It’s the 23rd of October 2001. You’re Steve Jobs. In a few moments, you’ll walk on stage and introduce, for the first time, the iPod.
Imagine how you feel. The thoughts that run through your head. The excitement. The nerves.
Not that long ago, you were run out of the company you created. You came back to save the day, a knight in shining armor. Everyone looks up to you. Most people admire you; their savior.
The one and only…Steve Jobs
In a few moments, all their eyes will be on you.
In hindsight, we’re able to look at this event as one for the ages. The introduction of the iPod changed music and paved the way for Apple to become the trillion-dollar empire it is today.
But during that moment, did Steve Jobs know this?
No. It was just a new product he had worked hard on and had a lot of belief in. Yet he’d experienced failure many times before. Maybe this would be his latest one. It’s enough to send you back to bed and hide. Yet it’s also moments like these that entrepreneurs, CEOs, and business owners live for.
- The endless hours of hard work behind the scenes…
- The various iterations of a new product or service…
- The feedback, beta users, and many, many phone calls…
- The setbacks. The progress. The unknown…
It doesn’t matter how big the product is, or whether you’re a new startup or an established company. When you create something new (be it a product, service, book, course, or innovative piece of tech) it’s your baby. It doesn’t mean anything to anyone else just yet. But it means A LOT to you.
You want to give it the best start to life possible.
You want to launch it to the world with fanfare.
Whether your world consists of millions or a few hundred loyal people…
The idea of running a real-world event for your new launch is an exciting one. Maybe you’ve run them before. Or maybe not. Perhaps you’re starting to think about it, or maybe you would like to…one day.
Close your eyes. Picture it. Imagine it.
Exciting, right? Yet, also…overwhelming.
No matter how big or small a launch event is, there are many moving parts . There’s so much for you to do, and although there’s a lot of great content out there to help…do you really have the time to consume it all?
- Time’s tight.
- Money is, too.
- You have a budget to work from.
- And a business to think about in the meantime!
A launch event is important, but not if it’s at the expense of your new product or service.
Yet oftentimes this is just a distraction from what’s really going on inside.
I imagine this is what Mr. Jobs felt in the moments leading up to his big launch event.
He’d written the script. Practiced it. Knew it front and back. He knew what he would say and how, and knew where he would stand to deliver each sentence.
Prepared but still nervous. So nervous that maybe he wanted to jump in his car and make a getaway
Why? Expectation, for one. Not from others, but that which you place on yourself. And the fear of failing and falling short. What if people don’t love it like you do? What if you mess up your new product’s big day?
A Product Launch Event…is it actually worth it?
In today’s online-driven world, launch events like these are rare. Most new products and services launch with an email and a Facebook post. It’s easier that way. Less pressure. Less investment.
But it really comes down to that deeper fear of failing in front of a crowd of people.
At Mirasee, we know this pain. We’ve run many real-world events (like our LIFT event). There’s a lot of work that goes into them. You often end the day wondering if it’s worth it: the time, money, energy…
There’s no easy answer to that. Maybe it is worth it to you. Maybe not. What we can say is that something magical happens when you bring people together into a live setting. Connections form, including rapport and trust which builds between those who attend.
This is important because although we live in a 24/7 connected world, we don’t do that much actual connecting.
As in, getting out, meeting people, interacting, and getting to know one another. A product launch event automatically sets you apart from other businesses because you’ve taken the time, money, and energy to connect.
If Apple launched the iPod with a press release, would it have captured the same energy?
Not a chance. A product launch event like the ones they run set them apart. It isn’t about how big they are or how much money they spend. The event where they introduced the iPod was a low-key affair at their Cupertino headquarters.
What matters is running a product launch event that brings your new offer to life.
It’s a celebration! So whether this is relevant to you now or is something you need to bookmark for a future product launch… let us walk you through the process behind a successful product launch event.
But before we get to that…
WHAT ACTUALLY IS A PRODUCT LAUNCH EVENT?
A product launch event DOES NOT have to be grand and expensive.
It’s this that puts so many business owners and executives off; it’s seen as a luxury they can live without.
A product launch event can be grand and impressive. Later in this article, we’ll share some great examples that do push the boundaries. Yet it doesn’t have to! The point of a launch event like this is to bring a new product, service, or offer into the market.
To go beyond a simple press release and email…
To step away from the digital world and into the real one…
Whether ten people attend or ten thousand do, the point remains the same.
