Five Product Launch Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Big Brands

Here are five product launch tips to help you successfully role out your next big idea.

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Earlier this year in May 2012, Clear hair care products were virtually an unknown brand to U.S. consumers. But in the same month, suddenly hundreds of thousands of women and men were buzzing about Unilever’s newest hair care offering.

While it certainly helps that Clear utilized celebrity endorsements (i.e. tapping Heidi Klum to be the face of the nascent brand) celebrity appeal alone does not guarantee a successful product; rather, it has been the company’s strategic launch initiatives across Facebook, Twitter, video and PR that captured consumer attention, sparked conversation, and led them to try Clear’s products.

Every entrepreneur can learn a lot from Unilever’s recent product launch. Whether you have millions of dollars to spend on promotion or just 100 bucks. Here are five product launch tips to help you successfully role out your next big idea.

1. Employ a trial strategy.

Unilever’s Clear campaign communicated call-to-actions that resonated with consumers but rarely did they say “buy it now.” Instead, Clear encouraged consumers to visit the brand’s Facebook page and snag a sample of the product. Giveaways like these get consumers excited to engage.

Once you have a consumer’s contact information in exchange for promotional products, you ultimately hook the consumer into a measurable sales funnel. Consumers like to try before they buy, so new launches benefit from allowing relevant consumers to test or sample new products and services.

2. Communicate how you’re different and better.

Unilever’s new shampoo and conditioner line could easily blend in with the rest of the hair care product landscape. Especially if Clear had gone with a typical “your hair will look gorgeous” pitch to consumers. Instead, the brand articulated a unique point of differentiation: Clear is the only hair care line that focuses on nourishing the scalp.

Regardless of whether that message resonates with all consumers, it’s memorable. If you’re in a crowded industry like Clear is, avoid vague promises like, “This is the best new product!” Instead, zero in on specifically why a customer should care about your product. Then, share your story in promotional efforts.

3. Aggregate the conversation.

With so many places online to engage with users, it is critical that your brand leads the charge of bringing those conversations together. For example, Clear developed hashtags specifically for the product launch that online consumers were constantly made aware of, making the discussions across multiple social media channels easy to bring together in one feed.

This makes it easier for your team members to respond to a high volume of comments in one place. It also enhances social proof, acting as a signal to other users that your product is popular.

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