R. Check out your referral paths report to see specific websites, and click over to these sites to see how your target market is speaking about your product and industry. You’ll get insights on pain and gain points to inform your personas by checking out your referral traffic, assuming you’ve got good referral traffic (which isn’t always true – this is just an example. Your best channels might be social or PPC. Mine the data there to get those insights.)
This is just one example of a way to use Google Analytics reports to help you focus your product launch marketing strategy. You can use Google Analytics for all that traditional demographic stuff you’ll need to compile, too:
- How old is your current audience? What’s their gender?
- Where are they located (not just states, but cities — even if they’re primarily urban or rural)?
- Are they on mobile or desktop?
- What in-market audiences are they part of? (Google Analytics shows you your demo’s related interests that aren’t necessarily directly related to your brand.)
The Audience tab of Google Analytics will be your best friend for this part of your research:
Is your new product launch targeting the same demographic that already comes to your website? Or are you launching a product that will expand your business into a new market? Write that down in your business case. (Note: you’ll also need to do competitive research to create fully-formed personas, but the data you’re gathering here in Google Analytics will help you take big leaps towards defining personas in your business case.)
Before you click away from Google Analytics, use it to inform your content marketing strategy for launch.
- What are your top-performing pages? What’s your most-trafficked blog? Most-viewed videos? Most downloaded lead magnets?
- Which pages do users spend the most time on?
- Which content drives conversions that move users into each stage of your funnel?
These insights tell you what content your users actually find value in. Use this data to create more content that accomplishes the same end goals when you write a launch strategy.
You can learn a lot about your existing demo and your target market in Google Analytics alone. But there’s still more to know.
So go one step further. The more granular you can get with this planning stage data for your business case, the more successful your launch strategy will be.
Sparktoro: Prioritizing Marketing Strategy on a Granular Level—Quickly
SparkToro is an AMAZING tool for marketers that scrapes data from across the internet to identify audiences. Once you define your personas and spell out their needs, wants and desires, you’ll have all the intel you need to use Sparktoro to focus your efforts on finding the marketing channels that will make the biggest impact during launch.
SparkToro makes it 100% obvious how and where to find your target market.
Let’s say we’re launching a product in the photography space (hmm, why did I choose that example?). With one search, Sparktoro quickly gives insights on the target demo:
In the example above, Sparktoro generates a report that offers TONS of information on a worldwide audience that “frequently talks about photography.”
If you were writing a digital marketing plan for a B2B SaaS company that sells supply chain software, for example, you might start with a search for “supply chain” or “fulfillment.”
If you were a B2C cosmetics company launching a new skincare brand, you might start with a search for “anti-aging skincare.” Whatever you do: think high-level here. Sparktoro will identify your niches and segments next.
You get the idea.
In my example above, I searched for photography and got a baseline for the number of people globally who potentially make up my market: about 800,000. With that number, I’d do some of that “marketing math” I talked about earlier.
Look at your business KPIs like AOV, Lifetime Value, and revenue to estimate if the market size identified by Sparktoro is big enough. Can you generate enough leads or sales to hit revenue projections? This is a key piece of data for your business case and subsequent product launch marketing plan.
Because we want to sell photography products to a worldwide audience, we didn’t limit our geo on the Sparktoro search. But if your product is launching only in the United States, you can use Sparktoro to search a specific region.
Since nearly 800,000 people are talking about photography online, that’s a viable market for my hypothetical photography client. So let’s keep going.
Next, we learn from Sparktoro’s Audience Insights report that the biggest segments in my 800,000-person target audience are wedding, commercial, portrait and studio photographers:
This market segment data will inform the personas my team develops, the messaging we use to sell them our new product and the acquisition channels we use to reach them.
Speaking of persona development, the Sparktoro Audience Insights report goes so much deeper. You can also get insights on:
- Words, phrases and hashtags your target demo uses in their social posts
- Cities, states and countries where your demo lives
- Social networks they use most frequently
- Websites your audience frequents
- Podcasts they listen to
- Social influencers they follow & trust
- Youtube channels they watch
You see the myriad implications here for your marketing plan, right?!
