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Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a Fortune 500 company, it takes a significant amount of time, testing and investing to create a new product, open a new brick-and-mortar location or develop an entirely new brand. In order to make that product launch or grand opening moment great, it’s critical to have a strategic “go to market” strategy mapped out well in advance of going live.
There are a variety of PR and communication strategies you can mix-and-match to build into your plan, but the key is to take an integrated approach. Here are the six key areas you’ll want to have set for a successful launch:
1. Foundational elements
To ensure the right story is being told, you’ll want to develop a toolkit of materials that can be shared with internal and external audiences, such as key messages, a Q&A, a news release and sample social media copy. You’ll also want to make sure your digital presence is established on your website, social channels and the sites where your product can be purchased. Lastly, consider additional supporting assets, such as an affiliate program for your consumer product, which is often required by media for article inclusion.
2. Spokesperson training
A formal or structured media training for whomever your main spokesperson is going to be should be table stakes. Whether it’s your CEO, brand manager or an external expert, your spokesperson should be familiar with key product or brand details and talking points — and be able to effectively communicate them to employees (your first set of ambassadors), to consumers at events, in media interviews and with any other target audiences you’re trying to reach. Speaking with media can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! Make sure your people are prepped and ready.
3. Media engagement
Media acts as a third-party avenue to deliver your news to your target audience. After identifying your media targets (e.g. business, trade, consumer, niche), you’ll want to consider a multi-faceted program to reach them for earned coverage in addition to a straight-forward pitch — which may include hosting an in-person media event when there is an experiential angle or distributing a creative media mailer filled with product samples for reviews. Recently, we hosted a thirsty group of media and influencers at Lagunitas’s Chicago TapRoom to launch their first beyond-beer hard tea beverage, Disorderly TeaHouse. You’ll also want to determine if other types of paid media tactics fit into your mix, such as sponsored editorial opportunities, news release distribution over a newswire, and pre-packaged stories in the form of a matte release, video package or audio news release.
4. Influencer engagement
There are various ways to connect with influencers for third-party endorsements and to drive a specific call-to-action, such as visiting a retail location or clicking on a link to purchase a product. This may entail negotiating paid partnerships, sending “surprise & delight” packages for potential “unboxings” or review posts, or inviting them to a local event. For example, directly following the Lagunitas event mentioned above, came a virtual tasting event via Zoom, featuring a virtual cooking demonstration with Liz Della Croce from The Lemon Bowl. Content should match your brand essence while authentically representing the influencer, and it should also be measurable (e.g., results shared by the influencer, trackable UTM links and promo codes). To amplify its impact, consider securing approvals for whitelisting.
5. Digital amplification
From SEO to a paid and earned social media content plan for TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn, there are many digital avenues to reach your target audience. Once media coverage begins rolling in, you’ll want to amplify it. You can do this on social media, your website, through native advertising or via other digital channels. Media engagement lays the foundation, but amplifying that engagement is crucial in today’s media landscape.
6. Consumer engagement
In-person events are back, and people are clamoring for a fun experience. You can plan your own grand opening activation or meet your target consumer where they are already going (e.g., community events like 5Ks, festivals, etc.). There are a variety of touch-points to consider through coupons, promotions, sampling and experiential activities. Connecting with a brand in-person is irreplicable, so if the option is available, make sure it’s part of your launch.
While options are unlimited, it can be overwhelming to determine where to start and what the best campaign elements to implement are. Mastering these basics will provide a strong roadmap for success now and down the road.