I dropped the ball last Sunday and was out of action for a week. But here we are on an interesting topic for today.
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Diving into the crux.
The holiday season has a lot of brands gearing up for new product & brand launches; rebrands and what-not. I thought this was a great time to share my thoughts on what some of you might be missing out on.
So here’s my Guide to 360 Degree Brand Launches:
You could always choose the most obvious ATL channels. That's not what I would dive into. So we’ll skip Instagram, Facebook & Youtube. We’ll go wider, but deeper on community building.
I’ve come across a tonne of campaigns where brands have a singular focus: get the message across. Well, this is 2021 and you can’t just wait for copy / creatives to do the magic.
- We need more participation from your customers
- We need more ways to engage with customers, beyond your campaign, products & offerings
- We possibly need to crowdsource ideas
Earlier, one bright individual would come up with an idea (from an overpriced agency) and sell it to a retainer client. And it would largely be supported by an ad film.
Truth is that every individual influencer, product and service is creating an ad film today. Because video is what the world is revolving around. So no matter how powerful your message or positioning is, you can’t just ace it with that one idea & platform. We need more channels, we need a 360 degree approach.
So let's go with an example, as always. Say you are a fitness brand (they’re supposedly on the rise) and you are looking to launch a new product in the market or even better, a new campaign. Here’s how I would go about it. There are 3 aspects to this campaign:
- Brand Awareness
- Community Building
- Founder Credibility
Pick channels that work for your audience. Where they can interact (two-way) with you. I’d place my bets on:
- Affiliate Marketing: Use third party platforms like Quora or blogs to have other people write about you. If you’ve already built a community of these brand evangelists, reach out to them with your idea. Ask them to use your product / demo and get their opinion. And then ask them to write about it around your launch week.
- Community Sourcing: Again, I’ve said this over and over again: if you haven't yet started building a loyal fanbase (that gradually turns into a community), it’s time you do that. Brands like CRED involve their audiences in new product launches (beta launches as it’s called). I’m one of their members who gets early access to their new features. I’m even asked for feedback and I know it’s heard. That’s what new age brands need to do more and more: involve your loyal fanbase on upcoming product / feature launches. Maybe even crowdsource the launch ideas from them.
- BTS: More and more brands need to drive BTS (behind the scenes) happenings. How you came up with the idea, what motivates the team to create this new product, their faces, how they feel about it, yada yada. The more you could lift the curtain, the more they (your customers) are interested to know. A couple of BTS videos on the ‘making of the product’ would do the trick. This is where you go crazy on your ‘WHY’. Everyone wants to know your brand better, like a person.
The Why bridges that gap in the digital world. Focus on:
- Why did you decide to rebrand / come up with this product
- Why did you choose this time fo the year
- Why did you pick the colors that you did / the tonality that you did
- You get the drift...
- Microsite: Could you come up with an interactive microsite to launch the ideology behind this launch? Possibly make it more interactive for people to give in their feedback or sign-up for an early bird access? Don't forget to make this information heavy as well as with pictures / videos of your BTS. Make it like a substitute for a case study. Only more comprehensively documented.
- E-Books: If it’s a new product (physical or tech), you could always release an e-book that’s light and shareable. Showcasing the new product, it’s hero features and it’s usage. It’s like a version of your most important FAQs with a buy / download link at the end. A crisp 6-10 pages would do the trick. Make it interesting. Design would be crucial here.
- Community Platforms: There are a tonne of community platforms out there that can help you get perspectives, opinions and some anti-fans as well. I’d pick Product Hunt & Reddit.
- If you’re a digitally active brand and haven’t yet listed yourself on Product Hunt, you’re definitely missing out on an international appeal. And here’s the interesting part: you can absolutely list anything on Product Hunt: your newsletter, your podcast, a white-paper, definitely a tech product. So even if you are an e-commerce brand, you’ve gotta be on Product Hunt.
- A dedicated member of your team (wherever possible) handling sub-reddit threads and commenting on reddit communities that relate to your category.
- Highlights & Playlists: Utilise Instagram highlights to showcase new product launches / rebrands and definitely some BTS. Try and curate playlists on Spotify that help your audience resonate with your brand. You may think that it’s very basic and everyone’s doing these things. But this is how you attract new audiences to your product. The cross-distribution and leveraging that the native algorithms on these platforms offer is beyond your imagination. The discoverability features are meant for newer audiences to stumble upon new content that matches their interest. I would even say: go out and get upcoming artists (like really new and passionate ones) to create music for you and help distribute it for your brand and in-turn give them coverage as well.
This is a no-brainer. Ask your 100 loyal customers (in wake of building stronger communities) to come forward for this brand launch. Get them on a whatsapp group or Slack (if you have a tech-savvy audience). Or a personalised email chain works too.
Showcase your product to them: get their inputs right at the outset / more like primary research.
And give them an early access / first glimpse. Along with specific creatives for them to share across their social channels (LinkedIn / Twitter / TikTok / Instagram) to publish during your launch week.
If your ‘why’ is in place for this launch, this would work wonders.
I work largely with founder driven high growth companies and not large MNC’s that are engulfed in the moisture of the corporate hierarchy. Hence, founders would always play a key role in any new initiatives. Founders / Founding Teams or even senior leadership (CPO’s / Creative Directors)
I always believe that individual credibility is higher than brand credibility. Hence, the face of the brand needs to be visible at all times. Founders need to engage into some of these activities especially around brand launches:
- Podcasts: if you’re appearing on a few podcasts, it’s great. If not, start one yourself. This could be about your industry, the myths, the growth and so on. Invite people from other sectors to indulge in conversations. It brings out the more humane side of what you are building.
- Twitter: Individual profiles always work better on twitter. Can you start rallying your point across with your followers on why you’re building what you are? The brand campaign can always be a gentle plug-in.
- Newsletter : more and more founders are now entering into newsletters to share their thoughts, journey and even day to day life happenings via newsletters. A newsletter run by a founder is more powerful than a brand advertorial in your inbox.
Well, that’s it for this edition. Hopefully this helps you / someone you know to think out fo the box on brand launches.
Starting this section from here on, for me to share all the interesting resources that I stumble upon, with a line or two on them.
I’m dropping in an interesting resource that was published a few days back by WSJ: The Facebook Files. For any digitally savvy and aware professional, this one’s a must read.
Listening To: The All-In Pod. Sticking an interesting episode for you guys here. If you’re a venture capital enthusiast or just someone who wants to stay on top of trends globally (largely in the US), this one’s a crazy pod for you.
Until next time,