Launching a new product is exciting. It can also be nerve-wracking—like going to an interview or on a first date. You want everything to go well. And for a product launch to be successful, there has to be a lot of hype.
Let’s take a look at what goes into a successful product launch:
What does a successful product launch look like?
Much like the perfect batch of chocolate chip cookies, a successful product launch requires the right recipe and the right ingredients: good timing, a great product, and knowledge about your customers.
Here’s a quick look at the process of a product launch (keeping in mind, of course, that this looks a little different for every brand and product):
Understand your customers. Want to know exactly what your audience is looking for? Ask them: Current and potential customers can provide valuable feedback and suggestions.
Create a solid, specific buyer persona. This goes hand-in-hand with understanding your customers’ pain points. A thoughtful buyer persona helps solidify product-market fit—it’s something your team should have in place before your product launch.
Nail down your product positioning. This is a broad point (and a topic we could write a whole post on). Your product positioning should encompass your brand’s culture, the bandwidth and capabilities of your team, your target market, and your competitors.
Stress-test your website and customer service team. You’ll want to prepare for an influx in web traffic and customer service requests, so your site doesn’t crash and your support team isn’t burnt out or uninformed during the new product launch.
Come up with a strong go-to-market strategy. This is a multiple-step process that involves your pre-launch and launch tactics:
Document actionable goals.
Assign stakeholders to each task and define responsibilities.
Create a product launch timeline, complete with dates.
Leave room for flexibility.
A successful product launch operates with a plan, goals, and measurable outcomes. “If we can get the new product into the hands of both new and existing customers without cannibalizing existing products, we’d call that a win,” said Eli Weiss, Senior Director of CX & Retention at Jones Road Beauty.
So what can you do to spread the word about your new product, create excitement, and generate demand?
7 ideas for your next product launch
New product success can hinge on hype. So how do you create buzz? Here are seven ideas to amplify your product before launch:
1. Create an amazing email campaign
It sounds pretty straightforward: Create an email campaign that announces your new product. But there are actually multiple types of product announcement emails you can use for your product launch.
Let’s dig into a few:
This will be your first communication about the new product. Share enough information to make it exciting, but don’t give away all the details. A little mystery works in your favor here.
New product release
This is probably what comes to mind for most people when they think about product launch emails. It’s a great way to connect with already engaged customers to share the good news: You’re launching a new product!
Create a sense of urgency by offering the option to pre-order. You could limit presales to VIP customers, offer a timeframe for special pricing, or tie pre-orders into your review or referral program.
Limited offer or future sale info
This information could be included in your pre-order email or be separate if you’re planning a longer pre-launch campaign. Early-order pricing or limited promotions can be a great way to entice customers to try a new product.
Event or launch party details
Launch events are a super way to involve your audience. Announcement emails can share details of the location, how to participate virtually, guests, and more.
2. Stir the hype by having exclusive pre-launch drops with loyal customers
People love having something that’s exclusive. Sneaker brands are well known for utilizing product drops, and their customers keep a close eye on the dates. The experience, especially for collectors, is something to look forward to.
Product drops depend on hype, supply and demand, and FOMO. Brands such as Gymshark, Yeezy, and Urban Decay use product drops with great success. The L.A.-based cookie company, Last Crumb, currently operates exclusively on a product drop model.
It works well for the brand since they can only make so many cookies at once. Last Crumb’s cookie drops sell out quickly making customers even more eager for the next flavor drop.
3. Kickstart your referral program
How often have you asked a friend what type of shampoo they use or the brand of grill they own? Referrals are the most trusted form of advertising, so it makes sense to explore this avenue for a new product launch.
By offering an incentive (usually a percentage or dollar amount off a future purchase), you’re able to boost your sales numbers, increase your customer base, and reward current customers for spreading the word.
For example, Senita Athletics offers many ways to earn points and discounts including 15% off for referrals.
BarkBox offers a $10 credit and a free toy. The Dollar Shave Club offers credits for referrals, and Sephora offers points for referrals.
You’ll find that a solid referral program can benefit businesses of any size, but they’re especially important for young companies, growing brands, or new product launches—the leads you get through word-of-mouth referrals are already qualified, and come in with a sense of trust, and are much more likely to convert.
4. Engage influencers to provide teasers with product seeding of the new product
Influencer teasers have been one of the most popular ways to launch a product, which makes sense given the number of engaged people on social media. One of the most notable examples has to be Jones Road Beauty. They’ve found massive success on TikTok working with creators to amplify their brand and promote new products.
