Creating forward-thinking launch strategies that engage consumers before, during, and after a launch or re-launch of a product or service has never been so important.
Consumers’ attention spans are shorter than ever, their preference of social media platforms changes regularly, and technology has created customer expectations that are increasingly hard for brands to keep up with.
We know that consumer behaviour has changed; that information and content is consumed in different ways, and that consumers are more conscious about what brands they’re building relationships and engaging with. This is all information that needs to inform your launch strategy.
In this complex environment, the focus for brands needs to be around how they approach their launch strategy – whether they are launching a new product or brand, re-positioning in the market, or responding to pressure to improve the rate of sales.
We believe that the success of any launch centres around four key areas:
If you get these areas right, your launch strategy should be robust and sustainable enough to see you through not only your immediate launch activity, but also your marketing planning rounds for the next three to five years.
Here are some top tips to help you achieve success at each stage:
To get your launch strategy kicked off, you need to know your brand and your customers inside out. This doesn’t just mean knowing what you do, but also why you do it, and what role your brand plays in your customers’ lives. Once you know this, you can find your connected purpose – the space where you and your customers come together.
Top tips for finding your connected purpose:
Brands need to be bold and purposeful when it comes to defining their values and understanding why they do what they do. This helps us build up a strong belief system that enables you to connect with your customers. Just look at Airbnb’s ‘#weaccept’ campaign: the brand’s core belief is that everyone deserves to belong somewhere, so, when it developed a programme to help displaced people find temporary accommodation (including those affected by President Trump’s travel ban), people felt that this was authentic, and they got behind the brand.
Really knowing your customer isn’t just about gaining qualitative and quantitative insight – such as their impression of your brand, purchase history and usage behaviour – you have to go deeper into the role your brand plays in their life. This will help you to understand the lifestyle and emotional drivers that you could be tapping into. Couple this with in-depth market research, thorough data analysis and social listening tools to really help you get under the skin of your customers.
Don’t be afraid to challenge your existing knowledge; the market is constantly changing, and your audience will evolve with it.
Brands often reach a fork in the road where they have two options in front of them. Choosing which path to take with your connected purpose is not always an easy decision, and there might not be an obvious answer. If you believe in it, stick up for it and be brave.
Simple disruptive ideas can be just as effective, if not more so, than revolutionary ones.
As well as looking externally, engage with key internal stakeholders to align your objectives and strategy. Your connected purpose and what defines success will always look different to different people. It’s about taking everyone internally along on the journey right from the start to ensure a cohesive approach.
Avoid the pitfalls:
Knowing the ins and outs of your audience ecosystem means that you can create ongoing buzz enabling you to connect with your audience on the channels they like to use, and within their everyday spaces and communities. Your mapped-out buzz ecosystem should be used to inform your ideas for the roar – not the other way round!
Top tips for mapping out your audience ecosystem:
Use data-driven insight, which will tell you where, when and how your users engage with media.
You need to consider what channels are going to be right for your launch to ensure that you create a seamless experience for your audience. Social media, for example, can be a cost-effective way to amplify your reach and generate word of mouth. But don’t just consider Instagram, Facebook and Twitter – look at how you can engage through emerging channels like Snapchat and messaging apps as well.
Putting a lot of energy into the big bang of your launch is great, but the heart and soul of your activity should be your day-to-day ecosystem. Focusing on developing a sustainable, ongoing Buzz will give your Roar the boost it needs to have real impact, and ensure your customers continue to engage with your brand after launch.
Avoid the pitfalls:
Once you have your connected purpose and audience ecosystem in place, it’s time to use the information you have to create personas around your users’ micro-moments and decide how your brand can best tap into these.
Mapping audience micro-moments will also inform which type of launch would be the most engaging for your audience: big bang love (a short but intense build up, a big bang and a sustained buzz); big push and sustained love (tapping into the everyday moments where your brand has relevance); or increasing love (building credibility over a period of time).
Top tips for using your micro-moments:
Develop your micro-moments strategy around personas that enable you to step into the mind of your customer and focus on their needs and pain points.
Use your micro-moments to align your launch with the issues that are most important to your audience. Think about how you can help your audience answer questions like ‘Is the brand right for me?’, ‘How does it work?’ and ‘What have other people said about it?’.
Think about where to connect with your audience and when they will be most receptive. Constantly assess all parts of the customer experience – both online and offline – to ensure customers are getting the right information, in the right place, at the right time. This could be about building awareness, driving a purchase decision, helping to enhance your customers’ experience of your product or brand, or encouraging advocacy.
There’s no point creating a big bang with an all-singing, all-dancing launch if the benefits just fizzle out in the long term. Nowadays, consumers expect instant connectivity and brand transparency. Developing a solid landing pad for your launch activity will give your launch somewhere to go, building on your brand beliefs and helping you bring your connected purpose to life.
Top tips for creating a landing pad:
Put as much time into planning your post-launch marketing efforts as you do into planning the big bang itself. A product or brand launch shouldn’t be done in isolation; it is about setting the scene for an enduring marketing strategy.
Experiment with new ways of getting to know and connecting with your customers. Dark social (where content is shared privately on platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger) can give you an indication of your customers’ genuine interests. Using tools like Instagram and Snapchat Stories is another great way to tap into and enhance (rather than interrupt!) users’ everyday moments.
Determine whether your digital and search strategies are fit for purpose. For example, how will your customers find you after the launch? What content will they receive when they do find you? If they have questions, how can they get in touch? Answer these questions, and don’t forget to create processes to collect data from each touchpoint.
Once you have your customers’ attention, amplify your reach through social media. Focus on understanding how you can grow your following, as well as how to keep consumers coming back for more. Build communities that your audience can be a part of today, tomorrow and in the future.
Don’t just push out content for the sake of it. Make sure every brand communication you make has a purpose and adds value.
Develop robust content marketing and eCRM strategies to help convert followers into consumers as quickly as possible.
Avoid the pitfalls:
So, there they are – the four stages that we think you need to nail during the planning of your launch to ensure you make a lasting impact on your audience and generate the business results you’re looking for.
We have developed a launch radar self-assessment tool that allows you to score and quantify your launch strategy. The tool allows brands to review and build on their strategy to ensure the most effective launch possible. You can complete the launch radar here.
In a changing world, brand momentum is everything, and creating great ideas that move people will take your launch from ordinary to extraordinary.
From launches to live events and exhibitions, we can help you engage audiences in fresh and unexpected ways, so get in touch if you want to chat about our ideas on launch strategy further.