Let’s take YouTube channels as an example. The YouTube tab on Sparktoro tells my marketing team exactly which videos and channels we should target with PPC advertising. We can also review these YouTube channels to see what types of content resonate with our audience and plan content production for launch. We might even want to reach out to influencers running the most popular channels in our niche.
This is an insane goldmine!!!!! (And I wish it existed when I was prepping for that $1 Million Kickstarter I mentioned. Back in 2018, we collected all this stuff manually.)
In these reports alone, you can probably already see the potential for cross-promotions, podcasting, influencer marketing, paid and organic social strategy and more. Your product launch marketing plan is beginning to materialize.
Pretty cool, right? Here’s one last example—Sparktoro’s social networks Coverage Insights:
Sparktoro is telling us exactly what our priorities should be when it comes to social media for the product launch. If team resources are limited, we know we can safely skip Pinterest marketing since photographers aren’t highly engaged with it. However, it’s a no-brainer to make sure we use our Twitter account, Facebook and Instagram profiles. We can also hand this chart to our PPC strategists to help them allocate budget to the most effective paid social channels.
SparkToro basically IS your marketing plan. It’s a must-have in digital marketing, especially when you’re creating your marketing plan for a new product.
No, I’m not being paid to talk about it—it’s just that good, and I want to scream its benefits for marketing teams from the rooftops. (NOTE: the screenshots we’ve included here represent just part of the information you have access to with Sparktoro. It goes much deeper, and we could write an entire guide on why and how to use it. Want to learn more? Check out the super helpful Sparktoro FAQ.)
In less than five minutes on Sparktoro, we gathered data for our business case that help us outline the product launch marketing plan on a high level: channels to prioritize, influencers to work with, ways to build an audience and so much more. We also got a huge sample of quantitative data to aid our persona research.
Right, that was a fun little SparkToro tutorial. You’re welcome.
SEMRush: Double Duty for Persona Development & SEO
Another fantastic tool Digital Current uses to vet the size of a target demo is SEMRush.
When we do research for our business case with SEMRush, we’ll be doing double duty: the data we gather will help us “future proof” our product launch marketing strategy by giving us a road map for SEO.
Sure, you’re going to launch your new product with a splash. But if you want to keep the momentum going long after launch day, you need to start doing SEO now.
SEO can be one of the most valuable digital marketing tactics because it offers compounding, long-term ROI. But, it takes time and diligence to execute. So start now, especially if you’re in a crowded niche where competitors are winning a majority of the click share for the organic keywords you’ll want to rank for.
But, we’re not there yet. We’re still vetting the size of our market by doing extra due diligence on SEMRush.
You need to know how people are searching for the product you’ll launch. So research high-level keywords that describe your product category. In the case of my photography client, we used SEMRush keyword research to help name our products for optimal, long-term SEO value. We wanted to ensure we named and described our products in a way that was similar to our competitors so that the target market wouldn’t have to work too hard to find our products.
After you see how your target audience searches for your product itself, go a step further and identify long tail semantic keywords that speak to customer pain points. You can use these to inform content marketing and even your PPC strategy.
Ideally, you should have your in-house SEO team or SEO agency doing this research since, as you can see, it has a lot of important, long-term implications.
Alright, Onto the Qualitative Research
Tools like SparkToro, SEMRush and Google Analytics are phenomenal for quantitative research based on massive sample sizes.
But sometimes the most important research nuggets come from real conversations with customers. So don’t skip this phase of your planning.
If you’re an established company and your product launch represents a new offering, start by interviewing your current audience. They’ll be your early adopters because they’re loyal and warm to your offers. Their voices are important because they’ve got an understanding and appreciation for the value you provide.
Interview or survey your customers to gain insight into where they’re spending time online and their likelihood to support your product launch. There are many ways to get the answers you need, but the easiest are surveys, short phone or Zoom interviews. These interviews offer marketing teams an in-depth understanding of issues like:
- How does your current customer use your product now?
- What improvements or features would they recommend? (This is a leading question where you can begin to share the product you’re looking to launch. Look at you go!)
- What problems has your current product failed to solve?
- How much would your best customers be willing to pay for your new product?
