It would be great if every time you brought out a new product, it would sell so fast you couldn’t make enough of it. Even steady, moderate sales would be welcomed. But what if launching a new product rouses little or no interest in the marketplace? If this happens, here’s what to do.
In “When Marketing Fails,” I suggested that most of the time there are just two reasons for a product or service to lag: the marketing message isn’t getting through, or the offering is faulty or perceived as such. In the above-linked article, I said the trouble usually lies with the message, not with the product. And this is true.
However, when you’re launching a new product and getting terrible early results, the problem could be with the product. This is important to consider, because freelance copywriters (like me), staff copywriters and marketing agencies occasionally come under fire from clients who believe the creative people are at fault for the product not moving.
When launching a new product, make sure the product and expectations for it are sound
Companies that pay money to people to do things for them expect those people to do a good job. For a new product launch, a company might hire an advertising agency and pay them a lot of money to promote the product. If sales fail to meet expectations, the company looks to the agency—which shouted from the rooftops its expertise in launching and selling products—and demands a reason for the failure.
What a lot of company leaders forget is that marketing agencies and copywriters aren’t magicians. We can’t create something out of nothing. We can’t force consumers to buy what they don’t want.
The reason we’re in business and encourage people to hire us is that we’ve spent a lot of years learning how to frame and present ideas, how to say things, how to express messages in ways that are proven to be effective . . . as long as there’s nothing wrong with the offering.
What could be wrong with a new product?
This is two parts: 1. Consumer perception, and 2. The product itself.
It’s the job of creative marketers to correct consumer perception in favor of their clients whenever possible. An insightful marketing campaign plants the “correct” perception of the product into people’s minds. A good marketer knows before launching a new product what objections are likely to pop up and overcomes them in the marketing materials being used to sell it.
Unfortunately, there are certain problems that no marketing agency can ethically overcome:
- It was the wrong time of year to launch
- The price is too high, and nothing about the product justifies the cost
- There are too many of the same products on the market, and the failing product has absolutely no differentiation
- The product is missing a design feature that’s killing sales
- The product is too controversial
- The product is too hard to use
When a product fails for these reasons, the company behind the product must look internally and set about fixing bugs—or go back to the drawing board and start fresh. If a product has major flaws, don’t expect your agency or copywriter to be able to get your audience to overlook them.