Traditionally, new products in the hunting, camping and outdoor arenas are launched either at the SHOT Show, NRA Show, or Safari Club event. In reality, new entries into the market are launched during the dozens of distributor shows in January and February and throughout the year. If you’re planning to launch a new product or service, recognize this: marketing your product or service in a highly fragmented media world has become trickier than ever. Today, success belongs to those who compile the most effective media mixture, integrating content, digital, social, PR and print.
The media mix you choose could be the difference between cheers and yawns. The methods you choose to combine should be based on the type of prospects you are trying to reach, and where you can find them. The first step for any marketing professional is to understand all the options.
Compared with traditional media, digital marketing makes it easier to target, track results and generate low-cost leads. But most importantly, digital marketing makes you “findable” online and visible on mobile devices. This is critical in the smartphone era, where mobile traffic often accounts for 50% or more of total site traffic. In most transactions today – and especially business-to-business – the prospect finds the supplier, not the other way around.
As we approach the annual NRA convention, this year hosted in Louisville, May 20-22, we want to share some marketing methods to consider for rolling out new products with a bang, stealing the spotlight from competitors and increasing leads and conversions through a strategic and integrated approach to your product launch.
Here are 10 marketing methods to consider for promoting a new product or service:
- Trade show or targeted industry conference. There were over 2,500 media people in Las Vegas this year at SHOT Show. The SHOT Show and other industry conventions and shows serve as a great opportunity to develop and nurture important relationships with key writers. On the sales side, these relationships remain highly influential, but they are also time-consuming and costly. Make sure your staff is trained and your lead follow-up is strong to maximize results.
- Content. Content is the glue that holds your product launch campaign together. As people learn about your new product, and possibly are just being introduced to your brand—engaging, helpful, relevant content becomes very important. Customers do their research before making a purchase. Building a relationship and trust with potential customers through the content you share is very important. Strategic content ties all the components of your product launch campaign together and makes each stronger and more effective. Content can be created in many forms. Click here to see a wide range of the types of content you could potentially use in our Content Marketing Matrix. Content also provides SEO benefits for Google searches. Understanding the keywords your prospects use to find what you offer can help you build relevant content and increase your search performance. Google Trends can be a valuable tool to identify terms and phrases that people are searching for. Make sure to include those search terms and phrases in the content you build and throughout your website.
- Programmatic ads. Programmatic RTB (real-time bidding) for digital media buys can be very effective as you launch a new product. Using behavioral targeting, you are able to target based on potential customers’ prior purchasing behavior. This means you can serve an ad for an outdoor product across thousands of online sites and platforms to people who have an online history of purchasing outdoor products. This results in a highly-targeted ad more likely to lead to a conversion.
- Retargeting. Retargeting can be a great method for increasing online conversions during a new product launch. Imagine this: you capture your target’s attention with an ad, they come to your site, check out your new product and leave. While they are on your site, a tracking pixel drops a cookie on their browser, and you can send them follow up ads as they visit other websites with special promotional offers. For example, “Buy now and get FREE Shipping” or “15% off a purchase of $50 or more.” Retargeting with promotional offers can increase conversions and make digital ads across multiple platforms more effective.
- SEM Ads. While Google has some restrictions in place regarding the promotion of firearms, ammunition and components through Google Adwords, if you are able to advertise here, pay-per-click search ads can be very effective. Serving ads to web users who are already seeking out a product, brand or specific keywords through a search engine leads to increased conversions. You’re getting your new product in front of them as they are further down the funnel or further along on the path to purchase.
- E-mail marketing. This is still one of the most powerful marketing tools and is great for product launches. You want to let your customers or those following you know about your new product first. You should even consider offering them a special promotional offer on your new product for making the commitment to follow you and/or show them gratitude for previous purchases. Email is a great distribution channel for the content you create and will drive a lot of traffic to your website. Efforts should be continually made to build your email list(s) with quality prospects. Consider implementing an email pop-up or form on your website to continually build your list(s). There’s stiff competition for attention in email marketing, as many consumers’ inboxes are flooded with emails on a regular basis. Consider getting help from an email marketing specialist or firm to maximize your investment and results.
- Social. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are all useful for marketing a new product and sharing your content. You’ll first want to let your social followers know about your new product before releasing information to the public. This adds value for them for the commitment they have made to follow your brand. YouTube is still the second largest search engine and very effective for new product videos in the hunting, fishing, camping and outdoor arenas.
- News Release and Press Kit. Done well, a press release can be a powerful tool for directing search traffic to your website. Send out news releases full of content that will appeal to readers (and editors) of online magazines, journals, and blogs. Include both a link to your website and the keywords your prospects are likely to use in Google searches. Most outdoor shows have special press rooms to leave digital media kits and other promotional materials. You want the press to be able to easily access accurate product information and high-res photography for the new product you’re launching, logo files, and information about your company and key executives.
- Print ads. While online ads continue to capture a larger share of the total ad spend, print is still valuable for keeping your brand familiar with your target audiences. In contrast to some industries, customers in the outdoor and shooting sports industries still rely heavily on print media for information about new products. Studies show many Internet users still have a print publication in their hand while they search online.
- Direct mail. Ironically, direct mail is becoming more effective as fewer businesses use it, since there’s less clutter out there. This can be an effective product launch tool, especially as your competitors switch to only using digital marketing methods to promote their new products.
Develop a strategy and use these tools together as you’re preparing to launch a new product. It can be a great way to be a hit at the shows and collect at the box office. Are you maximizing your new product launches?