So you’ve put your blood, sweat, and tears into creating and cultivating your product or service, and now it’s all grown up and ready to go to market on its own. Like any parent of a child fleeing the nest, you want it to succeed. Unlike a parent, however, you may also want it to be widely talked about, wildly popular on social media, and purchased in large quantities. And how better to launch (ha!) your baby than with a live product launch?
More than 50% of companies who planned to use live streaming video in 2016 stated in one survey that they would use live streaming videos for marketing efforts like product launches. It’s an effort which makes sense—after watching a related video, 64% of viewers are more likely to buy a product online. Product launches are one of the most popular uses for live streaming within a business, as well as a lucrative way of generating excitement for the product in question and building the kind of buzz necessary to boost sales. By examining some of the best and worst product launches from well-known brands and taking into account what made them successful (or unsuccessful), we can make our own live releases bigger and better.
If product launches were a competition—and if you think about it, they are—Apple is the frontrunner. The launcher to end all launches, so to speak. If you’re going to look at a single example of what to do when planning and streaming a live product launch, look to Apple. Its insanely anticipated events consistently make front page news in the world of tech. Everyone knows that something big is happening, and they pay attention. So how do they do it?
Think about who is center stage at an Apple product launch. Definitely not Linda from HR (no offense, Linda). The CEO is almost always the one leading the conversation. Currently, that’s Tim Cook. Before his passing, it was Steve Jobs, who was arguably one of the best public speakers of our time. Jobs spent weeks masterfully composing and rehearsing his words and gestures to capture the audience’s hearts and minds (and wallets). And it worked.
Part of planning your event is making sure, and then making sure again, that your speakers are prepared. Nobody wants to look at a bunch of boring bullet points on a PowerPoint. Your event should be scripted and choreographed. Also take into account how the event looks, how engaging your speakers are, and consider how this reflects on your brand as a whole. Make a big deal about it. If you make a lot of noise, you’re more likely to be heard and attract more media attention and potential customers.
Elements of success
Even if you’re not Apple, as most of us aren’t, live streaming a product launch can still greatly benefit your brand. However, it requires a certain amount of effort on your part as your product or service is unfortunately not going to sell itself. There are some key elements which need to fall in place before your live event can take off.
- People over product: How often did audiences hear Steve Jobs discussing minor details of the iPhone’s screen resolution? Rarely, if ever. Instead, he goes out of his way to emphasize how the product affects you, the people. In Jobs’ eponymous biopic, he has a moment of clarity after his daughter complains about having to carry around a Walkman. This is the anecdote he uses to pitch the iPod. Yes, this really happened—and it worked! Don’t drone on about your product’s specs or why it’s better than another product’s specs—tell the audience how it can improve their lives. Incite interaction and take questions. And, if asked, you should be able to tell them how it will make their lives better.
- Marketing: You need a marketing strategy. I’ll say it again: you need a marketing strategy. So many products—even good products—have failed due to lack of a good one. Marketing includes advertising, good press, and various initiatives on social media. Another element you can use is pre-recorded video. Apple incorporates them into live events all the time, marrying the best of both worlds. If your pre-recorded video content is up to professional standards, it can add up the ante at your presentation.
- Building up hype isn’t enough. You need to keep the momentum going and keep your audience interested. Would you go on a date with someone who texts you a few times and then never texts you back? Much to my emotional detriment, I do, but I would hope that you don’t. Keep your audience excited and in the know until, during, and after product launch day. Social media offers the perfect platform to do this. Visuals are a key aspect in the appeal of social media. Post appealing graphics, interesting videos, and pretty photos to showcase your product and your brand. Use social media to your benefit to foster brand loyalty and have a consistent following that will follow you to your next product launch.
- The technical: Obviously, having a fully functional live streaming service is key to a successful product launch live stream. Choosing a video platform can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. A professional platform like Primcast comes with all the bells and whistles. This includes options for embedding, pay-per-view, security, monetization, and a white label player which reflect professionalism in your brand. Another important factor to take into consideration is equipment. You need quality video and audio equipment as well as a good software or hardware encoder and trained staff to operate it.
- Google Glass
What was slated to be a revolutionary piece of eyewear that would launch us decades into the feature was, well, a complete flop. Personally, I wouldn’t wear something that clunky and visually unappealing. Aesthetics aside, it must be said: Google Glass was actually not a bad product. You could even say that it was good. It was its marketing strategy that was bad. Very, very bad. There are a number of reasons why, but Forbes highlights the fact that there was no real, tangible product launch. Google used early adapters, or celebrities and public figures, to advertise. Forbes noted that while it gave them free PR, they dropped the ball by more or less not having an official public announcement or release date. It was not enough just to show a product off and engender desire for it.
2. Amazon Fire
Does anyone remember the total failure that was the Amazon Fire phone? Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ gimmicky foray into the mobile phone world crashed and burned not too soon after its launch. No more than a couple of months later, it was selling at 99 cents, a staggering drop from its original $199 price tag.
Shane Barker, a blogger and frontrunner in online sales and lead generation, suggested that what we should learn from the Amazon Fire failure is to put the needs of the users first and not focus too much on creating a demand for your product. Rather, come up with a product that meets the demands of the people, market it well, and launch it with fireworks (maybe not literal fireworks if you’re indoors, but you know what I mean).
This fiery fairytale has a happy ending, though. Amazon Fire’s spectacular sizzling out lead to the success of the Echo. Bezos even told Business Insider that it was a useful lesson in failure, and one we can all learn from.