Speaking from experience, a product launch for your business is one of the most exciting yet also challenging events ever. Well definitely the first one.
Back in the days when I was a Brand Manager for Schwarzkopf Professional haircare, I managed 11 brands under 4 categories and up to 500 individual skus.
I loved the challenge of product launches, line extensions or entire brand relaunches. Right through from management strategy, budgets and sales targets, to sales team coordination, warehouse logistics and on to the customer.
Then as an EMEA Product Manager for Refractive Technologies at Bausch and Lomb I was proud of the work I did in successfully relaunching their laser eye surgery products and programs, despite not fully understanding the depths of opthalmology!
Even with all those years of experience I think I may have forgotten just how much was involved.
Taking your product into the online world
So does launching physical, tangible products differ from launching informational based products that have killer content, and combine multi-media like videos and presentations?
Well in the overall scheme of product launches no. Either way it’s quite a massive undertaking that takes perserverance, determination and a clear plan of attack. So here are my 5 steps to creating a successful product launch.
1. Set a realistic launch date
Consider what date you want your product on the shelves – be it offline or online and work back from that date.
We can definitely learn from the gaming industry who have tried and trued delivery mechanisms that ensure they rarely miss a major launch date which is critical for them.
Firstly factor in all the elements that are needed to complete the product – just scribble them down on a piece of paper.
Then add approximate hours needed to do the main gritty work.
Look at your available time between now and then and figure out if your set date is really feasible.
Also consider your strengths carefully. A product launch (especially if done all by yourself) will make you realise that you need numerous other skills too.
So be prepared to factor in more time for those lesser known skills to get refined OR outsource to Upwork!
My story: I thought since I run my own show, that setting my launch date would be within the realm of my control and easy to hit. NOPE.
I had underestimated the logistics involved and all the triple checking and just how long that takes. I’m also stubborn and a perfectionist which I’ve realised doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand with launching.
Also it’s infinitely more difficult if you decide to set your launch date for the same week you’re running a two day bootcamp, moving out of your house, selling your stuff and leaving the country.
Yes – foolish I know (the photos if proof I’m now in LA before heading to Las Vegas, San Francisco and onto Buenos Aires).
2. Know all the launch elements in advance
Product launches actually have a number of layers that all need to work together to be successful.
This includes massive amounts of content coordination, writing and rewriting, editing, proofing, design goodness, testing, testing again and then testing some more.
Not only that, but it requires you to wonder whether you’ve gone insane as you do one more thing for what you think is the last time, only to find, you need to apply that small yet significant change across all that you’ve just finalised.
When you get to the end the product completion, please pat yourself on the back – that’s no mean feat. Product Launch Elements to consider are:
Content creation and medium (eBook, video, online membership site etc)
Proofing and editing – aside from yourself who are 2-3 people you can run this by to see if it resonates and run their eyes over it.
Testing all entire process including making a payment and follow up emails and responders.
Great design – it’s a key element to making your product stand out. No budget, design skills or programs to create with? Try my new fave place Fiverr – $5 goes far here and for the strangest things too.
Distribution – how many places will you be promoting your product (I speak to this below)
Payment – are you using PayPal, 1ShoppingCart, e-junkie or some other form of payment’s processor?
Affiliates -considered a dirty word for too long in the online world, I’ve come around to recognising that anyone who supports my product should be rewarded. Have you got a way to do that? Here’s mine.
3. Marketing is 80% of what it takes to succeed
Even as a marketer in my former career, there’s always something to learn. The most important thing is ironically the importance of marketing, and how strategic you need to be.
Now you have your completed product (or so you think) you get to have fun and pull together the key messaging that you want to convey to your target audience.
Otherwise how will they know what you’ve just spent hours of love and attention, sweat and possibly tears pulling together is something they actually need and will benefit from.
Top Tip: Some product launch experts will tell you to do this before you do start your product and test it to see if there’s uptake. If there is then you go about pulling together a product.
Writing effective sales copy in itself is a task not befit for just anyone, but luckily there’s many excellent examples to look at before you embark on your own.
There’s also lots of appauling stuff to avoid like the plague. Just Google `Examples of effective sales pages’.
And of course you always want to have your own unique pitch because you don’t want to be like everyone else do you. I mean why would someone want to buy what other people can produce?
Aside from a sales page there are numerous other ways to let people know:
Newsletter – the ever important email list of wonderful people that have opted-in to hear from you – let them know first and foremost.
Facebook Page – if you have one then announce it, send a message update to all fans too. If you don’t then you’re missing out and should sign up to buy my new product.
Facebook Ads – go one step further and set up and test ads to send people to your site or sales page – whereever you want them to take action.
Twitter – keep updating people on a regular basis, 2-3 times per day even because in Twitter world your tweet is there for just milliseconds before being lost in the crowd. Also ask your `Tweeps’ to RT and share it on your behalf.
LinkedIn – share an update by posting a discussion that mentions your product launch to the right people who may be in need of what you offer.
YouTube video – create a video to go along with your launch, infact they’ve been proven to be more effective than copy.
Squidoo – create a Squidoo Lens that points to your product and helps bring you a ton of new eyeballs
Get active – visit online forums and start chatting to bring awareness, and tap into your extended network of lovely people you’ve been notifying weeks in advance who are keen to promote it for you.
4. Shipping your goods and distributing awesomeness
A beautiful, valuable, content rich product with amazing marketing in place is no good if it can’t reach your actual target market.
The beauty of the online world is there’s a plethora of options available to you. That’s also the downside. Many systems, tools and products claim to do it better than the rest.
At the end of the day I look at what other successful people launching products use and figure it out from there.
My weapons of choice have been:
e-junkie for the storage of my all important product files, payment shopping cart options and delivery of my information based product. They also have a marketplace where you can display your products for sale along with others.
WordPress as my blog platform of choice that allowed me to create a `Product shop’ page and be a platform from which I can direct people to their choice of goody on offer.
PayPal for my merchant account that links well with e-junkie who offer it as a payment vehicle, plus paying by credit card if you don’t have a PayPal account (why the heck not?).
Mailchimp for delivering my newsletter with the exciting news to many hundreds of eager (hopefully) people who’ve been asking me when I was launching.
5. Be human
Rome was not built in a day. Neither should your product be.
The key lesson I’ve learned is to recognise that we’re human. Missed deadlines, typos and misaligned images on a page are not the end of the world and can be fixed at the drop of the hat.
If people know what you do, who you are and what you deliver then they will support your product launch.
Make sure you have fun during the process and definitely write down all the things you want to repeat for the next launch as well as what you’d like to improve on or drop because it’s unnecessary.
And on that note. I’m off for a well deserved nap. But before I do, please do check out my new product and if you like what you see share it with your world too.
WomanzWorld Kick Ass Product Shop