This publication, developed by the Small Business Innovation Development (SBIR) Program, walks you through the steps necessary to develop a marketing plan for a new product. It will provide you with information on how to research the marketplace, create a marketing strategy, test the product idea, and prepare business plans. You will also find helpful worksheets that will allow you to track your progress throughout the process. This publication is designed for businesses that are just getting started in developing products, have recently received SBIR/STTR funding, are seeking their first customer, are looking for broader markets for existing products, or may be

Having a marketing plan for a new product is crucial when dealing with any business. A solid marketing plan gives you a foundation to build your business around and helps keep you in line with your goals.

 Know your product

To know where your product stands in the market, we need to start with some research.

Start by answering these questions:

  • What problem does your product solve?
    • Example: Our hand sanitizer removes dangerous bacteria from people’s hands and thus reduces the risk of getting sick.
  • What differentiates your product?
    • Example: Our hand sanitizer is easier to apply than most of what is available on the market.
  • Why should someone buy your product?
    • Example: It’s cheaper, more comfortable to use and smells better.

Depending on your control of the product, we added some advanced ideas that could be useful to you when you start building your product marketing strategy. These include a bit of competition research as well.

When answering these questions, keep your mind open – you could find a unique selling point you didn’t think about before.

  • Where will you sell your product?

Will it be sold locally, through an online store or both?

Example: We found out that hand sanitizers are widely available both online and offline. We will try to differentiate from our competitors by only selling hand sanitizers in our online store.

  • What is your potential selling price?

Example: We saw hand sanitizers in our size formats be sold between $5 and $15. Because we are trying to be an affordable premium type of product, we will try pricing our hand sanitizer somewhere in the middle.

  • What are your costs for producing the product? Are there any other associated costs (shipping etc.)?

If possible, calculate your potential profit margin in different scenarios. This will be crucial when you begin budgeting your marketing efforts.

  • How many SKU-s (stock keeping unit) will your product have?

Example: Our product will be sold in 3 different variants.

  • Product size

How large is your product? Can you only sell locally or will international selling be a possibility in the future?

  • Product durability

How durable is your product? This will affect shipping and handling.

  • Consumable or disposable?

Is your product consumable or disposable? Perhaps you could consider a subscription-based marketing strategy?

  • Is your product perishable?

Does your product have a long shelf life?

  • Are there any specific regulations your product will have to follow?

Conduct market research

It’s time to find out how much interest there could be for your new product. There are many ways to conduct market research, but you don’t need to go super-specific on the first go.

You will need to start with some assumptions. For example, if you are selling hair gel for men you could identify how many men there are in the area where you sell, find sales statistics from bigger companies who sell similar products and try to play them out in your numbers.

If you are looking to introduce a new product, you might interview a set number of people to see how they react to your proposition.

To analyze existing needs on the market we could use some tools on the internet. Let’s see what tools we could use to find out more about the potential market size on the internet.

When researching, keep these 3 things in mind: potential market size, market trend, and seasonality.

Define your audience

Now that you know the properties of your product inside-out, it’s time to find out if there’s a good market for it and if so, where.

Let’s start by determining the perfect audiences for your product. Without knowing your audiences, it will be difficult to assess the potential market size.

What is a target audience?

Let’s start by defining what a target audience is.

A target audience is a group of people who share similar behaviors, interests and/or specific demographics. Target audiences are crucial for making marketing strategies, allocating budget, attracting new customers and developing your product.

For example, if you know that your product is mostly used by females, you could try to develop it in a way that is more appealing to women. This is an over-simplification – in reality, you can go much deeper into this topic.

  1. Find your target audience

Your target audience(s) should be defined by some characteristics like:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Income
  • Employment
  • Interests
  • Etc.

This process will be much easier when you already have some data about your buyers. In that case, you could just start from going through the data and identifying who buys your products the most. If you don’t – no worry!

Analyze your competitors

Knowing your competition is crucial to stay in the game. More often than not, analyzing competitors will give you a good hint about market dynamics, promotion strategies, targeted audiences and common themes about what things work to bring more sales. Let’s dive into it!

Discuss your channels

It doesn’t matter how great your product is if you don’t have a strategy for reaching your ideal marketplace. To do so, you’ll need to select the right marketing channels. Marketing channels are the places where you promote and sell your products. Once you determine your target market, you can identify the areas where this group tends to shop. Examples of popular places to shop include:

Your marketing channels will vary based on your target market. Whatever channel you select, it’s important to put sufficient time into developing your brand and making sure it’s consistent. The goal is for customers to have consistent experiences no matter where and when they purchase your goods.

If you’re part of a larger company, you’re going to want to make sure to coordinate your GTM across all channels of your business. Doing so ensures that your message is consistent. The larger your company, the more coordination and planning you’ll need to craft your go-to-market strategy.

Consider external marketing

If you’re looking to get the word out about your new product or service, you may want to consider crafting an external marketing plan. External marketing can increase the likelihood of customers hearing about your product.

You may need print or online ads to begin garnering attention for your new product. Besides market research, external marketing will likely make up a considerable amount of your go-to-market strategy.

As we mentioned previously, you’ll want to make sure that your message is consistent across your external marketing content. One of the best ways to do so is to identify your brand. Who are you? What language would you use to describe your company and your new product? How will you make sure your new product is consistent with your current brand?

 Support your customers

One of the most significant mistakes that business owners make when releasing a new product or service is not being there for customers after the fact. Before the product launch, you should prepare your support team for an influx in demand.

Whether it’s an increase in troubleshooting requests or an uptick in web traffic, you can expect higher volumes in the weeks following the launch of a new product or service.

If you don’t support customers, you run the risk of alienating them. Customer retention is critical for building a customer base. Once you have customers in your sales funnel, you should make efforts to keep them there. Providing them with adequate support is an excellent way to keep customers happy.

Evaluate success

Determining the objectives of your go-to-market strategy before launch will make it easier to measure success down the line. Before you launch a product, determine what constitutes success. Is your goal to achieve a particular sales volume? Do you want to target early adopters? Be specific and clear to keep your sales team on target and boost your chances of success.

Creating an incredible product is only the first step. A successful company is one that finds ways of putting its goods into the hands of its target audiences. By taking time to consider all the elements of your go-to-market strategy — including who you will target and how and where you will reach these individuals — you can give your business the best chance of going the distance.

Conclusion

Developing a marketing plan for a new product is typically one of the most important tasks facing the executive staff of a business. The marketing strategy will be based upon the research and information collected during the planning stages to determine how such a product may be able to replace an existing product, if it is new technology, if its an extension on an existing product, or if it is new technology that will accompany an existing products. If the products are extensions to products already being carried by businesses, then there may have been market research that reflects this new product or service.

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