Bigger brands such as Nike, Adidas, and Levi’s have taken advantage of the built-in audience of athletes and celebrities for years. The beauty brand Glossier was practically built on influencer marketing; the company uses a mixture of content from its team, popular beauty influencers, and customers.
Camera companies, such as Nikon, frequently use influencers to promote new cameras and lenses. And nutrition and fitness apparel companies often use influencers to promote and launch new products. NoBull, for example, teamed up with Crossfit athlete Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr to tease a new shoe release.
Richard Clews, the founder of Pants and Socks, said they teamed up with Jason Roy, a star cricketer for England and Sussex, to ignite the launch of a new product line of men's performance underwear by Bjorn Borg. They had Jason wear the company’s logo somewhere on his uniform or equipment for an upcoming cricket match, and they announced that the first 250 customers to spot the logo and use what part of clothing or equipment it was on as a code would get a free 2-pack of the Bjorn Borg underwear.
Long story short: They ended up giving away all 250 pairs (and selling an additional 3,500 within 2 hours!). “For us this was super fun, and really successful,” said Clews.
5. Have limited edition goods that come with the new product launch
This tactic plays on similar emotions as product drops: Customers want something exclusive and unique. You could consider offering a special edition of a current product, limited runs of a new color or pattern, or release a small number of vintage designs.
While it probably isn’t sustainable to include a “sidekick” product indefinitely, it’s a great incentive to offer to the first 50 to 300 customers or so. Tote bags and stickers (usually designed by an artist that resonates with the brand’s customer base) are common and affordable items to pair with new products.
For Pearly’s initial launch, the team designed custom stickers and gave them away in exchange for newsletter signups. For Filip Pejic, Pearly founder, it was a creative and fun way to get customers on board with the brand and excited about the new bubble tea kits.
6. Partner up with a brand in an adjacent product category to promote
Promotional partnerships are a tried-and-true marketing strategy. Ideally, you partner up (i.e., find a more established brand to work with), but that’s not necessary. Pairing with another brand doubles your manpower, marketing, and advertising bandwidth, and audience.
The audience and exposure are a huge benefit for companies launching a new product. For example, Deschutes Oregon brewery teamed up with Brooks Running, an athletic shoe and apparel company to celebrate and promote a limited edition beer and a limited edition Ghost sneaker.
The shoe was designed with pints, beer bottles, and growlers—a delight to runners and beer enthusiasts alike. It’s a perfect example of knowing your audience and finding a product partner that will resonate with your customers, fit the culture of your industry, and drive sales. (If you’re missing the connection between the two products, beer runs are an exceptionally popular type of fun run.)
The recent Apple and Hermès partnership is another interesting example, especially if you’re selling a higher-end product. The combination of two big brands (one tech, one fashion) allowed them to sell the product at a higher price point.
Likely, both brands had similar customers that wanted a higher-end product with style and name recognition. A similar pairing could ignite a lot of excitement around your new product launch.
7. Offer free samples or curate sample sets
Sample-size products can be a good option if you’re willing and able to give away some products for free. Why? Customers can be nervous about investing in a product they have no experience with. But a small, free sample could be just enough to help them fall in love.
While they don’t limit samples to new products, Sephora is well-known for its sample offerings.
“Sampling has both an immediate effect and a sustained impact on sales,” said Jeffrey Dotson, a professor of marketing at the Marriott School of Business.
Samples are a great way to introduce customers to new brands and new products they haven’t tried before. Consider pairing a free sample of your new product with another purchase or create an affordable sample set for your customers (e.g., a set of four flavors, patterns, or colors). Customers are typically more open to trying something new if the risk is lower—and samples are more likely to help increase sales in the future.
Always keep customer engagement in mind
Most of the folks we talked to (whether founders, marketing experts, or on the retention side) all emphasized staying in touch with your audience—with transparency. They encouraged and have found success with regular blog posts, Twitter threads, newsletters, active TikTok accounts, and special communication with VIP customers.
Things like maintaining an active blog or social presence aren’t necessarily the flashiest part of product launches, but they are definitely worthwhile.
Launch your new product with confidence
New product launches do require a lot of planning and work. But now, hopefully, you have the tools and ideas to launch your new product successfully. Here’s a little recap to help you move forward:
Create a strategy that suits your brand and your new product.
Establish a plan (try using the product launch ideas we discussed above).
Prepare your team.
Set responsibilities and assign stakeholders.
And lastly: Have fun generating buzz for your new product.
A referral program is a deliberate, systematic way of getting people to make referrals to your business. Referral programs are often called word-of-mouth marketing, because they reward existing customers for sharing and incentivize new customers to try out your brand.