Category Archives: Product Launches

Strategies for Launching a Product

We are launching a new consumer product in the health and fitness category.  What marketing strategies should we consider?

By Jennifer Manocchio

When launching a new product or service, we recommend always taking the long view and complete approach. To achieve success it is critical to consider all relevant strategies, to determine the proper integration of all strategies and to establish the appropriate timeline for execution.

It is essential to start with a marketing plan that identifies your strategies, tactics, measurement/analysis, budgets and timelines.  This will help you stay on track during the launch and avoid making knee jerk reactions.  It is certainly okay to test, assess and revamp campaigns along the way, but you need to develop a road map before starting the journey.

Following are strategies you should consider as part of your product launch plan.

Stage 1: Market Discovery
Market research
Strategic planning
Distribution channel development

Stage 2: Business/Product Branding
Brand name development
Logo development
Brand strategy
Positioning and messaging
Product design
Product labeling and packaging
Stationery, business forms, signage
Company/product collateral
Web Site design and optimization

Stage 3: Business Pre-Launch
Publicity and media relations
Trade show marketing
Internal communications
Sales training and support
Retail POP support

Stage 4: Business/Product Launch Marketing
Publicity and media relations
Advertising
Social media marketing
Direct marketing
Web and search engine marketing
Guerilla marketing and Events

Stage 5: Measurement and Analysis
Web analytics
Media and blog coverage results
Traffic and sales results

Stage 6: Post-Launch Marketing
Publicity and media relations
Advertising
Direct marketing
Social media
Consumer engagement
Web marketing

Launching a new product and don’t know where to start?  Contact me at jennifer at sweeneypr.com or 910.772.1688.

Method’s CEO Points to 5 Strategies for Success

By Kayleigh Fitch

I had the pleasure yesterday of attending a marketing event where Eric Ryan, co-founder and CEO of Method, was the keynote speaker. As Eric explains, it is no small task competing in a category against multiple goliaths when your marketing budget is approximately one third of the 800-pound gorilla’s employee’s toilet paper budget.

However, Eric shared how he and founding partner Adam Lowry, along with their dedicated team of People Against Dirty, found a way to make their brand stand out in the noise. Here are five strategies Eric credits Method’s success to.

1. Get behind a cause. Eric explained Method was built from a single core belief, a mantra the company could get behind that focused on a bigger goal than simply selling product. For Method, its entire product line was born from the belief that people have the right to a clean yet not pollute the home environment.

2. What you see is what you get. It is absolutely essential that every aspect of your product – from the shape of the package, to the colors, to the label and the formulation – is a proud ambassador for your brand. So take the time and money to get it right. You may have developed an incredibly successful product formulation, but no one will even try your product if your packaging does not clearly communicate the benefits.

Eric said yesterday “design is media.” Do not underestimate the value each element of your product plays in building awareness for your brand.

3. Arm your employees. Sometimes the best marketing ideas can come from the most unlikely of places. According to Eric, every Method employee is an expert in design and sustainability so all employees can recognize a marketing opportunity when they see one. For example, operations personnel at Method implemented a program using bio-diesel fuel to ship products that now makes a great sustainability story to share with media and consumers.

And give them opportunities to be heard. It’s a good bet your customer service reps have great insight into the experiences consumers are having with your product, but how will they recognize an opportunity to improve product without the correct industry knowledge and how will they communicate that to the rest of the company?

4. Create content. And not just any old content, but useful, engaging, innovative content. Eric used the example of a recent movie that had an excellent opening Friday and then experienced a massive drop in attendance as a result of negative social media buzz. It was not social media itself that caused the movie to flop, but the utterly horrible content of the movie. Likewise, whether you are using Twitter, Facebook, email marketing or video to market your product it is essential to create content that supports your product.

5. Be creative and take risks. When Eric founded Method, he knew there was no way he would be able to compete with a plethora of competitors with much larger marketing budgets. His strategy was to disrupt the category by positioning cleaning products as a lifestyle item. Method’s goal was to take the focus of cleaning off being a chore
and make it more about choosing a product that was fun, easy to use and aesthetically pleasing. The point is to always question your approach and do not fall into the trap of playing catch up with your competitors. They should be copying you.

Need help building your brand or launching a new product? Email me at kayleigh at sweeneypr.com or 440.333.0001 ext. 106.

What Drives Sales: Product Packaging or the Brand?

