The Snuggie launched in 2008 as a blanket with sleeves, marketing through direct-response TV commercials with an over-the-top pitch that struck viewers either as comical or laughable. Allstar Products laughed all the way to the bank when the Snuggie turned into a viral and enduring hit that sold millions. To become the next big thing, a new product needs a smart, reasoned foundation that can help it build demand for its intrinsic advantages and benefits.
Fulfill a Real Need
Whether your product comes from in-house ideas among the staff of an existing company or reflects external demands from the consumer marketplace, it must solve a problem that's easy to articulate in a way that makes sense to the person who actually faces that problem. Rather than forcing a marketing approach to support a need that doesn't really exist, successful entrepreneurs and companies identify and create products that people need. Ask representative consumers if they would buy what you're selling, and refine your product until it fulfills a void in the spectrum of offerings.
Understand the Competition
You can't counter competition unless you understand how your product can outdo it. To that end, develop the unique selling proposition that encapsulates what sets your product apart from real or perceived competition. Validate your price against the market: Are you trying to signal "cheap" or "good"? Measure your feature claims against the demonstrated reasons that your product should appeal to its core constituents. Decide how to convey your advantages in a way that resonates with the people who should need what you sell.
Design a Targeted Campaign
Build your marketing and advertising approach so it features what you know about your product and its market, aiming those messages squarely at the people who constitute your targets. To set up a plan that embodies the best approach, don't treat the marketing campaign as an afterthought or postpone its development until the last minute, when you reach the verge of your product launch. Think of the marketing effort as part of the product-development process and start it early. Besides the preparedness this approach offers, it also helps you guide aspects of your development phase to match what the market will support.
Test Your Marketing Approach
Whether you use small focus groups to gather input about your product and its planned marketing messages or roll out a large-scale test, validate your approach to assure it connects with your consumer prospects. You may discover that what you've planned to say doesn't ring true or that the way you've designed your messaging leads to misinterpretation that creates confusion and lessens its impact. Once you're confident that your marketing sends the right signals to the right people through media channels with proven abilities to reach them, you're on your way to giving your new product a successful debut.
- Inc.: How to Market a Brand New Product
- Inc.: Introducing New Products
- Fast Company: 8 Ways to Ensure Your New-Product Launch Succeeds
- Forbes: The One Vital Question to Ask Potential Customers Before You Introduce Anything New
- Harvard Business Review: Why Most Product Launches Fail
- Entrepreneur: Marketing Tips for Launching a New Product
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