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rom Cheeto-flavored lip balm to New Coke to Google+, new products flop all the time.
Recent statistics suggest that of all new products launched by companies today, only 40% survive in the market, and of those, just 60% generate any revenue.
New products can fail for a variety of reasons. Having a strong go-to-market strategy, or a product-specific marketing plan, can help ensure your product launch goes well – and sets you up to measure success and learn from missteps.
Creating a marketing plan for a new product launch involves outlining the strategies, objectives, target market, budget, and tactics to achieve your company’s goals. It typically includes a timeline, budget, key performance indicators, and other measurements to determine the success of the plan.
A successful product launch comprises six essential steps. As a small business owner, clearly understanding each of these product marketing elements will empower you to confidently launch a new product.
Step #1 - Target Market Analysis
Target market analysis focuses on understanding a company's most likely customer base. This can be brand-wide, but when it comes to a go-to-market strategy, the focus must be on one product's target market.
Target market analysis involves researching and analyzing the characteristics of the company's existing and potential customers, such as their age, gender, income level, geographical location, and purchasing habits.
With this information, businesses can create a marketing plan that tailors messaging around a new product to the needs of their target market.
Six steps to identifying and defining your target market
- Research: Conduct research to understand the potential customer base for the new product. This may involve analyzing existing customer data and sales trends, researching competitors and their customer bases, and understanding the needs of the market.
- Segmentation: Segment the potential customer base into smaller, more defined groups based on demographics, interests, and needs.
- Profiling: Create customer profiles based on the segmentation data. Include demographic, psychographic, and behavioral information.
- Prioritize: Prioritize the customer segments based on their potential to benefit from the new product.
- Define: Identify the most relevant customer segments and outline the ideal customer's characteristics.
- Test: Test the target market definition by conducting market research or focus groups with potential customers. Make adjustments to the target market definition, if necessary.
Target market analysis in action
Target market analysis is an ongoing process. For example, the Harman brothers originally marketed Mountain Dew to Appalachia's tough mountaineers. However, its target audience has evolved drastically over time.
Starting in the 90s, it became the official beverage of extreme sports. Then, its demographic shifted again to gamers due to its high caffeine content. Currently, Mountain Dew is dedicating 40% of its budget to targeting gamers in need of an energy boost.
Step #2 - Competitive Analysis
Competitive analysis is a process of gathering and analyzing data about competitors and their strategies. It helps businesses identify their competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, identify opportunities and threats in the market, and develop strategies to outperform the competition.
Tips for identifying and researching your competitors
- Use online search tools: Start by researching your competitors online. Use search engines to find out what content they’re creating, what keywords they’re targeting, what channels they’re using, and so on.
- Follow their social media accounts: Follow your competitors’ social media accounts to stay up to date on their products, services, and promotions.
- Subscribe to their email lists: Sign up for your competitors’ email lists to get an inside look at their offers and strategies.
- Monitor online reviews: Stay on top of online reviews for your competitors’ products and services. This can help you identify customer pain points and areas of improvement.
Note inspiration from strengths and opportunities in weaknesses
As you gather data on your competitors, make note of where they’re succeeding and where they’re failing. A competitor's strengths can inspire you because they can motivate you to strive to reach similar heights of success. Their successes can also give you insight into what strategies and tactics are working for them, which can help guide your own efforts.
At the same time, their weaknesses provide an opportunity for you to capitalize on and potentially overtake them in the marketplace.
Competitive analysis in action
Brand names aren’t exactly open with their competitive analysis data. But here’s an example of how a bit of competitive analysis gave way to an entirely new industry.
Airbnb was founded in 2008 by roommates Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia when a large design conference was coming to San Francisco. The two former Rhode Island School of Design students had an idea to rent out airbeds in their living room to attendees in need of a place to stay since local hotels couldn’t keep up with demand.
They created a website to advertise their loft, and within a week, they had three bookings. They realized that people were willing to pay for unique, authentic accommodation experiences not offered by hotels and that there was a potential for a business.
