Getting a Physical Product to Market, Part 3: Post-Launch
In the first two parts of this series, we delved into pre-launch and launch steps and strategies. In this final installment, we discuss what to do after you’ve launched. We recommend reading the first two parts to lay the groundwork.
Once you’ve gotten your product to market through a successful pre-launch campaign and one of the three consumer go-to-market (GTM) channels we discussed in Part 2, what’s next? Time to scale! Depending on the channel you chose, scaling can take a variety of forms, but it usually revolves around three things: marketing, support, and fulfillment. In this article, we outline some techniques.
If you launched your product on a crowdfunding site or through your own e-commerce channels, marketing will mostly focus on optimizing the efficiency of your advertising efforts, as well as driving eyeballs to your website or crowdfunding page through press, content, and events.
When pursuing press coverage, the first step is to put together a press kit with high-resolution images of your product and brand assets (such as your logo, mark, etc.), a clear description of your product and mission, and contact information. The goal is to make it easy for journalists and press outlets to reach out and cover your product. Writing a press release can be another useful exercise to consolidate your message to journalists. And submitting it to a wire service like PR Newswire can help with your search engine ranking.
To reach journalists, first build a list of publications you want to have cover your product, then find journalists who write for those publications and cover stories similar to yours. Use services like Muck Rack and Rocket Reach to find contact information for the journalists you want to reach. When reaching out, focus on pitching a compelling angle that appeals to the areas of interest for the journalist. Remember that every journalist has deadlines to hit and is looking for a compelling story to cover. Your job is to provide that for them.
Creating quality content is also essential to marketing your new product. Content consists of everything from blogging to social media posts to videos and podcasts. Create content that illustrates ways to use your product and appeals to the needs of your customers. Focus on content pieces that are highly shareable and relevant to your potential customers. In social media posts, tag people you want to have notice your brand and share your content. Create a series of short videos, perfect for Instagram Stories or Reels or for posting on TikTok.
Press and content aside, one of the best ways to get people to pay attention is through events. Host a launch party or organize meetups, run workshops that let people experience your product for themselves, or simply invite potential customers to a happy hour. Few things leave an impression like an in-person experience, and an event you organize is not only a great way to collect contact information for potential customers but to make them remember you.
If you launched with a partner, you don’t need to spend as much time and money on advertising, but you’ll still want to support your partner’s marketing efforts by sharing and reposting their content, running ads that point people to your partner’s website or location, and leveraging your own social media channels to promote your partner and your product.
When launching through your own channels, offering support entails troubleshooting issues for customers and being highly responsive to their inquiries. To field inquiries and outreach, set up a shared inbox so you can manage support requests and delegate follow-up to your team. Rather than using Gmail or another email client designed to be used by one person at a time, set up an online “help desk” using software like Zendesk, Front, or one of the many other software platforms designed specifically for customer support.
Help desks are similar to customer relationship management (CRM) systems, but where those are designed to help sales teams track data about prospects and manage a sales pipeline, help desks are built for support teams. They make it super easy to distribute the work of responding to support requests across a team. You can also tag and categorize emails so you can run reports on the types of inquiries you receive, helping you to better understand the areas your customers need the most support with. These tools are also useful for gathering data for your product development team, so they can make updates and changes supported by feedback from customers.
If you have your customers’ phone numbers, don’t be afraid to get on the phone with them, and if possible, direct them to call you for support. You can only troubleshoot issues so much over email; often a phone call can resolve an issue in a couple of minutes that might take days over email. Plus, your customers will appreciate having a number to call and a real human being to speak with when they’re having an issue with your product.
To manage your own returns and replacements for defective or otherwise unwanted products, get a return merchandise authorization (RMA) process in place early to keep yourself organized. This will help you easily track and receive returns for troubleshooting, refurbishment, and replacements. Your third-party logistics (3PL) provider (your warehousing and fulfillment partner) should be able to help you set up and manage it, but come prepared with a plan for what returns you’ll accept, replace, and refund. Generally, companies allow returns for any reason up to 30 days after purchase, for a full refund. If there are defects or manufacturing issues, the standard is offering a replacement for up to a year after purchase. Make sure you have this spelled out in your product warranty and return policy.
If you launched with a distribution partner, be ready to support their staff with frequently asked questions, troubleshooting documentation, and an escalation process that provides a pathway for them to refer particularly challenging support cases to your team. Be sure to host a frequently asked questions section on your website and update it regularly with recurring issues and feedback from your customers and partners. Wherever possible, develop support guides, videos, and other forms of documentation to support your customers and partners.
Finally, make sure your fulfillment process runs without a hitch. Work closely with your 3PL to keep track of inventory and sales velocity for each type of product and any associated variants (color, size, etc.) you’re selling. Each product variant is assigned a stock-keeping unit (SKU), which is a unique code, typically made of numbers and letters, that identifies your product. This is used to track shipments of your product from the factory, inventory received into your warehouse by your 3PL, and sell-through and remaining inventory as units are shipped. SKUs are particularly important for ensuring you never run out of your best-selling product before you have time to order and receive new inventory.
Shipping carriers like USPS, UPS, and Fedex have delivery zones for domestic and international shipping defined by how far from the point of origination the product is going. Naturally, the cost to ship your product varies depending on how far you’re sending it, so to make sure you don’t lose your metaphorical shirt to shipping fees, be sure to structure shipping pricing for your product so that it covers as many potential zones as possible with a single price.
If you’re shipping internationally, make sure you assign the right Harmonized System (HS) code to your product so you and your customers don’t get hit with huge tariffs. HS codes are standardized numbers used by customs authorities around the world to classify and identify products when assessing duties and taxes at the port of entry for a country. These tend to be pretty broad, and you can look up the correct code for your product using services like the Schedule B Search Engine provided by the US Census Bureau.
We’ll publish a future post about fulfillment strategies, 3PL selection, and how to support your product after it’s on the market. Stay tuned! Until then, if you need help crafting or executing a go-to-market strategy, reach out to us. We have hundreds of the best strategists, performance marketers, content creators, publicists, and more for launching physical product businesses ready to work with you. Fill out our contact form to get started.