You have a new product, and you are very excited to bring the product to market; so, now what do you do? How to market a product? You need a carefully crafted plan in place to successfully launching a new product. Let me show you a ten-step framework for product marketing, whether you market a product in Singapore or anywhere else.
Note: This product launch framework is more intended for the marketing team. But it works as well for product managers in which case not all steps apply.
1. Define your audience
Having a well-defined audience should be the first step to market a product successfully. Some businesses started this step before having a product. Even if this were the case, you should not skip this step, especially for businesses having adopted scrum development.
Start with your real customers. Existing customers are your priority who repeated made purchases and are likely to do so again. If you don’t have any, target people you know are likely to buy this product (or pay for your services).
Put together a list and include demographic (gender, age, geographic locations, etc.) and psychographic information (habits, hobbies, motivations, spending habits, values, etc.).
Demographic and psychographic analysis are two useful tools. The former explains “who” your customer is while the other explain “why” they buy. And, do not stop there. You should deploy the third tool too: ethnographic analysis, which is a qualitative method where you observe and interact with your customers (or potential ones) in their real-life environment.
Plan your conversations and interactions with them before your meetings; and, be careful what you ask. It’s quite common when customers tell one thing they want and buy another; many don’t know what they really want. So, how you design your questions is essential in understanding their real needs. A few tools and techniques I found very helpful in my experiences you should consider: mind mapping, journey mapping, trigger questions, visualizations, etc.
Having a defined audience ready is the first step. And, you should create a list for that, 20-50 real people with names and contact information so that you can talk to and get their feedback of the product and the launch plan.
In step two to step four followed below, they help you amplify and sustain your share of voice when you launch. If executed well, these steps can even generate a positive influence on your target users.
Note: The list mentioned in this step does not equal to a sales leads or seed leads lists that you may also plan to generate in your launch, for which case you need a lot more.
2. Outreach Plan Part I: Identify the influential media
Now you have a list of your target audience. You need it when you identify where you can effectively and efficiently reach your target audience when you launch the new product.
The influential media to your product launch not only has a significant number of your target audience ready to “listen” to them but also has a positive impact on their decisions. Types of these media include:
- Facebook Pages
- National or local news media
- Newspaper and magazines
- Radio channels
- Trade media
- Email newsletters
- Shows and events
- Online video channels
Now you craft your second list: the influential media. The priority of proceeding with the list is to pitch the media to cover your new product launch with stories. But, you should also prepare for paid coverage or sponsorship.
A word of caution. Don’t overdo it and only include the media where your target audience has a significant presence. I came across a marketing VP years ago who wanted to sponsor a TED event while the business is only present in Singapore which doesn’t have any geographic expansion plan soon. In addition to the unnecessarily high sponsorship cost, the audience group of TED doesn’t well align with their business.
Bonus tip: conducting competitive analysis and learn from your competitors too. Here are some tools for that.
Paid advertising plan
Paid advertising is a necessary part of your product marketing plan. I’m not going to details of media planning in this article. For many businesses, digital advertising (e.g., paid search, remarketing display, and social ads) is a critical part. For those lacking experiences in this, keep in mind that nowadays digital advertising is a continuous process compared to launch-and-forget in traditional media.
3. Outreach Plan Part II: identify product launch partners
The essence of developing an outreach plan to product partners is to recognize businesses who also target the same audience with different products. And, you need to develop a win-win strategy and plan to utilize and share each other’s resources to reach the same customers.
The key of your plan should seamlessly integrate your new product promotion into your partner’s planned business and marketing processes so that it doesn’t interfere but delivers added-value to their customers.
4. Outreach Plan Part III: identify influencers
You need to identify individuals who can help amplify your product launch and make a list of these influencers by channels with the contact information and plans to reach and pitch them.
How? Identifying influencers is not the most challenging part. There are tools and resources available for that, which I might share in another article. These could be bloggers, social media influencers, journalists, etc. If you don’t have an existing database of your own, start building one for the long-term benefit. In the meantime, use third-party tools, such as influencer.co, and influencer platforms. “reach” and “influence” are the two most critical criteria.
The challenging part you and your team need to conquer is to why they should help with your product launch (motivators) and what value it brings to their followers.