The same point remains whether you invest millions or just a few hundred dollars.
They do require work, and you’ll likely question whether it’s worth it throughout the process. Yet the benefits often outweigh the negatives, simply because you do what most other businesses refuse to.
In this article, we’ll show you how to plan, set up, and execute your product launch event one step at a time.
Our purpose is to remove some of the overwhelm by showing you a simple six-step process:[toc]
We’ll also share some real product launch event examples that prove what’s possible (no matter what your business, budget, team size, or industry).
Only you can decide whether a launch event is right for you.
Our aim is to remove that fear, so you can make the right choice.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at how to plan an amazing product launch event.
Product Launch Event Planning: A Step-by-Step Guide
No matter what your product or service is, and however large your budget may or may not be, the following launch event planning step-by-step process shows you what to consider and when.
Every single launch event is unique, but they must all take these steps into consideration.
It all begins with the person you’re serving and getting to know them on a DEEP level.
STEP 1: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE ON A DEEP LEVEL
Although your product launch event may be about you and your new product, everything must center around those who attend.
- Who are they?
- What’s their pain or biggest problem?
- Why have they attended your launch event?
- What do they want (and expect) to get out of it?
- How can make your launch event a memorable one for them?
If you don’t care about any of this, a launch event isn’t for you. You may as well save your money and time by sending a press release and running an email campaign.
A product launch event is about the people attending.
So, do you really know them? Do you know your avatar on a deep level and know what makes them tick? What events do they already attend? Do you know what they will and won’t love?
This sets the tone for everything that comes next.
Without taking this step, you make your launch event about you.
Well, it isn’t about you. It’s about THEM!
Before you do anything else, think about who will attend and what they need to get out of it.
- Build an avatar and get a clear idea of who they are and what they need…
- Speak to your existing customers and gather their feedback…
- Talk to those in your network who have run launch events like these…
- Connect with those in your network who have been to launch events like these…
- Get clear on WHO you’re creating your event for!
This makes the rest of your process a lot easier and will save you much time and money. It also lowers the risk of failure and helps you create Memorable Moments for those who attend (more on this soon).
Of course, it isn’t only about them.
Now is also the time to get clear on why you are doing this event.
- What’s the purpose of it?
- What do you expect to get out of it?
- What are your core goals and objectives?
- What’s the theme that will serve both your new product and those who attend?
- WHY run this event at all when you could take an easier route?
The best launch events are those run by people with a clear vision and purpose. What’s yours?
Aligning what you want with those who attend is where the real magic happens. It lays the foundations for everything that comes next, starting with possibly the most important element of all…the venue.
STEP 2: CHOOSE YOUR VENUE WISELY
The venue can make or break your launch event. It shouldn’t matter as much as it does, in the same way a cover shouldn’t define a book. Yet the reality is, people judge books by their covers and they will judge your event based on its location.
Don’t go the obvious route. Find a unique venue that stands out and produces a WOW factor. Keep it relevant, of course. For instance, if you’re launching a new piece of software, choose an event that’s associated with tech conferences and the like.
Whereas if it’s related to food, your town’s most well-known restaurant may be a better setting.
A unique setting is a must if you want your launch event to stand out. Think about:
- The Location (hold your event in a memorable city, like Imagine does when promoting Magneto…inviting their guests to join them in Las Vegas).
- The Building (one way to have your event stand out is to host it in a listed building, art gallery, museum, or structure famous for its architecture).
- The Visuals and Special Effects (does your venue allow for unique lighting, audio, and visual effects? MAX is a conference for those in the creative sectors that’s renowned for putting on stadium-worthy special effects shows).
- The Surrounding Area (as important as your event is, those who attend want to spend their spare time wisely. Tim Ferris launched his writing career by speaking at SXSW in 2007. Those he invited didn’t only get to see him speak but get to enjoy the conference as a whole — as well as the sights Austin has to offer).
However, it’s important to not go overboard because your venue shouldn’t outshine your product. You want people to love your venue and talk about how great it is. But if they leave your launch event talking about the venue and not your product, you have a problem.
The aim is to have them talk about your new product!
It’s also important to consider how practical your venue is. For instance, if you plan to invite 1,000+ people, the surrounding area must have the necessary hotels, restaurants, and transportation.
- If people are flying from out of town, how close is the nearest airport?
