This is a guest post by Meghan Keaney Anderson, who is a marketing manager at HubSpot responsible for new product launches. HubSpot is an inbound marketing and marketing automation software company based in Cambridge, MA.
Inbound Marketing is built on the idea that attracting leads through useful, relevant content will always be more effective than pummeling them with advertising or direct mail they didn’t ask for. But what happens when your company has an announcement to make? Aren’t product announcements typically accompanied by trumpets, bullhorns and a fleet of public relations firms? Some maybe. But here are a few strategies to make your product launch a bit more…inbound-y.
Lay the foundation
Chances are you built your new product or feature to answer a distinct need. Which means at this very moment, there are people out there struggling with this need –asking for solutions on social media networks, searching for answers via Google, and researching work-arounds. Before any product launch, make sure you have a good handle on the challenge that it addresses. In the months before the launch, raise awareness about that challenge through content that speaks not only to the problem, but also to how the field will need to evolve to address it. Invite others bothered by the issue to add in their thoughts. Learn from the feedback you get and incorporate it into future launch materials. The precedence that you lay will help pave the way for your announcement and ensure that its messaging is grounded in real buyer needs.
Tell Your Most Loyal Supporters First
For announcements that aren’t highly secretive, seek out a small group of your best customers and brand advocates and provide them with advance notice. If you’re launching a product or service, let them be the first to try it out and provide feedback. If you are throwing an event, host them for an exclusive dinner or give them a space to interact with each other. Even if you can’t tell them all the details, give them a heads up that something big is coming. Fans are your best assets and should be empowered to help shape your product and speak on your behalf. Inbound marketing is about more than just great content, it’s about developing the sort of marketing the people can actually love. Once you’ve done that, your fans will pick up their trumpets for you.
It’s about the customers, not the company
One of the key tenants of inbound marketing is prioritizing customers – both current and future– over all else. When you’re launching a new product, it can be easy to focus all of your messaging on the functionality of the product itself, but that misses the boat. The reason a new product is exciting is that it makes customers’ lives better in some tangible, meaningful way. The best product marketers focus their messaging not on the product, but rather, on what it makes possible for the customer. Google has always done a great job with this – most recently in their “The Web is What you Make it” Series
New products, even incredible ones, shouldn’t be forced onto the world. They should arrive when the world needs them most. By laying the foundation for that narrative, galvanizing and learning from your audience, and creating a human story, not a product one –marketers can create the sort of product launch that breaks through the clutter (no bullhorns necessary).