5 Tips To Planning Your Product Launch Event
When Coke announces a new type of soda, or when Sony launches the newest version of the Playstation, they don’t just ship their products to stores. They’re usually tied to a product launch event or party. It’s a way to formally announce the product to a key group of people.
Developing a new product can be a daunting task. Actually launching that product is another stress entirely. New products can earn up to half of their profits in the early part of their life cycle. Chances are your company isn’t coming out a new product that has the profile of a new Coke product or the latest video game system, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t put together an event that will get attention for your product. Here’s some tips on how to do it.
Timing a launch can mean all the difference between success and failure. This is especially true if your product has a global audience. Stay aware of good and bad times of the year to launch your product. For example, the summer months in Europe are difficult because most people are on vacation.
Also, the type of product that you’re launching will impact when you release it. The introduction of new toys or consumer electronics often coincides with the holiday buying season.
Keep in mind that you also have to be willing to pull the plug on your event if your product isn’t ready. It’s always better to reschedule than to debut a product that is nowhere near ready for public consumption. Remember, the competition will seize every opportunity they can to capitalize on your mistakes.
The point of your product launch event is not to simply get exposure and have as many people as possible find out about your product. It’s to reach the specific audience that will turn into someone willing to pay for your product.
Decide on a specific goal for your event. Do you want sales, product distribution, consumer awareness, media coverage, or to reach out to key industry influencers? Knowing your direction will help you to focus on what type of event you’ll have. There are three key types:
- Trade Events – You might invite key industry influencers like analysts or editors of trade publications. This can also be a series of events in multiple locations, or over a period of time.
- Media Events – Educate key members of the media (reporters and editors) that have been invited to review the product. This could be in the form of a press conference.
- Consumer Events – Allows you to introduce the product to old and new consumers. This doesn’t have to be a formal event. For example, if you’re rolling out a new type of beer, you could set up a booth at a sporting event or county fair.
It’s critical that you don’t try to host one event that caters to multiple audiences. This is not a situation where you want a lot of overlap; you want to be very specific. Keep your target audience narrow. This will help you to market and sell the event itself.
What’s the old adage about the three things that matter most in real estate? Location, location, location. The same thing applies for your event. You want as much of your target audience to be able to get there as easy as possible.You also want try to choose a location that will reflect your product in some way.
Think carefully about where you’ll have your event. The location says a lot about your company. If your market isn’t upscale, don’t use an upscale venue. Your venue will also depend on how big your company is, how big the product you’re launching is and how much money your company is willing to invest in the launch.
You could also consider having your event at a trade show. This can make perfect sense, because all of the people you want to announce your product to are already going to be there. The downside is that there can be a lot of competition from other companies with the same idea. Whatever you decide, it can be worth it to think beyond the normal press conferences or cocktail parties. With proper planning and preparation, you can arrange an incredibly successful trade show.
The hardest part about planning your launch event isn’t deciding who to invite or where to have it, it’s how to create something that will be memorable to the audience, something that they’ll feel was worth attending. It’s not so much about telling them about you. It’s giving the audience something of value that resonates with them.
If your event is targeting the media, make sure that you’re giving them information that they can use to do their job effectively. Give them access to your product. It makes it that much easier to write about something if they can see exactly what it is and how it works, from their own point of view.
If your event targets consumers, in addition to having them experience your product, consider giving them a discount on the item if they purchase it at the event. With all of the competition for the attention of consumers, you need to do all you can to make your product stand out. Consumers are hit with hundreds if not thousands of product messages on a daily basis. You really need to make your product appear different in their eyes.
It may not even be worth having an event unless you can make a clear distinction about the value of your product. Not every new product is the iPod. The iPod wasn’t even the iPod when it was launched. You have to make your event and product seem worthwhile to your target. Get a celebrity to endorse your product and have him appear at the event, or get a spokesperson like a local news anchor to add something that really makes the event seem exciting.
Remember to keep track of all the small details that could derail your event.
- Give Them Something
Provide a packet to all of your guests that contains information about the new product. You could use your press kit. Select what materials would be appropriate depending on who it is you’re targeting.
- Make Them Comfortable
Make sure there is ample seating for all your guests. You want them to be as comfortable as possible so that they have an enjoyable experience. Provide them with refreshments or even cater the event, depending on the time of day or duration.
The Follow Up
In the days following your event, it’s crucial that you keep the momentum going for your new product. Follow up with your target audience and call those who showed interest in the product. Your launch event should really only be a part of your product launch process.
Everyone has seen a product that got a huge roll out only to die a slow death in the market. Don’t focus all of your energy on the product announcement and event. Your launch alone is not going to be the thing that makes your product successful. You need to tie it to all of your other ongoing product marketing initiatives
The launch is an exciting time in the life of your new product – stressful, but exciting nonetheless. With proper planning and execution, you can ensure that you get things started off on the right track.