Writing and sending a press release over the wire services, then calling editors for story coverage will no longer furnish the edge needed to move product. For that you need an integration with Facebook.
Don’t dismiss the old ways of getting the word out on your product. They still work. Editors are living, breathing human beings who like telephone and face to face contact. It helps them know and trust you and write good things about your product. Press tours, reverse press missions and hard copy press kits are critical tools for introducing your product to the public at large through editorial story placement.
Only beginners believe they have no competition. You must uncover your closest competitors and develop a list of differentiators that set your product apart—what makes it better than theirs? Start with a list of three factors and build upon that. Then—consider merging traditional and social outreach. “Well, you can go with this or you can get with that…” set to music and unveiled on Facebook and through TV ads upped sales for Kia. Who knew hamsters had soul? Facebook captured the cool factor and television sold us on cute videos.
2. Search Engine Optimization
Before you launch, it’s imperative to place your new product information in an easily visible (and findable) place on your home website. It’s a fairly common error for companies to put the word out via press releases and traditional marketing, then bury the new product information deep into their websites… kind of like throwing a party and having your guests guess where you live.
Code your page with appropriate keywords, title tags, a unique URL and meta info to summarize your product, so that humans and machines alike may get a snapshot of the product.
Choose a wire service to distribute your release, again rich with keywords. Most wire services offer text and/or graphics options, but can be rather pricy—you’re looking at $500 for the average press release, but there are services such as Send2Press.com that are less expensive—they’ll distribute for as low as $109—and will also charge a lower fee for actually writing your press release. There are free services out there, as well, so pick the one that works for you and your budget.
3. Email Marketing
Product launches also require ‘boots on the ground’ marketing, which means you and your team are spreading the word at local business meetings, etc. You’re also collecting business cards to develop a database, so that you can Email blast or send newsletters to targeted customers. You can also offer the electronic faithful a sneak peek and lower price points to reel them in. Don’t forget to gently nudge this customer base to keep your product top of mind.
4. Online Advertising
For more specific customer targeting, buy ads through Google or others to cast a wide net over potentials consumers. Blogs and industry websites that your potential customer base frequents, is a great place to post ads while building relationships with account executives, editors and site managers. Just make sure you’re sending these customers who click through, to the right page where they can see and buy.
5. Social Networks
Starting with Facebook, all social media sites that you frequent or on which you have a presence are a great way to spread the word with just a single posting. You can also manage multiple social network profiles and give potential customers social proof from other’s testimonials on why they should buy from you, but be sure you’re organized and understand all of your positions.
Also, make your content interesting—not just words, but visuals that will sell your idea with just a glance. Remember, half of us are visual learners and need to see pictures and videos to understand the product and be motivated to buy.
Merging virtual sales site with physical stores is your next step, utilizing tools like Foursquare, to give customers a virtual or real choice. Most products feature online deals, so that when your customer checks in online, they receive points or badges to use when they walk through the real store door. It’s a great cross-promotion for you to use and costs little extra, except a loss leader to increase foot traffic.
7. Group Buying Sites
There’s a reason Groupon has been ‘flattered’ by so many other group buying sites. These buying sites bring in a huge number of consumers who then benefit from a much lower rate on the product or service they buy. Within minutes, you can exponentially increase your customer base and make new customers aware of what you have to offer.
Caveat here—make sure you have enough stock on hand to accommodate these new purchasers, as you will be bombarded with customers and running out of supply is never a good thing.
8. Bloggers As A Sales Force
Bloggers are your most trusted in-place sales force. People have a tendency to trust those they’ve chosen to follow daily. When a blogger endorses your product it’s almost a guaranteed success. Use this with your traditional outreach tools, so that when you send out a press release to traditional media outlets, make sure appropriate bloggers are built into your media lists and are respected just like your print and broadcast editors.
9. Social Media Influencers and Early Adopters
All product launches need both—that audience willing to ‘try it out’ and endorse it because they want to be there first; and influencers who other people look to for direction on what, when and where to buy. Most have a large following, so you need to search out the major players in your space.
10. Online Retail Sites
Partnerships with established vendors will do nothing but help your sales. You have to wisely select the best fit and then court them like there’s no tomorrow. Already, there are built in programs such as Amazon Advantage, through which you can fulfill orders and ship. This also lends legitimacy to potential buyers who already know and trust these 800-pound gorillas.
So, get creative. Know your product, understand your audience and think outside the box before you ever launch. Just like a first impression when you meet people, you only get one chance to get your launch right. Create demand and maintain inventory and you’ll have a winner on your hands. Any other tips that you’ve found successful?