What’s more important, the product or the launch?

Friday, December 23, 2016, Vol. 40, No. 52

The launch of a new product is just about as important as the product itself. As good as the product may be, if the launch is lackluster, the product may sit on the shelf until it one day lands in a clearance bin.

This isn’t what any business wants when debuting its latest and greatest idea. Research shows that only 35 percent of product launches are successful post-launch. Yet companies only get one shot at crafting the right launch.

Some 18 percent of small businesses plan to launch a new product in the new year, according to the 2017 State of Small Business Report.

By now, their sales and marketing teams should be in full swing preparing for the big day. In doing so, the following tips are key components to a successful rollout:

Know your target audience. Who do you want to sell to? If you say “everyone,” good luck with that. Do some research and determine who is most likely to buy your product. They are your primary audience.

Now, where are they? Who are their influencers? What do they read and listen to? In order to reach your audience, you must market through these avenues.

Be a copycat. When launching your own product, it is not necessary to completely reinvent the wheel. Yes, your product may be unique, but all of your efforts don’t have to be.

Take a look at some of the most successful launches, see what these companies did well and model your tactics after theirs.

For instance, Steve Jobs perfected the product launch with Apple by doing a few key things such as making a big deal out of the launch well before the product goes to market.

Don’t have Apple’s budget? Not many companies do, but it doesn’t take a healthy budget to hold press events.

Host a media luncheon whereby you not only reveal the new product, but also make it available to them before it can be purchased.

Another Jobs strategy was to make sure the public knows the new product is all about them – the consumer. Through advertising and marketing campaigns, tell the consumer how the new product will enhance their lives rather than simply touting the product itself.

Go social. It’s here to stay. Social media has given just about everyone the chance to be a reporter, so why not join in? Keep your company social media pages updated for months leading up to the big launch.

Tease the product with photos that may only reveal part of the product or hold contests with winners receiving the product – so basically, the good old “It’s Coming” message.

Ask for advice. Don’t hesitate to seek out an expert. Knowing your product inside and out doesn’t mean you know how to promote it. By enlisting help, you may be more likely to be among that elite 35 percent of companies that obtain success post-launch.

Lori Turner-Wilson, CEO and founder of RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy, can be reached at redrovercompany.com.