Launching a new product is exciting.
It’s exciting if it’s your first product for a new business.
It’s also exciting if you’re an established business looking to expand.
When you’re involved in the development of the product you’re all in. Your energy goes into it. You’re excited. You see the value you can provide for customers.
You set yourself up for a great launch and for great things beyond that. But often the results fall well short of the expectations. It’s nearly impossible for customers to get even close to your level of excitement about new products.
Even if you offer the product for free to a certain point you’re going to struggle to get customers to try it and get excited about paying for it in the future.
So what can you do?
Here are a few ideas…
Free Product for Existing Customers
If you’ve been in business for awhile you can obviously reach out to existing customers about the new product. There are a few ways you can do this.
Some companies will reach out to specific customers before the product is officially launched. You may even work with these customers in the development of the product. That can be a great way to get them to buy-in to the product and will get them more likely to try it and then pay for it once it’s released.
But let’s say you developed it on your own. You can still reach out to a few customers and see if they would be willing to try it. Give it them for free.
A big key point to these first few tips is that free really isn’t free for your customers. They may not have to pay for the product, but just using it will cost them energy and probably time. No matter what the product is. That’s why it’s difficult to even give away your new products. Customers are risking their time and energy for no guarantee of value in return.
So that’s why it can be good to reach out to a few select customers. Find a few that are willing to invest the energy. Learn from their feedback. Find out where they really get value and then use that to introduce the product to the rest of your customers.
Free Product for Potential Customers
This is even more difficult than current customers. Current customers have a relationship with you. They trust you to a certain extent. If you’ve provided them with value they know that their risk is less when trying something new and they may even want to do it because they like you and want to help.
But potential customers owe you nothing. They don’t know you. Even when you’re offering something free they’re going to wonder if there is a catch and on top of that they know that they need to invest energy to try it. Free is not really free.
But giving away your product is still perhaps the best way to get new customers. Instead of spending on advertising you can give away more value than your cost. Say your product is $100 and it costs you $50. You can give away the product with $100 value to the customer and it costs you only $50. That’s better than most advertising.
But advertising can help you find customers to do the free trial.
Let’s get into a few ways to reach new potential customers…
Free Product for Partner Companies
Reach out to any companies you partner with currently. Then do some research (LinkedIn is a great resource) to find companies that are complementary to what you’re going to be giving away for free.
Let’s say you’ve created some great new athletic socks. You could reach out to an athletic shoe company and offer to add a free pair of socks to every order they ship out for a month. Obviously they’re going to be skeptical. They don’t want to ruin relationships with their hard-earned customers. Have the company try the socks. Get them to see the value. Then pitch the idea.
There are a number of potential partnerships out there, but you have to work at them. You have to reach out to companies, carefully consider your pitch and win them over.
Guesting & PR
A number of media companies have access to your customers. They have earned the attention of those customers by offering interesting content.
Let’s say you’re a local pet grooming company. Reach out to your local TV stations. Pitch a five-minute segment that you can do on their morning program going over the keys to pet grooming. Then at the end of the segment say that you would like to offer their viewers a free first visit with their pets.
That’s a lot of value and it’s a win for all involved. The TV station, the customer and for you.
Radio, podcasts, YouTube channels, blogging, etc.
Look into local and industry events depending on your product. You might have to pay for space, but it’s a great way to find a lot of people that are willing to try new things.
Here in Wisconsin we have the EAA airshow. One of the biggest in the world. The booths aren’t cheap, but you can reserve one and offer your product for free (usually, depending on the product and legal issues) and get tons of people to try it.
I remember at one event a couple years ago a booth was giving away their new flavor of beef jerky. No strings attached. One at a time, but you could go back. They wanted to get that jerky into as many mouths as possible and the lines were full for most of the weekend.
Paid advertising is a great way to get attention. Obviously you have to pay for it and it can take awhile to learn the different channels and figure out how to make it profitable.
You can increase your odds of success by not advertising your full-price or even discounted new product. Bring down the barrier to entry as much as possible by offering your new product for free.
Free is a great way to launch a new product. But remember that free isn’t really free. You still need to win people over so they commit their time and effort to trying out what you have. Try the tips here and you should be able to make some headway and get to work on bringing in paying customers.