How To Launch A New Product Or Service: What The Latest Research Teaches Us About Successful Launches
Not to get too meta, but my team and I at Zen Media just helped Forbes launch its highly awaited streaming platform, Forbes8, at its media-mogul, industry-insider, and entrepreneurial all-star event in NYC. Forbes8 is poised for success with a multitude of amazing things going for it: brand recognition, incredible content, and a global mission to provide inspiration and support to diverse entrepreneurs around the world. And yet, it will take a coordinated, strategic and relentless effort to ensure its ongoing success.
Every year, 30,000 new products are introduced to the market. (And that’s a relatively conservative estimate from Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen.) And every year, 28,500 of them, or 95 percent, fail to make the cut.
Although there isn’t precise data on how many products fall by the wayside due to “failure to launch” vs., say, design flaws or other issues, it’s a safe bet that many otherwise solid, effective products or services simply get lost in the endless noise of marketing launches.
And the noise is getting noisier. In fact, according to Bain & Company research, in 2018, the number of marketing launches per company rose by 27 percent.
So how can you beat these odds and launch with a bang to sustainably differentiate your brand from the get-go? This is a question we confront for clients everyday, a recent example being when we were approached by Nouveau Eyewear to launch their new line of designer eyewear by True Religion.
Not only was this a venture into unchartered territory for high-end denim brand True Religion, but the challenge became even steeper in light of the unlikely retail outlet through which this eyewear would be sold: Walmart Visions Centers. (In other words, we were faced with successfully marketing a luxury product at a price-conscious outlet.)
Here’s a look at how we created a marketing launch for True Religion that cut through the online noise and broke the digital sound barrier.
1. Identify and lead with the ethos behind your brand.
We knew that to deeply connect with our audience, we’d have to go far beyond the features and benefits of True Religion’s line of eyewear.
To do this, we came up with a visual metaphor — “being seen” — to craft an inspirational campaign that promoted diverse representation in the media and spoke to the power of being seen, supported, and celebrated for who you really are. To gain traction, we included #BeingSeen hashtags in all social posts for both True Religion and Walmart.
What’s more, we opted for an influencer-led approach to showcase True Religion eyewear as worn by real people who embodied the spirit of #BeingSeen. To fuel the conversation, we asked each influencer to share on their social posts what #BeingSeen meant to them personally.
Here’s how one of our influencers, Peggy Jean, responded to our question.
This approach, which earned us a reach of more than 500,000, tracks with what Bain found from its research on marketing launches:
“Launch leaders [the top 15 percent of Bain’s respondents who reported financially successful launches] are 2.3 times more likely to emphasize evoking an emotional response and two times more likely to assert that audiences viewed their messaging as authentic.”
2. “Walk your talk” by including an element of social good.
Our partnership with the global nonprofit, Restoring Vision, further authenticated the guiding ethos #BeingSeen and ignited the social conscience of our audience. A portion of every purchase of True Religion eyewear was contributed to Restoring Vision’s global mission of providing reading glasses to those in need, generating even greater enthusiasm for the campaign.
By highlighting this partnership on social media and having our influencers do the same, we were able to not only launch the True Religion eyewear line with a bang, but to garner support for a larger cause.
3. Learn what will light your audience up.
Research is a launch’s best friend, and yet often, marketing launches—even ones undertaken by Fortune 500 companies—fail because the marketers behind them don’t test their initial assumptions about what their customers actually want.
As Bain found, brands that undertake successful launches take advantage of the massive amounts of data now available:
“Launch leaders not only have more advanced data aggregation and analytics tools but also take care to understand the nuances of consumer communities. They are 2.4 times more likely than other companies to use social listening data to refine their launch strategies, message and offerings, our survey shows. As a result, they are 2.3 times more likely to understand the priorities of their target audience.”
Before we began the #BeingSeen campaign, we conducted extensive social listening. This allowed us to hone our messaging both for social media and for the microsite we created to showcase the True Religion frames.
It’s important to remember that these research-based insights apply to more than just launching a new product—they’re equally relevant when launching a service, experience, or breaking into a new market, for example.
We used these insights when we helped Chase for Business launch the Chase BizMobile, an experiential marketing campaign that brought local small business owners together with Zen digital marketing experts for free, 30-minute consultations in a branded mobile-consultation center.
Since the BizMobile offered in-person experiences, we partnered with hyperlocal influencers and micro-influencers to reach local small business owners in every city the BizMobile visited.
These partnerships allowed us to gain insight into the services that local small business owners were talking about, interested in, and actively seeking so that Chase could better position itself to deliver these needs, meeting their customers (quite literally) where they were.
At the same time, we were able to showcase Chase for what they authentically are: a true financial partner for everyone from solopreneurs to multi-generational family-run brands.
Launching a new product or service amidst the noise of the digital age is not for the faint of heart. But with the benefit of Bain’s latest research and lessons from brands that have successfully applied its winning insights, your marketing launch will be that much more likely to hit the high note that consumers everywhere are listening for.