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Will your product launch be a firework or a fizzle?

A good marketing campaign can make the difference

Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door, or so the saying goes. 

But don’t count on the world. Don’t even count on the mice! 

Even Steve Jobs would never have gotten out of his parents’ garage in Los Altos, Calif., if no one knew about the products Apple was making — no matter how awesome they were. So, before you launch a new product or service, think long and hard about how you intend to market it. 

Maybe put a little cheese in that mousetrap, too.

Be involved early

Like birds, bakers and baristas, marketers need to go to work early. In fact, some crucial marketing questions should be answered before product development even begins. 

• What pain point does the new product address?
• Are your customers likely to support it?
• Will it do better than the competition? 

The early stages are also a good time to address name and price. A forgettable or awkward name can doom a product before it ever hits the market. So can price — if the pain of paying exceeds the pain of the problem the product is intended to solve. 

The most important marketing begins with the product itself because you can’t market your way out of a bad one.

Plan and schedule

How soon should you begin developing a marketing campaign? In theory, as soon as you begin developing the product. Certainly, don’t wait until the product’s out the door before you wonder how to market it. 

For a happy medium, some experts say two to three months, but it may be a year, depending on the product or service. Consider the following as you plan your marketing campaign: 

• Allow some people early access to your new product. Hornady® put its A-Tip™ Match bullets in the hands of selected competitive shooters months before their official release, generating a lot of buzz in the shooting community. 

• Decide which media channels you’ll use, such as print, online, broadcast or billboards, and begin developing creative for each. 

• Get your website ready. Prepare a landing page you can direct customers to and an FAQ to answer their questions. 

• Sponsor a contest or promotion. Equitable Bank sent its customers a mailer with a special code entitling them to a prize or cash when they used the bank’s new EquiDirect Teller machines.

Communicate and inform

Here’s where the rubber meets the road. It’s time for all the work you’ve done so far to get before the eyes of the public. Here are some tips about communicating your message: 

• Focus on your audience and the pain point your product addresses for them. 

• Make your message emotional. Emotions drive purchasing behaviors and decision making. 

• Make use of influencers. Remember those people who got early access to your new product? Now’s a great time to make testimonials from them part of your messaging. 

• Go live with your landing page and drive traffic there with social media. A landing page is a great place to include all the details about your new product that you can’t fit in a 30-second commercial, direct-mail piece or billboard. 

• Write a great press release, send it to news media, and add it to your website. Be sure to note that you’re available for interviews and on-air demonstrations of your new product or service.

Be ready to support

Marketing doesn’t end with the launch, so be prepared to continue supporting customers and your new product.

Remember, the more innovative a new product is, the more you’ll have to explain it. Make sure that FAQ is posted on your website, and direct customers there first when they have questions. 

Because images speak louder than words, producing a video showing how to use the product or service is also a good idea. 

While P.T. Barnum might have said there’s no such thing as bad publicity, be prepared to respond to questions — even negative ones — gracefully. Even responding to a complaint gives you one more chance to sing the praises of your new product and what it can do to make a customer’s life better.

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