Whether you’re a B2B business or a consumer-focused company where the trade industry is very influential (think pharmaceuticals or even liquor), your product launch plan needs to go beyond providing accessible product information to leveraging the event to raise awareness.
The key here is that it’s NEW. Trade journalists, bloggers and industry insiders want to know about it when it’s hot off the press, not eight months later. That’s why it’s imperative to begin your launch plan in advance, ideally about six months ahead of your launch date.
Impactful, Accessible Product Information
Whether you need a standalone website or a robust section on your company or brand website depends on a few factors, including:
How important is this product in the scheme of things for your company? Is it a new edition of an existing product in your portfolio or something completely different?
Does your current website give you the space to highlight this new product prominently on the billboard?
What are the limitations of your current website in terms of what information — and depth of information — it can accommodate?
While there isn’t a straightforward “yes” or “no” answer, you’ll need the space to highlight the product’s key features, how it works, points of differentiation and any information for specific audiences.
When your customers later hear of your product but don’t review the information right away, it needs to be really easy for them to find your product online when they think about it at a later date. If you engaged in early content marketing, your new product website should leverage those early SEO footholds to secure a strong ranking for the product category and the solutions the product provides.
Your website is an excellent platform for interactive tools that can double up as sales support. An interactive graphic can be isolated and used on mobile devices or iPads for sales meetings, trade show conferences or even as a link emailed to those hard-to-reach influencers.
Research and awareness happen online, and in 2018 B2B companies will spend over 50% of their marketing budgets on digital media, making a solid case for a digital-first strategy. However, there are still old school distributors and distributors’ sales teams that rely on printed materials and in-person meetings. Depending on your specific industry, a launch plan will likely include printed materials, such as brochures, and well designed PowerPoint slides for sales presentations. See our guide to launch assets for more.
Driving Awareness & Interest
You’re working on printed and digital materials to support your product launch, which then begs the question — how are people finding out about your new product? For many of us, this is where the fun begins!
Trade media are often the gatekeepers for news of industry developments and are revered highly by folks in your industry. They want to find out about your new product as early as possible. Keep in mind that many of these journalists operate on long lead times — and if you want them to consider your product for a November issue, you’ll need to reach out to them at least four months ahead of time.
Journalists want to see or test out your product to review it... think about how you can make this happen for them. A launch party? Invitation to tour where your product is made? Sample delivery? Your PR project plan should include developing a list of media targets, writing press materials, crafting a compelling media pitch, and conducting media outreach and follow-up.
Paid search is an effective way to reach audiences who may not be aware of your product or even the problems the product is designed to solve. If you have been active with content marketing, paid search can give your product pages an immediate pop with a top-of-first-page ranking during initial rollout. With an effective launch, your paid search strategy will be extremely dynamic as you move from supporting awareness to supporting a sales cycle.
Post-launch, a content marketing campaign will do, at the very least, several things:
Increase organic traffic,
Keep bounce rates low by providing valuable information that keeps visitors on your site, and
Create a process for delivering leads through your website.
You have built that understanding of what customers are looking for, but now you can aggregate that content under the new product’s site. Content produced prior to launch may need to get new calls-to-action relevant to the product, but you will find that it will continue to perform as a critical touchpoint early in the buyer journey. As you produce new content post-launch, your focus should be building your library of social proof — case studies and briefs based on real customer experiences. All of this will work together to continue to build your list. Offer site visitors enough valuable information and top of funnel leads will continue to stream in.
Social Media and Paid Social
B2B social media works and if you doubt it, just check out the engagement with GE’s social properties. With content marketing, you have built your audience up and primed them for the product. At launch, you want to build awareness about the new offering and amplify any other sources, influencers, news media and sales people who are talking about the product. Paid social can be quite effective during this period, and paying to boost influencer posts is often a missed opportunity.
Distributing your most bite-sized content, like product videos and infographics, is another effective tactic. Social media posts need to focus on providing value to the audience — rather than just pushing them back to a sales page. If your content marketing program is active, keeping this channel engaged and relevant should be a complementary task.
Trade Show Presence
Typically there are at least 1-2 “must-be-at” trade shows for each industry. You know which ones they are for your specific industry. It’s expected that you’ll exhibit at the trade show, but it takes creativity and new ideas to break through the clutter.
Brainstorm how you can make a bigger splash at your industry’s next big event. Are you hosting a private event with something really spectacular to get people there? How can you turn your brand into an experience at your booth?
Your trade show booth can be a great tool to collect email addresses that you can enter into an email nurture workflow.
Post-Launch Marketing Support
Once you’ve successfully launched your product and checked off the to-do’s on your marketing launch plan, it’s time to support the product once the sexiness of something that’s new wears off. Building brand equity can be just as exciting as a product launch, whether through positioning yourself as a valuable resource through content marketing, watching your traffic climb through effective search engine marketing or coming up with creative ways to engage influencers.