Step #3 - Product Analysis
Product analysis is a process used to evaluate a product's features, performance, and marketability. It may involve a review of the product’s design, functionality, pricing, and target market.
Product analysis can help you determine whether your product meets customer needs and expectations and provides a competitive advantage. Ultimately, product analysis can help guide product development and marketing decisions, including the details of a go-to-market strategy.
How to define the features and benefits of your new product
When developing a marketing plan for new product launches, a solid list of features and benefits starts the sales process. Here are some steps to extracting each talking point.
- Ask questions: Take time to ask questions about your new product. Consider the needs of your target market and the problems you’re trying to solve with your product. List any unique benefits or features the product may have.
- Research competitors: Look at what other similar products are already on the market and what they offer. Identify areas where your product is superior.
- Talk to users: Ask potential buyers questions about what they like or dislike about similar products and what features or benefits they would find most attractive from yours.
- Prioritize: Once you have a list of benefits and features, prioritize them. Use the most important as the pillars for your go-to-market strategy.
Choose a pricing strategy
Consider your pricing strategy options when analyzing your product. Some of the most popular include:
- Cost-Plus Pricing: This is the most common pricing strategy for small businesses. It involves adding a markup to the cost of your product to determine the final price.
- Value-Based Pricing: This pricing strategy is based on the customer's perceived value of your product. It takes into account the customer’s needs and wants, as well as the competition in the market.
- Penetration Pricing: Penetration pricing involves setting a low price for an introductory period in order to capture market share quickly.
- Bundle Pricing: Bundle pricing involves offering a group of products at a discounted rate. This strategy often encourages customers to purchase more than one item.
- Tiered Pricing: Tiered pricing is a strategy that involves offering different levels of pricing depending on the customer’s purchase volume. This encourages customers to purchase more in order to get the best deal.
Developing the packaging and branding for the product
Your product’s presentation is just as important as its price and features.
Before beginning the design process of packaging, start with an analysis of your brand to identify the mission, values, and desired message to customers. Consider the type of customer who will interact with the product packaging and how the design should reflect their values. For example, if your buyer persona appreciates green initiatives, use eco-friendly packaging.
After brainstorming ideas, create a mood board with images, colors, and textures to create a clear vision. Finally, test the design with focus groups or customers to receive feedback.
Product analysis in action
Botanical Bakery's shortbread cookies were truly scrumptious - however, they were lost among the competition before the company gave itself a packaging rebrand.
This rebranding effort proved to be incredibly successful, leading to a 300% increase in sales for the company. The project included a packaging redesign featuring bright colors, larger fonts, more vivid imagery, and an updated brand story to create a more personal connection with customers.
Once you have a good sense of your competitors’ product offerings, your target consumer’s needs, and your product’s value, you can start to build out your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Your USP will describe why your product or service beats the competition and how it’s uniquely positioned to help your target customer. This value proposition should be included in all of your marketing materials.
Step #4 - Marketing Mix (4 Ps)
The marketing mix, also known as the 4 Ps, refers to the four key elements of any successful marketing strategy: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. No go-to-market strategy is complete without a customized marketing mix.
By completing a thorough analysis of your product, you should have this element of the marketing mix handled. Here are some tips for turning all of that data into a landing page with high conversion potential.
- Create a landing page: Start by creating a dedicated landing page specifically designed to promote your product launch. This page should be designed to capture leads, so provide an easy way for visitors to sign up for more information or to purchase your product.
- Incorporate visuals: Images, videos, and GIFs of your product in action can be a great way to capture attention and make your product launch page more engaging.
- Use a call-to-action: Make sure your product launch page includes a clear call-to-action that encourages visitors to take the next step.
- Share customer stories: Use customer stories to show potential customers how your product has helped others. For example, if you release your product early to a select group of users before launching it to the general public, get feedback and reviews from early users to share across your marketing channels.
- Promote your page: Promote your product launch page on social media, in email campaigns, and across other marketing channels.