We are preparing to launch a new consumer product; it will be sold primarily in big box stores.  How important is packaging design to the product’s success relative to the brand?

By Jim Sweeney

Sheesh, that is a loaded question.  The most important purpose of product packaging (ignoring functionality and sustainability for the moment) is to identify your brand.  This assumes, therefore that you have good brand awareness in the marketplace.  And how do you know whether your brand awareness is solid enough for the new product launch?  Research baby.

Unless you know for a fact that a significant portion of the marketplace (that portion you need to achieve your sales goal) is aware of your brand and has a decided preference for it, then you should put the packaging on the back burner and turn up the heat on branding.

While study after study confirms that consumers are drawn to “good” packaging, it rarely if ever trumps the importance of brand.  In other words, Cool Cola may have a totally innovative package, but Pepsi and Coke will kick its tail from here to oblivion.  Consider the storied launch of the Apple iPhone in January 2007.  The product packaging was a plain black box – beautiful in its simplicity – but it is just a plain black box… and it sold millions based on the mere promise of the brand. 

Remember, even though packaging is your product’s promotional advertising at the point of purchase – distinguishing your product from your competitors through design, shape and color – it is the brand reputation that most affects the decision-making process and influences conversion.

So ask yourself:

• Do we have a good brand?
• Do we have good awareness of our brand?
• Are consumers loyal to our brand; are they loyal enough to prefer our new product?

News Release Leads That Get Media Attention

How do I craft a news release lead about a new product that will achieve media interest and ultimately achieve media coverage?

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By Jennifer Manocchio

Creating an effective news release lead is essential to getting media to read the rest of your news release and consider writing about your product.  You have just a few seconds to prove your news is worthwhile, which means the lead needs to be impactful.

The key is to focus on the benefits your new product delivers to the end user in the headline and the first sentence.

For example, what you want to avoid is a news release headline that reads “XYZ Company To Launch New Glass Cleaner”.  While the new product is essentially the news, you have to ask yourself why the media and consumers will care about the new product.

Instead, consider a headline like “New Glass Cleaner is Streak-Free and Environmentally Friendly”.

As you continue with the first paragraph of the news release you want to avoid repeating the headline. Consider the first sentence valuable real estate and a way to continue to hook the media.

For example, avoid “XYZ company will launch its new glass cleaner on June 30, 2010.”  Instead, consider a lead sentence like “New glass cleaner made from coconut extracts is guaranteed to leave consumers’ windows and mirrors streak-free or their money will be refunded.”

An effective way to beginning the news release writing process is to consider what story you would ultimately like to see in the newspaper, magazine, etc. Another tip is to review target media headlines and leads to get a better feel for what will interest the media.

Launching a new product or service and want to conduct a publicity and media relations campaign that achieves results?  Contact me at jennifer at sweeneypr.com or 910.772.1688.

Is a Full-Service Agency Necessary to Launch a Consumer Product?

We are launching a new consumer product with a limited marketing budget, do we really need a full-service agency to support us?

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By Jim Sweeney

Yes… No… Probably not… Maybe not… I have no idea.

According to about.com: “A full-service agency is one that handles all aspects of the advertising process, including planning, design, production and placement. Today, full-service generally suggests that the agency also handles other aspects of marketing communications such as public relations, sales promotion, Internet and direct marketing.”

For me, “full-service” also implies that the agency provides essential research and strategic planning capabilities on the front-end as well as multiple execution services to help implement campaigns on the back-end.

The beauty of the full-service agency is it theoretically does not have a bias toward any one strategic solution (e.g., if I am a social media agency, then my solution to every problem is social media, but if I am a full-service agency, I am looking for the best solution overall).

Assuming you’ve already done all the necessary research and strategic planning, you have a launch plan and you know precisely what marketing services you need to contract (e.g. you need a PR agency to help you mount a targeted publicity and media relations campaign), then the answer is no, you do not need a full-service agency; you can hire a PR firm or a full-service agency with PR capabilities.

If you are not looking for an objective assessment of your marketing plan and you are not looking for alternate ideas or strategies to achieve your objectives within your budget limitations, then the answer is once again no.

Bloggers Going Bonkers for Product Samples

Our company is getting 4-5 requests a week from bloggers for product samples to test and a second product for a giveaway.  Should I be sending all these bloggers my product?  We are a small business and have to be selective who we send product samples to.

