Planning a product launch?

By Michaela Wain

People attending technology trade shows are often there to discover what’s changing in their industry. In short they are actively looking for new products and expecting to see product launches. Whether you’re amongst a broad range of exhibits, or you are exhibiting to a more defined audience, you’ll want your product launch to grab attention!

A product launch at a trade show is an invaluable opportunity to maximise on your initial sales, whilst gaining vital first impressions of your product. Read our 7 top tips for a successful trade show product launch.

Determine your strategy and plan

Launching a new product or service requires detailed planning – often months in advance. Here are some things to consider:

What is the strategy?
– A “big bang” announcement at the show with everything kept top secret beforehand?
– Or will you leak information to get people excited and delay any thoughts about buying from a competitor? In the world of software, if you are behind the competition, this strategy is often used to good effect. By announcing that you plan to make a release that will outsmart the competitors you could effectively delay buying decisions for some of your prospects (in your favour), whilst they wait and see what your new product/service will be like.

Can customer testimonials and case studies be put together based on trials?
– Who will write them and approve them?
– Can you get a customer to appear in a video or in person at the stand to testify to the benefits of your new product/service?

If there are no testimonials how can you convey the viability of the product?
– Is it a demonstrable improvement over an earlier version that you can talk about?
– Can you share the results of any beta testing?

What essential information needs to be communicated about the new service or product?
– Benefits, pricing, availability

How can this information be clearly presented?
– Brochures, videos, webpages

How can technology be seamlessly incorporated into the stand to present this information?
– RFID codes to request white papers or brochures
– Video testimonials
– Give-away memory sticks containing all they need to know

Create a dedicated webpage

The new product launch is probably at the forefront of your current business plan, so make sure it has a dedicated page on your company website – not just an entry on another page. This gives your prospects somewhere to go before and after the show to find out more. Link to it from the home page, blog about it and create social traffic too. Use this page to drive traffic from the show to your website. Prospects will not only learn more about the new product, they are also likely to click through the rest of your site and learn more about your company.  Depending on your strategy (see above), keep the detail hidden until the day of the show to create a degree of anticipation. You might want to announce that something is happening – a new version, a new product or service but save the detail to coincide with the opening of the show.

Pre-annoucements

Digital promotion of your new product is essential in generating excitement and intrigue leading up to the show. Sharing this information with your Facebook/Twitter followers and LinkedIn contacts, and emailing your contacts will increase the traffic to your stand even further.  Consider booking private “VIP” appointments to be the first to view the new product prior to the actual announcement – members of the press will love that!

Organise PR

Media coverage of your product launch should be a top priority. Contact trade show organisers and obtain their media list as soon as possible, so that you can liaise with reporters who could cover your launch. Arrange for a photographer to be present. Make an official announcement at the show – the show organisers will probably love to help you with that as this helps drive attendance.  Think about online PR – where else could you make your announcements? What other websites and online magazines should you be planning on using? Consider launching a PPC campaign on the day of the announcement too. Make it easy for people to find out more.

Use the right team members

Sales people aren’t the only ones who can be effective on your stand. Make sure you have other employees present who can swiftly answer a variety of questions. Consider having engineers who worked on the product, or software developers at the tradeshow to address any detailed enquiries – always with the guidance of the sales people, of course! Anyone truly interested in your product launch will appreciate having all their questions answered immediately. This is also an invaluable opportunity to build trust and appeal to a range of personalities.

Host a live demonstration

The tradeshow is the perfect place to show potential buyers exactly how the product works and why it is a crucial solution for them. If the demonstration of your product is best done by one of your staff in person, then it’s a good idea to take bookings in advance of the show. As well as creating some intrigue, it helps your stand staff to better manage their time during the show. A booking system also ensures that those who are really serious will actually get the attention that they deserve on the day.  At the show, post a schedule of the demo slots that are available via social media and on your stand. Make sure your stand staff are pointing people towards this schedule and the demo itself as its happening. After all, nothing gathers a crowd like a crowd.

Post-show promotion

Again, this needs to be planned in advance. Get lots of photographs, video and comment about the launch and keep the buzz going well after the show has ended.

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