Your goal with this research is to get a complete picture of your target buyer’s wants and needs. Record it in the persona section of your business case, and make sure you address this persona’s needs, wants and pain points in your product launch marketing collateral.
No time for interviews? Use SurveyMonkey or Google Forms to send a new product development survey to your existing email list.
That’s exactly what I did for my client with the $1 million Kickstarter.
I used a free SurveyMonkey account to ask customers about the product features they loved, the type of photography they specialized in, their perception of our price/quality, what new products wished we offered, where they found novel uses or frustrating limitations and on and on and on. We offered $25 gift cards to our eComm store in exchange for completed surveys.
TL DR: You wanna know if customers will buy your product? Start by asking your existing base.
We’re nearing the end of the intense data-gathering planning phase. But we still need to do some serious competitive analysis.
Competitive analysis is a key part of a business case document, and its insights are helpful not just for the marketing department, but also for merchandising, product development, fulfillment, sales, finance — basically, your entire company has something to gain from the thoroughness of your competitive analysis.
From a marketing perspective, analyzing your competitors enables you to introduce your product at the best time and in the most compelling, disruptive way.
Wanna figure out how to steal your competitors’ customers? Use Sparktoro for that, too.
There are a couple of ways you’ll want to do this. The first analyzes a specific competitor website (or social account). Here, we’ve analyzed Adorama.com, a wildly popular and highly-trafficked photography eComm site that sells photo, video and electronic equipment.
Wow, would you look at that!
Sparktoro just jump-started our competitive analysis, identifying direct and indirect competitors.
The deeper we scroll, the better the competitive intel gets: Sparktoro also gives us a list of social accounts we should analyze to inform our paid and organic social product launch strategies, content marketing and influencer marketing.
This is some juicy competitive data! Now we can use it in our business case to shed light on:
- Pricing strategy
- Brand positioning
- Marketing collateral
- Merchandising (if applicable)
- Sales scripts and power statements
- How our competitors nail their marketing
Still with me? I warned you that the planning phase was the longest.
The last step is to see what’s happening in the SERPs (search engine results page) for the keywords related to the product we’re launching. When you check out competitor sites identified by SERP analysis, you’ll uncover the names and features of their product and service offerings, price points and brand positioning. Traffic analytics also tell you the approximate size of your competitor’s market share, and might even give you insight into their digital marketing spend.
All of that goes in your business case. Here’s what you’re looking for:
- What kind of traffic does my competitor get? Can I get a big enough percentage of market share?
- How do they acquire users? Which channels can I also leverage? (Or, alternatively, which channels can’t we compete in?)
- What organic keywords do competitors “own”? How can I name or title my product or service so it can compete?
- Is my competitor running paid ads? What can I learn from their text and display ads that will inform our team’s marketing collateral?
- Does the competition have a lock on organic traffic for the keywords we want to target?
To stick with our photography example, we used SEMRush to pull the Keyword Overview Report for the term “Best Softbox for Macro Photography.” We’re searching this term because it’s a keyword that represents our product launch offering. It’s a keyword we’ll want to rank for long-term.
Looking at the SEMRush report for “best softbox for macro photography,” we get insights on whether or not we can gain organic traction with the term and how long it will take (90 is low search volume, so we’re probably good there, even though the keyword is competitive.)
This bears repeating: When you do your organic keyword research, you should identify all of the keywords you need to compete for (which could be in the hundreds or even thousands, depending on the industry and product) and do both organic and paid SERP analyses in SEMRush. SERP analysis and organic keyword research are easy tasks for your SEO Team; this their wheelhouse, so have them contribute.
Scrolling further down this report, SEMRush identifies top SERP competitors for this organic keyword. This report represents websites that rank highest in Google search results for the term “best softbox for macro photography.”
When you look at SERP competitors, you might think: “These aren’t really my competitors.” In the example below, you see PetaPixel.com listed as the top SERP competitor for “best softbox for macro photography.” Petapixel isn’t an eComm site. It’s a news outlet. But it’ll still be your competitor in Google’s eyes for the organic keyword you need to target.
The whole world shops online, so you gotta focus hard on understanding how to compete with SERP competitors, whether they’re direct or indirect competitors—and even if they don’t sell products.
