You have a brand new product that you’re sure will be a hit. That’s great news! But how to market your new product?
If you assume that you can sit back and watch the buzz about your new offering spread like wildfire, you’re sorely mistaken.
Your new product may be a big deal to you. However, it doesn’t carry the same weight for everybody else–particularly if you don’t already have a solid customer base that’s eagerly following your business’ every move.
With that in mind, it takes some clever product development and product marketing in order to have a successful product launch and get your innovative offering into the hands of eager consumers.
So, what do you need to know in order to pull off this new product introduction? Here are the details on how to promote a product–and get people to care about it.
The challenges of bringing a new product to market
First, let’s start with a bit of bad news. According to Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, each year more than 30,000 new consumer products are launched.
But unfortunately, a whopping 95% of them fail.
Why is this?
There are a multitude of reasons at play here. It could involve a lack of customer demand. Or it could have something to do with an incorrect pricing structure.
However, many experts cite a lack of marketing for this flop of new products.
“There a number of reasons why new product introductions fail; however, the one we see most often is lack of rigor behind sales and marketing planning and execution,” explains Kurt Schroeder in a post for The Business Journals.
After all, products aren’t a “build it and they will come” sort of thing–even major companies like Apple aggressively market their new offerings in order to generate buzz and get customers in the door.
Needless to say, marketing will be a huge piece of your product launch puzzle.
But what steps can you take to do this well?
Follow these seven key steps for successfully marketing a product.
How to market a product
1. Understand your audience
The first step in any successful marketing initiative is to understand exactly who you’re marketing to. Ask anybody—trying to sell bacon to vegetarians will never end well for you.
So, you need to dig in and identify your target market.
- Who is your ideal customer?
- What demographic information should you be aware of?
- What outlets do they use to get their information?
While understanding those nuts and bolts about your customer is important, you also need to dive a little deeper by answering this one key question: What problem does your product solve for them?
In order to be successful, your product has to have some demand–which also means that it needs to meet a need.
If you can’t think of a single pain point that your product addresses?
Well, that could be an indicator that you’re solving a problem that’s actually non-existent for your customers.
“Many organizations need to become better at asking the right questions so that they tackle the right problems,” explains Dwayne Spradlin in a post for Harvard Business Review.
“Your products must truly solve your customer’s problems in compelling ways, and most product companies spend too little time immersing themselves in the customer’s reality,” said Spradlin (now CEO of Buzz Points) in an email.
One way that you can really gain the customer understanding that you need? Begin selling to them directly at first.
To learn how to bring a product to market, begin by selling directly to end-users, advises entrepreneur Tamara Monosoff in an article for Entrepreneur.
“This’ll give you confidence that there’s demand for your product and will also create referenceable customers that you can contact for product and packaging feedback before you hit the bigger leagues.”
By having those early conversations with your target market, you’ll not only have a better grasp on their goals and challenges but also have the opportunity to make any necessary tweaks–to your product, your pricing structure, or anything else–before you get too much further down the rabbit hole.
2. Know your product
You not only need to understand your audience, you also need to have an intimate understanding of your product.
This is especially when your product is in its early stages. You need to think of yourself as the all-knowing expert on your offering:
- What is it?
- How does it work?
- How much does it cost?
- What challenges does it address?
- How is it better than your competitors?
- What advantages does it offer to your consumers?
You’ll need to answer all of those questions (and then some!) in order to identify your product’s value proposition–which will be the common thread that weaves throughout all of your marketing materials and messaging.
While it’s undeniably important to understand the ins and outs of your product, you also need to ensure that you have an understanding of how it fits into the larger picture for your target market.
For example, which quick sales pitch do you find more effective?
Option A: This widget that we created uses state-of-the-art technology that we spent months refining.
Option B: This widget will help you better keep track of your customer contact information, empowering you to nurture those relationships, increase your sales, and improve your bottom line.
If you’re like most people, Option B resonated with you far more than Option A.
Why is that? Rather than getting so wrapped up in product features, it focused specifically on results. Ultimately, your customers don’t care about the behind-the-scenes stuff—they really only want to hear what’s in it for them.
3. Create a plan
Once you have that foundation laid, it’s time to create a plan.
It might sound obvious. But without this breakdown in place, your product marketing efforts will feel a lot like being on a road trip without a map or a GPS.
Fortunately, you have plenty of flexibility here in order to create a plan that works best for you and your unique product. Here are some questions you’ll want to be sure to answer when hashing out your next steps:
- What are your revenue goals? Over what amount of time?
- What price will your product be launched at?
- With that in mind, how many products do you need to sell in order to meet your goal?
- Is this the type of product that customers will buy multiples of?
- Do you have existing customers that will be interested in this product offering?
- What are your biggest challenges in getting customers to purchase this product?
- What steps will you take to overcome those challenges?
With that self-reflection in place, you can begin hashing out different tactics and strategies to get your product to market.