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By Jennifer Manocchio

The good news is that if you have bloggers coming to you requesting product samples, you have already generated some awareness in the marketplace.  We have typically seen an increase in blogger product requests after media exposure or a targeted blogger campaign.

You should definitely be selective with blogger samples.  According to a Technorati study, the average blog has only 6 readers!  Yes… 6 readers!  Therefore, it is important that you research each blog prior to sending product samples.  You certainly want to be sending product to a blog that reaches your target audience, is credible and has a significant number of readers to make the largest impact possible.

Following is how we evaluate blogs to determine the credibility, reach and impact.

1.  Review the blog: Ensure the content is relevant and tasteful.  Take a look at how the blogger conducts product reviews.  This will help you determine what to expect and to ask for any alterations you see necessary (including a link to your web site, retail locations, etc.).  Also, some blogs list the number of views or followers.  This will give you a good indication of reach.

2.  Technorati: Visit Technorati and conduct a search on the blog to determine the blog’s authority.  The authority is simply the number of other web sites linking to that blog.  The more web sites linking to the blog, the more credible you can consider the blog.

3.  Track Unique Monthly Visitors:  Free tools like Compete and Quantcast can provide estimates for the number of unique visitors a blog receives each month.  The only caveat to sites like these is the free versions do not provide estimates for blogs hosted by WordPress or Blogspot.

4.  Other Social Media Sites: Conduct a general Google search on the blog or blogger to determine what other social media sites he or she is involved in.  If he or she uses Twitter, Facebook, etc. and has a good amount of followers, that can certainly help increase the reach of your product/brand.

You can usually see immediately if the blogger posts reviews on other social media sites.  If not, simply ask if that is possible as part of the product review.

5.  Google Page Rank: Determine the page rank using the Google Page Ranking tool.  A higher page rank will help influence organic search engine optimization.

Also, if you are short on product samples, consider declining the product for the contest or providing a discount or coupon for the blog readers instead.  While the product giveaway will likely increase exposure, bloggers will still consider covering a product without a giveaway.

Need help sorting through all the blogger requests or want to launch a strategic blogger relations campaign to increase brand awareness, increase relationships and increase sales, contact me at jennifer at sweeneypr.com or 910.772.1688.

Best Approach for Distributing Media Product Samples

We have developed 300 new product sample kits for media.  The kits feature everything the media needs to test the new product.  How should we go about distributing the product kits?

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By Jennifer Manocchio

Since you have invested in developing these product review kits, you want to ensure they will have the greatest impact among both media and consumers.  In order to do that, first determine what markets you want to target.

If the product is only available in select markets, start by targeting media in these markets.  The media is more likely to write about product available at their local stores.  If media decide the product is worth covering, it can help drive retail sales.  Additionally, retail buyers like to see that you are supporting product sales in their markets.

Also, consider any long-lead consumer and trade magazines.  If you know your product will be available nationally in the near future or if it is available online, national media will consider testing or writing about your product.  It could take up to 6 months for a national magazine to cover the product; therefore, start that process as soon as possible.

Once you determine the markets, the second step is determining what media within those markets to target.  Certainly you’ll want to start with media that will be interested in the product and media that will reach as much of your target audience as possible.

While it may seem obvious to start with the newspapers, magazines, blogs, web sites, television and radio stations that reach the most people, don’t forget about niche media.  For example, consider you are promoting a DIY product.  While regional home magazines might have a lower circulation than a daily paper, don’t overlook those publications because the majority of the people reading a regional home magazine are likely your target audience.

After you have developed your target media list, start by contacting the media (by phone, email or both) and determining their interest in receiving a product sample kit.  We highly discourage sending unsolicited product samples because it can be a big waste of time and money. Product samples could be shipped back to you or media could simply toss your package in the garbage.  While it will take more time to contact the media, the results will be better.

Following product distribution, contact the media again to ensure they received the materials and to answer any questions they may have.  This will also give you an opportunity to gauge the interest of the reporter and whether he or she plans on writing a story.

Distributing product samples to the media is a process and requires time and attention.  However, if you are taking the time and money to develop product review kits, it is definitely worth the investment to ensure you are targeting the correct media and the media has confirmed they want to test your product.

Launching a new product and want media coverage?  Contact me at jennifer at sweeneypr.com or 910.772.1688.