Before investing too much money in launching a new product, it pays to do a soft launch and get feedback. If you’ve done your due diligence, you already have a good sense of what the product is, why customers will want it, who your target audience is, and how much you’ll have to sell to make it a profitable addition to your product mix. Now it’s time to launch your idea in phases so you can evaluate and re-calibrate your strategy as you learn from the launch. Here are 5 steps for launching your new product or service in stages.
1. Give it a test drive.
Review your town’s local events to see if there is a natural tie in to your new product or service. For example, if there is a 5K, sign your team up to run in your latest sneakers—all in the same color—with pins that say “Ask Me About My Killer Sneaks.” If you’re a dance studio, get your students to demonstrate the latest dance moves as the entertainment at your next town festival and have the crowd vote on what kind of dancing they’d love to learn by texting your business or voting on your social media page. Is there a local charity event supporting a 50-year anniversary? Offer a free trial of your product or service to every 50th person who visits your store that day. Use Clover apps like Opinion Shoppers or Customer Survey to gather valuable feedback from customers along the way.
2. Challenge your customers.
If you have enough product for a larger test and have already incorporated the initial feedback, it’s time to generate word-of-mouth and reviews at the same time. Bring out the competitive side of your customers by issuing a challenge. Ask customers to come up with the best name or do a blind taste test against their favorite brand. If you’re selling clothes, challenge them to come up with the most unique outfit. Have them post entries on your social media feed and you’ll get in front of current customers…and their entire network. Then ask followers to vote. Don’t forget to offer a prize to the winner—this will encourage them to ask their entire following to vote for them.
3. Expand the test—invite specific communities to a preview.
If your product is appealing to families, offer the local Parent-Teacher Associations in your school district a free preview to the class who raises the most money for the school. PTA’s often rely on fundraisers, so giving them a prize giveaway will entice them to publicize your product to the entire school body and their parents. Bill it as a potential learning event where you teach kids how your come up with new product ideas and invite them to be part of the process. Kids and families will have more buy in for products they helped co-create. This idea of inviting your target marketing to be part of co-creation can be modified for any target market.
4. Evaluate the results.
After every test launch, use Clover Insights to help you answer these questions:
- Did the product perform as well as expected? Why or why not?
- Can I fix problems raised in any negative feedback?
- Can I use any positive feedback to sell or promote the product?
- Were my assumptions about who is the best target market correct?
- What can we do better?
- Are there ways to simplify the production process to make it easier or cheaper to produce?
- Is the price range appropriate, or does it need adjustment?
- Can I make a profit with this product?
- Did the product help me meet my business goals?
5. Create a promotion plan.
Now that you’ve done a few rounds of testing and evaluated your results, it’s time to consider how to best promote your product.
- Who is most likely to care about my new product? Come up with as many details as you can about your target market. Who are they? Where do they live? Why would they buy from you?
- What is the best way to reach this market? For the next six months, what will your target market care about? Are there major holidays coming up, or perhaps a conference or other event? Where will they be and what will they be thinking about? Map out ideas of how your new product fits into their schedule and how you’ll be able to get their attention.
- What is the most compelling reason they would want my new product? Come up with a brief value proposition: a very brief description of why they should care about it.
- How can I promote it using the customers I already have?
- How much money will I need to promote it? Ideally you already have a solid customer base to kick off new products, but if you can afford additional marketing a new product is a wonderful way to bring in new foot traffic.
The answers to these questions will help you come up with a promotion plan and turn your new product into a moneymaker. Need more help marketing your business? Check out the amazing resources native to your Clover device with Clover Customer Engagement.
Clover is sold by leading U.S. banks including Bank of America, BBVA, Citi, PNC, Sun Trust and Wells Fargo. You’ll also find Clover at our trusted partners including Ignite Payments, Restaurant Depot, and Sam’s Club. For more information, visit us at clover.com.[image: DearGoods vegan shop in Berlin by voyagevixen2 on flickr]