However, remember this: You need to stay flexible. Launching a new product is a learning process, and your plan might require some tweaking (or even major changes!) along the way.
4. Prepare to educate
Imagine your doorbell just rang. You swing open your front door and there’s a salesman standing there with a vacuum cleaner. “This is a great vacuum,” he says, “You should buy it.”
What are you going to do? You’re probably going to shut the door in his face.
You see, as a business, you’re intimately aware of all of the benefits and advantages your own product offers.
But your customers don’t immediately have the same knowledge simply because you put your new product in front of their eyeballs.
Any new product launch requires a high degree of customer education in order to be successful. You need to help your customers understand not just what your product is, but why they need it in their lives. So how do you do this?
By creating various educational materials that your customers can reference. These can include things like:
A short demo video that lives on your website or gets shared on social, like this explainer on how to use Toggl Track.
An informative blog post (like ours) that walks them through how your product works.
A FAQ page that answers questions that are commonly asked by prospective customers.
- A free trial that gives them access to your product (if applicable) so that they can learn by doing.
- A designated customer support person who is willing to answer questions and provide tutorials.
There are plenty of other things you can do. But it’s important to remember that you absolutely need to educate your customers.
When businesses blindly assume that their prospects already have the information they need and are simply making a choice between brands, they shift from a learning-focused mindset to a competitive one, explains Mark Quinn in an article for Business Insider.
“The smart consumer will opt to buy from the company that’s educated him on the issue and presented him with multiple solutions. That company’s selflessness has built trust–and its ability to teach him has bought his loyalty in the future.”
5. Promote, promote, and promote some more
All of this groundwork is important.
But you’re likely wondering this: When do you get around to actually promoting your product? When are you going to start drawing in more people?
Promotion is a major part of your new product launch.
However, your promotional efforts will fall on deaf ears if you don’t take the time to gain an understanding first.
So, now that you’ve done that, it’s time to start blanketing your target market with the news of your new product. There are tons of different ways you can do that, including (but certainly not limited to!):
- Targeted social media ads
- Guest posting on industry-related sites
- Utilizing industry influencers
- Attending conferences or speaking engagements
How can you make sure your marketing messages really pack a punch? Try a few of these tactics:
- Use testimonials from your current happy customers. Social proof is huge, and 88% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as a personal recommendations.
- Use statistics and figures. That one used just above likely added legitimacy in your own mind, so why not leverage that same power in your own marketing efforts?
6. Learn what’s working
Unfortunately, not every single thing you do will be effective. Some of your marketing efforts will result in a huge payoff, while others seem to totally flop with your consumer base.
That’s normal–particularly when you’re just getting your product off the ground.
However, you don’t want to keep channeling time, energy, and resources into initiatives that aren’t actually pushing you forward.
Make sure you schedule some regular times to look at your results and analytics to identify how your efforts are resonating.
- What’s working really well?
- What isn’t working so well?
- What adjustments need to be made in order to keep making forward progress?
By taking a magnifying glass to the things you’re already doing, you’ll continue to keep learning what’s effective for your product and your target market–getting you that much closer to landing on a winning product management strategy.
7. Hit repeat
Would you go on a diet for one day and expect to see a difference the next morning?
Probably not. That same rule holds true with your product marketing.
You’re probably not going to see results after doing things once. Posting one social media update won’t lead to an influx of sales. Drafting one blog post won’t cram your inbox full of inquiries from eager customers.
The secret with marketing is to stay consistent and–as just mentioned–repeat what’s working well.
“When you dabble in your marketing, you’re right! It won’t work. Not because that marketing channel isn’t suited to your business, but usually because you didn’t maintain it for long enough,“ advises Ashley Davis in a post for Skyline Social.
“The businesses that produce the best results (in terms of generating both leads AND sales) are those that are consistent in their marketing,” according to Davis. “They’ve regularly been sending clear, consistent messages to potential clients. Not just for weeks or months, but for years.”
So while you may be understandably eager to get your new product off the ground, remember that it’s not a one-and-done sort of strategy.
A successful product will require a hefty dose of patience and a real investment in your time and your efforts.
Over to you
You’re excited to share your brand new product with the world. But a successful product launch requires a lot more than posting an announcement and watching the customers roll in.
Marketing products involves plenty of thought, strategy, and prior planning.
That might sound overwhelming. However, don’t panic yet–it’s much more doable than you think, and will ultimately lead to a better, more impactful product introduction.
Work your way through the seven actionable steps we outlined above and you’re far more likely to zone in on an interested and engaged audience for your new products on the market (and, thus, meet your sales goals!).In the meantime, track your time and progress with Toggl Track.
Kat is a freelance writer specializing in career, self-development, and productivity topics. She's passionate about being as efficient and effective as possible—much of which she owes to her 114 words per minute average typing speed. When her fingers aren't flying on the keyboard, she loves to bake, read, hike, or tackle yet another DIY project around her home.