- Do the hotels surrounding your venue meet the standards of your attendees?
- Are there enough places to eat, socialize, and hold meetings?
The last thing you want is to suffer the chaos of Fyre Festival, where a beautiful setting for a music festival failed because there weren’t enough houses, tents, and basic facilities.
STEP 3: INVITE THE “RIGHT” PEOPLE
One element all successful launch events have is EXCLUSIVITY.
Exclusivity is a huge driver of success. After all, everyone had at least one memory growing up where they weren’t invited to a party. Situations like these from your past fuel a desire for belonging today.[clickToTweet tweet=”By making your product launch event private, exclusive, invite-only, and available only to a select group, you make those who attend feel special. In return, they’re not only more likely to attend but also to speak fondly of your event afterward.” quote=”By making your product launch event private, exclusive, invite-only, and available only to a select group, you make those who attend feel special. In return, they’re not only more likely to attend but also to speak fondly of your event afterward.”]
Such exclusivity only happens if you’re very intentional about who you invite.
Create three separate lists.
This list includes those with the most influence. By having a few A-Players attend your launch event, it’s more enticing for everyone else.
This list includes people you already have a strong relationship with. You’re confident they will attend, especially if a few A-Players do.
This list includes people you may not know as well (or at all), but feel should attend due to their relevance (such as journalists and those in PR).
There are a few important aspects to consider here.
- Everyone on these lists has to be RELEVANT. They either need to have influence, have the ability to amplify your message (i.e. journalists), or be potential customers or clients.
- DO NOT tell people whether they’re an A-Player, B-Player or C-Player.
- To begin with, add as many people to these lists as you like. But then, be ruthless with who you remove so you only invite a select few — exclusivity is key, remember!
- Don’t be afraid to go BIG with those A-Players.
- At all times, focus on exclusivity so you can serve those who do attend in an impactful way.
Who makes your list and how many depends on you and your event. Thousands may attend your launch, or maybe a few dozen. Exclusivity doesn’t come down to numbers. It’s about WHO attends and the experience you give them when they arrive (we’ll focus on this soon).
Have a strong filter when creating these lists. Think about who you would like to attend and who will get the most from attending. Relevance is the most important part of this process. So long as they’re relevant and have a good reason to attend, add them to one of the lists.
A good way to achieve this is to tap into your existing network and ASK those you know. Jayson Gaignard has built a successful business on the back of this practice. His Mastermind Talk Events constantly sell out years in advance, simply because it’s invite-only and Jayson relies on trusted referrals.
So, once you start building your A-Player and B-Player lists, reach out to them and ask them who else should get an invite. They will not only introduce you to relevant people, but their initial feedback will help you hone in on your messaging.
Messaging is key throughout this process (as we’ll see next).
To help get clear on your messaging and outreach, we’ve written another article that shows you how to create an outreach marketing plan. This article includes some templates you can use to invite people to your launch event in a way that attracts and informs.
STEP 4: BUILD ANTICIPATION AND CREATE A WAVE OF MOMENTUM
As important as your actual event is, it’s the anticipation you build beforehand that defines its success.
This is why it’s important to invite the “right” kind of people.
By getting those with influence involved early, you increase your chances of building anticipation.
Yet this only happens if you get clear on the MESSAGE:
- What is your launch event about?
- Why is it important and why should people care?
- What makes it different and unique?
- Who will be there?
- What will happen on the actual day?
- How will this event help those who attend?
The message you deliver doesn’t only matter on the day of your event, but from the moment you plan it.
Everything should be aligned, and everything should be clear and simple.
For help on delivering a clear message, read our article: 21 Copywriting Examples That Will Help You Craft Compelling Messages.
Once you have a clear message, get it out into the world. The sooner you build anticipation and excitement, the better. Apple has led the way over the years in this regard. Their annual keynotes are essential dates in the diary for many.
They build anticipation months in advance, involve their community, the press, and anyone with a mobile phone.
You may not have the power and budget of Apple, but you do have the power to build anticipation:
Elon Musk is a modern master of PR. It’s guaranteed that in the lead-up to a new product or launch event, he’ll hit the news. Sometimes for a grand gesture or statement of intent, other times for being downright controversial. Again, you may not have the fame of Elon, but every event has something newsworthy about it. You yourself do, too, and other people on your team. Find that unique angle and spread it far and wide.
