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It all sounds shockingly simple, but underestimating the monumental task of not only crafting a new product launch strategy but executing it properly would be a tremendous mistake.
There’s a widely tossed around but unattributable rumor that some 80% of product launches fail. According to the Journal of Product Innovation & Management, the real number is likely closer to 40% once you discount products that never make it past the idea stage, but 40% is still a daunting figure.
I recently participated in a podcast with Alicia Williams, co-founder and CEO of a marketing company. We discussed some actionable deliverables and industry best practices to execute a stealth product launch marketing strategy, and determined the following as top takeaways.
Keep your announcement close to the vest.
You’ve got something new that’s going to disrupt the industry, or at least turn a ton of heads. You’ve been working on it for ages. The excitement is so intense you can almost literally feel it vibrating in the air around you. Your mom knows, your neighbors know, the cashier at the grocery store knows and you can’t wait to blurt out launch details to the rest of the world.
Stop. Back away from your Twitter app and put your Facebook ad on the back burner. This isn’t the time to scream from the digital mountaintops about your product. This is the time to lock the magic in the closet while you mastermind a launch plan — and you’re going to build it in reverse.
Hurry up — and wait.
Marriage proposals, telling your dad you “borrowed” his car and backed it into the mailbox, rescuing your perfectly fluffy soufflé from the oven — there are certain things in life that will be more successful if you wait for the right moment. Timing your big, fat launch announcement is one of those things.
First, understand where and when the product or service is going to be client-facing (that’s a fancy way of saying you need to set a date and method of delivery for when you intend to put your product in the public’s hot little hands). Then, schedule key milestones in reverse. A sample timeline might look like this:
• August 15: “Go Live” date
• August 1: Website is tested and procedures are in place
• End of July: All marketing materials are finalized and ready for launch
• June: Identify all event planning needs for physical launch and assemble guest list
• May: Complete creation of content for blogs, including editorial calendars for social to go live and tease out the launch
• January through April: Build up a digital asset library, finalize logo, cement brand identity, develop or refine website
It’s a marketing strategy and checklist rolled into one, with plenty of room to add in detail as you delegate tasks to team members, encounter obstacles and brainstorm new ideas.
Ride the media wave (when you’re ready).
There’s an arc to publicity and public goodwill. People get excited when they see an “opening soon” sign on the new chicken place in their neighborhood, but as weeks pass and the sign becomes weathered and sad, that excitement wanes. There is a time limit on buzz, and if you dish the dirt too early, you’re likely to peak long before you have the infrastructure in place to capitalize on the frenzy you helped create.
The concept of a product life cycle is real and it looks a lot like this one from Harvard Business Review:
• Stage 1: Market Development
• Stage 2: Growth
• Stage 3: Maturity
• Stage 4: Decline
Every step of that cycle is vital. You can’t skip over development or rush growth without risking failure. The pre-planning phase of your launch deserves just as much consideration as it forms the very foundation of the stages to come. Now here’s the scary bit …
Jump the gun with your product launch news and you’ve set the cycle into motion long before you’re ready. There is no “undo” button; there are no take-backs. Suddenly, you’re fielding questions you don’t have the data to answer and having to turn down sample requests from influencers whose attention spans are already flitting off to gawk over something shinier.
You’re putting your reputation on the line as well as your revenue and ultimate profitability. It sounds dire because it is. You’re rushing headlong toward obsoletion, all because you turned into your own spoiler.
Long story short? Timing is everything when it comes to executing a successful product launch marketing strategy. To optimize stealth mode, allow ample time to develop a robust plan that aligns with both product and market readiness, and go to market fully armed with a solidified brand story, customized content and public relations support to emerge as a force … with positive buzz and a hyped up target audience trailing behind you.
July 3, 2019 at 08:03AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs