As a new product designer or product-focused entrepreneur, the most important part of your job is, of course, coming up with a great product in the first place. But of course, this alone does not guarantee success and marketing that product should be approached with just as much thought and care as the initial design if you want it to go out into the world and take its rightful place alongside other items that are now household names.
Once you’ve developed a brilliant product, you need to make the world aware of it and also make them see why they need it. To you this might be obvious; surely it’s the perfect solution to an age-old problem! But everyone else might not even be aware that they have a problem. So you need to sell them the problem first, and then let them know exactly why your product is the best way to overcome it.
Create your brand
A classic example is the cell phone. When they were first invented, nobody knew he or she needed them as they were quite happy using landlines. It took a significant amount of educational marketing to point out the disadvantages of using only landline phones, and how their product- the cell phone- could overcome those deficiencies and give them benefits they’d never even considered, but which they’d soon wonder how they ever managed without.
You should look at your product in the same way. Why do people need it? How will it transform their lives? What are the key features and unique selling points of your product? Furthermore, all of this shouldn’t require long-winded explanations, but should be implicit in the brand and how it is marketed.
Major companies spend millions of dollars on brand awareness and product marketing. Furthermore, they’re already established: people know who they are, what they do and what they stand for. How can a new unknown company with an untested product and a tiny budget possibly compete? The answer is by thinking and acting differently from the get-go. Small can have benefits. You can move faster, be more flexible, and develop a personal relationship with consumers and media who have no preconceptions about your brand.
Reach out early
Even when you’re still developing your product you should start to find out who is covering your niche area in the media, and reach out to them as soon as possible. Don’t expect them to write about you just yet, but start to establish a personal relationship with the bloggers, trendsetters, experts and tastemakers in your field. Ask them for advice and feedback. If you respect the fact that they are busy people, are professional and focused and have a genuinely interesting idea, then there’s a good chance you’ll get a positive response. Then when your product is ready to be launched, you’ll have already done most of the groundwork.
Partner with an established name
There are many established, trusted brand names out there that can help you to get your product to a wider audience. One example is As Seen On TV. These pioneers of multichannel marketing have been building a relationship with the public for over forty years thanks to their television infomercials, and they now have a global platform with their popular shopping website as well as microsites focused on individual products.
Startups and entrepreneurs are invited to partner with As Seen on TV and can benefit in many ways. Customers often search for the memorable As Seen on TV name rather than the domain or product they’ve seen advertised, and generally make multiple purchases once they’ve been directed to the main site. This is a tried and tested way for new products to enter the mainstream and quickly build up an audience.
Use social media
A Facebook page, Twitter account and YouTube channel are all valuable social media platforms for your brand. Remember to deliver a consistent message across all channels while playing to the strengths of each and engaging your target audience. Blogs are an increasingly popular way to strengthen your brand. This shouldn’t contain straightforward sales pitches but should feature content that gives value in its own right: short, engaging pieces with a relevance to your brand or your target audience. Thorough research will let you pitch your social media in the correct tone; friendly, intimate and chatty may be right for some brands and audiences, while authoritative and informing could be better for others.
Visibility should be your first goal, and then building a community of customers and followers who will use social media and word of mouth to spread awareness of your brand to others. Influential tastemakers can have a huge impact on a product’s success. Ultimately, your marketing strategy should play to your product’s strengths and reach out to the people who will most appreciate them.