Updated: July 9, 2019
How to launch a new B2B product with success -- why do we have to address this question? In a report from Harvard Business Review, it was estimated that of the 30,000 new products that are launched every year, around 80% fail.
But you don't have to be part of this statistic. Let's go over some of the common pitfalls in new product launches and what you can do to earmark your product for success.
In this post, you will learn:
- Why so many product launches fail.
- How to launch a new product, along with a new product launch strategy template to help you get started.
- What a good product launch looks like, with two exceptional examples.
Without any further delay, let's get right into it.
Why Many New B2B Product Launches Fail Right Out of the Gate
Lack of Planning. Successful product launches don't just happen. Research needs to go into product development and sales goals. For instance, you should have a clearly defined set of goals for revenue, price points, as well as clear expectations for your sales team.
Undefined Buyer Personas. Who is your target audience? Map out your audience, and determine which segments will most likely be interested in your product or service. Look at the buying behaviors and pain points of your audience, and define the specific needs your new product will fill.
Lack of Strategy. How will people learn about your product if you don't have a marketing strategy? Learn what channels, such as specific social media networks reach your audience, and what kinds of messages resonate. Pin down timing of these messages. Lastly, create ways to measure your success, and tweak your new product launch marketing plan based on those metrics.
As part of your improvement process, you'll doubtless offer new products or services as your customers' needs change or you acquire new customers
If you're in startup mode, you'll be launching your business -- along with your products and services.
Whether you're launching a new product or service that will be the very foundation of your startup, or you're augmenting your established business with a new product or service, you no doubt feel the pressure to succeed. And we want to help you do just that.
As we talk about launching products, we'll include services as part of our definition. Both product and service launches require a great deal of careful planning and execution.
Now that you know some of the key pitfalls to avoid, let's look at how to launch a new B2B product -- and do it successfully!
10 Powerful Tactics for How to Launch a New B2B Product Successfully
1. Determine the Demand
Before you even proceed with developing your product, you need to determine if there's actually a market for it.
Remember that you're launching your product, not into a vacuum, but into a sea of new offerings. What makes your product stand out? Does it fulfill a need or solve a problem for your customers?
Even if your product can improve someone's life, is there a market for it? Remember what's a boon to you may not be a benefit to your customer. Button down all these details to ensure that your product receives the best possible results.
Check out my infographic on startups to learn more about successful launches.
2. Time It Right
Your product could be the latest and greatest thing to hit the scene, but if you launch it at the wrong time, you may get a skewed response, or even silence.
What sort of events could signal that you should wait to release your product?
- Major news events, such as natural disasters, on both a national and global scale
- Holidays - national and regional
- Another product launch from a larger company around the same time
- Season (especially if your product is season-dependent)
Timing is everything. And while there are dates that you want to avoid, there are also dates that could mean prime time for your product. These dates include brand anniversaries and a significant trade show or conference you're participating in.
3. Use Beta Testing
If possible, conduct a beta test on a specific audience before your launch. Some companies offer early access to their products to select audiences in exchange for feedback. It's important that these audiences be people in the industry who already know the specific concerns and pain points of your audience.
You can even take this a step further by finding influencers who are willing to test your product and provide reviews. Keep in mind that this will likely cost you, as nearly all influencers expect compensation for this type of work.
Whether you use an influencer or not, try to get testimonials of how people like your product. This kind of third-party nod of approval may be just what you need to make your product launch a success.
4. Make It Come Alive
View your product as a living entity. It needs support in order to keep alive. You can provide this life support with such new product launch ideas as...
- Q&A fact sheets
- Tutorials on your blog
Not everyone learns in the same way. Some of us are more visual, while others learn best with audio, and still others need a hands-on experience. Don't limit your product launch materials to one type of media.
5. Attract People to Your Product
With so many new products flooding the market at any given time, people are used to seeing new products. Whether they'll try yours depends on how enticing you make it.
Give them incentives to try your new product. This might be a free trial, or even a limited-time or subscription discount. You could also offer a separate discount if they recommend your product to someone else.
At this point in the game, you want to give your audience an incentives to choose your product over another, especially if there are a lot of similar products on the market.
6. Prepare Your Audience
Are you a new name in the space where you're about to launch? Then you need to take the time to prep your audience. For example, if you're an internet security company that wants to offer cloud storage services, prospects might scratch their heads at first. You'll need to ease them into your new offering before you launch.
Make the transition easier by preparing content on the subject ahead of time. Establish your bona fides in the area before you spring a new product or service on your audience. Use the time before your launch to test what content resonates with your audience.
