Launching a new product to your audience is an exciting time! It’s a big reveal in terms of the literal product, but it’s also a look behind the curtains at the product development expertise and innovation that resides at your organization. That being said, it’s critical that you plan a strong launch event that positions your new product, and company, in the best light possible.
Here are four things to consider when planning a product launch.
Know your audience
I’ve mentioned this step before, and I will continue to do so to emphasize the importance of identifying your audience. This may seem like a pretty easy step, but keep in mind that you may have more than one target for your event. End users, dealers/distributors, sales representatives and the media could all attend the product launch event, but that doesn’t mean they all should. Decide up-front the most important audience for the event and stick to it. Knowing your audience ensures that all materials developed for the launch event speak directly to them.
If the event targets two different audiences, then keep them separate. Targeting media and distributors? Host the media on day one and your distributors on day two. There is a different story to tell each audience – combining them could ultimately cause confusion for both parties and result in a negative perception of the launched product.
The planning process for your product launch event should start at least six months in advance. This gives you ample time to find a location to host your event, confirm logistics and, most importantly, invite your audience. While you are planning ahead, your potential attendees need the opportunity to do so as well. Invite them at least two months in advance if they will need to book travel arrangements. If your audience is local and will have less than an hour of travel time, four weeks of advance notice is acceptable.
Keep in mind that before your audience can be invited, a location must be solidified and overarching messaging must be established. These two components will help you begin to generate excitement about the event that will only grow as the date comes closer.
The preplanning process should also include detailing the event outline, selecting speakers, gathering materials needed and arranging any special affairs that will take place during the event. Start by determining what information will be conveyed during the launch. This step will help you decide how information should be presented. Please, do not limit yourself to PowerPoint presentations! Consider videos, panel discussions, demonstrations and tours. Use the approach that best engages your audience and provides information in the most compelling way.
Once the event outline and presentation approaches have been determined, you can identify the speaker(s) for each segment of the agenda and the materials that will be needed for the presentations. This step will create your tactical list of materials that need to be created for your event.
Train and prep presenters
Once you’ve selected presenters, they need time to prepare. Make sure to give them enough time, but build in checkpoints along the way. Ensure that there are a few dry-runs built into your timeline for each of the presenters, including one complete event run through. Your presenters need to practice what they are going to say and the other presenters need to hear what others are saying. This helps make sure that content overlap is kept to a minimum…which will help your audience stay engaged!
These checkpoints will also help you determine the final order for the event. Because you’ve gone through a few dry-runs with each presenter, you have the insight to determine the event flow. Keep things interesting by varying the presenter style and format – in other words, don’t put PowerPoint presentations back-to-back. Instead follow a PowerPoint presentation with a video or panel discussion. The variety in presenting the content will help keep your audience interested and involved in the event.
Remember to measure
You’ve invested time and budget into the launch event. Be sure to measure the effectiveness! Be prepared to gather feedback from event attendees – what aspect of the event did they find most valuable, is there anything they would change, would they attend another event? Gather the intelligence that demonstrates the event worth, and enables you to make future events even better.
Keep these four tips in mind the next time you are planning a product launch event and you will be off to a great start. And if you need additional support, contact us. We’ve helped numerous clients host many successful events – we can do the same for you.