How to Plan a Product Launch Event (+ 10 Launch Event Ideas)
- Matthew Turner
Updated by Tara Malone
You’ve created an amazing new product, and now you’re ready to share it with the world.
What better way to announce your new product than with an amazing launch event?
The only problem is, your budget is limited and you’ve never planned a launch event before. And you’re wondering, where do you even start?
While it’s true that there are many moving parts to a launch event, it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process.
In this article, we’ll show you how to plan, set up, and execute your product launch event one step at a time. We’ll also share some real product launch event examples that prove what’s possible (no matter what your business, budget, team size, or industry).
Ready to find out how to plan an amazing product launch event? Then let’s get started!
Product Launch Event Planning: A 6-Step Guide
No matter what your product or service is, and however large your budget may or may not be, the following launch event planning step-by-step process shows you what to consider and when.
After all, the worthwhile product launch planning is as imperative as product development.
Every single launch event is unique, but they must all take these steps into consideration.
It all begins with the person you’re serving and getting to know them on a deep level.
STEP 1: Get to Know Your Audience
Although your product launch event may be about you and your new product, everything must center around those who attend.
- Who are they?
- What’s their pain or biggest problem?
- Why have they attended your launch event?
- What do they want (and expect) to get out of it?
- How can make your launch event a memorable one for them?
Ultimately, a product launch event is about the people attending.
So, do you really know them? Do you know your avatar on a deep level and know what makes them tick? What events do they already attend? Do you know what they will and won’t love?
Before you do anything else, think about who will attend and what they need to get out of it.
- Build an avatar and get a clear idea of who they are and what they need…
- Speak to your existing customers and gather their feedback…
- Talk to those in your network who have run launch events like these…
- Connect with those in your network who have been to launch events like these…
- Get clear on who you’re creating your event for!
Taking these initial steps makes the rest of your process a lot easier and will save you much time and money. It also lowers the risk of failure and helps you create memorable moments for those who attend.
Of course, it isn’t only about them.
Now is also the time to get clear on why you are doing this event.
- What’s the purpose of it?
- What do you expect to get out of it?
- What are your core goals and objectives?
- What’s the theme that will serve both your new product and those who attend?
- WHY run this event at all when you could take an easier route?
The best launch events are those run by people with a clear vision and purpose. What’s yours?
Aligning what you want with those who attend is where the real magic happens. It lays the foundations for everything that comes next, starting with possibly the most important element of all…the venue.
STEP 2: Choose The Right Venue
The venue can make or break your launch event. It shouldn’t matter as much as it does, in the same way a cover shouldn’t define a book. Yet the reality is, people judge books by their covers and they will judge your event based on its location.
Don’t go the obvious route. Find a unique venue that stands out and produces a WOW factor. Keep it relevant, of course. For instance, if you’re launching a new piece of software, choose an event that’s associated with tech conferences and the like.
A unique setting is a must if you want your launch event to stand out. Think about:
- The Location (hold your event in a memorable city).
- The Building (one way to have your event stand out is to host it in a listed building, art gallery, museum, or structure famous for its architecture).
- The Visuals and Special Effects (does your venue allow for unique lighting, audio, and visual effects?).
- The Surrounding Area (consider choosing an area that has plenty of activities or sightseeing opportunities for visitors).
That said, it’s important to not go overboard because your venue shouldn’t outshine your product. You want people to love your venue and talk about how great it is. But you want them to leave your launch event talking about your product, not the venue.
It’s also important to consider how practical your venue is. For instance, if you plan to invite 1,000+ people, the surrounding area must have the necessary hotels, restaurants, and transportation.
- If people are flying from out of town, how close is the nearest airport?
- Do the hotels surrounding your venue meet the standards of your attendees?
- Are there enough places to eat, socialize, and hold meetings?
The last thing you want is to suffer the chaos of Fyre Festival, where a beautiful setting for a music festival failed because there weren’t enough houses, tents, and basic facilities.
STEP 3: Invite the “Right” People
One element all successful launch events have is exclusivity.
Exclusivity is a huge driver of success. After all, everyone had at least one memory growing up where they weren’t invited to a party. Situations like these from your past fuel a desire for belonging today.
By making your product launch event private, exclusive, invite-only, and available only to a select group, you make those who attend feel special. In return, they’re not only more likely to attend but also to speak fondly of your event afterward.
Such exclusivity only happens if you’re very intentional about who you invite.
To begin, create three separate lists.
This list includes those with the most influence. By having a few A-Players attend your launch event, it’s more enticing for everyone else.
This list includes people you already have a strong relationship with. You’re confident they will attend, especially if a few A-Players do.