You should already have chosen a pricing strategy for your product. Now it’s time to communicate it.
- Take the time to clearly define your pricing. Include the cost of your product or service, and any discounts, additional fees, and taxes. Make sure to be as transparent as possible.
- Using visuals, like charts, infographics, and illustrations can help to make pricing easier to understand.
- Offer multiple payment options, like credit cards, PayPal, and other digital payment systems. This will make it easier for customers to pay for your product or service.
This part of the marketing mix process covers where and how customers can buy your product. It involves understanding customers' shopping habits, researching where your competition sells its products, and assessing the best buying experience and after-sales support that can be offered.
It is important to consider if sales reps are needed or if self-service is the best option. Additionally, weighing the cost of giving up revenue through particular distribution channels is important. Your options may include:
- Online Marketplace: Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and other online marketplaces are popular places to sell products as a small business owner.
- Social Media: Platforms like Instagram and Facebook offer a great way to reach a wide audience and increase sales.
- Retail Stores: You can sell your products in retail stores, either through a third party or by opening your own store.
- Wholesalers: Wholesalers are companies that buy products from manufacturers and then resell them to retailers.
- Trade Shows: Trade shows are great places to showcase and sell your products to a large number of potential buyers.
- OEM Distribution: OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) distribution is when a manufacturer sells products directly to end users, such as through a website or through a network of distributors.
Determining where your product or service is sold will help you choose the right marketing channels to maximize discoverability and conversion.
The promotion portion of a marketing plan for new product launches is where it all starts to come together. When advertising a new product, prioritize quality over quantity when deciding which channels to use. Make sure to customize your approach for each channel and audience segment, generate excitement before the launch, and continue marketing after the initial launch.
Choose your marketing channels
- Research the channels most populated by your target audience. This may include social media channels, websites, television, radio, or print.
- Consider the type of product you’re advertising. Different channels may be more effective for certain types of products. For example, retail products may be best suited for Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube. Campaigns for B2B products may perform better on LinkedIn.
- Consider the budget available for advertising. Different marketing channels may have different costs, so it is important to consider what channels will provide the most value for your budget.
- Prioritize channels that track and measure results. This will help determine which channels are most effective and should receive more of the budget.
Pre-launch buzz vs. post-launch promotion
Pre-launch buzz is a marketing strategy used to create excitement and anticipation for a product before it has been officially launched. It typically involves activities such as releasing teaser videos, creating websites, and conducting interviews to generate hype and attract potential customers.
Post-launch advertising is a type of marketing that focuses on promoting a product or service after it has already been launched. It typically involves activities such as developing campaigns, running ads, and creating content to attract new customers and increase sales. It can also be used to create brand awareness and loyalty and build relationships with customers.
Your go-to-market strategy should include plans for both pre-launch buzz and post-launch promotion.
Step #5 - Implementation
The goal of the implementation stage is to ensure that the marketing strategy is executed effectively and efficiently. The following tips can help you put your go-to-market strategy to work with minimal hurdles.
Get smart with your goals
SMART goals are a method for setting and achieving goals. The acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound:
- Specific goals are clear and unambiguous.
- Measurable goals have easily identifiable metrics for success.
- Attainable goals are realistic and achievable.
- Relevant goals are important and contribute to your overall objectives.
- Time-bound goals have a specific timeline for completion.
SMART goals are great for product launches because they help provide a clear and measurable plan for success. They are also easy to understand, which makes it easier for everyone involved in the project to stay on the same page.
Establish a budget
Go-to-market strategies don’t typically come with endless budgets. Before allocating funds, calculate the cost of each marketing activity, such as advertising, promotional materials, and event costs. Then, a realistic budget for product marketing can be set, with a buffer for unexpected costs.
Monitor the results of each activity and make adjustments to the budget if necessary. If something is working well, consider increasing the budget for that particular activity.
