Demystifying product launches

What do you need to consider as you launch a product? How do you stand out from the crowd?

In reality, before you are ready to launch an analysis of market size, optimal pricing and ideal target audience will all have been done. As a marketing consultant it was hard to tell one start-up that they had spent £50,000 developing a piece of software that was already available free or for minimal charge and far from unique (as they believed). That their B2B market was much smaller than they had estimated, and that the B2C market wouldn’t entertain the £50 price tag that the company had wanted compared to FoC apps. Their financial projections that they had based on their “gut feelings” were very far removed from the reality. The cries of “but I’ve already invested £50K on my own money” pulled on a heart string, but couldn’t change the market situation.

So, assuming you have done your due diligence how do you take a product to market? Go through your other marketing Ps:

Place: determine if you are selling direct or via a channel. If the latter make sure that they are educated on the product and put in stock orders ahead of launch date.

Price: set your pricing. I’ll cover different ways to do this in a future blog to really do it justice.

Promotion: getting your message right for each buyer persona (market segment) is key. Many of the buyers will not really be interested in the technical specs of a product, its engineering features, the specific ingredients in the cake mix. What they are looking for is how does the product benefit their life, does it solve a problem that they have, will it have a certain kudos among their peer group… and so on. To put that into examples:

  1. When a mother with young children is looking for a new car – is she really interested in knowing what type of brake disc is used? Who made the air filter? Or even who made the air bags? No! She is interested in the ISO points for fixing car seats, child locks on any rear doors, plenty of boot space for a pushchair, and how many airbags are there plus their location. I know people who have chosen one car over another as one had a knee airbag for the driver (so if in an accident the legs are pushed backwards avoiding feet becoming ensnared by pedals leading in some cases to amputation at accident site) and the other didn’t. They were a paramedic and had had to oversee an accident amputation and didn’t ever want that possibility for themselves.
  2. When an office worker is looking for a new document scanner for their desk do they really need to know what is special about the platen? No! They want to know that the scans will be converted accurately to OCR documents to avoid retyping and data entry saving their time and increasing productivity as they can concentrate on more fulfilling bits of their job; that various types of paper go through without paper jams, that the documents created could be PDF-A so suitable for use in court or with HMRC to prevent printing out paperwork and the costs of sending and storing it…
  3. When a teenager wants a new watch, they consider its functions apart from telling the time, and its brand. Most importantly for many – how it makes them look to their friends. They typically don’t consider the type of processor inside, or grade of stainless steel in the strap.
  4. That the health and safety aspect is taken care of enabling compliance for the company. On one project a H&S Manager insisted that stainless steel cable ties were used instead of stainless steel strapping. Was it because they were quicker to install? Weighed less (which was important in that project)? Cheaper overall? No, it was because he had seen someone lose an eye when stainless steel strapping snapped and recoiled. A stainless steel cable tie is a fixed length and doesn’t recoil in the same way, so the eye would not have been lost.

So, for promotion, market the benefits, make the sell an emotional sell so it is not commoditised (which invariably leads to lower prices), but most of all know your market and what it is that they are looking for and give them that solution. The value proposition for your product is a combination of the benefits possibly with a couple of features thrown in. It can be attractive to an engineer, who is rightly very proud of a product, to stress the engineering uniqueness, but that is rarely the first thing that your buyer is interested in.

So, ignore your heart and your company’s ego: speak to the buyer’s emotional side by emphasising protecting their family, co-workers and themselves, making their job more interesting or being in with the in crowd – whatever is important to them!

That is why people buy.

Once you have your message(s) defined, then setting a marcoms plan up using the various tools becomes a lot easier.