Product Launch 3.0 – The New Rules of Social Network Launches

by Rick Braddy on November 20, 2009

in Product Launch


product-launch3PRODUCT LAUNCH 3.0  – Adding Social Media and a Launch Community

At a time when marketing budgets have been slashed and advertising budgets are under extreme scrutiny and pressure, leveraging social media as a means of achieving broad global awareness, and building a community of qualified buyers around a hot topic or product line, is essential for companies to carefully consider.

I’m in the early stages of pulling together my thoughts on what I’m currently calling “Product Launch 3.0″ (a working term for now), to describe the latest, most-effective strategies and tactics being used to launch products using Web 2.0 technology and social media.

Let’s begin with a quick review of how product launches have evolved.

Product Launch 1.0 – these are “traditional”, primarily offline product launches which focus mostly on getting the word out internally, with employees, and externally with traditional media (press, industry analysts and partners) ahead of a launch event.  For larger enterprises, these remain important steps to take – but they’re no longer enough in today’s fast-paced social-network collective world.  A key emphasis in Product Launch 1.0 is ensuring “field-readiness” – educating the sales force and resellers to ensure they are sufficiently knowledgeable to engage in customer conversations and sell the new product, once it becomes available.  In these launches, it’s common for the coming out party to be tied to a trade show event, where the new product is introduced on stage by company executives, and private press/analyst interviews are conducted before and during the event.

Product Launch 2.0 – these are “Internet Marketing” online launches, originally invented (from what I have observed) by John Reese with his original million dollars in a day launch of Traffic Secrets.  Then Jeff Walker spread the word about this online launch paradigm that he and John Reese cooked up together (along with some help from Frank Kern, again, piecing this all together).

Jeff Walker took this and packaged it up into an information product known as Product Launch Formula, which became the gold standard of Internet-based launches for many years in the IM market (arguably still is even today).  To learn more about Product Launch 2.0, check out this video, where Jeff provides an excellent overview of the strategies and tactics of Product Launch 2.0.  (UPDATE 12/12/2009 – the above video link no longer displays the product launch formula process publicly as it did for several years prior to this post – you can now find the blueprint video here instead).

Frank Kern then added several new dimensions to create what I’ll call the 2.5 version launch with, among other things, the use of effective storytelling, some NLP and compelling personal videos with his Mass Control system.

Product Launch 3.0 – these launches incorporate “purpose-built communities” into the launch process. The process leverages interactive online media, including:

  • Opt-in Email
  • Blogging
  • Social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, etc.)
  • Social bookmarking (Digg, Del.icio.us, Mixx, FriendFeed, etc.)
  • Forums
  • Video Sharing
  • Viral e-books and videos
  • Teleconferences
  • Podcasts
  • Webcasts

Various combinations of online media are used to build and educate a focused community around a hot topic of interest or a new product concept that’s of interest to a community – before a product launches that’s relevant to that community.

An example of Product Launch 3.0 in action was the recent Harry Potter launch, which David Meerman Scott talks about in detail in his keynote video.  In this case, Cindy Gordon, the VP Marketing of Harry Potter, did something new and different that moved the state of the art forward.  Instead of spending millions of dollars on a traditional 1.0 style launch, she invited the Web’s top 7 bloggers to an exclusive interview with the set director of the Harry Potter theme park.  These bloggers, of course, did what they always do.  They soaked up everything they could from the interview, then blogged about the upcoming Harry Potter film and the exclusive interview.

Within just a few hours, other bloggers starting blogging about it, mainstream media reporters picked up on it, and before long 350 million people worldwide knew about the upcoming Harry Potter movie – without the usual spending of millions of dollars on advertising, trailers and the usual pre-launch tactics.

Now clearly not everyone has a product this newsworthy.  But what companies do have are customer and prospect mailing lists, blogs and ecosystems who follow them – and partners with more of the same that provide additional market coverage and reach.

I’ll soon be covering this in more detail. Product Launch 3.0 builds upon and complements its predecessors, bringing social media and online interaction to the forefront of market conditioning and education during pre-launch, along with follow through in the launch and post-launch stages, as shown below:

LaunchFlow

Building a focused community around a hot topic or a product line is one of the keys to creating rapid, worldwide awareness, understanding and adoption of a new product.

Many of these concepts are covered in more detail in the Launch Leverage Report (which is a free PDF download).

Stay tuned… a lot more is coming on Product Launch 3.0.

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