Creating a product launch marketing plan

As consumers, we've never had more choices. Even something as simple as breakfast cereal is full of competing products. Did you know, as of 2012, there were roughly 5,000 different brands of cereal on the shelves? If that number seems high, just take a look at these stats: 

  • There are over 60K search queries on Google every second

  • Amazon has amassed over 200 million prime members 

  • Nearly 6 million apps are available on the Android and Apple stores

  • On a good day, a woodchuck could chuck around about 700 pounds of dirt (no, they don't chuck wood, yes, someone actually took the time to calculate this

Knowing all this, how do you make sure your product stands out in the crowd? 

If you're trying to get noticed, it's a bit of a war out there. You need to be ready for what you're up against so you don't fall behind or miss out on opportunities. Although there are many nuances, creating a marketing strategy can be made simple with the help of a strong, well-established plan.

Five basic steps to a successful product launch marketing plan:

  1. Organize

  2. Plan

  3. Arm

  4. Attack

  5. Retreat


There are some essentials that need to be sorted out before starting any launch campaign. This is basic business plan stuff, which is overlooked a surprising amount. 

  • Define your brand. What do you stand for? This simple but critical question lays the foundation for any work to come. Why do you exist as a company and why should people trust/believe in you? Brands are no longer defined by a fancy logo or catchy tagline. People prefer, and expect, purpose-based brands that go the extra mile to live those values. We discuss this further in a previous blog- check it out

  • Define your audience. Who is your audience and where are they? Not just in geographic location, but what platforms and mediums do they engage with? Narrowing down your target audience will help to make the most of your budget, focus messaging, and increase relevant conversions. You will need this information when using targeted ads, so it's well worth the effort to clearly define who they are early on.

  • Define your competition. You need to put on your FBI goggles and do a bit of recon. What is your competition doing in the market? This needs to be done regularly to ensure you aren't repeating what others are doing or missing out on trends. Seeing what's working and what's not is a great way to learn on someone else's dime.

  • Find your differentiators. Unless you're doing something that's never been done before, you have competition. What are you doing that's different? Why should consumers pick you instead? You need to understand your differentiator to clearly demonstrate it in your messaging. Start internally by asking your team what they think makes you unique- do you get the same answers? 

A plan of attack

Planning is critical for any launch campaign- the more thought out the better. Here are a few things to get you started:

  • What is your message? What problem are you solving for your audience and what messages you are going to test? Yes, messages (plural). Why? Rarely do we get it right the first time. Go out with your best guesses and let the results show you which are resonating and which aren't.

  • What is your budget? A seemingly simple question, but this will dictate scope of work. If you have a limited budget you need to closely analyze audience, geography, and channels to make sure you have enough relevant data to make the best possible choices with your spending. 

  • What channels are you using? Again, plural. Research shows using more than one media channel is exponentially more effective than using one. It's easy to have favourites or assume the answer to any problem is something like Facebook (ahem.. Meta), but remember, we're all completely biased. Where does your audience hang out? That's the place to be.

  • What is your attribution? Early on in the campaign is the best time to start thinking of how you are going to measure success. Define your metrics and goals so you can make sure you can track all relevant data as you progress through your strategy.

  • What is your sales/lead nurture program? What happens if this launch is a massive success and leads start pouring in? Are you ready for that? Make sure your sales process and nurturing programs are in place or you have some idea on how to triage leads.

Arm yourself

This is the fun part. Here is where you build all your assets. Videos, ads, websites, apps, landing pages, emails, etc. Once you have your strategy and brand in place, this should come naturally. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Leverage trends. What's hot right now? For example, we know Instagram is putting more weight on video. Perhaps your content can be moulded to fit this algorithm change- driving even more traffic to your page. Platforms are constantly changing, so see what they're prioritizing and jump on board (if it's on strategy).

  • Arrive unexpected. In other words, try to stand out from the crowd. Ask yourself: what would it take for me to notice this? This is where great creative work can separate you from everyone else.

  • Leverage your channels. Every channel is different so don't just resize your ads to fit the platform: rethink them.

  • Be prepared to iterate. Chances are, it's not going to be one and done. Depending on how the launch is doing, you may want to make adjustments quickly out of the gate. 

  • Remember the role of the medium. It's an ad's job is to get you to a landing page. That's it. It doesn't need to get you to convert on the spot. So don't try to cram a marriage proposal in the ad, just ask to hold hands.


Launch the campaign and get your message out to the world! This is the nerve-wracking but exciting moment where you get to see if all the hard work is going to pay off.  Make sure you're watching this stage carefully, as it's a pivotal moment where thinking on your feet can save the day. Here are a few pointers:

  • Listen to the data. If your favourite ads aren't performing, don't be afraid to pull them down or adjust the copy. If other ads are performing better - move the budget around to maximize.

  • Create a dashboard. You should always be watching what's happening in real time, data changes can happen in an instant. Set up a dashboard through products like Google, Databox, or your CRM to be able to regularly check in on your campaign and activities. 

  • Metrics that matter. It's easy to get swept up in metrics, so it's important to define early on what metrics really matter to the business and your goals as an organization. 


After each campaign, it's time to regroup and learn what worked and what didn't. Then it's back to planning, and the cycle starts all over again. At this point, if this is your model, this would be where you start paying attention to customer feedback, customer experience, and retention. If what you're doing had any success you should start seeing people come on board- those first users are the most critical to learn from. Listen to what they have to say and pivot accordingly.

Skirmishes vs the War

Campaigns are surges in a long battle. In the background, you should be building up brand awareness through things like SEO, content marketing, and inbound marketing. The fruits of that work take much longer to yield, but can potentially eclipse paid marketing. The same basic process applies to that too: plan, arm, attack, retreat etc. or as we use at ZGM: Learn, Create, Deploy and Measure.

At the end of the day, it's a crapshoot. You can do everything right and still not get the results you were hoping for. The best advice I have is to fail as fast as you can. The only way to do that is to be active in your campaign and quick to make adjustments vs. checking in a month later only to find out you were spending your budget in the wrong place. 

Good luck out there!


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