In a previous blog, we talked about seven things to consider before launching a product release. We discussed the customer complaints regarding Microsoft’s Windows 8 release and follow-up 8.1 upgrade, and how it’s critical to get a product rollout ‘just right,’ way before you launch.
Now that Ephox has just launched our ninth release of the EditLive! rich text editing software, we’re offering practical tips on everything you need to promote a product. In our case, with EditLive! 9, it was an enterprise software release.
Based on our recent product launch experience, here are 13 ‘how to’ go-to-market tips:
- Define the product. Focus on how each new product feature will benefit the consumer. And do your best to make the technical language seem consumer-friendly. But also consider the keywords that online researchers will use to look for your product on search engines. For example, our EditLive! product has a myriad of search terms, including: rich text editor, rich text editing software, WYSIWYG editor, online HTML editor, etc.
- Determine your objectives: What’s the main reason for the rollout? How will you define success? What revenue targets do you wish to reach? How many new customers? How many upgrades, etc.?
- Create target audience ‘personas.’ Who are your prospects? What motivates them to buy? What type of sales and marketing tactics will they respond to best? What’s the length of the purchase cycle? What’s their role in the decision-making process (e.g., influencer, researcher, budget owner, final decision maker, procurement)?
- Determine pricing. This could be a make-or-break action during the go-to-market planning process. Price your offering correctly and your product (or, in Ephox’s case, software) will fly off the shelves. Do it wrong, and it could be detrimental to your entire product launch. Here’s a great article from Inc. on how to price.
- Understand distribution channels. There are likely multiple ways for consumers to buy, and you’ll need a custom distribution strategy for all of them. Do the product sales require an inside sales team or in-the-field reps for a direct sale? Can consumers buy online? Will you use partners to distribute your product? When Ephox launched EditLive! 9, we offered a 30-day download trial and the ability to demo the product online.
- Conduct research. Is this new product or software update really needed at this time? Have you created customer surveys? Are your customers requesting new features? If you have a list of upgrades, what are the priorities?
- Know the competition. Are you the first to market? Is another company offering the same (or similar) product? If so, how does your product differ?
- Determine product packaging. The right packaging is crucial to getting your product onto retailers’ shelves. And in Ephox’s case, into an enterprise’s IT organization. When it comes to planning your packaging, don’t just focus on the design. Consider storage, shipping, environmental concerns, and the partner or retailers’ requirements.
- Write positioning and messaging statements. Create a clear, defensible, differentiated positioning statement about your product. Ask your team, “How do we wish our product to be perceived?” Then support it with key messages to guide you and others along the way.
- Segment your market. One-size-fits-all messaging and ‘blasting’ has never worked. It just gets your prospects and customers annoyed, and gets you on their blacklist. It’s time to really think about the different needs of your prospects, customers, partners, employees, etc. Code each contact list within your CRM system, and then write custom marketing campaigns based upon individualized interests. If you break down each list even further into sub-categories, you’ll be ahead of the curve.
- Create integrated marketing messages. As with any go-to-market campaign, you’ll want to integrate your efforts so your message is consistent across all marketing activities. Integrated marketing tactics include: Advertising (paid per click, banner advertising, print advertising, event advertising); Articles (non-promotional); Blogs-Case studies-Collateral (one-pagers, FAQs, brochures, co-branded partner brochures); Email campaigns; Events (speaking events, sponsorships, tradeshow booths); Giveaways/promotions; Internal communications;
Public relations (press releases, media outreach); Social media (post content, generate engagement, research relevant hashtags, create a product hashtag); Sales presentations; Videos (product demonstrations, how-to, feature tour); Webinars; Website landing pages (FAQs, feature comparisons, feature tours); White papers.
- Train internal teams. Ensure that everyone from your receptionist to the technical support team and sales teams knows how to talk about your product. Support materials include:
Internal technical and customer support FAQs; Internal features/benefits presentation (different from the sales presentation); Sales scripts; Prospecting materials (presentations, emails, brochures, etc.); Marketing campaign schedule; Social media training (how to repost information on their LinkedIn site, retweet links on Twitter, share Facebook posts, etc.)
- Prepare for localization. Are translations of your brochures and presentations needed? Will you need size A4 one-pagers as well as 8.5×11 (letter) size? Have you taken into consideration different time zones when scheduling webinars and events? Do you have an around-the-clock social media posting schedule?