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Six Steps to a Successful Product Launch

DENTSPLY is one of the largest dental-product manufacturers in the world and a longtime client. Symmetri recently collaborated on a fully integrated campaign to launch TPH Spectra, Caulk’s newest universal composite material. The campaign was a model of cross-channel integration, including website, social media, video, e-mails, events and distributor participation.

Properly launching a new product presents a classic challenge for most manufacturers. How do you connect with and engage the greatest number of prospects and customers about a new product? How do you enable the sales force to tell the right story? And how do you do all of this with an often limited budget? The key is in planning. And often times that is put off too long, usually as a result of the product taking longer in development and/or trying to define a budget. This can impact the ability to define the right message to the right target, to educate all who are involved with selling the product, and properly engaging with those who would be interested in buying your product.

Symmetri follows these six steps to ensure a successful product launch:

  1. Understand the value. Launching a new product starts with first understanding the unique value your product will provide in the marketplace, and to whom. Why was it developed in the first place? What problems does it solve? What can it do that other products can’t? And if it is a global launch, how do the answers to these questions differ across regions? This will help you get more focused and targeted with your communications and will help ensure budget is allocated efficiently. Final specs often aren’t available until just before launch, but this process should occur about six months before launch. If you can’t answer those questions six months out, getting the results you desire will be much more difficult.
  2. Educate your team. It takes more than just the sales team to sell a product. Everybody in your extended organization needs to be an advocate. From sales to customer service to product marketing to the channel, everyone needs to understand why the product exists, who will want to buy it, the value it provides to them, and what makes this unique in the market. A couple months before launch, begin communicating details to the sales team, national or global accounts teams, marketing and sales representatives so they can understand the product, and can begin preparing the distribution channel.
  3. Create buzz. If this product is new to the industry, or is expected to drive significant revenue, create pre-launch buzz and interest internally and externally with incentives, promotion and, when possible ,seed it in the market to get customer testimonials. All will spark excitement before the product is even available.
  4. Arm your extended team. A month to a few weeks out, you should be providing your team with education on how to install, use and maintain the product and how to communicate this information to the channel. Training should be provided to anyone who will be responsible for selling – the sales team, national and or global accounts team, sales reps, distributors.
  5. Leverage useful content through multiple channels. Once the product is ready to launch, ensure that you leverage as many channels possible to find, connect and engage your audience. As part of the planning process, determine who the target is, and the best means of reaching them. It may be your sales database, it may be through publications, associations and/or through social channels. It will almost certainly be through search engines. Always ensure that your website communicates your unique value, provides proof for any claims you make, and is optimized for search. Once you get them there, make it interesting. Use video. Include calculators or comparisons. Content is critical! With long sales cycles, define both a lead generation and lead nurturing campaign. Content will enable this. And it will enable social engagement.
  6. Gauge and calibrate. Measure and report monthly on activity and leads. This can include search rankings, PPC results, lead capture and/or social engagement. Based on the data, make refinements in order to improve results. The marketplace today is too dynamic to permit static and unresponsive programs.

For more than a decade Symmetri has been helping clients launch products in a variety of industries, and we have found this approach to be successful even as the touchpoints broaden in the digital/social/mobile space and buyer access to product information is deeper than ever before.