Copyright 1999 Carol
of my clients ask me "How do you successfully launch a new
product into the education and library markets?" Here are 12
ideas for you to use to develop a strong product launch strategy.
Being a marketer, I always like to be involved in new product
development early in the developmental stage since this is the time
you can put marketing "hooks" into the product that make
product introduction and sell through easy. One of the tried and true
"hooks" we've all used in the past is to make sure that
the product has the appropriate authors (well known, respected, and
from large states if possible). Then, we would add an expanded Advisory
Board to "vet" the product and give us additional strength
in the marketplace. These advisors would not only give us great "blurbs"
to use in marketing but their network would be put to use in product
We all know that selling to schools and libraries successfully
depends upon relationship marketing so one of the first keys to success
is to create a grass roots awareness of your new product. So one of
the first things I recommend in product introduction is to develop
a list of key influencers who, in return for a critical review, receive
the product for free, prior to actual release. You can cull names
from your authors, advisory board, and your extended selling team
(field reps, dealers, distributors, telemarketers, customers, etc.).
This list should number 250-400 people nationwide.
Review, review, reviews. Need I say more? Among the first people
who should receive your new product are the influential editors at
major educational and library magazines whether they review
products or not. If they review it, great but what you really want
is for the editor to understand the unique features and benefits of
your product so that they will consider it when assigning articles
to their staff and freelancers. Besides sending them a copy, you need
to also meet with them in person to follow-up. These meetings can
take place at the major trade shows since the magazines are always
there to cover the news.
Send press releases out to all the major education and library
media. This goes without saying since many magazines print these releases
in their "what's new" sections and you can obtain free "space"
just by sending out a release.
Submit your new product to all possible awards. Award winning
products sell. Prepare a comprehensive list of all applicable awards
and find out the last date of entry. Don't miss an important award
submission because your product is 2 weeks late!
Because new products are difficult to sell, take time to understand
and create demand, and are often in direct competition with other
programs, prepare a strong benefit sell-sheet for your sales force,
dealers, and telemarketers. This will help them position your new
product in the minds of prospective buyers and help quicken the sales
cycle. Adding extra bonuses to their commission plans also helps to
put this product at the top of their selling lists.
If you do business with third parties such as wholesalers, distributors
and dealers, make sure you spend extra time with them to explain your
new product in detail. Show them why this product should be on their
approval lists, highlighted in their catalogs and sales materials,
and perhaps provide an extra "spiff" for reaching specific
sales targets for this product this year.
Have a party! New product introductions are a great chance to
celebrate and increase the awareness with key influencers in the education
and library markets. Everyone likes a party and it gives them the
feeling of "exclusivity" by being on your invitation list.
You can have this party at your home offices or in conjunction with
a national exhibit such as ALA or NECC. Be sure to invite your advisory
board, key editors of education and library publications, the product's
authors (of course!) and key local educators and librarians.
Offer a Deal for the first 100, 500 or 1,000 buyers. Pricing new
products is always a concern to publishers and many companies take
advantage of pre-pub pricing strategies order before the publication
date and get a discount. Or, consider giving away a premium for the
first 100 orders. Or, enter their name in a sweepstakes to win a free
computer. Or, buy the new product and get a bundle of back-listed
product for FREE.
Prime your target buyers by mailing teasers. Consider a post card
promotion with 3 different "waves" hyping what's coming,
what is going to revolutionize learning math, how their job is suddenly
going to become easier. This gives you an ability to promote your
new brand and gain recognition even before the product is available
for purchase. You can even end up with an offer like "Mail back
this card and we'll send you a FREE something along with information
about how to get this new product into your classroom/library."
Highlight your new product on your home page of your web site
and develop a special offer for your web visitors. Don't hide it under
a "what's new" button let your visitors know immediately
that this is something they need to know about and buy.
Innovative new product introduction ideas are everywhere. Learn
from your competitors. Learn from the consumer direct mail you receive
at home. Surf the web occasionally to find out how the "big guys"
are doing it. Test, Test, and Test then repeat your successes and
drop the failures. We all have a lot invested in making new products
a success since their sales for the future years will provide the
cash-cows we need to ensure profitability.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This article was written by Carol Ann Waugh, President of Xcellent
Marketing, a marketing and new business development firm specializing
in the educational and library market. Xcellent Marketing offers
a variety of marketing services to help publishers increase their
revenues and profits from identifying new markets, providing critiques
of web sites and marketing communications such as direct mail, catalogs,
advertisements, etc. as well as developing effective traditional
as well as Internet-based marketing plans. Carol can be reached
at (303) 388-5215 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.