Do you Need a Launch Strategy for Your New Product?
Yes, if you don’t want to miss out on early sales opportunities.
A well-thought-out product launch strategy will ensure that you don’t waste time and money on activities that won’t produce additional sales.
This article will help you develop a strategy based upon the well-proven Marketing 4P’s approach.
The 4P’s Marketing Strategy
The marketing 4P’s are PRODUCT, PLACE, PROMOTION and PRICE. The marketing 4P’s strategy helps focus attention on each of these areas in turn in order to develop a coherent, practical marketing strategy and plan. This could be a plan for the whole of the marketing of a small business or for just one marketing campaign such as a product launch.
This marketing 4P’s approach has been put into practice thousands of times by all sorts of businesses, but it’s particularly useful for small businesses because it isn’t necessary to have marketing skills to understand and use it.
I’ve described the marketing 4P’s strategy below as a 4-step approach. If you plan your product launch using these 4 steps as a template you’re much more likely to make early money out of your new product.
Step 1: Product – Sell Your Product’s Features not it’s Benefits
This is a very old dictum, but lots of small businesses still don’t understand it.
People buy safety, security, comfort, prestige, happiness etc., not anti-spring-back chain guards, double mortice lock mechanisms, pocket spring beds etc. Yes, features are important but only if set within the context of the benefits they provide to your customers.
Make sure your view of your product is based on the benefits it’ll provide to your customers. If you do this it’ll have a strong positive impact on all the other activities of your product launch campaign – letters, brochures, presentations and sales calls.
Action: If you haven’t done so already, build a list of the features of your product, and against each feature list a major benefit.
Step 2: Place – Choose a Market Niche to Sell in
Don’t choose a large market to launch you product into.
Break your large market down into individual market niches. If you do this you’re much more likely to find customers for your product and make sales. This is because in a niche market you can develop a much better understanding of the needs of your customers, and be able to use a more individualised marketing and sales approach.
Also, with niche marketing you’ll be able to kick your competitors out-of-the-way because they won’t have the same detailed understanding of customer needs and will be less able to establish strong customer relationships.
Action: Set up a brainstorming session with your work colleagues in order to identify all the niche areas that would be suitable for your product.
Step 3: Promotion – Develop a Strong Promotional Message
When you have a good understanding of what your product can do for your customers and you know where these customers are you need to gain their attention and open doors with a strong promotional message.
Develop messages which proclaim the benefits of your product. Think about them as being product USP’s. Once you have a good promotional message use it on your marketing and sales literature, and in your sales letters and emails.
Action: Start preparing a list of possible promotional messages for your product. and test them out for impact and effect before you start incorporating them into your marketing and sales materials.
Step 4: Price – Get Your Product Pricing Right
Deciding on a product price is never an easy task. Marketing gurus used to recommend that you charge as much for your product as the market will bear; but in today’s competitive marketplace you would be well-advised to find out what your competitors are charging before you price your products.
Some people advocate starting off with a high price and dropping it if sales are slow, but If you use this approach the danger is that you won’t sell very much at the start of your launch and you’ll have to work hard changing your market image when your price goes up (you may have established an image as a high-priced supplier).
When you are considering how to price your product there are two factors which are important::
If you have launched your product at a price that takes into account the prices charged by your competitors, but you’re losing more sales than seems reasonable, perhaps you are selling your product in the wrong niche!
You could lower your price to try and compete but if you do this you might find yourself caught up in a pricing war with established competitors that are better able to reduce their margins than you are.
Action: Look at other niches where customers would be prepared to accept a higher price. They might do this either because they feel you understand their needs better or because you have packaged your product differently.
Packaging Your Product
A great way to change your product is by packaging it with other products/services to produce a “new” product which has a higher perceived value. A very good way of producing a package of this sort is to combine services with your product e.g maintenance, support, advice etc.
Action: Consider as many options as you can for producing a benefit-enhanced package from your product..