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The only checklist you need to plan your product launch event

From Palo Alto tech giants to fashion startups, great marketers know one thing. To grab your audience’s attention: give them something memorable.

The unveiling of your new product deserves to be special. Amid the noise of the marketplace, a great launch event allows your voice to be heard; it helps create that all-important buzz – and, most important, it can give your sales a much-needed early boost.

There are plenty of professional event planners out there that will take care of everything, but this usually comes with a sizeable fee. So as an alternative, why not handle it all in-house? As we’ll see, with suitable planning and preparation, a successful home-grown event is well within reach – even for business owners with no prior events experience.

What is a product launch event?

A ‘product launch event’ refers to a specific, planned occasion to mark the launch of your product.

The most successful events showcase the product, allowing participants to experience it first-hand. There is also a strong element of celebration (think ‘party with a purpose’). After all, product launches are an exciting time for any up-and-coming business – and this is your opportunity to spread that enthusiasm from the boardroom to the marketplace.

A virtual launch event is another possibility (e.g. an invite-only Webcast or the unveiling of an immersive promotional video). If your customers are far-flung, these are effective to engage as many people as possible.

A word of caution here, though: 84% of business leaders still think in-person events are critical to their companies’ success. No matter how swish your online presentation, it’s hard to replicate that buzz that comes with an in-the-flesh gathering.

Should my company organise our own product launch?

“Let’s just outsource it!”

Faced with organising your first event, this response is totally understandable. For one, there’s the benefit of convenience: if spare time is at a premium, you may be reluctant to add extra tasks to your to-do list. You might also feel that putting on a successful event is beyond your capabilities – and your comfort zone.

But would outsourcing offer genuine value? After all, with a little research, each of the elements that make up a successful event (e.g. venue hire, catering and promotion) can be sourced and organised by any business owner. Outsourcing the entire thing essentially involves paying an uplift for someone else to coordinate all of this for you. If your budget is tight, you might conclude that it would be put to better use by bringing everything together yourself.

Part 1: Planning

Decide who the event is for

For most businesses, the target audience consists of two groups: customers and influencers.

Depending on your business model, customers may be end-users – or buyers and merchandisers from other companies (or a combination of the two).

Influencers include industry insiders, journalists and, more than ever, social media influencers. Their opinions and reach will help spread the word about your product.

You would expect a fashion unveiling to look and feel very different to the launch of a new piece of analytics software, because each caters to the tastes and expectations of their audience. Always make sure you know your audience as they will shape the theme of your event.

Get the timing right

When exactly will you be ready to go to market? It’s a good idea to coordinate with your product development and production managers on this long before you decide to host a product launch event. The last thing you need is to showcase a buggy prototype – or to build up an immediate appetite for the product, only to discover that the first batch won’t be ready on time.

Set your budget

Once you have established the bottom line amount you have to spend, it’s useful to work from a single document for allocating your spend for each area. This helps you avoid budget overrun. Those areas are likely to include the following:

  • Venue hire
  • Catering
  • Equipment
  • Presentation (e.g. video production and speaker fees)
  • Takeaways (e.g. product samples and brochure handouts)
  • Promotion (including online and offline advertising spend)

Choose the right venue

The venue is key. First, think about the number of guests and what their expectations will be. The accessibility of the location is important, too: lack of easy transport links can be a huge turn-off and stop people from joining.

It might be tempting to piggyback on a wider trade show or industry expo for your launch. Though this is an option, tread carefully. On the one hand, you have a ready-made audience of influencers and customers. On the other, with so much else going on, the impact of the launch might be lost. 

Part 2: Promotion

Pin down your key message

First, ask yourself two questions:

  1. What makes your product so special?
  2. Why should people attend your event?

Interesting guest speakers, exclusive giveaways, exciting activities: so far as the actual event is concerned, these are the type of standout features that are likely to attract interest. Pin down the elements that make your event special – and make sure you highlight these in your promotional materials.

Target key influencers and customers

Identify the platforms where your audience is most active (e.g. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook). These are where you should focus your promotional efforts. Consider contacting key customers and influencers individually via direct messaging. Also, consider drafting a press release for distribution to industry publications and industry journalists. Promotional videos can be especially effective at encouraging sign-ups.

Set up a page dedicated to the event on your Website. Include a link to this wherever you promote your link. This provides you with a central hub for registering attendees.

Post-event promotion

Videos showing snippets of the product unveiling, attendees trying it out, guest speakers, live performances: these can all be used after the event for further promotional purposes. In this way, the event continues to support your wider launch campaign strategy long after it has ended.

Further help is on hand…

Fielding calls from interested parties, arranging venue viewings, distributing promotional materials… Organising an event can get busy very quickly!

This is where EMMA can help. Our experienced and multi-skilled management assistants can support your event planning and execution, providing exactly the assistance you need to keep everything on track, freeing up your time and keeping you in control. To find out more speak to EMMA today.