This list includes people you may not know as well (or at all), but feel should attend due to their relevance (such as journalists and those in PR).
There are a few important aspects to consider here.
- Everyone on these lists has to be relevant. They either need to have influence, have the ability to amplify your message, or be potential customers or clients.
- DO NOT tell people whether they’re an A-Player, B-Player or C-Player.
- Don’t be afraid to go BIG with those A-Players.
- At all times, focus on exclusivity so you can serve those who do attend in an impactful way.
Who makes your list and how many depends on you and your event. Thousands may attend your launch, or maybe a few dozen. Exclusivity doesn’t come down to numbers. It’s about WHO attends and the experience you give them when they arrive.
When creating these lists, think about who you would like to attend and who will get the most from attending. Relevance is the most important part of this process. So long as they’re relevant and have a good reason to attend, add them to one of the lists.
As you build your lists, be sure to tap into your existing network and ASK those you know. Jayson Gaignard has built a successful business on the back of this practice. His Mastermind Talk Events constantly sell out years in advance, simply because it’s invite-only and Jayson relies on trusted referrals.
So, once you start building your A-Player and B-Player lists, reach out to them and ask them who else should get an invite. They will not only introduce you to relevant people, but their initial feedback will help you hone in on your messaging.
Messaging is key throughout this process (as we’ll see next).
STEP 4: Build Anticipation and Momentum
As important as your actual event is, it’s the anticipation you build beforehand that defines its success.
This is why it’s important to invite the “right” kind of people.
By getting those with influence involved early, you increase your chances of building anticipation.
Yet this only happens if you get clear on the message:
- What is your launch event about?
- Why is it important and why should people care?
- What makes it different and unique?
- Who will be there?
- What will happen on the actual day?
- How will this event help those who attend?
The message you deliver doesn’t only matter on the day of your event, but from the moment you plan it.
Everything should be aligned, and everything should be clear and simple.
For help on delivering a clear message, read our article: 21 Copywriting Examples That Will Help You Craft Compelling Messages.
Once you have a clear message, get it out into the world. The sooner you build anticipation and excitement, the better. Apple has led the way over the years in this regard. Their annual keynotes are essential dates in the diary for many.
They build anticipation months in advance, involve their community, the press, and anyone with a mobile phone.
You may not have the power and budget of Apple, but you do have the power to build anticipation. Here’s how:
Elon Musk is a modern master of PR. It’s guaranteed that in the lead-up to a new product or launch event, he’ll hit the news. Sometimes for a grand gesture or statement of intent, other times for being downright controversial. Again, you may not have the fame of Elon, but every event has something newsworthy about it. You yourself do, too, and other people on your team. Find that unique angle and spread it far and wide.
Collaboration is often a good way to build anticipation. You get to tap into another person’s audience. This may involve inviting a thought leader in your space to speak, partnering with a charity, or co-hosting the event with another business. You can also tap into an existing event like SXSW, which is how the likes of Twitter launched.
Tap into Your Local Community
You and your business are part of a local community where people work and live. Support these communities. Give back. Involve them in your event. Tap into them and the people they serve, and ride the positive message on the back of it.
The sooner you build anticipation for your product launch event, the better. Create a clear message, share it with those you invite and amplify this message. Use partnerships and collaborations, get into the news for the right reasons, and give back to the communities you’re a part of.
Ride this momentum until your big day arrives. And then continue to build anticipation on the day. Dreamforce (who bring you Salesforce) does this with a branded hashtag on the day of their annual conference. They encourage their attendees to use this hashtag on the day (and leading up to the event), which in turn builds anticipation for the following year’s event.
No matter how good your launch event is, it means little unless you build anticipation.
STEP 5: Personalize the Experience
Your big day arrives and those you invite attend…you now have one goal: make today memorable.
This product launch event may focus on your new offer, but the only people who matter are those who attend. Aim to create memorable moments. In their book, ‘The Power of Moments’, Dan and Chip Heath talk about the importance of creating memorable moments.
These moments begin long before the event itself.
Yet it’s during your event that you can deliver the most impactful ones, such as:
The Moment They Arrive
What’s their first impression? How are they greeted at the venue? How does the venue look? Is it aligned with your brand and message? Does this first impression deliver on the promise you gave them throughout your messaging?
The Moment You Present Your Product
The Moment You Give Them Something
During your launch event, you’ll give your attendees lots of gifts, including swag, food, and refreshments. When you do, how do you deliver them? Does your swag come in a plastic bag? Do you provide a buffet so they can get their own food? Do they have to buy their own drinks? Are such moments memorable for the right reasons?
The Moment They Leave
First impressions count, but so does the last one. After all, they leave your event to re-enter the world with that final moment stuck in their minds. Will it stand out for the right reasons? Will your guests leave excited to share their experiences with their friends and followers?