To complete your competitive analysis, utilize your SEO team to go through this process, compiling data for ALL of the organic keywords you need to target for your launch and beyond. You’ll likely end up with a list of top, middle and bottom of funnel keywords that’s hundreds or even thousands of keywords long.
If you’ve got budget for Google Ads, you’ll also want to have your PPC Team repeat the process in SEMRush, looking at reports for paid advertising insights. You’ll uncover what your competitors average CPCs, learn how they position their product in text and display ads, and gauge whether or not you can afford to advertise to support your product launch.
We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the photography eComm example.
How about if you were in the B2B lead generation space? How would you use SEMRush then?
The process is the same. Competitive analysis and business goals will determine the service offering features, price point and key differentiators your team will focus on. Find the target keywords you need to rank for organically, and repeat the process above to compile and analyze your data.
At this point, a congratulations is in order! You’ve made it through the time-intensive research that will consume most of your planning phase. And, since you’ve been summarizing it all in a business case in the Marketing section, your high-level product launch strategy is (mostly) documented.
Do your happy dance . . . like no one is watching.
Stage 2: Setting S.M.A.R.T. Product Launch Goals
Now let’s set goals and KPIs for your product launch. Launch goals should align your marketing campaign with business goals.
That’s why you made a business case. Business cases align high-level company goals with product launch objectives and marketing KPIs.
Because we took our time with the research, we know what’s possible. Now we can set revenue goals, traffic targets and timelines with accuracy.
Goal-setting and sales projections are critical aspects of product launch. This is where you’re starting to turn product launch marketing strategy into a plan that’s attainable. And it’s why you’ve gotta create goals that are S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound.)
Stay focused on ROI here.
Develop S.M.A.R.T. goals for your marketing team that show unequivocally if you’re driving revenue with your product launch marketing plan.
“Be a thought leader in the SaaS procurement space” is a great high-level business goal. But it’s not a S.M.A.R.T. product launch goal.
“Drive 200 new premium subscriptions to procurement platform in Q1”, on the other hand, could a S.M.A.R.T. goal.
Using data to determine product launch marketing KPIs keeps your team focused on what truly matters. This is how you’ll avoid getting lost in vanity metrics that might feel good and produce a few high fives, but don’t contribute to actual sales.
To set your S.M.A.R.T. goals, it’s time to bust out our spreadsheets. Yay, math!
Here’s how we’d come up with B2B product launch lead generation KPIs:
- Define the revenue target. We can estimate this, but it would be better to work backward from historical revenue, AOV, LTV and MRR. (These numbers are usually tracked by sales and marketing teams, but you may also work with a finance department or your senior leadership to determine them.)
- Determine your Average Order Value (AOV) or Total Contract Value (TCV). What is a sale worth to you?
- Divide your revenue target by your AOV or TCV. Now, you’ve got a target number of sales.
It’s really pretty simple math, but it’s easier if you’ve got the formulas at-the-ready in Google Sheets.
This is a screen shot of the actual Excel spreadsheet calculator I use to work backward from a B2B revenue target and set KPIs (Steps 1-3). At the bottom of the spreadsheet, Step 4 of the calculator makes it simple to do our due diligence to see if we can feasibly afford to support a marketing campaign with paid ads (you have to know your average CPC for that; get it from your PPC team in SEMRush. You can find your conversion rate in Google Analytics or use industry benchmarks.)
While you may or may not run paid ads for your launch, the math demonstrating how to work backward from your revenue targets to set KPIs is the same:
Now we know how many leads (or, in the case of a B2B launch, sales) we need to reach our target revenue goal and how much web traffic we need on our landing pages in order to achieve those targets.
Pro Tip: The great thing about making yourself a calculator like this one with built-in formulas is that you can run different scenarios easily. No mental math, notebook scribbles or iPhone calculator needed.
The last step to making S.M.A.R.T. goals truly smart is the T or “time-bound” element. Your KPIs should have deadlines attached. So work with your project management team to create a timeline that allows your team to complete all necessary launch tasks based on time, money and people resources.
Next, document your marketing objectives, acquisition channels, tactics and the associated KPIs in the business case. Stick to one page if you can—a lot of folks in yoru company will read this marketing strategy, and they only need the high-level concept.