7. Make It a Process
Your launch is a marathon, not a sprint. Simply sending out a release and having a launch party do not constitute a well-rounded launch strategy.
Rather, it should be an ongoing event. This means you'll need to continuously trickle information to the media regarding your product. Certainly, a press release is in order, but after the press is aware, you need to feed them other information, such as beta customer stories and influencer reviews.
Tech companies like Apple are a great example of generating enthusiasm leading up to the big reveal. Think how minor details of the new iPhone trickle out, create buzz, and whet people's appetite for the final product.
This even extends to after your initial product launch. Paid social campaigns should be a part of your process even months after your launch. And your home page should prominently feature your new product for weeks and months to come.
8. Simplify Your Message
You've no doubt invested a lot of time and thought into the messaging of your launch -- maybe even down to the last comma. But don't get overly attached to it. Let others in on your messaging, invite their feedback, and learn from it.
One of the biggest mistakes I see when launching a new B2B product is to overcomplicate it. Don't weigh it down with industry jargon and a master list of features that overwhelm prospects.
Remember that your audience is being exposed to your product for the very first time. Keep your explanations jargon-free and as simple as possible so that the true value shines through. There's a reason that new product messages like Apple's original iPhone introduction, "Apple reinvents the phone," are so successful. It is simple, but resonant.
What can help you to simplify your message?
Before your launch, do a trial run. Explain your product to a family member or close friend who knows little about your business and industry. Watch for his or her response, and ask for feedback. If your relative or friend was at all confused, go back to the drawing board and simplify your delivery.
9. Create a Robust Social Strategy
Social media is an essential part of your B2B launch strategy. After all, most audiences live on social media and use it for business decision-making.
Be strategic about your choice of channels. This should not be a full blast distribution. Choose the wrong channels or even too many channels, and it could have an adverse effect on your overall launch. The primary social media channels for B2B brands include LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook -- but be sure to analyze your target audience to see what networks the majority of them use.
Once you've chosen your channel, it's time to set goals for your social media campaign. Use such KPIs as reach, impressions, leads, and sales that you want to reach through your social media campaigns. This gives you a guide post to see where you can improve.
Match your social media strategy with your original launch strategy. Plan the various components of your social media campaign around certain dates of your launch, including your pre-launch, launch day, and post-launch strategies. What people experience off of social media should also mesh with their experience on social media.
One final note: Create a campaign that lines up with your brand as a whole. Analyze your social media activity to ensure that your launch strategy reflects your brand's overall image. This includes your content style and messaging.
10. Give Yourself Some Wiggle Room
Remember, you're not locked in to anything. If any part of your launch isn't going the way you expected, don't be afraid to adjust as needed. If you've set a huge budget for paid social promotion and it's just not yielding results, examine your campaign and make needed changes. This may mean even pulling back and allocating your money elsewhere.
Don't be afraid to try new things. As new product launch ideas come your way, test them to see if they're a good fit for your product and industry. For instance, in recent years, many B2B companies have amped up their product launch success by releasing details on Facebook Live.
2 Awesome Examples of New Product Launches (& Why We Love Them)
In May 2019, Salesforce released a new product offering: a low-code blockchain that would enhance the way people use CRMs. As part of this launch, not only did Salesforce send out a press release, but it also created blog posts, videos, and a powerful social media strategy to spread the excitement about this product.
Salesforce released its product at its annual TrailheaDX conference, where developers come to learn more about Salesforce and the latest industry developments. Not only did they announce the product release here, but the company also made it live and used footage from the event to promote the new product after the event ended.
In interviews about the product, SalesForce referred to a positive response from its beta testing community. Such beta testing, as mentioned above, gives brands a way to gauge their product and provides valuable reviews and testimonials for future use.
2. SAP C/4HANA
In June of 2018, SAP announced the launch of C/4HANA, which is a new suite of applications. SAP announced this at its annual SAPPHIRE NOW Conference, where it demonstrated it. Its launch materials included press releases, blog posts, and videos. The content helped to educate its audience and build anticipation for its product, which was widely reviewed and written about among technology experts.
SAP's social media strategy regularly includes publishing articles on LinkedIn and Live videos on Facebook. Its strategy fortified its product launch -- with live videos showcasing the product features and articles motivating prospects towards a purchase decision.
Launching a new product is an exciting event in your brand's history! I hope that these tips will also help you to make it a successful one.
What suggestions have you found to be helpful in a successful product launch? I'd love to hear all about them in the comments below!
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