Whether you’re launching the latest iPhone or an academic program, your strategy can make or break the success of your product. A launch event can spread awareness and attract an important crowd of influencers, but planning these types of events is not for the faint of heart. Today’s 24/7 news cycle can be disrupted by anything, at any time—which means launch events can be a homerun or disaster, depending on the day. If you are committed to launching your product with an event, Joan Schneider, CEO of SA and author of The New Launch Plan: 152 Tips, Tactics, and Trends from the Most Memorable New Products, has some helpful tips:
- Understand your objective. What outcome would you like to achieve from your product launch? Different goals – increased sales, consumer awareness and media coverage – require different strategies. Whether you decide to host a trade event, media event or consumer event, you must plan with your audience and objective in mind.
- How new is your product? It’s much easier to launch a product that is revolutionary – or new to the world – than a product that is evolutionary, or a line extension. A revolutionary product is more appealing to reporters, customers and consumers, who get to be the first to experience it and spread the word among their clients, friends or viewers.
If your product is evolutionary, do something creative to build interest ahead of your event. Whether you hire a celebrity spokesperson, involve a charity or use other news-making tactics like a Survey for Ink (a survey designed to make news about a specific topic), you need to understand where your product is in its lifecycle and be realistic about what to expect from the launch event.
- Incentivize your audience. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes, and ask “What’s In It for Me?” (or WIIFM). Think about their key motivators, and plan accordingly. What will convince your audience to attend your event despite their busy schedules?
“For Baskin-Robbins’ 65th anniversary, SA ‘retired’ a popular ice cream flavor and created a groundswell to bring it back,” said Schneider. “Retiring French Vanilla got consumers up in arms and activated the media to cover Baskin-Robbins and its new summer flavors.”
- Put On A Great Show. While it sounds pessimistic, it’s important to be prepared for worst-case scenarios. What if your turnout is lower than expected?
“Stick to the motto of, ‘if they don’t come, they’re going to see it anyway,” said Schneider.
In this day and age, there’s no excuse not to bring your event to those who can’t make it. Live stream your launch on Facebook or Instagram, tweet your event in real time, post Snapchat stories and service local TV stations with event footage. Get the word out on social media well in advance, and choose the social media platforms that your target audience uses.
- Sustain launch success – even after your event. Your event may have ended, but that doesn’t mean your target audience has disappeared! It’s important to consistently spread the word about your product, which can easily be done by recycling press coverage through social media and web site content.
It’s also important for marketers to conduct an After Action Review in order to reflect on what worked, what didn’t work and what to do differently in the future.
“These steps will help your team inform what you’d like to do during your Post-Launch Phase,” said Schneider. “It’s great to keep employing the tactics that worked, as well as to introduce new tactics.”
If you’re thinking of hosting an event to launch your new product, program, service, brand or real estate development, call us. We’d love to share more of our expert advice to help make it a success.