Remember that creating memorable moments doesn’t require a large budget. Often, all you need is a personal touch.
- Get to know your guests and personalize their individual experience.
- Speak to them in person and introduce them to other attendees they should meet.
- Personalize their swag bag so not everyone receives the same standard gifts.
- Make it about them each step of the way.
A successful product launch event doesn’t come down to the product itself. It’s about the experience those who attend go through. As people, we create subconscious associations throughout the day. If those who attend your launch event have a memorable time, they’ll favorably recall your product.
If not, they likely won’t.
STEP 6: Be Unique and Stay True to Your Brand
Although the focus should remain on your attendees, you cannot forget about your own brand. This includes your:
You need to stay true to your brand and deliver a unique experience. Providing a personal touch that creates memorable moments helps this. But not if it’s at the expense of your story and style.
Find the balance between you and them, and align these two aspects and best as you can.
A great example of this comes from MOZ and its annual conference where they launch new products and services, as well as connect their audience with one another. As a company, Moz has a distinct style all its own. From co-founder Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Friday segments to the company mascot, Roger the friendly robot, Moz is totally unique.
This unique style shines through during their events, creating a memorable experience for their audience — but not at the expense of their own story.
Whatever your product launch event involves, bring your story into it. But don’t make it about you.
Involve those who attend in your story. Invite them to become part of it!
This in itself creates a personal experience they won’t forget.
BONUS: Make Sure to Follow Up
Always follow up with your guests!
- Email them.
- Send them a letter.
- Arrange a call.
- Ask them for their feedback.
- Ask them if they have any questions.
- Offer them your product.
Remember that those who attended your event now have a special affiliation with your new product.
Remind them of this. Follow up with them and ask for their feedback, referrals, and suggestions. Give them your product for free (or at least offer a special discount). Suggest ways you can collaborate with one another.
Do all you can to keep them part of the journey.
The longer you do, the more rapport you’ll build between them and your new product/service.
Following these steps will help ensure you host a product launch event that’s remembered for the right reasons. There’s a lot of work that goes into any event (however big or small), but by following these steps you can remove some of those overwhelming feelings and worries.
10 Winning Product Launch Event Ideas
A winning product launch event all begins with an idea.
But coming up with an amazing idea for a product launch event isn’t easy.
If you’re interested in planning an amazing event for your next product launch, here are some creative product launch event ideas to inspire you.
1. Product Showcase
If you’re launching a physical product (as opposed to a digital one), consider planning an event that allows attendees to actually experience or try out your product firsthand. To accomplish this, you might set up different stations that highlight your product’s unique features and benefits to users. For example, you can offer live demonstrations, hands-on experiences, and opportunities for attendees to ask questions. If you have the budget for it, you might also consider adding virtual reality or augmented reality elements to enhance the interactive experience.
2. Partner With Experts and Influencers
You might also partner with experts and influencers in your niche and invite them to attend and participate in your event. By collaborating with established and respected individuals in your niche, you can reach more people and boost your credibility. This approach is especially impactful when you invite experts and influencers that genuinely connect with your brand and product.
3. Contests and Gamification
To boost engagement among attendees and create some friendly competition, consider including contests or gamification elements in your event. For example, you could have a social media challenge or a product-related quiz with prizes for the winners. Making use of contests or gamification can make the experience more fun for attendees and also encourages them to explore and interact with your product and brand.
4. Tell the Story of Your Product
Create excitement and anticipation around your new product by telling the story of its development. You might talk about how your product came about and the problems that it solves. Use storytelling techniques to connect emotionally with your audience and demonstrate how this product can help them. A well-crafted story can leave a lasting impression on your attendees and help them remember you and your product long after the event.
5. Branded Swag and Giveaways
Create branded swag for your event and consider giving away some items for free. Personalized, useful, and high-quality items can leave a positive impression on attendees and act as physical reminders of your product and brand. In addition, consider offering special discounts or early access to the product for event attendees to incentivize them to try it out.
6. Include Live Entertainment and Performances
Live entertainment and performances can liven up the mood of any event, and a product launch event is no different. Depending on your product and target audience, you might hire musicians, dancers, or other kinds of performers that align with your brand and event theme. Live performances add energy and excitement, and helps provide a more a memorable experience for attendees.
7. Product Experience Zones
Another idea is to create experience zones that focus on different uses or applications of your product. This allows attendees to explore how your product can be used in various situations and helps them to understand just how versatile it can be. For example, let’s say that you’re launching a new kitchen appliance. You might set up different cooking stations in the event venue to demonstrate how it can be used with various recipes.
