Eighty percent of new products that come to market each year will fail. Here’s how to make sure yours is one of the 20% that succeed.
In the first article in this series, we showed you why the old way of waiting until the very last minute to tell the world about a new product or line just doesn’t work anymore. You also heard how Robroy® Industries in Gilmer, Texas, took an interesting approach for its most recent product launch, and how well it worked for the manufacturer.
By putting time and effort into the planning stages (about two years, give or take), and by using videos, ads, email blasts, and traditional mailings to slowly build anticipation for its new line, Robroy managed to buck one startling industry trend: of the 30,000 new products that are launched annually, around 80% of them will fail.
“Companies are so focused on designing and manufacturing new products that they postpone the hard work of getting ready to market them until too late in the game,” Joan Schneider writes in Harvard Business Review. Here are seven strategies that you can use next time around to make sure your new product gets in with the 20% that succeed:
- Get your distributors on board early. Try not to just spring it on this very important part of your supply chain, and one that can easily make or break your new product introduction. In most cases, the distributor owns the end user relationship and plays a key role in making sure that buyer chooses (or, even just hears about) your latest innovation. Get distributors involved early and work with them to come up with a go-to-market plan for introducing your new products or product line to their customers and prospects.
- Rev up your launch engine well in advance. As Robroy’s Stephanie Ellis pointed out in the first installment of this article series, waiting until the very last minute to let the “cat out of the bag” doesn’t work anymore. Here’s how to do it, according to Inc.’s 4 Things You Need to Do Before You Launch a New Product:
- Start a blog and create posts that educate readers about the product’s features.
- Submit guest posts to, or get featured in, industry publications.
- Give buyers a chance to win free trials or samples of your product to build excitement.
- Provide exclusive previews to industry experts and influencers to reach a relevant audience.
- Send out regular email updates to your subscribers.
- Launch during a trade show or industry event for maximum publicity.
- Keep your social media followers updated with your progress.
- Get sales fired up about the launch. Like it or not, your sales and distribution channels will be the key to the success or failure of the new product launch. “Their enthusiasm and buy-in to the product can make a tremendous difference in the success of a launch regardless of how well planned and executed the strategy may be,” Bruce Hayne points out in Launching a New Product in a Hectic B2B World. “Internally launching the product with staff before the launch occurs will help to ensure buy-in throughout the organization. A company’s enthusiasm for a product can have as much of an impact as any well-executed advertising campaign.”
- Enlist the help of influencers. As social media has become the default channel for engagement, customers respect endorsements and influencer reviews far more than traditional marketing materials. “By engaging with influencers early, you can create a win-win,” David Millsaps points out in How to Plan Content for B2B Product Launches. “Influencers increase their audience with early insight and you get access to their audience. Ultimately, you want the influencers to answer three key questions for their audiences:
- Are customers like me successful?
- Why should I buy this product?
- Will this product help me achieve my goals?
“Once created, this content can be used across your launch materials,” he writes. “The influencer relationship can be extremely powerful because both parties are vested in creating effective content.”
- Create a gripping story. Storytelling helps people to relate to you and remember your product. “We’re not talking about a Lifetime-movie-kind-of-story — it just has to make a point,” marketing and PR expert Wendy Marx points out in ”You want your audience to say to themselves ‘Hey, that’s just like me’ when they hear your story.” For example, if you created the product to address a specific problem in the electrical industry, then tell the story of how you faced that problem, how frustrated you were, and how that frustration moved you to create a solution for others in the same boat.
- Use video to spread the word. To introduce its innovative stainless-steel raceway solutions to the world this past spring, Robroy developed short, 25-second video clips that hinted at what was to come—and without even showing a product picture. It was enough, says Ellis, whose team fielded numerous requests from customers and distributors wanting to know what was up. “Countless studies show the importance of video marketing campaigns,” Marx writes. “It only makes sense that it would also cement the success of product launches.” Before you release your product, use video to “warm up” your audience, she suggests. “Take popular posts and transform them into video for easy viewing. This engages your audience and can be great for lead generation.”
- Give some of them a sneak peek. Give demonstrations and let journalists, analysts, and bloggers play with your invention in advance of your actual launch, then use their validation in your marketing. “You can do this as part of a trade show – effectively a sneak peek to a handpicked group,” Errol Jayawardene suggests in How to plan the perfect B2B product launch, “or as part of targeted direct outreach. Or, plan a media, influencer, or friendly customer tour. This can lead to some advance buzz before the actual launch, he adds, and it can provide valuable feedback prior to the effort and resources of the actual release. It can also help identify issues with your product or service or bring up something — positive or negative — that you hadn’t considered before.
Tagged with marketing, Robroy