There are more than just financial resources to allocate in a go-to-market strategy. You should also outline processes, limits, and guidelines for:
- Human resources
- Material resources
- Time resources
- Technology resources
- Logistics resource
- Legal resources
- Marketing resources
Develop your timeline
Successful implementation of a marketing plan for new product launches relies on timelines that serve as references to track progress. We recommend creating an implementation schedule by working backward from your target launch date.
- Identify the tasks that need to be completed in order to reach the deadline.
- Estimate the amount of time each task should take.
- Work backward from the deadline, assigning each task a start and end date.
- Make sure to account for any potential delays.
- Reassess the schedule regularly to make sure you are staying on track.
Establish a system for monitoring progress
Monitoring progress after a new product launch is important because it helps identify areas of success and areas that need improvement.
Companies can use A/B testing to measure the success of different marketing strategies and identify areas for improvement.
Track key metrics like customer acquisition, customer retention, sales, revenue, website traffic, and user engagement to measure the ongoing success of your product launch.
Plan for the worst, hope for the best
Even with proper planning, a new product launch can fail. In a worst-case scenario, having a contingency plan for a failed product launch in place can help minimize the damage.
A contingency plan should include measures to help minimize potential losses and reposition the product for success. Additionally, offering incentives to customers who have already purchased the product, such as discounts or refunds, should be considered to help maintain customer loyalty and trust.
Reallocating resources to focus on other products or services to help offset any losses incurred from the failed launch may also be beneficial.
With the above tips in mind, you’ll be able to ensure a smooth rollout of your marketing campaigns.
Step #6 - Post-Launch: Evaluation and Retention
Post-launch evaluation and retention in a go-to-market strategy is the process of assessing the success of a product launch and developing strategies to retain customers after the launch.
Measure success with a post-mortem review
A project post-mortem is a review process that takes place after a marketing project is completed. It’s a time to evaluate what went well, what didn't, and what can be improved for future projects.
During a post-mortem, you should review the project goals, resources, timeline, budget, and KPIs to identify what worked and what didn’t. Make notes of process improvements you plan to make for future projects.
It is important to adjust your product marketing playbook based on data insights and post-mortem evaluations, but not necessary to start from scratch. Make changes to reflect the data and findings while keeping the overall structure and goals in mind.
Develop a retention plan
Developing a retention plan after launch is critical for any business to maintain customer loyalty, encourage additional purchases, and better understand its customer base.
Suggested strategies include:
- Offer loyalty programs and rewards
- Create a customer-only community
- Implement automated follow-up emails
- Offer incentives for referrals
Crafting an effective and comprehensive go-to-market strategy requires a lot of thought and effort. Use this cheat sheet as a reference for each essential component.
- Target Market Analysis: Identifying and researching the target audience's characteristics, needs, and wants to create a tailored marketing strategy.
- Competitive Analysis: Analyze the current competition’s strengths and weaknesses to identify areas of opportunity and solidify your value proposition.
- Product Analysis: Evaluate the product to ensure it meets customer needs and wants. Determine which features and messaging to emphasize in the marketing strategy.
- Marketing Mix: Develop a unique creative marketing strategy by considering the product, price, place, and promotion of the product.
- Implementation: Execute the go-to-market strategy and ensure all elements are in place for a smooth rollout.
- Post-Launch Evaluation and Retention: Measure the success of the launch, identify areas for improvement, and develop strategies to keep customers engaged and loyal.
A well-thought-out marketing plan clears the runway to launch
Without a calculated marketing plan, a product launch could fail due to a lack of awareness and engagement with the target audience. This could be a costly mistake for small businesses that may not have the resources to recover from a failed launch.
By implementing the six shared steps above, you can easily develop a marketing plan for new product launches, ensuring each launch is successful.
Novo Platform Inc. strives to provide accurate information but cannot guarantee that this content is correct, complete, or up-to-date. This page is for informational purposes only and is not financial or legal advice nor an endorsement of any third-party products or services. All products and services are presented without warranty. Novo Platform Inc. does not provide any financial or legal advice, and you should consult your own financial, legal, or tax advisors.