It survived the concept pitch, the drawing board, R&D, prototypes, focus groups, and testing. Now your new product is ready to launch.
Whether you opt for a “soft launch” to introduce your baby to just a few markets or demographics; or a “hard launch” that involves a company-wide strategy and major rollout, you’ll want to build brand recognition and product awareness the fastest, most cost-efficient and most ROI-oriented ways as possible.
In years past, the debut of a new product into the market meant heavy investment in paid advertising. Just 10 years ago, you may have designed your launch around print ads, brochures, radio, outdoor boards… the so-called “interruption” marketing.
Today, however, consumers are more savvy and more discriminating. They’re less likely to respond to such expensive media as TV, print, or direct mail, and more likely to head for their desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. In fact, a recent survey revealed that 50 percent of today’s shoppers spend 75 percent of shopping time online!
Let’s repeat that statistic: Half of the consumers spend most of their shopping time on the Internet. It’s where they get their information and, increasingly, make their purchase decisions.
If your marketing is mired in 20th century tactics, you have a great opportunity to enjoy the benefits 21st century marketing can offer in terms of brand recognition.
The New “Word of Mouth”
A 2011 survey of small-business owners revealed a surprising fact about their attitude toward online marketing.
- A combined 65 percent of the participants thought that the web and social media had little or no value for their business, or didn’t know enough about it to form an opinion;
- But at least 50 percent agreed that “word of mouth” is a major force in attracting customers and prospects.
Here’s the point where these two ideas (dis)connect: Today’s word of mouth comes from the web.
Social media, websites, forums… that’s where people go to share information, communicate with businesses, comment on products and make recommendations to others. They’re where you need to be.
Content Drives Consideration
Having a website for your business is one thing. Optimizing that site so that people seek it out is another. To establish or boost brand recognition, your site needs to be a destination. The good content you provide makes this happen.
What do we mean by “good content”? Let’s start by defining what good content isn’t. It isn’t an unsolicited email, a coupon or an ad. Web users are bombarded with such sales pitches every day, and will largely ignore yours. Good content isn’t a press release about your latest award, or an announcement of a new location. In other words, it’s not about you.
It’s all about your customers and prospects – what they find compelling, or what worries them. Consumers want facts and proof, not promises. So your good content can:
- Outline a common problem consumers face and show how your product or service provides a solution.
- Give background information into your industry that helps people understand how your product came to be.
- Offer a guide to safety or security tied to your industry.
- Provide statistics on the way people use the product or service you offer.
Factual, insightful or entertaining content engages consumers in a way that paid ads do not.
When introducing a new product, you’ll face an understandably wary audience. Good content establishes you as more credible.
Get Seen to Get Leads
Building brand awareness, and qualified leads, through content starts with grabbing attention through the media that matters:
- Blogs. A series of informative articles, peppered with the search engine optimization (SEO) words and phrases a search engine recognizes most, will boost your website to the top of the Google results. Other text-based online marketing includes reports, e-newsletters and industry white papers.
- Multimedia. Think of what you might pay for one run of a local TV commercial – plenty. Compare that to producing engaging, entertaining videos and posting them to YouTube for free. Videos, podcasts and infographics get responses from consumers. The best go viral.
- Social Networking. Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks attract communities who share an interest in the product or service you provide. Post your content to your social media page, and you’ll be in a good position to net new “friends” or “followers” who will comment on, and share, your offerings.
Once you’ve built a community of visitors interested in what you have to say, you can use strategic landing pages to gather their contact information in exchange for more, or exclusive, content. This tactic narrows the field from casual searchers to qualified leads.
Does This Strategy Work?
Yes – countless small businesses are using the power of the Internet to build brand recognition for their new products. It could work for you, too.