But you did a TON of research. So I’d also recommend writing up a formal marketing plan that’s loaded with more detail than you can fit in a business case. It’ll be useful to your internal marketing team and your agencies.
Stage 3: Prepping Launch Collateral Using Personas
Product Launch Collateral
With your marketing strategy on (digital) paper, it’s time to make some stellar collateral that revolves around smart content marketing techniques. At this stage, you already know who to target with your product.
Write Strong Copy That Speaks to Pain & Gain: Start with a Brand Positioning Statement
Products that receive positive reception are the ones that provide a solution to an existing problem. For this reason, you should create a customer-centric brand positioning statement to appeal to prospective buyers.
Instead of focusing on your aspirations, underline how your product or service addresses the pain and gain points of your personas—the end-users. (Hello! You spent a lot of time developing personas, so put them to use. Get your whole creative team to know them, love them, and refer to them often.)
If you did your homework, you should have already addressed personas thoroughly in the business case. So let that research be your guide. At this point, all you need to do is finesse copy. The real talking points are outlined in your business case. So let your copywriter have access to your business case and set them loose on creative briefs.
A straightforward statement that addresses the customer’s pain points will give your product a competitive advantage.
I’m talking about a brand positioning statement, like these examples from some super huge household names.
Here’s one from Tesla: they’re aligning their battery-powered vehicles with an audience who values innovation, environmental sustainability and performance:
How about Nike?
They’re bringing THE FEELS when it comes to inspiring athletes of all levels to purchase high-end active-wear. They want to solve our inspiration and motivation problems with their products. They want us to feel good about ourselves, no matter our athletic ability (“if you have a body, you are an athlete”)
So, what’s yours? Root your product launch marketing plan in a visionary brand positioning statement that succinctly tells WHO your brand is, WHAT it does; WHY it matters to the target market; and HOW you’re different. (Important note: if you’re an established company, you’ve already got one of these statements. I’m not saying to deviate from it. In your case, you might have your creative team dream up a product tagline instead of a brand positioning statement.)
If your company’s brand positioning statement doesn’t drive emotions like these, it may be time for a pre-product launch tweak. To help, you can fire up SEMRush and look at your competitor’s advertising, website, product pages, and social accounts for inspiration.
Craft a positioning statement (or product tagline) and marketing collateral that shows — without a doubt — why your product or service is better and different.
Then, get ready to launch with some flair to back up your statement.
Create Effective Launch Collateral
Design, imagery and copywriting play a huge role in the success of your product launch. They create a consistent palette, making your product easily recognizable. Dependent on the tools you’re currently using, you want to keep all launch content in one location.
Pro Tip: Your team shouldn’t have to ask where the Facebook image is or why they can’t find a blog header image. Create specific folders within Google Drive, Dropbox or Evernote. An organization can be using Dropbox and JIRA to manage all project details. This way, nothing is out of reach, even when team members are working in remote locations. You’ll also be ahead of the game when it’s time to make a media kit if you’re doing P.R. Hooray for working smart!
You’ll need a variety of design assets for your product launch. Your first step is identifying the look and feel for your product design. How will you translate the idea behind it into easily digestible, compelling graphics?
Spend time with your creative team, identifying best practices for the marketing acquisition channels you outlined in your launch strategy. Rely on your brand guidelines to guide design and copy that’s on-brand, but give your creative team access to the business case so they can translate your brand into new product launch collateral that speaks to personas and is either equally as effective (or maybe even better than) the competition’s marketing collateral.
A checklist of necessary launch collateral includes, but isn’t limited to:
- Launch blog post (announcement) & featured image
- Email nurture sequences (design templates & copy)
- “Teaser” announcements
- SEO-optimized product or landing page copy
- Landing pages (or websites) that follow conversion rate optimization best practices
- Press releases & media kits
- Product photography or graphics
- Sales one-sheets
- Paid media creative (be sure to create images in the appropriate dimensions)
- Product packaging
- Social media
- Facebook — cover and post graphic
- Twitter — cover and post graphic
- Pinterest (only if this makes sense for your audience)
- LinkedIn (again — align with your audience)
- Anywhere else your audience hangs out!
