Having Trouble Launching Your New Product?

You created the best thing since sliced bread and you want everyone to know.  Once the word is out, you figure the world will beat a path to your door and you’ll be living the good life on some remote island…that you own.

Or maybe it isn’t your new product.  You are the product manager.  Or the PR person.  Or the agency person.  You’re working for a big company that has something cool and unique to offer.

You know that PR is generally considered one of the most cost-efficient ways to get your message out to the market.  (Yes, yes — advertising is expensive; direct response is expensive…etc.)

But you just can’t seem to get anyone to pay attention.

  • The local newspaper and business tabloid doesn’t really have the staff to cover this kind of thing any more — even though they used to.  (You ARE a local company, after all.)
  • The industry press is similarly squeezed, with your beat reporter covering multiple arenas and because of the drop in ad pages, she only has room for a couple of articles each issue.   You’re competing with a lot of companies for her attention and that space.  Plus, it seems like there is an increased amount of space being given to case studies, in-depth analysis and other non-product-focused stories.
  • The major media wants to talk to a customer.  And not a beta customer either.  Someone who has been using the product for a while and can talk about it in-depth.  “It’s a NEW product,” you stammer. And, yes, you’ll let this reporter know when you have customers he can talk to.  Meanwhile, he will go off and write stories about the tanking economy.
  • You haven’t been able to reach out to the bloggers in any meaningful way.  Sure, you have a couple of people who tried and loved our product but nowhere near the big attention you need to put this beautiful product on the map.

Product launches were always a pillar of public relations campaigns.  Some agencies made a science of it — one launch after another — some of them gloriously exciting, others more mundane.  Many agencies knew no other way to get attention for their clients.  During the initial get-to-know-you meetings, they would talk about connecting the dots and stringing together the “highlights” into a cogent campaign but they were really a series of product launches.  And in a market dominated by the mass media, one  that celebrated the new product, this worked, to a certain extent.

More and more, marketers are finding out that the new product launch is no longer a mainstay marketing strategy.  It’s no longer a case of build a product, take a picture, write yourself a press release, and sit back and watch the clips roll in.  (Actually, it was NEVER that easy but you get the point.)

The goal of any “new product launch” was and still is getting people to know about your product so they can buy it.  That’s really the end game of any marketing program — some variations acceptable, of course, depending on your business objectives.

Social Media is adding new dimensions to traditional product launches — a viral aspect, person-to-person communications, etc.  I find Twitter’s contributions especially interesting as it facilitates “Tweet-ups” — live, in-person events where Twitterers get together.  As an example, at this week’s Boston Media Makers’ Breakfast Tweet-up at Doyle’s (held monthly), I saw several instances of new products being featured by some of the members — everything from a Flip Mino to some nifty gloves.  In some cases these were reviewers who would later be formally reviewing and blogging about the products but in other cases, the new products were being discussed in-depth by every day users. That peer-to-peer interaction was verrrrry interesting, and impactful.

How do you let your target audience know that your product is ready and waiting for them?  How do you highlight new and innovative products?  Are you finding this task more of a challenge than ever before?  And, are you finding tools/techniques within social media that are playing an important part in your product launches?  And, lastly, what role do in-person interactions have in your plans?