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What to do when you’re adding a product to your product line

What to do when you’re adding a product to your product line

Line extension or the addition of a completely new but related product to your product mix is a common occurrence. But it’s something you want to plan for and manage well so you get the most bang for your bucks.

Product Marketing Basics

We’re going to assume you’ve done your due diligence on your new product. That is, you’ve tested it thoroughly and gathered initial feedback and drafted a product positioning document - a summary or outline of talking points that highlight the product’s benefits and features and why “customers” need your new product. Further, you’ve gathered together statistics, or studies, and/or supporting documentation that helps to authenticate your product claims. And from your early testers you’ve gathered testimonials or before and after images if applicable.

Getting ready to announce new products

Months before you unveil a new product to your consumers, you should be communicating with your resellers about your product road map. Gathering their feedback and input about your upcoming products can be invaluable. They can provide insight into its relevance to their customers and discuss what they’d like to see added to your product mix. At the very least, they’ll be aware a new product is coming and you can start to pre-sell the new product to them to help model sales forecasts.

Moreover, if your resellers are overseas, there’s likely the challenge and expense of having to register a new product. Many countries and the European Union have stringent rules regarding imports. Registration fees for new products can cost thousands of dollars. So getting buy-in and excitement from your resellers will go a long way into motivating them to invest in importing your new items.

Announcement and/or product launch time

Depending on your industry, if you can unveil your product at an industry trade show it can help to build buzz and ease the introduction to thousands of potential resellers. But with or without the benefit of a trade show, you should have certain basic tools ready for your product launch.

The basic product launch arsenal

A good press release.

Good PR will help you disseminate your new product messaging to your industry and related industries. And if you’re able, garner some interest from the media. This is easier to do for some products and industries, but it’s well worth the effort.

Have product sell sheets ready.

You should have a consumer oriented sell sheet and one targeting resellers that includes pricing, price breaks, minimum quantities, etc. The latter may become part of your order form and catalog too - but at the launch, you’ll want to have a separate sheet that highlights the product along with the pricing. On the consumer sell sheet, you’ll want to promote the benefits and possibly list retailers that will be offering the product for sale.

Prepare an email blast.

Again, emails will likely be split between consumers and resellers. The consumer emails will offer introductory specials. While the reseller email might offer similar promotions to entice larger initial orders too.

Product demo videos or slide presentations.

Depending on your product’s complexity or industry, a product video demonstration or slide show might be called for. Again, this may need to be segmented and adapted for various audiences, consumers and resellers.

Coordinate promotional opportunities with resellers.

If applicable to your product, you may want to participate in reseller promotional activities. Distributors may have catalog or regular mailings to their customers you can advertise in. Or retailers may offer in-store demos, store signage, sale opportunities, emails, etc.

Social media and PPC

It’s a rare product today that’s not promoted online. So plan on hyping your new product through your social media channels. Or, if you’re able, seeding influencers with early test products so they can have reviews ready to go on your product launch day. And of course, you’ll likely be creating a pay-per-click campaign to promote your new product - so that means coordinating the ads with landing pages and then with follow-up activities.

Website updates

Of course, when you launch a new product you’ll want to feature and promote it on your site. So make sure your web team has the proper imagery and verbiage they need to update the site and to create whatever special promotional section is necessary (i.e., landing pages).

Don’t forget your sales team

Depending on the size of your organization it may be necessary to educate your sales team too. Pre-launch education sessions and product marketing overviews are typical in larger sales organizations. If your team cold calls, sales scripts may need to be written too.

Of course, this is a quick list of activities that may need to be augmented for your particular industry or activity. But it’s a good starting point for most new product line extensions or additions.

Jan 29, 2015
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