By Josephine Sabin, Marketing Manager at custom design marketplace DesignCrowd

A successful and creative product launch can make (or break!) any start-up, since the originality and innovation behind your product is ultimately what will drive your growth in the marketplace. Here’s how to effectively incorporate offline campaigns into your launch/marketing strategy that gain traction, entice customers and boost the significance of your brand!

1. Trade Shows & Events

Trade shows and events are great for both launching your product or idea — and sussing out your competition! If you haven’t been involved in industry shows and events to date, stepping in with your hot new product is a great way to kick-start your launch.

• Aim high and secure exhibitions/stands at large or well known shows and events, even if they cost a little more — it’s a great way to put yourself on the map and the more people who see you, the better
• Create a mini-campaign around your product that is specifically designed for the event; for example, at one of their 2011 trade events, marketing business Hubspot characterised their stall with a ‘marketing fact vs. marketing fantasy’ theme and dressed it up with fluffy toy unicorns, which they handed out to visitors, along with their product/service information — needless to say, their approach was a huge hit
• To create real success, focus on your customer more than your product; instead of raving about how awesome your product is, emphasise the benefits it can bring to the customer and how it can change their attitudes and even their lives

2. Shouting Out With Print

Whether you hand them out at your trade show or do a simple letterbox drop, print materials like brochures, flyers, posters and booklets can dramatically impact your launch. They can communicate much about who you are and what you do and they also provide prospective customers something concrete to remember your product by, prompting them to take further action or seek you out via other channels (e.g. online.

• Creating pristine materials is essential, but it doesn’t have to be costly: try crowdsourcing sites like DesignCrowd that offer professional design services for a fraction of ordinary graphic design fees
• The wording and content of your materials must also be spot-on; freelance writers make great low-cost solutions; they can reward you with punchy and concise content that effectively gets your messaging across
• Offline advertising can also be a good idea, if you can afford it; place ads in publications that speak to your specific target audience or consider running ads offline that complement your online activities and campaigns
• Don’t forget to include a Call to Action! Web addresses, emails and phone numbers are good, but don’t neglect popular digital CTAs like social media URLs (e.g. your Twitter name) and QR codes; this is also a great way to draw your online and offline launch strategies together

3. Freebies & Merchandise

Spreading the word about your product doesn’t always have to be so bold. Giving away freebies and merchandise to customers (both new and old) is a memorable way to reward customer loyalty, while also complimenting your product launch activities.

• Using merchandise as a ‘reward’ in exchange for customer information or interaction can be an excellent campaign idea; you can ask customers to complete a survey, share your content, endorse something you’ve published or refer your product/service to a friend
• Do something unique with your merchandise design: create a mock-up of your product, develop amazing imagery and graphics or find a way to personalise your merchandise, rather than choosing the ‘mass merchandise’ option
• Remember, any piece of merchandise that promotes your product must suit your target audience and it must include some kind of Call to Action, whether it’s a website URL, a QR code or a phone number

4. Selling It On the Home Front

If you have a physical store, promoting your product on the home front should also be a significant part of your product launch, particularly if you operate in the retail sector.
• Dedicate your business or shop front for a week (or two) to promoting your product; decorations, banners, posters and brochures will all help you get the message across to your visiting customers!
• Consider coupling your launch with another holiday promotion (like Halloween or Easter); this can give you a theme to work with and is also great for grabbing attention, but make sure the holiday theme doesn’t overshadow what your product offering.

5. Party It Up & Launch

Launch parties can be highly successful addendums to your launch campaign if they’re done right.

• Decide whether to hold your party at the start or end of your campaign (or in the middle); holding your party at the start is ideal if you want to launch with a bang and scheduling it at the end can mean you’ll have a good opportunity to communicate stats and information about the success of your product so far
• Invite as many people as you can in the way of potential clients, investors, partners and media folk; at this early stage, it’s all about creating awareness and getting your name/product out there
• Make sure you give people something tangible to take away; guest/door prizes are fun, and a showbag or gift containing information about your product (and a Call to Action) is essential
• Don’t be shy with your party; be bold, be different and make everything about your event, from the venue to the decorations to the entertainment, focused around your product!
If you’re a start-up or a blooming business, these tips should put you on the path to product launch success!

Remember, the key to a great launch is to focus on your audience and to connect your offline and online promotions to create one, brilliant, overall launch strategy.