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Market a New Product on Any Budget

Let the whole world know about your latest product launch, even on the tightest budget.

Bringing a new product to market is a major challenge for many entrepreneurs. Whether you're marketing software or an exercise video, your choice of tactics will be shaped by the size of your marketing budget and whom you're trying to reach. So this month, the focus is on ways to successfully launch a product-nationally, city by city, or in your own hometown-no matter your budget.

  • $100,000 to $150,000: Retail shelf space is hard to acquire, and new products that go directly to retail often languish on store shelves. Cable TV is emerging as the best-and sometimes, the most affordable-way to market a new product prior to its retail arrival. Sixty-second direct response spots typically feature products with visual appeal that are sold for the impulse price of $19.95. You can run a national cable TV campaign for as little as $5,000 per month, excluding production, according to Thompson Everett Inc., a buying firm in Glen Allen, Virginia. And when cable TV is used in combination with other media, you can create a well-rounded campaign and build sales and enough consumer demand to place your product in stores.

Suppose you owned a health club and decided to market your own exercise video. You could run cable TV spots nationally, in select cities or locally, where word-of-mouth from your members would fuel buzz. For an effective marketing mix, a media relations campaign targeting key editors and direct response print ads would complement the TV spots. Often, consumer magazines, such as Self, for example, offer reduced rates if your ad is for a product ordered by mail, and many city publications, like D magazine in Dallas, have lower rates for retail advertisers.

  • $50,000 to $100,000: Magazine advertising is also useful in launching a business product. For example, imagine your company has created inventory-control software. You could advertise in business and trade publications, which often have special classified sections or offer lower-cost regional editions. And you could rent direct mail lists of businesses that fit your target audience profile, then send mail to each list up to three times. With a technology product like this one, e-mail marketing could provide a low-cost supplement to your mail campaign. You can expect to pay $100 to $350 per thousand for an e-mail list (www.edithroman.com) and escape the printing and postage costs of direct mail.

With a limited budget, success often comes from developing a wholesale marketing program that targets select catalogers or retail stores.

E-mail marketing could also be used to launch a computer game, for example. Outdoor billboards, magazine ads and place-based media that target young males-from posters in nightclubs (www.ajindoor.com) to ads on stadium snack packs (www.innovativemediaservices.com)-would enhance the campaign.

But some products must be experienced by potential buyers firsthand. Consumer craft shows (www.craftfair.com) and expos, as well as trade shows for B2B marketers (www.tsnn.com), can help present your product in a stimulating way.

  • $10,000 to $50,000: With a limited budget, success often comes from developing a marketing program targeting select catalogers or retail stores. A new line of furniture, for instance, could be introduced at home furnishings trade shows, which would also let you develop a list of catalogers and retailers to call. A PR program that includes releases and product photos, followed by phone calls to editors at decorating publications, would complete your media mix while adding little to your costs.

PR can also lay the groundwork for taking a local product to a national audience. Let's say you market gourmet brownies. A compelling story in a major magazine about your old family recipe could help you sell to stores nationwide. Smart PR and solid, creative thinking are investments of time, not money. And they can make things happen for you.

QUICK PICK
Your sales force needs critical customer information to make a sale, and Participate Enterprise software from Participate Systems Participate Systemsprovides answers in just seconds. Offering more than your standard contact information, the software gives salespeople real insight into customer relationships. For instance, salespeople can access details about how to deal with a particular customer who was either landed or lost. The software's "knowledge bank" integrates seamlessly with e-mail or a Web browser; pricing starts at $500 (street) per user. -Steve Cooper
Kim Gordon is the owner of National Marketing Federation and is a multifaceted marketing expert, speaker, author and media spokesperson. Her latest book is Maximum Marketing, Minimum Dollars.

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This article was originally published in the August 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: What's the Story?.

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