Video is my number 1 on this list. That’s because it has huuuuuge potential to support a variety of marketing channels and tactics—both on launch day and in the future.
That jives with digital marketing best practices. According to a HubSpot survey, 88% of marketers say video gives them a positive ROI.
For my photography client’s $1 Million Kickstarter launch, we used video to build brand awareness with new audiences. Here are a few of the video-centric tactics we leveraged for a successful launch:
- “Teaser videos” that we emailed to our newsletter list
- Endorsement videos from influencers test-driving our product (we promoted these on social media & then created lookalike audiences for PPC advertising)
- Launch day Facebook live events with influencers (you can use these videos to create retargeting audiences, too)
- Product videos that described features and benefits & incorporated social proof (for use on our eComm site, Kickstarter landing page, and video ads)
You can see that our marketing team was both comprehensive and creative about making a diverse set of video marketing materials. And it paid off, especially on Facebook.
We saw 8X return on ad spend—advertising solely on Facebook with video. Of all our acquisition channels during the $1 Million Kickstarter campaign, Facebook drove the most traffic to our landing page. It was all thanks to strong video and problem/solution-centric copy.
But, I’d caution you: don’t rely on any one tactic to get the word out about your launch. Hedge your digital launch strategy by utilizing a mix of marketing channels.
Driving Long-Term ROI from Launch Collateral With SEO
While we’re on the topic of getting ROI from video, it’s important to mention that your videos should be SEO-optimized: the titles, descriptions, even keywords used in the script.
We already touched on this, but an organized SEO strategy, including link building, can help your brand improve its web presence, social media marketing, digital PR and blogging activities both pre- and post-launch.
If you’re not hip to link building, it’s time to ride that train: link building amplifies and augments content marketing while building organic traffic and domain authority. Take it from Digital Current, an agency that’s been link building for 18 years: this is an SEO tactic that’s cost-effective and can generate relatively quick results (compared to other SEO tactics).
Pro Tip: digital marketing strategy for your new product launch should include creating quality backlinks to guide your prospects to your product pages and lead magnets. The SEO value of this content is incredible. Reputable backlinks amplify your content marketing, helping you get wider reach, quickly and cost-effectively—on top of boosting your domain authority and search rankings. But you’re only going to get backlinks if you’re covering the right topics and targeting the right keywords.
In fact, there are many SEO lead generation tactics you can use to optimize your product launch, so don’t forget to plan for these when you’re creating launch collateral. Get your SEO and link building teams involved in copywriting and UX—these teams are experts at propelling content to a broader audience and making it more impactful on your prospects.
So it goes (almost) without saying: all that collateral you’re busy having your team create needs to be SEO-optimized and follow best practices in order to get mileage that outlasts the initial PR boost you’ll get on launch day.
So use that SEO keyword research you conducted for your business case document. You researched keywords related to persona pain points; this is where you apply that to content for long-term revenue growth.
It’s also worth noting: all of this SEO optimization is for naught if your site doesn’t have a super-strong technical SEO foundation. That’s something that deserves attention ahead of launch day, too.
Seriously, the right SEO strategy can mean millions of dollars in revenue for new — and existing! — products. And if your product or service being launched is locally dependent, my-oh-my is local SEO essential.
Launching a new website to promote your product launch? Please, for the love of all that is good and well, get with an SEO agency so you don’t botch the whole process and tank your traffic before you even start! You don’t want to lose your brand awareness when you launch a new site or rebrand. What a nightmare.
Stage 4: Make a Splash on Launch Day
The weeks leading up to your launch are incredibly important. As important as launch day itself.
Use that time to hype up your warmest audience — your email list, your social followers and any partners (who aren’t direct competitors) you cross-promote with.
What you do prior to launch creates momentum. This is where influencers, SEO, content marketing, paid and organic social media and link building can help you spread the word fast.
Use tools like:
- Recorded video
- Live video
- LinkedIn/Facebook group messages
- Blog posts
Here’s a “get hyped” idea that drives engagement: share a behind-the-scenes look into how your product came about. What caused you to create it and why is it going to change lives? Your enthusiasm is contagious. Utilize it within a live video on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to let people hear and feel your excitement.