8. Offer Limited Editions of Your Product
You might also consider partnering with another well-known brand or influencer in your niche to create a limited-edition version of your product. The exclusivity and uniqueness of the collaboration can attract attention and encourage members of both audiences to attend your event. This approach is a great way to expand your product’s appeal to a broader audience.
9. Workshops and Panel Discussions
Host interactive workshops or panel discussions related to your product’s niche or the problems that it solves. Invite experts, thought leaders, or professionals to share insights and tips. Workshops offer the added advantage of being hands-on and educational, allowing attendees to gain valuable knowledge and experience your product’s benefits in action.
10. Plan an Event with a Social Impact
Create a product launch event with social impact by linking it to a charitable cause or community initiative. You can do this by donating a portion of the event proceeds or product sales to a charity, or organize activities that benefit the community. This approach not only helps you make a positive difference in your community but also resonates with socially conscious consumers.
When incorporating these ideas, be sure to customize them to suit your product and brand identity, and ensure that they align with your target audience’s interests and preferences.
3 Real-Life Product Launch Event Examples
Before we look at what your next steps should be, here are three world-class product launch event examples in action. No matter what your budget or situation may be, you’re sure to find some inspiration.
Trolli, the maker of candy and Slurpees, has a rather colorful and unique brand. In 2017, it surprised those on spring break with their Weirdly Slothsome Slurpee Truck Tour. There’s a lot to like with this product launch event:
- They know their audience and demographic, appreciating that during spring break they let their hair down and are ready to have fun.
- Trolli partners with 7/11 for this launch event, bringing together the power of both brands.
- They partnered with social media influencers to build both anticipation for the event, and further its reach during it.
- Trolli tapped into an existing event (at the beach during spring break), going directly to their customers.
- They created a unique event by staying true to their brand — while also creating some memorable moments for those who attended (with swag, free products, music and entertainment).
Trolli provides a great example of an experiential launch event that doesn’t require a huge budget.
2: Perrier Water
In 2017, Perrier launched two new flavors with a pop-up event in New York City. Over five days, they brought in 5,000+ guests and served them over 10,000 bottles of the new flavors. There are a few things to note about this product launch event.
- They used social media to create awareness, generating 2,000+ Instagram posts with their #PerrierFlavors hashtag.
- Their launch event took place in a cool New York building, complete with a warehouse feel, quirky artwork on the walls, and vibrant colors across every surface.
- They created several memorable moments for those who attended, from their ‘Bubble Pit’ to a DJ set from Hannah Bronfman each evening.
- They partnered with the artist, AKACORLEONE, to create unique designs for the venue, tapping into a new audience at the same time.
This pop-up event shows what’s possible when you leverage partnerships, collaborate with artists, and create a unique setting that sticks in the minds of those who attend.
In 2017, Mitsubishi Fuso arrived in New York to launch its new zero-emission trucks. Here are a few aspects we love about this product launch event.
- It’s unique. Most product launches in this industry take place in convention centers. Mitsubishi Fuso went against the grain by taking over a parking garage for two days.
- They had a clear message and a powerful theme that linked to their product but was much larger than it: the environment, and the importance of going green.
- Throughout the two days, Fuso presented several workshops. However, these workshops weren’t just delivered by company executives. They invited experts in sustainability to provide further education, making the entire event more than just a product launch.
- They collaborated with local artists and focused a lot on the overall entertainment of the event.
Mitsubishi Fuso doesn’t have the most exciting brand. Yet they were still able to create a memorable product launch event simply by thinking outside of the box and doing what most others in their industry would never consider.
Each of these product launch event examples offers a glimpse into what’s possible. You too can create a product launch event that brings your audience together and creates a firm affiliation between them and your brand.
So… how can you take that all-important first step?
How To Create Your Own Product Launch Event
There is no simple blueprint to creating a memorable product launch. Each one differs, and no matter how big or small yours may be, you need to commit a lot of energy to it.
This simple launch event planning process shows you what to do and when. But it all begins with a commitment; a commitment from you to your product.
Begin by asking yourself the following questions:
Does the product deserve a real-world launch event?
Or are you okay launching it with a press release and email?
If you decide that it is worth it, reserve sometime in the next few days to consider:
- WHO will attend (who are they and why would they come)
- WHY this launch event should exist (what is its purpose?)
This is how to lay the foundations for a successful launch event — whatever your product is, however big it may be, and no matter what the industry.
From here, follow the process we covered in this guide, and you’ll be well on your way to planning a memorable product launch event!
If you need further guidance on how to launch a new product, you may like to read another resource we’ve created: Product Launch Plan: How to Pull Off an Explosive Launch (and Maximize Sales)