It’s official… your company has been given the green light on that new widget. As the Digital Marketing Director, it's your job to make sure the world knows about it.
But where do your start building a marketing strategy for a new product? Obviously, the sooner you start planning the better—getting your ducks in a row takes time. Knowing which ducks to line up, and which order they need to be in, takes even more.
Before you do anything else, you first need to figure out how the new product will fit in with the existing products’ marketing. It will probably be in one of three ways:
- It's a simple addition to your existing product line (e.g. a new widget to go with your existing widgets)
- It's a related product (e.g. a different kind of widget, but still a widget)
- It's a completely different product (e.g. a non-widget, unlike anything else in your lineup)
With each of these, the way you present the product will be different, and each has particular changes.
A Simple Addition
In some ways, marketing this type of new product will be easy. You don't need to worry about upstaging your blue and green widgets by introducing a red one; consumers will appreciate your brand more for having more options. But the fact that the new product is so similar doesn't mean you should run the same marketing campaign you've always used. Now is the perfect time to analyze what worked and what didn’t in past campaigns. Upstaging your current products may not be much of a risk, but releasing a new product that flops is a possibility. Learn from the past to make this campaign a success!
A Related Product
When coming out with something new, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement. But the last thing you want is for people to feel that your new product makes the old ones obsolete. When the ideas start flowing, be careful to analyze how each one works with your existing marketing campaigns. If you're clever about it, you can use this opportunity to talk about the benefits of the new widget and highlight the "classic" version for when the new is not a perfect fit. Related products still fall under the "big tent" of your current marketing, but they give you more flexibility to interpret your brand's visual identity and messaging.
A Totally Different Product
I think it's fair to say that this type of new product is the most difficult to market. You've spent years building your brand’s reputation and image. Doing a 180° turn can be confusing to customers on many levels. If you're a well known widget manufacturer, introducing a line of ice cream will makes no sense to people. If people don’t like your ice cream’s flavor, it will negatively affect your widget business. Usually, you're better off marketing this as a completely new brand. Have you ever heard of Smith and Wesson mountain bikes, or Bic underwear? Exactly--they both crashed and burned.
Automotive companies used to be very good at this. When Honda came to the US in the '70s, they became well known as a fuel efficient, great value, no-nonsense brand. As Honda's loyal customer base aged, they wanted vehicles that were a little less basic and a little more comfortable, and they were willing to pay more. Rather than changing or diluting their brand image, Honda opted to build an entirely new luxury brand: Acura. By creating a new brand that doesn't directly compete with their main product line, Honda could reach new customers and insulate themselves from issues or failures with the new product. Also, they avoid the Bic underwear problem, which in their case would be something like "but Honda doesn't do luxury!"
However, not having the advantage of an established brand behind a new product means the new venture will take more time and money. You'll just have to decide which is more important: the greater cost and time of starting from square one, or the potential to hurt or dilute your brand with new product that doesn't quite fit.
Of course, it's also possible that your all-new product is the first step in a rebranding.
After you've determined how your product fits into your lineup, it is time to proceed.
Prior to the launch, you'll be spending most of your time planning, but you can also use this time to generate a buzz. If you'll be promoting the new product alongside your existing line, you can use teaser graphics, CTAs, and “Coming Soon" landing pages on your website to play on your customers’ curiosity. Don’t forget to gather contacts with a form asking people to subscribe to receive news and announcements.
Using your social channels to build excitement is a no-brainer. In advance, schedule posts counting down to the launch to build anticipation among your followers and reach a larger audience.
The big day has finally arrived! It's time to share your news with the world via social media, email, blogging, and possibly advertising. This often includes sending targeted emails to different segments of your email list (including a unique email for those who signed up via the launch landing page), creating shareable images for each social media platform, and writing blog posts that bring attention to the new product.
Another great way to add to the product's image is to build on other people's reputations. Ask the influencers in your field (or even those in related fields) to review your product. They will often be flattered that you asked, and the publicity they generate will be well worth the cost of the product you sent them.
You're Not Done Yet!
Once your widgets start ending up in the hands of consumers, it's time to watch and listen intently. Social media monitoring will give you great insights into how people are reacting to your “latest and greatest”. Whether they're offering praise, expressing disappointment, or asking questions, you have a valuable opportunity to interact and educate. If you pick up on a common question or concern, you can create site pages, blog posts, or even YouTube videos to address it. If people love it, you can use their public comments to promote the new product further.
Building a marketing strategy for new product has its challenges, but it's a huge opportunity as well. With some hard work and planning, you can not only plan a successful launch, but make your brand as a whole even stronger.
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