Most of the time when you are working with a client on their marketing projects you are developing materials, content, and media around an existing product. Maybe it’s a matter of updating some old materials, maybe you’re building out a new website, or maybe you are taking their social media presence to the next level, but the product and company you’re working with is established.
Sometimes, though, you are brought in at the ground floor: the product launch.
And this is where things can be both incredibly exciting and frankly terrifying.
Launching a new product or service means going back to basics, laying down the fundamentals for something that might one day be as big as Coca-Cola, and setting the scene for the marketing campaigns that will follow in the months and years to come.
It’s a big responsibility and demands a different sort of commitment to and communication with the client than providing fresh content for a well-established brand.
If the product succeeds you’ll be a big part of the reason why. If it fails, well expect to carry some of the blame, too.
So how can you help your client have the perfect launch? Here are three things that you must always keep in mind.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate.
Communication is always a key to a good working relationship with a client. When it comes to a product launch, however, it becomes essential to success.
New products don’t always have an existing customer base and there may be nothing much that the client can tell you about the intended audience except for the broadest of outlines (cue the dreaded ‘it’s like Uber for X’ description). Getting clear about the basics of the marketing effort is going to help you provide the best service for your client, so make sure you have all the details about the company’s marketing mix:
- Start with the product itself and get all the answers your need. Are you clear on the quality of the product, it’s design, and its key selling points? Do you know what features and benefits the client wants the spotlight turned on? Can you suggest any others they may have missed? How is the product packaged and are there elements of the packaging that will affect your work, such as colors to be used or avoided, a stylized name, or a prominent shape?
- Get details about the place of the product and client. Is it being sold only online or distributed to retailers, too? What are the delivery options and fast is delivery from the moment of ordering? Is the location of the company useful in promoting the product or will it have a negative impact on sales and revenue?
- Be clear on the price of the product, too. Of course, getting the price of a product is normally simple enough (‘all are widgets are $10’) but ask about discounts for volume, for early buyers, and about any promotional discount codes that the company might be using or intending to use. Talk to the client about how prominently they want to display the price or whether they believe it should be a key part of the marketing strategy – and don’t forget to give advice on this point, to: remember you’re a marketing expert (more on this in a bit).
- Finally, be clear about where the work you are being asked to do fits into the wider promotion of the product. Are you the only one working on the launch or are you part of a team? How are the different parts of the launch fitting together? Is everyone working to the same deadline or is the launch staggered across different media?
The launch is one of the most important parts of the product marketing arc and communicating effectively with your client at this point in the strategic marketing process is going to make things move more smoothly than trying to go it alone.
Don’t Forget You Are An Expert
Your client might have a lot of answers, maybe even all the answers you need.
But they might also have some bad answers. And bad answers at the launch stage of a marketing strategy can push what is an otherwise great product into obscurity.
How will your client know these are bad answers? You will tell them.
You might call yourself a freelancer, a contractor, or a consultant. But to your client you are a marketing expert that is being employed specifically to bring that expertise to bear in launching a product.
When you hear an idea or get an answer from the client that doesn’t strike you as on point, say so. You are not only being employed for your ability to crank out copy or optimize a site: you are being brought on because you are better at marketing than whoever else is currently on the team.
Make sure you speak up when you see opportunities for targeting an audience the client has not yet considered. If you think the pitch can be improved or if you think the focus on feature X should be shifted to feature Y, say so.
The very worst that can happen is that you’ll get knocked back. What do you lose in this case? Nothing. And what do you gain? More information about the direction that the client wants to move in, an opportunity to expose your marketing skills and expertise to the client, and perhaps convince the client that your position is the better, more effective one.
Think About the Next Campaign
Not every new product takes the market by storm. Sure, your client might have something that one day is as big as Coca-Cola, but chances are that it won’t be.
What it can be, however, is a product that has a successful launch, develops a customer base, and where the client returns to you a few months later or a follow up campaign.
Even at the time of the launch you need to be thinking about the next campaign and the opportunities that the client will have to further your work on the launch and that you will have to work with the client on this product again.
You’ll want to make sure that the metrics that the client measures in the launch stage will be useful in informing a follow-up campaign. You’ll want to make sure that marketing decisions made at the launch stage allow you the flexibility to evolve in the future to better suit customer profiles and market trends.
And you’ll want to make sure that you keep in contact with the client so that their first phone call for the second campaign is to you.
Your client is probably making a significant commitment to selling a product and putting a lot on the line to bring it to market. You should be sure that they understand you are just as committed to their success and that, far from this launch being a moment in time, this launch is the beginning of a long term relationship between client and expert.
Have you been involved in a product launch as a freelancer or consultant? What tips would you give someone taking on this role? Join the conversation with us on Twitter, Facebook, or in the comments below.
All this week DOZ is looking at the launch. Whether it’s the role of the outside expert, tips for business owners, using social media effectively to launch in a new market, or proven launch strategies to emulate, you’ll find something for everyone this week at DOZ.