Collaboration is often a good way to build anticipation. You get to tap into another person’s audience. This may involve inviting a thought-leader in your space to speak, partnering with a charity, or co-hosting the event with another business. You can also tap into an existing event like SXSW, which is how the likes of Twitter launched.
TAP INTO YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY:
You and your business are part of a local community. Sometimes this is an online community, such as a forum. But you’re also part of a real-world community where people work and live. Support these communities. Give back. Involve them in your event. Tap into them and the people they serve, and ride the positive message on the back of it.
The sooner you build anticipation for your product launch event, the better. Create a clear message, share it with those you invite and amplify this message. Use partnerships and collaborations, get into the news for the right reasons, and give back to the communities you’re a part of.
Ride this momentum until your big day arrives. And then continue to build anticipation on the day. Dreamforce (who bring you Salesforce) does this with a branded hashtag on the day of their annual conference. They encourage their attendees to use this hashtag on the day (and leading up to the event), which in turn builds anticipation for the following year’s event.
No matter how good your launch event is, it means little unless you build anticipation.
STEP 5: PERSONALIZE THE EXPERIENCE FOR ALL WHO ATTEND
Your big day arrives and those you invite attend…you now have one goal: make today memorable.
This product launch event may focus on your new offer, but the only people who matter are those who attend. Create Memorable Moments. In their book, ‘The Power of Moments’, Dan and Chip Heath talk about the importance of creating memorable moments.
These memorable moments begin long before the event itself.
Yet it’s during your event that you can deliver the most impactful ones, such as:
THE MOMENT THEY ARRIVE:
What’s their first impression? How are they greeted at the venue? How does the venue look? Is it aligned with your brand and message? Does this first impression deliver on the promise you gave them throughout your messaging?
THE MOMENT YOU DELIVER YOUR PRODUCT:
THE MOMENT YOU “GIVE” THEM SOMETHING:
During your launch event, you’ll “give” your attendees lots of gifts: swag, food, drink, etc…When you do, how do you deliver them? Does your swag come in a plastic bag? Do you provide a buffet so they can get their own food? Do they have to buy their own drinks? Are such moments memorable for the right reasons?
THE MOMENT THEY LEAVE:
First impressions count, but so does the last one. After all, they leave your event to re-enter the world with that final moment stuck in their minds. Will it stand out for the right reasons? Will your guests leave excited to share their experiences with their friends and followers?
Create memorable moments! It doesn’t matter how big your launch event is. Creating memorable moments doesn’t require a large budget. Often, all you need is The Personal Touch!
- Get to know your guests and personalize their individual experience.
- Speak to them in person and introduce them to other attendees they should meet.
- Personalize their swag bag so not everyone receives the same standard gifts.
- Make it about THEM each step of the way.
A successful product launch event doesn’t come down to the product itself. It’s about the experience those who attend go through. As people, we create subconscious associations throughout the day. If those who attend your launch event have a memorable time, they’ll favorably recall your product.
If not, they likely won’t.
STEP 6: BE UNIQUE + STAY TRUE TO YOUR BRAND
Although the focus should remain on THEM, you cannot forget about your own brand. This includes your:
You need to stay true to your brand and deliver a unique experience. Providing a personal touch that creates memorable moments helps this. But not if it’s at the expense of your story and style.
Find the balance between you and them.
Align these two aspects as best you can.
Think about Apple and Steve Jobs…the black turtleneck, the focus on storytelling, the visuals and sounds and how everything they do (even to this day) stays true to their vision and brand.
A great example of this comes from MOZ and its annual conference where they launch new products and services, as well as connect their audience with one another. As a company, Moz has a distinct style all its own. From co-founder Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Friday segments to the company mascot, Roger the friendly robot, Moz is totally unique.
This unique style shines through during their events, creating a memorable experience for their audience — but not at the expense of their own story.
Whatever your product launch event involves, bring your story into it. But don’t make it about you.
Involve those who attend in your story. Invite them to become part of it!
This in itself creates a personal experience they won’t forget.
BONUS: FOLLOW UP (ALWAYS FOLLOW UP)
Always follow up with your guests!
- Email them.
- Send them a letter.
- Arrange a call.
- Ask them for their feedback.
- Ask them if they have any questions.
- Offer them your product.
Those who attend now have a special affiliation with your new product.
