How do you launch a new product?
We operate in an industry that is renowned for bringing new products to market on a regular basis. Some marketing campaigns seem to gain traction immediately, where other launches take much longer to become established. Sue Davenport, Liniar’s marketing director, explores the recent launch of the double-rebated Resurgence flush sash window system, and explores whether fabricators and installers could learn lessons from the Liniar approach.
Managing a new product launch can be a bit like spinning plates. It often feels like a marketer needs to be a project manager, copywriter, graphic designer, video specialist, data analyst and SEO expert rolled into one, while simultaneously tweeting.
Every product is different, so there’s no set formula to a launch. However, there are certain lessons we’ve learned along the way, and the basics remain the same for any marketing campaign.
the starting point
At the inception of a new product, we work closely with the design and development team to understand the aims and objectives of the product, what its primary target market is, what needs does it fulfil, and what makes it unique. Liniar fabricators and installers will also need this information to help them with their own marketing, so everything we produce needs to work across different audiences.
We started talking about Resurgence with the design team almost a year before launch. We knew a brand new 80mm system was being developed, and we understood the rationale behind it. This allowed us to plan ahead while the product development was taking place, ie, tooling, sample production, testing and building up stocks of profile ready for the full launch – as well as thinking of a name.
research and usps
We carried out some low-level research to understand more about what the market demanded, and to look at ways we could demonstrate that this new product would be able to fulfil those needs.
It was evident that one of the greatest selling points for installers is that Resurgence is installed and glazed in exactly the same way as a standard Liniar casement window.
The main unique selling point (USP) was also clear: Resurgence would be the first double-rebated flush sash window on the market, eliminating the unsightly brush piles seen on some other windows and giving it a sleek appearance with superb weather performance and A++ Window Energy Ratings.
This gave us enough to start creating Resurgence’s sales proposition and key messages.
The marketing team at Liniar is located right next to the design and development and technical teams. This is not a coincidence – it’s been proven that by working closely together, we can gain a faster appreciation of what is needed to get a new product to market.
The technical team kept us updated about Resurgence’s testing dates and results, and between us we agreed a roll-out plan and timescales. We decided to run a soft launch to Liniar fabricators just before the Christmas break, to make them aware of the new product that would be available to them in 2019 – with the wider, public launch set for January.
planning is critical
Every project needs a plan, and a launch is no different. Marketing is no longer a case of putting an advertisement in a newspaper and hoping people see it. It requires a targeted approach across a wide range of channels for different audiences.
We produced a project plan to cover everything required, assigning owners to each task. Over the weeks we monitored progress, dealt with anything that may have prevented the achievement of that week’s tasks, and ensured we were still on track for the launch date.
Marketing is an area where costs can spiral out of control if not carefully managed, so we selected the channels we considered would have the biggest impact within our target markets, giving us the best value for money – both online and offline.
We started with a simple fact sheet which listed the selling points and helped to establish the relative importance of each. We followed with other resources to help our customers understand the technical details and main selling points of the system and communicate them to their own customers.
In the absence of any product images (always a challenge with a new product), our design apprentices came up with CAD images to use for the initial launch.
It was crucial for us to create a page on the Liniar website, ready for visitors to find out more about Resurgence. We used the CAD images and fact sheet information to show the system window in more detail, the stocked colours that would be available and its unique selling points.
We made sure relevant keywords were used in the page meta titles, descriptions and image alt tags, so the page would start to rank on Google once it was ready – but decided to keep it hidden from the site map. This meant our customers could see it without anyone else stumbling across the page before we wanted them to.
Once the web page and other digital resources were ready, we sent a teaser email campaign to our customers before we closed for the Christmas break. We followed this up with a letter in the post, in case they hadn’t opened their email in all the festivities.
In early January we used STEM software from Salestracker to announce the Resurgence launch to Liniar installers all over the UK, and published details across our social media channels.
It’s worth stating that none of our digital marketing cost an extra penny – just time – because it was written, designed, produced and managed in-house. The big benefit of digital marketing is that it can be tracked and measured, so we know which channel and campaign has the biggest impact (and generates the most enquiries).
At the same time, we prepared printed resources including a sales guide, technical spec, component chart and other materials. Our industry has a large magazine and newspaper readership, so we balanced our digital efforts with a range of offline promotion, including writing a press release, designing a launch advertisement and creating editorial opportunities.
As the launch was in January, we had to ensure the above copy was prepared and sent in early December, due to print deadlines. Our press contacts were sworn to secrecy as we didn’t want the news leaking, until our customers had seen Resurgence first.
The Resurgence launch has been one of our most successful to date. There’s already an awareness of the product within the industry, customers are eager to take it on, and installers are excited to use it.
This is mostly because Resurgence is a great product. But it goes to show that working together as a team, managing all the aspects of the process, and using all the channels available has had a result that’s far greater than the sum of its parts.
For fabricators and installers, what marketing lessons can be learned?
- Use the resources your systems company has already produced. Everything we’ve created for Resurgence, including a handy sales guide, can be downloaded from Liniar’s online media centre (if you’re a customer and don’t have access, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Identify your target audience, and find out where they will be. Focus your efforts on those channels and you’ll maximise your time and budget.
- Understand the product’s unique selling points and find ways to communicate them in a way your audience will easily comprehend.
- Plan, adjust, measure. Diarise key deadlines and juggle other workloads to make sure critical milestones are achieved. Measure the results of your marketing and increase activity across the most successful channels or campaigns.