Life sciences technical marketers will do well to take a big leaf out of Apple’s legendary new product launches. Whether introducing the newest iPhone or iPad, Apple is undoubtedly a master in how to whip up a buzz with consumers and the media. And if you thought the stratospheric share price was unrelated to this frenzy, think again!
Obviously, majority of life sciences firms neither have the international limelight nor the financial muscle of Apple, that said, they too can build the attention necessary to successfully launch new products for their own niches the Apple way – with the right planning, tactics and execution.
So if you are life sciences product manager planning to launch a new product, here are my five things you should incorporate into your toolkit to ensure your own product launch drives demand and achieves sustained sales revenues, the Apple way:
Tactic #1. Create anticipation before launch
Life sciences companies justifiably make great efforts to maintain the confidentiality of their innovations. The problem is that when it comes to product launches, they are sombre, low-key events. Apple, however, does it slightly differently. Prior to launch, they will offer glimpses of their new product and select information to serve as clues, both of which help build excitement and expectation among the public and fans.
Weeks or even months before launch, start building relationships with key opinion leaders, the media, PR companies and bloggers – these are the influencers who cover your industry. Go further and create a teaser marketing campaign to provide updates on your product’s development progress. The idea is to take customers with you through the journey of your product creation, nurture and condition them into your advocates. Nothing is more valuable than getting others to promote your innovation for you!
Tactic #2. Create the illusion of exclusivity
Marketers of luxury brands know that exclusivity (real or imagined) makes products more desirable. Creating the aura of exclusivity increases the perceived value of a product, nudging late adopters to step up and buy. Surprise, surprise! Apple has found a way of using this tactic to its own advantage by creating a sense of scarcity. It will initially launch its iPhones through a select number of channel partners and offer pre-ordering option swith a suggested future delivery date. This tactic works very well, as the record sales figures consistently show.
Consider intentionally restricting availability to create a sense of scarcity and fuel demand for your product. This tactic suit companies launching fast-moving and fashionable products, such as cosmetics.
Tactic #3. Focus on end-user benefits
Apple stands out in the way they understand the job its customers want to get done. So they design products that fill those needs. Rarely at their product launches will you hear presenters go on about the various features of their products for their own sake. Instead, they put emphasis on how their product will improve the lives of users, the simplicity of use and style rather than processor speeds or screen resolutions. As legendary business guru Theodore Levitt put it, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”
Focus on the job the customer wants to get done, and communicate how you new product addresses that need. Focusing on features and specs or why a product is superior to the competition won’t necessarily move customers, even technical fields- they do not care. Instead, paint a picture about how you’re going to make their lives better or easier. In the pharmaceutical space, for instance, customers want to know how a new solution enables them create safe products, with less regulatory hurdles and ease of use. These are the sort of benefits customers are in.
Tactic #4. Host an Event to Launch the Product
When Apple launches a new iPhone, they host a full event around it, even shutting off their online store, as if to let everyone know they are launching a new product. On stage you will see the company’s top brass enthusiastically extolling the benefits of the new product and how it is a game changer rather than a PR assistant reading a dab prepared statement.
If your budget allows, host an event for your new product launch. Otherwise, organise it online. Invite journalists, media and influencers as well as distributors and customers. You do not have to even hire the entire local conference centre and stop the literally shut down the internet. This is neither necessary nor justified. The point, however, is that you should aim to plan to have some sort of event built around your brand, provide accompanying information to the press, have people speak about your new product and a passionate audience. This is what makes Apple’s launches iconic. And by the way, this doesn’t necessitate hiring an army of PR professionals to pull off because you can do it within your existing resources just as well.
Tactic #5. Leverage the power of brand communities
Harvard Business Review defines a brand community as a group of ardent consumers organized around the lifestyle, activities, and ethos of a brand. The clever thing about brand communities is their ability to create a social experience for customers. So rather than having to be pushing products to customers and perpetuating the ‘us versus them’ relationship, the company goes for an ‘us’ experience. This is exactly what Apple has done – creating a fanatical base of brand ambassadors who vouch for its brand and passionately identify with its coolness. These are people you will see queuing outside Apple stores to get their hands on latest Apple product.
The concept of brand community is straightforwardly a simple idea. However, it is not for every brand, and moreover, requires a methodical approach as well as patience to pull off. However, almost all industries are amenable to online forums, Facebook and LinkedIn groups, online discussions and FAQs. For a select few companies with brand profile and critical mass of customers, the natural extension is to take it beyond an on-line community. Whatever your brand lies, think about creating and using your brand community as your band of fans to share your aspirations.
So there you have it. Tips on how to bring a new new product to market and ensure you achieve strong sales growth from the word. Success, it seems, is about bringing people together and clearly communicating your brand’s values, and the aspirations it shares with them so that you can building relationships that last.
If you need assistance with planning the launch of your new product or creating a brand community, speak with Dr. Michael Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org.