Remind them of this. Follow up with them and ask for their feedback, referrals, and suggestions. Give them your product for free (or at least offer a special discount). Suggest ways you can collaborate with one another.
Do all you can to keep them part of the journey.
The longer you do, the more rapport you’ll build between them and your new product/service.
3 Real-Life Product Launch Event Examples
These steps help ensure you host a product launch event that’s remembered for the right reasons. There’s a lot of work that goes into any event (however big or small), but by following these steps you can remove some of those overwhelming feelings and worries.
Before we look at what your next steps should be, here are three world-class product launch event examples in action. No matter what your budget or situation may be, you’re sure to find some inspiration…
Trolli, the maker of candy and Slurpees, has a rather colorful and unique brand. In 2017, it surprised those on spring break with their Weirdly Slothsome Slurpee Truck Tour. There’s a lot to like with this product launch event:
- They know their audience and demographic, appreciating that during spring break they let their hair down and are ready to have fun.
- Trolli partners with 7/11 for this launch event, bringing together the power of both brands.
- They partnered with social media influencers to build both anticipation for the event, and further its reach during it.
- Trolli tapped into an existing event (at the beach during spring break), going directly to their customers.
- They created a unique event by staying true to their brand — while also creating some memorable moments for those who attended (with swag, free products, music and entertainment).
Trolli provides a great example of an experiential launch event that doesn’t require a huge budget.
In 2017, Perrier launched two new flavors with a pop-up event in New York City. Over five days, they brought in 5,000+ guests and served them over 10,000 bottles of the new flavors. There are a few things to note about this product launch event.
- They used social media to create awareness, generating 2,000+ Instagram posts with their #PerrierFlavors hashtag.
- Their launch event took place in a cool New York building, complete with a warehouse feel, quirky artwork on the walls, and vibrant colors across every surface.
- They created several memorable moments for those who attended, from their ‘Bubble Pit’ to a DJ set from Hannah Bronfman each evening.
- They partnered with the artist, AKACORLEONE, to create unique designs for the venue, tapping into a new audience at the same time.
This pop-up event shows what’s possible when you leverage partnerships, collaborate with artists, and create a unique setting that sticks in the minds of those who attend.
In 2017, Mitsubishi Fuso arrived in New York to launch its new zero-emission trucks. Here are a few aspects we love about this product launch event.
- It’s unique. Most product launches in this industry take place in convention centers. Mitsubishi Fuso went against the grain by taking over a parking garage for two days.
- They had a clear message and a powerful theme that linked to their product but was much larger than it: the environment, and the importance of going green.
- Throughout the two days, Fuso presented several workshops. However, these workshops weren’t just delivered by company executives. They invited experts in sustainability to provide further education, making the entire event more than just a product launch.
- They collaborated with local artists and focused a lot on the overall entertainment of the event.
Mitsubishi Fuso doesn’t have the most exciting brand. Yet they were still able to create a memorable product launch event simply by thinking outside of the box and doing what most others in their industry would never consider.
Each of these product launch event examples offers a glimpse into what’s possible. You too can create a product launch event that brings your audience together and creates a firm affiliation between them and your brand.
So… how can you take that all-important first step?
How To Create Your Own Product Launch Event
There is no simple blueprint to creating a memorable product launch. Each one differs, and no matter how big or small yours may be, you need to commit a lot of energy to it.
- a budget (no product launch event is free),
- the time to invest,
- a purpose behind your event,
- to create your launch event for REAL PEOPLE.
If you go into this only thinking about your new product, you’ll likely fail. It’s all about the experience you create for others. Focus on this and all the other pieces fall into place.
This simple launch event planning process shows you what to do and when. But it all begins with a commitment; a commitment from you to your product.
Begin by asking yourself the following questions:
Does the product deserve a real-world launch event?
Or are you okay launching it with a press release and email?
If you decide that it is worth it, reserve sometime in the next few days to consider:
- WHO will attend (who are they and why would they come)
- WHY this launch event should exist (what is its purpose?)
This is how to lay the foundations for a successful launch event — whatever your product is, however big it may be, and no matter what the industry.
Remember that a launch event is only one part of a much larger launch plan.
Without the right focus, this plan can become chaotic at best.
Yet with the right focus, building a successful product launch plan is easier than you may think.
If you need further guidance on how to launch a new product, you may like to read another resource we’ve created: Product Launch Plan: How to Pull Off an Explosive Launch (and Maximize Sales)