Friday, November 2, 2007

Product Launch Campaign

Putting together a great product launch campaign is easier than it seems. Sometimes the process seems overwhelming, but with the right team and input, it will come together.

During my tenure at Lund Boat Company, we put together a great product launch for a brand new boat that was not even completed. This new fiberglass boat was a huge deviation from our standard, industry-leading aluminum product, but not unheard of in the industry. Twenty years earlier, Lund had offered a successful fiberglass model mix that was discontinued for several reasons. With changes within the fishing boat market in the late 1990’s and early part of this decade, it made sense for Lund to venture into the fiberglass market and leverage the strong Lund brand with a series of fiberglass models.

The concept of these new boats was launched to Lund dealers and the retail public in September of 2006. We had just enough information out to tease the customers that were in the market for a fiberglass fishing boat, giving them incentive to hold out for a fiberglass Lund.

With the boat shows starting across the country in January, we needed more information to hold the customer’s attention. We pulled together an attractive tri-fold brochure gave a hint of the boat’s true identity, while giving our engineering staff ample wiggle room to make the boat a true Lund. This piece talked about how this boat will give the customer the attributes they are looking for in a fiberglass boat and still have the fishing DNA of a true Lund boat.

As we were closing on the end of the 2007 boat show season, we needed to give the public more information to keep their interest level high. We had a lot of the boat’s features and design locked down, but we still did not have a prototype, let alone a completed boat. We took our same concept and added in CAD drawings and features we knew were going to make this a true Lund. Ads were placed in regional publications to draw the interest of the area customers. We promoted the boat at the Northwest Sportshow, one of the nation’s premier fishing and boat shows with huge banners, tent cards, and a large gatefold brochure. These collateral elements gave the Minneapolis region customers a visual representation of the boat and the key features that will make it rise above the competition. We also had a short, eye-catching video playing on monitors to hook customers and keep their attention.

Every step of the way contained material that fed the Lund website. From PDF files of press releases to concept drawings, bits and pieces were dropped to keep consumers interested.

My part in this process was to take the elements from our design staff and coordinate with our ad agency and other creative groups and bring these promotional projects together by their deadlines. Some of the items had generous timelines. Others, such as the gatefold brochure had compressed timelines with tight deadlines mandated by the opening days of important shows. With tons of teamwork from our internal design staff, external designers and our creative agencies, everything came together and we hit our deadlines with exceptional collateral materials that impressed dealers and retail customers alike.

Throughout my career, we have had many product launches, backed up with great promotional materials. Each has its unique challenges. Each has its rewards. No project is exactly like the last, but each is a learning experience that allows me to conquer greater challenges as they arise.

The lesson in this is that each challenge must be hit head-on. Take a great team and put in solid effort and you will be rewarded with an exceptional result.

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