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How to launch a new product in only a few months

When it comes to putting a new product on shelves, brands have less time than ever, but don’t panic – it’s hard, but not impossible.
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It transpires eight out of ten senior marketers say the average time between the idea first originating and launching the new product has shrunk over the past five years, while 70 per cent say they usually have just six months or less to prepare for a new product launch.

The numbers speak for themselves – new product launch campaigns have become shorter. But what happens if a competitor moves into your space and launches a new product that you’ve spent the past year developing, before you?

Or external factors in the market dictate you having to bring the launch date forward?

How do you, as a company, work to even more daunting timescales?

It’s hard, but not impossible. During my time working with brands, I’ve experienced the ups and downs that come with learning while launching.

As such, I’ve identified five key factors that’ll help get your launch off the ground, even when time has the final word.

(1) Ensure your strategy is up to scratch

Don’t skimp on strategy. While it may – no, it will – take up more time than you’d like, this is the most important part of the new product launch activation process.

Understanding your target customer to define that all-important insight is vital. Why do they want the service you’re offering? What can you give them that they can’t get elsewhere?

A great example of this in action was the Labour Party’s recent election campaign. Like any new product or service, a political party must communicate information about its product – the manifesto – and the benefits of choosing it above a competitor’s offering.

Labour was particularly smart about its strategy, opting for a video-first approach and focusing on social media as their key channel. Labour identified what channels its audience was most receptive to, then delivered hard-hitting content that drove over three times more engagement than the Tories.

Labour may not have won the election, but Labour’s strategy enabled them to cut through the noise and confound the polls and pundits.

(2) Streamline your processes

Utilise tools and techniques that minimise process time. Slow processes in getting a product to market were cited as one of the top three reasons for failure by senior marketers.

At Five by Five, we have developed LaunchCTRL, our service for creating and delivering large-scale, multi-spec campaigns efficiently.

Having something like this in place allows simple, effective stakeholder sign-off so that everything happens when it’s meant to happen, and issues are flagged immediately so they can be swiftly resolved.

This saves time – something that’s vital when the countdown clock is ticking.

(3) Get your internal teams aligned from the start

While this is often an afterthought, it’s critical that you bring your employees and internal teams on the journey with you. Some 33 per cent of senior marketers believe they could have saved their launch if they’d got this right. 33 per cent!

For example, Caesars Entertainment Corporation launched a new personalised service for high-value customers in its casinos. With eight locations across the UK and thousands of employees, the brand knew it needed its employees on board with the idea to deliver a consistent and quality-driven service across the entire organisation.

Caesars created a multi-channel internal communications and engagement programme to build understanding and commitment, and to align decision-making. The result? Increased customer satisfaction and advocacy, and an increase in repeat visits.

(4) Test your creative

Having creative that truly cuts through is essential for launching something new. That’s why it’s important to test your creative with your target audience, even if it’s a scaled-down version of what you’d usually do.

It can be done quickly and simply online and means you can make essential tweaks that will shrink your risk of failure.

(5) Prioritise your channel selection

You need to pinpoint exactly what channels the target audience is most receptive to, prioritising these to get your product on their radar. And then excel at it.

Going back to the recent election campaign example, the Tories went with a traditional campaign model, which was heavily focused on press alliances. The reality is that younger voters don’t really read newspapers very much, and even the Tory heartland are social media whizz kids these days. They chose the wrong channels and lost votes as a result.

These key factors are always vital to bear in mind, but they aren’t the be-all and end-all of your new product launch.

As important as streamlined processes and creative are, without a brilliant product to promote they can only do so much. 

James Roles is sales & marketing director at Five by Five

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