Can money be the “why”? In the Chinese market, it’s often more direct and involves financial reward. It’s the key motivator. Even in Singapore, I’ve seen many social media agencies approaching social media influencers with monetary rewards in exchange for postings and mentions. I’m not going to details whether this tactic is right. A message with high exposures or views doesn’t equal to one genuine and motivated one. The latter wins the heart too and could significantly influence the purchase decision.
5. Get Your Content Ready
Once you launch your product and start marketing it, different people will look for more information about you or your product: potential customers, journalists, investors, etc. You need to get your content and assets ready so that they can quickly get the material you’d like them to see, including digital and non-digital ones (e.g., brochures).
On the digital side, you need to get the web pages ready and published at least one week before your official launch schedule so that search engines can crawl and index these pages. When your launch events start, search engines are among the top channels people get more information about your product. Surprisingly, many large Chinese companies skipped this process and still do while English-speaking world does a better job. Companies in Southeast Asia do a much better job.
You need to make sure your web pages are well set for search engines. I’m not going to details on the search strategy here, but you need one. Optimize and audit your pages before you call it “ready”.
Also, prepare these digital assets and make them available for online viewing and download: product images and logos in different sizes and formats, e-brochures, videos of use cases and testimonials, demos, usage guidelines, etc. Do so on multiple channels depending on your target market and audience:
- Official Website
- Social media: Facebook page, Twitter, LinkedIn, WeChat Official Account, verified Weibo account, etc.
- Photo sharing: Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
- Video channels: YouTube, Tik Tok, Youku, Vimeo, etc.
- Audio channels: SoundCloud, Ximalaya, etc.
- Blogs & online publication: medium.com, issuu.com, WordPress.com, etc.
- Vertical channels (industry specific websites and mobile apps)
I also strongly recommend you build an AI-powered online chat application (Chatbot) to support inquiries after launch. You can read this article if you don’t have much experience in chatbot.
6. Set KPIs to ensure product launch success
It’s a complex topic, and I’m only sharing some general guidance here. If you work with a third-party vendor or agency, get help and advice from them to set the KPI before the launch.
Get your analytics software implemented and tested. Choose an attribution model, and I’d recommend you get full marketing funnel attribution. And make sure it’s GDPR compliant (If you are from Singapore, check this out) unless you are sure you won’t have any customer or visitor from the EU. For product managers, it’s essential the analytics suite you use can assist you with cohort analysis.
Overall, you need to set KPIs for three product phases: pre-launch, at launch, and post-launch. Using leading metrics is more helpful and actionable compared with lagging indicators. From a marketing perspective, you should set KPIs for each channel or campaign.
And, you also need to do so for each phase of your customer journey; the simplest could be: awareness/exposure (e.g., ad impressions, survey, mentions, engagement, etc.), website traffic, and conversions. In addition to quantitative KPIs, you should also use qualitative ones such as user feedback to understand why.
DO NOT send all traffic to your homepage or one page. Create one landing page targeted for each channel; or better yet, create one for each audience segment. Do not track too many metrics; you need a focus. And, separate your tracking metrics from the reporting metrics.
7. Promotion Schedule
You need a promotion plan in phases which should specify when, where, what, and how the promotion takes place to market your new product. And, use leading metrics to monitor, guide, and optimize your campaigns.
I usually do this with a master schedule which includes the date and time to launch specific campaigns. And, different teams create channel launch schedules. For example, social media marketing team develops their social media content calendar.
Also, create a launch checklist and make sure you don’t miss anything, like this one:
9. Ensure an integrated plan
Make sure each of your marketing team (or agency) does understand what the other teams are doing and develop an integrated product marketing plan if your efforts start from individual business units. You should at least have a consistent messaging across different channels, create a shared library for campaign resources, and communicates in real time between teams. And ultimately, create a seamless experience for your target customers.
10. Launch, monitor, and learn
It’s still quite common to see companies with a “launch and forget” way of marketing a product. You must monitor and optimize during the launch campaign instead of just “concluding” at the end. Make your budget flexible among different channels following the performance and KPI.
Better yet, start a learning launch first to engage with customers quickly and test your products and marketing tactics. Make your failure cheap and fast to ensure the maximum success of your large scale product launch.
If you find this article helpful, please share. And, I’d appreciate it if you could also tell your biggest challenge (imaged or experienced) marketing a new product in the comment below.