Rolling out new products is always an exciting milestone in business. It signifies that you’re moving forward and making progress. Failing to introduce new products as the external environment changes, means you’re falling behind the competition and you’ll likely fail at some point in the future. Plus, you never know when a product you launch will truly take off and change your business and life for the better. But, marketing a new product offers its own set of problems you must surmount or your new product drains resources from existing products.
One challenge when marketing a new product is getting the word out to your target audience. You must ensure the people most likely to buy your new product know how that product benefits them and solves their problems better than alternatives. But, your task in marketing a new product begins long before you build your first prototype. In fact, aspects of lean and agile product development currently favored in knowledgeable circles suggest you start marketing before you do anything else in developing a new product.
Marketing a new product begins at the beginning
Consumers buy solutions to their problems, not products. And, customer problems change over time. For instance, Chrysler developed the minivan concept by watching consumers use their cars. They found existing car types didn’t solve problems even though customers never articulated a problem with existing types. For instance, soccer moms needed to carry lots of people and gear but didn’t like driving a car built on a truck frame, which was how existing vans were built. They were clunky; hard to park and hard to drive. Yet, cars didn’t solve the problem of carrying lots of stuff. Hence, marketing a new product begins with understanding unmet consumer needs (discovering customer problems), then solving those problems.
Everything you need to know about marketing a new product
Keep your target marketing top of mind
It’s important to know and realize that not everyone in a market wants or needs the same thing. Nor do they share the same problems. Just like our soccer mom above, a minivan isn’t right for everyone. But, for some people, it’s exactly what they want/need. That’s your target market.
Therefore, you must take the time to study and define your target market. Expanding from the initial idea of a target market, we build market personas (like the one below) to identify stereotypical members of your target market to flesh out our understanding of who they are. You need to know where they spend their time and how to grab and keep their attention by using messaging to hit their hot buttons. For instance, when buying a new phone, the picture quality might be a hot button for an Instagramer, while security might be a hot button for someone using their phone for business communication.
Building a new product is an iterative process between your development team, your marketing team, and your target markets.
Consider using 3D printing services from companies like Rapid PSI to make your new product more tangible and speed up this iterative process. When you need prototypes of your designs right away, 3D printing can produce the components faster than other production methods.
Hence, when marketing a new product, start with the prototype that matches what you envision based on what you know about your target market. Print that prototype, then test it with real members of that group; carefully noting both issues they report and your own observations of their use that don’t match your goals. For instance, while working as the CMO for a tech startup, we created prototypes of our SAAS (software as a service) product, in our case clickable prototypes rather than physical products, and let folks in our target market play around with them. When I discovered they didn’t know how a feature worked or they were struggling to figure out how to get started with the product, I went back to the drawing board with my development team to develop a second iteration. I then took the prototype to a different group of folks representing our target market to repeat the test. After several iterations of this prototyping/ testing, we finally had a product we thought might work and started coding.
This process saved us a ton of money since prototyping is relatively low-cost. Discovering a usability mistake or failure to solve a critical consumer problem after the product hits the market wastes money and may damage your reputation beyond salvage. An example comes from Microsoft, which introduced a new version of their operating system without sufficient testing, causing problems for those adopting the new system. The damage added to similar issues with other products, giving Apple a needed advantage in the marketplace just when they struggled to gain traction.
Pricing and distribution issues
Before you begin marketing a new product, you must consider additional marketing issues. We already discussed product issues and promotional issues come next in the timeline of a new product, so now we need to think about the price of the product at the consumer level, which depends significantly on our distribution strategy since distribution (or place, one of the 4Ps of marketing) adds significant cost to your finished product.
Note in the image below, the relationship between price and profits. That’s because the higher the price the less volume of product your sell, thus reducing profits. Hitting on the right price optimizes profits.
Also, note in the image above, profits are often negative early in the product life cycle as you struggle to gain traction in the marketplace. With a price too high or too low, you never reach the plateau of profits shown in this image.
You must cover your costs and make a profit (preferrable an optimal profit) as you move through the product lifecycle.
Distribution is also critical when marketing a new product. Consumers want products at the right place at the right time, especially when it comes to new products. And, as mentioned earlier, distribution adds to the final cost of physical goods, so choosing the right channel of distribution is critical for success.
Promoting your new product
We sometimes talk about first-mover advantage. As HBR points out in that article, first-mover advantage means you have no competition so, if you’re smart, you capture the market before competitors can enter with their own products. The downside of the first-mover advantage is you have to educate your target market about this new product. Thus, sometimes the company entering the marketing second or third gets the most benefit since they now face a more educated audience and can focus on showing how their brand is better.
One tip for marketing a new product is to take advantage of technology and the Internet. Promote your new products on social media and your business blog as a quick and efficient way to get the news out and your products in the hands of those who are already fans of your business. Write a blog post that covers the product details and answers to any questions you think may arise. Also, think about running a social media contest to drum up excitement and get people posting and sharing information and images about your new products. Advertising on social platforms is a very cost-effective means to bring new prospects to your website where you can nurture them toward a purchase.
An ideal way to market new products is to get them in the hands of consumers. Therefore, consider hosting in-person events like a launch party where your target market interacts with your new product. This works great to build excitement and entice new prospects to try out a product they have to see to understand. Using food, drinks, and entertainment is a time-honored tradition with product launches because it gets people to a place where you can demo your product and let them try it for themselves.
Include photos from these events on your website and include them in press releases. A smart tactic involves using a photo booth at the event where attendees take photos then automatically share them on at least 1 social platform while embedding the hashtag for the product.
Also, think about hosting virtual parties or events and webinars for those who can’t make it to in-person events. This allows you to reach a broader audience. You should create explainer videos to share on your website and social media.
Marketing a new product
As you can see from all the steps needed to market a new product, you need careful planning and coordination to ensure your new product is a success.
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