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Ready to Go Live? A 13-Step Marketing Product Launch Checklist

Posted by Loree O'Sullivan

Is your organization getting read to introduce a new product or service line?

Marketing teams often spend months preparing for product launch day. Gaining notice for an all-new product or service is a specific competency which requires different tactics that day-to-day brand promotion. Best practices for product launches have changed significantly over the past several years, as consumers shift towards self-directed digital research.

In this blog, you’ll learn the actions an inbound marketing team should take in the months and weeks leading up to a successful launch of a new product or service line. This isn’t a comprehensive guide to every aspect of marketing, but a basic interview of how to effectively gain notice online.

1. Define Your UVP

What makes your product or service unique and different than other organizations offering a similar concept? Is it value? Pricing? Color? Relevance to your target customer?

Unbounce defines a unique value proposition (UVP) as a “clear statement” that includes:

  • The benefit of your product
  • How it will solve your customer’s pain points
  • How you’re different than existing solutions

Your UVP shouldn’t be paragraphs long. It should be short, optimally even shorter than an elevator pitch. Defining your UVP is an important first step towards unifying your marketing communications across all inbound platforms.

2. Define Your Ideal Buyer

Is your new product or service a logical acquisition for your existing customers, or does it allow you to connect with a new segment of consumers?

Take the time to define exactly who you would like to attract in your product launch, why they need your product, and how it will help them. If your brand has existing buyer persona profiles, take the time to review them for accuracy.

3. Write Out Launch Positioning

Your product’s launch positioning is closely related to your unique value proposition and buyer persona profiles. Unless you’re a “solopreneur” your launch positioning document will contain critical language that will unify your marketing, customer service, and sales teams from day one.

HubSpot’s Rick Burnes recommends that you include the following aspects in your launch positioning documentation:

  • Product/service features
  • Pricing
  • Buyer persona
  • Existing/competing solutions and how they’re different

Your launch positioning document may require updates in the weeks before launch. However, the important thing is that your marketing team and company representatives have access to a single point of authority on your product’s specifications and positioning.

4. Create a Dream Team

Your organization might not have the in-house competencies to successfully execute every aspect of an inbound product launch internally. And that’s okay. Taking time early in the process to assess the competencies you do and do not have on-staff can allow sufficient time for working with an inbound marketing consultant, if needed.

While company needs can vary according to the type of product launched, your inbound marketing dream team will probably include each of the following skill sets:

  • Project management
  • Training for sales and customer service
    Content development
  • Inbound technology competency
  • Email marketing and deliverability expertise
  • Social media marketing

For highly-regulated industries, additional personnel to manage compliance and legal requirements could be needed. 

5. Test Your Sales Team

Great marketing managers understand that communicating with sales and customer service well in advance of product launch is critical for appropriate training. However, as Burnes highlights, working with sales very early in the process can also help marketers identify gaps in their launch positioning and unique value propositions.

Provide a member of your sales team access to the product well before release. Allow them to test it out carefully in the context of their customer knowledge, and provide some insight into the frequently-asked questions your customers may have and potential use cases. You may find that you’ve absolutely nailed your positioning, or that you need to go back and re-work some of your messaging.

6. Do Some Beta Testing

Testing requirements can vary significantly depending on the scope of your product or service, your internal expertise, and your industry.

If your organization is in a position where allowing some of your existing, loyal buyers advance access to your product is appropriate, this can offer some significant benefits. Assuming your product has already passed product development tests and is sufficiently high-quality to be launched, allowing customers beta access can provide the groundwork for invaluable case studies and social proof.

If your customers agree and the conditions are right, creating a case study for the new product or including quotations on your landing page can lend important weight to your product launch content.

7. Create a Landing Page

Less than half (48%) of marketers build a landing page for each new campaign they launch. This number should absolutely be 100 percent.

Build at least one landing page for your prospects to request a consultation, sample, or download related information regarding your new product. You may need to develop a complementary content offer, or a “contact us” should be sufficient.

Depending on the scope of your product launch, your brand may choose to create more than one landing page for your launch.

8. Build Calls-to-Action

Once your product is launched, you’ll want to feature it in calls-to-action (CTA) buttons on your homepage, blogs, and other site pages. Building graphic buttons to advertise your new product across your website allows you to feature your product and related content offers prominently.

9. Create an Announcement Email

For every dollar invested in email marketing, companies see an average return of $38. That’s right, email still has the highest ROI of any form of marketing. An email product announcement is a critical way to inform your company’s existing contacts of your exciting news on launch day.

Depending on the size and type of the product announcement, you may choose to send the email to all verified contacts on your email list. You may choose to share the messaging exclusively with segments of your contacts that you feel could derive value from your new development.

10. Develop a Workflow

If customers choose to “opt in” to your landing page and request more information on your new product, they may not be willing to engage with sales immediately. If your product will require lead nurturing, building an email workflow to keep in touch with your new contacts is critical.

Build a series of emails that link to high-value content to guide your prospective customers through their buyer’s journey. If your soon-to-be-released product represents a foray into an entirely new market, you may need to refine your workflow based on actual customer data after the product is launched.

11. Create Content

Announce your new product in at least one blog post on your company’s website. You may choose to write at least 3-4 blogs around the new product, particularly if it represents a new market or vertical for your brand.

Your blog posts should never be overly salesy. Share your good news, empathize with your customer’s pain points, and begin to position yourself as an expert.

These blog posts should coincide with complimentary social media posts. Promote your own content on your social media channels, but also take steps to curate relevant content to provide broad, relevant value to your followers.

12. Optional: Outbound Promotions

Depending on who you’re trying to attract, you may decide to invest in a hybrid approach to both inbound and outbound marketing methods. If your buyer personas tend to perform product research using both paid and digital platforms, outbound marketing could yield remarkable results. Optional outbound promotions could include:

  • Writing a press release and paying for distribution
  • Magazine or trade publication advertorials
  • Connecting with digital influencers to act as evangelists
  • Scheduling an in-person event
  • Direct mail and local, geo-targeted advertising

13. Post-Launch: Don’t Relax!

Once you officially launch your product, it’s not time to rest. You can perhaps enjoy happy hour with your team, but it’s crucial to continue testing, improving, and promoting your freshly-launched product.

Actions that are critical to take after your product launches include:

  • Continuing to improve messaging based on buyer feedback
  • Identifying friction in your conversion and lead nurturing paths and integrating feedback from A/B testing
  • Create additional testimonials and case studies
  • Write more blog posts, supporting content offers, and social media content

Product launches can be one of the most exhilarating and exhausting projects an inbound marketing team experiences. With a thorough understanding of the aspects of a comprehensive product launch, you can ensure your new release makes a digital splash.

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header image credit: daria / epicantus via flickr cc

Topics: inbound campaign

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