So you’re getting ready to launch your own product, huh? These are exciting times for you! Your idea is going to be out there for all the world to see, marvel at, and, hopefully, buy. You could go from being an unknown to an industry giant if you play your cards right.
There is, however, the launch to think about. How are you going to spread the word about your product? How are you going to generate buzz and get people fired up to buy your product? What’s your strategy? Do you even have one? This isn’t like Field of Dreams, where you build it and they come. This is more like you trying to fill an empty baseball stadium with people who want don’t know you yet.
How can you accomplish such a monumental task?
Why not steal a few ideas from Apple, a company that is known around the world for their epic launches? Just because you’re not launching the next iPhone doesn’t mean you can’t implement some of their brilliant launch tactics.
You’re not just launching a product, you’re telling a story of epic proportions, complete with heroes and villains. When Steve Jobs first introduced the iPhone back in 2007, he said this:
Regular cell phones are not so smart and they are not so easy to use. Smartphones are a little smarter, but are harder to use. They are really complicated…we want to make a leapfrog product, way smarter than any mobile device has ever been and super easy to use. This is what iPhone is.
The villain? Regular cell phones and smartphones that are actually stupid! They have you by the throat! They claim to be smart but they are pulling one over on you. Clearly these are malicious companies who are out to destroy you.
The knight in shining armor? Apple, wielding their brand new iPhone. Never mind that in a year, the knight will be outdated, slow, and useless. They are the rescue!
The point is, when you’re creating a product launch, craft a story that encapsulates the problem it solves. Draw people in with a hero’s journey of sorts. You want to show people where they currently are and where your product will take them.
#2 – Create Suspense
Image via theweek.co.uk
This can be challenging to do, especially if you’re a small company, but it can be done. Apple’s great success with their product launches is partially due to their ruthless efforts to build suspense.
Despite the fact that basically everyone knows exactly what Apple will release, they still build a sense of suspense by not making any comments about what’s coming.
Wow, they released a bigger phone? Never saw that coming. What will they think of next?
But it doesn’t matter. People go absolutely crazy speculating on exactly what will be included in the bigger phone.
Wherever possible, drop hints that something big is coming. Use social media to leave clues, send tease emails to existing customers, even take out an ad or two. You want to whip people into a veritable fury so that can’t wait a second longer.
#3 – Focus On The People, Not The Product
Image via blog.reuters.com
Most likely, only a few hardcore fans are going to care about the nitty gritty details of your product. Most folks simply don’t care that your artisanally sourced broom is made from 100% organic maple.
They care about how your product is going to change your life. Steve Jobs knew this and used this to his advantage in his product launches. He didn’t spend hours drooling over the exact specs of the processor speed or memory capacity. He talked about how frustrating it was to carry around an MP3 player and cell phone in your pocket. He talked about the pain of trying to deal with multiple incompatible devices. He knew that his product was about solving problems, not firing up tech nerds.
Yes, you’re fired up about the details of your product. You’ve spent months, if not years fine tuning all these details. But if you want people to buy your product, you need to help them see what’s in it for them.
Spend time talking about how it will change their lives. How it will solve their problems. How it will make their lives so much easier. You want them to think that you are deserving of the next Nobel Peace Prize.
#4 – Create An Irresistible Headline For Your Launch
Image via historycooperative.org
When Steve Jobs first introduced the iPhone, the first slide of his presentation said, “Apple reinvents the phone.”
Now THAT is catchy and powerful. It’s a headline that instantly grabs people’s attention and makes big promises. After the presentation, that headline dominated the news and created increased interest in this revolutionary new device.
When launching your product, create a similar irresistible headline that will truly capture people’s interest. Your headline should at least compel people to investigate your product, even if they don’t end up buying it.
Obviously you don’t want to lie about your product. If you’re introducing a new type of t-shirt, don’t use the headline “The T-Shirt That Toppled A Dictator” (unless somehow that really happened, in which case you should be in politics not t-shirts).
Your headline is people’s first introduction to your product. Make it a good one.
#5 – Spice Up Your Data With Visuals
Image via thesun.co.uk
When it comes to data, whether that’s the size, speed, or power of your product, don’t just throw raw numbers at people. Present people with jaw-dropping visuals that will wow people.
