What's the first word that pops into your head when someone says 'product launch'? I bet it's an Apple product. Probably the launch of the iPhone. If there's one thing that Apple founder Steve Jobs did really well, it was the product launch. So much so that his approach and therefore Apple's approach to product launches are now the stuff of history - and case studies for marketing courses.
And if you look at how Apple stage manages the whole process you'll see that it incorporates both the 'in person' and 'online' side of the equation, so to answer the question above, every launch will - or should have - both an 'in person' and 'online' component. Even if the 'in person' group is quite small. The real question is how to balance the two and maximise the impact of the launch for both audiences.
To a great extent this will depend on what the product is, the profile of the business (if it's a startup we'd have to assume 'nil') and to a certain degree, what budget is available. Let's have a look at a few scenarios.
1) New Company
There are many recent examples of where new or previously unknown companies have used the power of online video to launch their products. The viral video poster child is a US company called Blendtec that demonstrated how incredibly powerful its blenders were by 'blending' all sorts of objects, including an iPhone, in its YouTube series 'Will It Blend' hosted by the white lab coat wearing founder of the company. This was in effect an online product launch, even though it was an existing product. In this case, the only 'in person' component was the founder and the guy behind the camera.
Another good recent example is the stunning success of Honeyflow - a beehive that allows the honey to drain from the hive without the need to open it to extract the honey. This product was launched online via a crowdfunding campaign and broke international crowdfunding records in terms of amount of money raised. Not bad for a Northern NSW father and son team! The videos demonstrating how the hive worked was (and are) an essential part of showing not only how the product works, but viewers online are also able to relate to the father and son team who developed it.
2) Established company
This is generally closer to the typical 'Apple' style launch. If you are part of a company that has a large group of 'raving fans', there is no better way to leverage the enthusiasm of your fans than by cramming them all into a venue and allowing them to feed off each other. Video footage and live online video streaming allow the excitement of your 'in person' fans to spread really as far as you like online. Clearly this strategy is largely - but not exclusively - limited to consumer products, although some businesses based in the B2B environment (Aussie - now mainly US based - Atlassian springs to mind here) also use this approach. Not only will live and recorded video footage go viral, it is also more easily picked up by media outlets around the world, so maximising the possibility of good media coverage at the same time.
Every business and product launch is different, but here are a few recommendations we have to make the most of your product launch...
- If you have a fan base, use it for an in person event - this creates buzz and gives you an opportunity to leverage this either in real time or as a historical record
- If you do not have an existing fan base, an online launch is the way to go
- Make sure that you have worked out very clearly who the product is for and ensure that your video addresses that audience specifically and highlights clearly the point of difference of your product for that audience
- Even if you are heavily focused on the in person component, make sure you have the ability to film what happens, either for livestream or recorded video footage, or both
- If you can make it quirky or funny at the same time, that is a bonus and increases the likelihood of sharing and 'going viral'
"The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out."