Three Things Companies Must Do When Launching a New Product or Service

So your company/client has a new widget they want to set loose upon the world. How great. A new thing. Just what we need.

Actually, this new thing could very well be great and wonderful. The trick is letting a receptive audience know that. Before the launch date, it’s vital that you do some due diligence. What happens when companies don’t take the temperature of the room? Things go bust.

We asked Martha Guidry, principal at The Rite Concept and author of Marketing Concepts That Win! Save Time, Money and Work by Crafting Concepts Right the First Time, to give us three things that a company should do to launch and position a new product or service. Her response is after the jump.

Martha Guidry, author and principal at The Rite Concept

In order to successfully position a new product or service, it is critical to understand three important areas:

1)      The wants/needs of your target – You want to understand not only their reactions to currently available products, functions, and features, but also the drivers of that choice.  This provides information about the benefits being offered and the level of customer satisfaction.  Then, you need to push deeper to identify the ways in which existing choices are not providing customers what they want.  What are the issues and frustrations? What do they perceive as the “ideal” or “perfect” solution?

2) The emotions/feeling around your product or category –When a tight emotional connection occurs, a brand often has more long-term traction.  A product offering is more likely to break through the category clutter and be remembered when the target connects.   For example, in 1979 two musicians broke out and garnered great accolades and many Grammys just as MTV was getting started.  One connected with his audience with an incredible stage presence – Michael Jackson.  Does anyone remember the other star? Oh, yeah – it was Christopher Cross.  The connection made one memorable and the other not. Engagement matters.

3) The competitive context – Finally, you need a clear understanding of the current marketplace, how the various competitors are positioned, and the barriers to entry.  Your goal in concept development is to find “white space” in the market so you can own a distinct place in the consumer’s mind.   Both primary and secondary research can help you answer questions around context.  With this in mind, it is much easier to find a niche in which to position your product or service.

If you were trying to position a new product in an established brand, then understanding the current brand equity of the existing products would also be necessary. It is important to make sure any positioning fits with the heritage of the company and the perceptions and beliefs around the brand.  For example, Clorox easily extended its bleach heritage into cleaning products, but it would be virtually impossible to start up a line of skin care products under this brand.