When Steve Jobs first introduced the MacBook Air, he demonstrated how incredibly small it was by saying it could fit inside a manilla envelope. He didn’t say just give them numbers about how light and thin the computer was. Rather, he gave them a compelling image they couldn’t forget. Numbers fade from the mind while images stay put.
When launching your next product, take time beforehand to develop compelling visuals that are going to wow people. Develop visuals that are going to highlight and accent they key elements of your product and convince people why they should buy it.
Only the hardcore fans are going to care about the exact details of how many milligrams something weighs. To win over new people you have to give them something they’ll never forget.
#6 – Prepare A Moment That Will Blow People’s Socks Off
Image via arabianindustry.com
In every presentation, Steve Jobs always had a moment prepared when he would blow people’s socks off. He knew how to craft things in such a way that people would be shocked at what he said. For example, when revealing the first iPhone, he said:
Today, we’re introducing three revolutionary products. The first one is a widescreen iPod with touch controls. The second is a revolutionary mobile phone. And the third is a breakthrough Internet communications device. Are you getting it? These are not three separate devices. This is one device.
As you would imagine, the crowd went absolutely bonkers. He probably could have asked each of them for a pint of blood and they would have gladly given it to him.
When preparing for your launch, determine when your “wow” moment will come. How will you surprise people? How will you shock them? What will you do or say to catch people off guard.
Obviously, this isn’t about shock value. Don’t film a video of yourself being lit on fire (unless you’re selling fireproof coats). Create a true wow moment that, again, makes an important point about how incredible your product is.
#7 – Prepare All The Necessary Information Ahead Of Time
Image vis macrumors.com
When the time comes to launch, you need to have all the necessary information ready to give to your customers when they ask. Your website should be crystal clear about what your product does, how much it costs, the bonuses that come with it, and any other information that customers might want to know.
When Apple launches a product, their website is absolutely dominated by it. They have pictures, videos, FAQ, and every other scrap of information related to their launch product. They know customers are going to storm their site and they want to be ready for it.
The last thing you want to happen is for customers to look for more details about your product and find a barren website with only a few pictures and some John Tesh background music. If that happens, your customers won’t purchase from you, your launch will be a complete failure, and you’ll be forced to live in a van down by the river.
#8 – Accept Pre-Orders
Image via cultofmac.com
Almost every company has a set of passionate customers who will buy anything they sell. At this point, Apple could sell and iDiaper and people would purchase it. Apple uses this to their advantage by accepting pre-orders, even before the product ships. Because pre-orders usually aren’t counted until a unit is actually shipped, it allows Apple to dramatically boost their claims of first-day sales.
Prepare for take pre-orders from the moment you launch. There will be some customers who run to the buy your product before it’s even being shipped, and you want to be ready to serve them. If you’re not ready, you’ll see significantly smaller sales numbers in the initial days.
# 9 – Take Time To Craft A Beautiful Product
Image via news.com.au
The more beautiful your product, the more your customers will want to show it off. Apple places an extremely high value on design, and before they launch they take the necessary time to ensure their product is both useful and beautiful. Many products are technically more powerful than those released by Apple, but few are more beautiful. This is part of the reason for their great success.
Before you launch, take the time to ensure that both your product and your packaging are beautiful. Your hard core customers will rave about the technical specs, but even the most casual customer will want to show off something beautiful. The more time you can spend crafting something well-designed, the more sales you’re likely to generate.
# 10 – Craft One Surprising Moment
Image via dailymail.co.uk
Is there anyone bigger than Apple? Yes, U2. When Apple got U2 to perform a surprise concert at their launch event in 2014, it generated massive headlines. Even if people didn’t like U2 or Apple, they couldn’t help but admire the ingenuity of putting on a surprise U2 concert that nobody expected.
You probably can’t afford to bring U2 to your launch (if you can, I have questions), but you can certainly craft a moment of surprise. By thinking through your surprise moment, you can create a memory for your customers that will bring them back again and again.
Conclusion: Plan For The Win
You may not be Apple, but you can certainly launch like them. Of course, this won’t just happen. It requires careful planning and forethought to ensure that your launch has maximum impact.