How to manage a product launch

You've got a brilliant new product waiting to be unveiled. It may not be the iPhone, but a successful launch could make all the difference between the product being a hit or an also-ran.

by Alexander Garrett
Last Updated: 20 Aug 2020

Steve Jobs knew a thing or two about product launches. Of course, it helps when your new product is the iPhone, but even if your offering is more modest in scope, there are still things you can learn.

Here’s MT’s quick guide to launching a new product, from July 2014. For added razzmatazz, we’ve included a video of Jobs ten years ago today, when the iPhone first promised to change the world.

What's the objective? Be clear what you want to achieve. At the least, it's creating awareness of your innovation; beyond that, you want to get people talking about it and convert that to sales. 'Creating excitement is vital to generate momentum post-launch,' says Sian Bates, client services director of experiential agency TRO.

Events, dear boy. There's nothing to beat a physical launch event. 'People are bombarded with announcements, so an event sets a date in their diaries and gives you their undivided attention,' says Ben Gallop, managing director of creative marketing agency Brand & Deliver.

Get your timing right. Make sure the product is completely ready (especially if technology is involved) and that the launch won't coincide with job losses or court cases. 'It's also critical to review media deadlines, whether it's time of year or even time of day,' says Niki Wheeler, director of Launch PR. 'It's no use inviting weeklies to an event on their deadline day.'

Social is secondary. 'The event may be judged by: "Were we trending on Twitter?" But brands are becoming more focused on the live event because it provides the content for social media,' says Richard Dodgson, creative director of event company Timebased. Social is there to amplify the message after the event, or for those who can't make it.

Don't show your hand. Teasers can play a part. 'Brands want a big splash from the event. If it's predictable, you risk losing that,' says Dodgson.

Make the story the star. 'Celebrities can help fill a room, but do you want the coverage to be about them or the product?' asks Gallop. 'If it's about someone falling drunkenly out of a taxi, that's not what you want.'

Think about the brand. Serve crap food and people will remember a crap product. 'I'd rather have better quality and half the people,' says Gallop. Make the venue relevant. Choose colours, performers, everything that reinforces the brand.

Who to invite? You could involve media, trade and consumers in the launch. The best strategy is to focus on those who are influential, says Gallop. 'If they are consumers, they should be ambassadors for the brand. Otherwise, it's better to get customers to trial it in streets or shopping centres.'

Do say: 'An experience you'll never forget. Save the date.'

Don't say: 'Launch day for our new printer range. Cold buffet and a chance to meet the local councillor.'

Image credit: Matthew Yohe/Wikipedia

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