Extend the reach of your launch collateral with paid social media advertising. There are a million creative PPC tactics for doing this.
Remember: all of these launch day activities should be backed by data and prioritized according to impact. (Yes, I’m referring you back to Sparktoro again here.)
Why bother investing in Facebook live video if your audience is mainly on Twitter? Put your effort into the marketing channels that get you the most reach.
The same goes for press releases. Sparktoro is invaluable for this. Be sure to write a compelling press release. Then make a list of relevant people or resources. Focus on those talking about and around your particular solution. Have someone on your team reach out personally to the influential social accounts, blogs and news outlets identified in your Stage 1 research. Utilize your existing connections and relationships to get PR on launch day.
Your company’s pitch will fall on deaf ears if it’s common, boring, stock, or even sniffs of a cut-and-paste job. So don’t do be boring. Be specific and relevant, focusing on the value to the audience.
When launch day rolls around, you’ll be ready to flood all of your acquisition channels at once with content that gets people excited about your new product. Make sure you’re ready for launch day—as well as pre- and post-—with a content marketing calendar that outlines your communication strategy and keeps your team organized and accountable.
Stage 5: Keep the Momentum Going
With launch day out of the way and going off without a hitch (because you planned strategically using data. Get it!), you can turn your attention to your long-term marketing strategy.
We already talked about how critical SEO is for long-term momentum, but there are other marketing tactics you can (and should!) employ as well.
Like promos. Promos are wonderful things because they motivate an audience who might not normally consider your brand — and they really get the attention of those who are in your target audience. That’s audience expansion and audience enrichment.
Here are some more suggestions for ways to keep the product launch day momentum going in the days, weeks and months following:
- Run Contests or giveaways (I love Gleam.IO – it’s stupid easy to use, amazing for building a social following & great for cross-promos)
- Use video: do webinars, live social video or make tutorials
- Give back to a charity your core audiences care about
- Utilize internal linking: link to your new product launch landing page from relevant blogs and product pages
- Partner up on cross-promotions with non-competing brands.
- Create lead magnets using the long tail keywords you researched around pain points
- Run PPC advertising
- Mobilize your sales team to gamify the lead gen process. (One of my fave B2B SaaS tactics: have your sales team offer to buy out a prospect’s contract with a competitor. It’s a really tempting offer. Just be sure you can do it profitably by retaining the customer.)
I could go on.
But the best ideas will probably come from your team. So invest in their professional development and empower them to contribute marketing ideas. A great way to do that for product launch is to divvy up the research and writing for your business case.
If there’s anything my 60-day, $1 Million experience with a Kickstarter product launch taught me, it’s that collaboration is key to a successful product launch. (I know, I know: it sounds like something cheesy you’d read on a motivational poster, but it’s soooo so true.)
One does not simply make $1 Million in 60 days—at any company—unless all departments work together towards the same goal.
As a marketing leader, never forget that you give your energy and confidence to your internal team and outside vendors. So know the value of your product, create a solid plan backed by data, then rally everyone to support it. You can do this!!!
Here’s my final Pro-Tip: Know when your team needs help—whether “help” means needing extra (wo)man power or specific expertise to cover a a knowledge gap. To ensure success, work with a digital marketing agency that knows the nuances, challenges and risks of product launches.
An experienced digital agency provides “outside” perspective and creative critical thinking that ultimately strengthens your marketing plan.
To make sure you cover all your bases and see both short-term success and long-term ROI from your efforts, leverage your agency’s expertise, innovation and creativity.
Let your agency help you create the right content for the right audience. Engage them to get you showing up in the right Google searches with stellar SEO strategies. Drive your brand’s authority and promote your product with industry-defining link building services. And get the most out of your audience with the right PPC strategy and CRO that maximizes your website’s value (and revenue).
Remember: My photography client had an in-house marketing staff of 11. (That’s pretty big!) But we still used agencies for our Kickstarter launch. We couldn’t have hit our timelines or honed our strategy and collateral without them. We invested in agencies with proven results, and we got a great return on investment.
Now, go get your millions!$!$!