Launch like Steve Jobs: 7 Ways to Build Buzz for Your Next Product Launch

Apple product launches have become the stuff of legend.

The iPad sold 300,000+ WiFi-only units on launch day. Within three days, the iPhone 4 sold 1.7 million units. The iPhone 3G sold over a million units on its launch weekend.

Clearly, Steve Jobs knows how to launch a product for maximum sales. You might even wonder if you can capture a bit of his magic to kickstart your own promotions.

And I believe you can. While Apple’s reputation and sometimes-rabid fanbase obviously plays a large part in the success of their launches, there are also a number of strategies virtually any company can employ to make their own product launch a huge success:

1. Put the Focus on the People, Not the Product

Rarely do you hear Steve Jobs talking about the various features of Apple products. Standing on stage, he doesn’t push the speed of the iPhone’s processor or the screen resolution, for example. He knows most people don’t care, and the ones who do can easily find that information on Apple’s website or product literature.

Instead, he goes out of his way to emphasize how the product affects you. He talks about how annoying it is to carry both a phone and an MP3 player and how, with an iPhone, you’re condensing them down to one easy-to-carry device. It’s about simplicity, productivity, style — all things he knows people are interested in.

And it takes discipline. When you launch a product, everyone in your company is probably excited by the technical specs, and all of the different ways your product pushes the envelope, and it’s easy to assume your customer feels the same way. But they don’t. They care about their problems and how your product is going to fit into their life

So, that’s how you have to frame your marketing. Don’t just talk about what your product does or why it’s superior; show them a compelling picture of how it’s going to make their life better. That’s what gets people excited.

2. Get Opinion Leaders On-Board Early

Apple has a knack for getting bloggers and other thought leaders on board before their product launches. What really sets them apart, though, is they get everyone talking months before the product launches, usually before there’s even a demo for anyone to see. No one is talking about what the product does; they’re talking about what it might do.

Obviously, their history helps. Journalists and bloggers know that Apple has a history of releasing innovative and useful products, and they bet on the fact that subsequent product releases will be just as innovative and useful.

But it’s a strategy anyone can use, even if you don’t have a history like Apple. No, you might not have the New York Times and CNN arguing about what your upcoming product is going to do, but you can start working with the media in advance of your product launch. Even if it doesn’t get you much coverage, it’ll give you something to build on. The media will know who you are, so come launch day, at least you’re not starting cold.

And that can make getting press a lot easier.

3. Be Revolutionary

When Steve Jobs takes the stage, the whole world watches. It’s not just because Apple is a huge company. It’s not just because there are billions of dollars on the line. It’s not just because Steve is a great speaker.

It’s because they know Apple isn’t afraid to change the world. Their products aren’t incremental advances; they are revolutions. They change the way we think about the entire product category, and whole industries have to shift just to keep up. And people talk about it, not just because Apple decided to stage an event, but because it’s real news.

Can you do the same thing?

I think so. Maybe your company doesn’t have quite the reach Apple does, but every company, no matter how small, has the opportunity to revolutionize their business. Do something none of your competitors have ever done before, take a position that’s bold and imaginative, paint a picture of the future that your customers want to live in, and then put your whole company into motion creating that vision.

It’ll inspire people. Right or wrong, the world loves visionary companies with the courage to lead. Instead of fighting to get people to talk about you, they’ll be chasing you to find out what’s going to happen next.

4. Turn Your Product Launch into an Event

When Apple launches a new product, you don’t see some PR lackey trundling out onto the stage to read a press release. They stage an entire event around it, going so far as to even close their online store, so that everyone knows something important is happening and they need to pay attention.

And who do you have at center stage? None other than the CEO of the company, Steve Jobs. He isn’t so much a speaker as a showman, spending days or even weeks leading up to the launch planning his every word and gesture so that it leaves the audience spellbound.

And it works, not just for Steve, but for everyone. If you have the budget for it, throw a big press event for your product announcements. If not, at least have some kind of online event. If you make a big deal about your product launch, both your potential customers and the media are likely to take it more seriously, and it’ll be reflected in your product sales.

5. Take Pre-Orders

This is probably one of the most overlooked launch strategies out there.

Every company that’s been around for a while has a set of customers who will buy anything they release. As soon as you announce the product, they’ll be lining up in droves, eager to get their hands on the first units to be released.

So why not let them?

Apple almost always offers pre-ordering of their new products, and because of that, it’s not uncommon for them to sell hundreds of thousands of units within a week or two of launch. Pre-orders generally aren’t counted until the product actually ships, meaning the orders that came in over a period of weeks all get counted on launch day.

Of course, it’s not always possible. You can’t offer pre-orders until you know what your final pricing will be, for example. But you can still harness the enthusiasm. Until you know your pricing, make sure you at least have a way for prospective buyers to sign up for updates. Then make sure those updates offer a link to pre-order as soon as it’s possible.

6. Release a Product Your Customers Will Want to Show off

Apple knows their image is vital to their success.

That’s one of the biggest reasons they place such a high value on form. People know and expect that Apple products will be aesthetically pleasing. If Apple suddenly stopped launching beautiful products, they would almost certainly see a huge drop in market share.

Don’t underestimate the importance of your product’s appearance. If it’s ugly, your customers won’t want to share it with their friends and colleagues, hiding it away regardless of how useful it is. At the same time, a professional design makes people want to talk about it, and online or offline, it can have a big impact on your product sales.

7. Draw out the Suspense for As Long As You Can

While Apple always makes a big deal about announcing new products, prior to those actual announcements their product lines are shrouded in secrecy. And Apple will do almost anything to protect that secrecy.

Look at what happened when a late prototype model of the iPhone 4 was found by some bloggers. First, Apple denied they had any knowledge of the product, and then when details were made public, they pursued legal action against the bloggers who wrote about it, setting an example to deter future leaks about other products.

To make use of this strategy in your own company, take your hottest product and deliberately release very, very few details about it. The mystery will drive your customer base into a frenzy.

When the iPad was getting ready to launch, the rumor mill was filled with speculation about Apple’s new tablet, but no one really knew anything about it. People went so far as to create realistic 3D mockups of it, hoping to get more readers for their websites and blogs. By the time it actually launched, its reputation had grown to mythic proportions.

The Bottom Line: Plan Your Product Launch

The point of this article isn’t to imply that you have to have as big of a launch as Apple, or transform yourself into as big of a showman as Steve Jobs. No matter how tempting it is, being a copycat is never a sound marketing strategy.

The point is that you need to think through your product launches. Deliberately plan what information you’re going to release and when, who you want talking about you, and how you can turn your product launch into something worth talking about.

That’s what Apple does. No, you may not have whole departments of marketers and PR aficionados strategizing it for you, but you can plan a launch that will impress people, even if the only person working on it is you.

  1. Decidedly tilted toward mass-market B2C product launches, especially given the single-source example of Apple. For example, items 4-7 in your list are fairly meaningless for those involved with B2B. This piece overall would benefit greatly from a real embrace of B2B, rather than the attempted extension of a B2C single-source example to the B2B environment.

    @brianglett (Twitter)

  2. True, it’s a B2C example, but I wouldn’t be quite so quick to dismiss the points. A couple of years ago, I helped a manufacturer launch a rotor valve exclusively to big business clients, and he used every item on this list.

    Thanks for commenting though. Good to get some discussion going. :-)

  3. I think your point regarding pre-orders can also be translated for online products or services into pre-launch lists. You can go one step further and combine this tactic with a blogger/PR outreach tactic by offering up custom tailored signup codes to the bloggerati. That way on launch day or the days leading up to you, you’ll be able to message your own list but also the lists of all your blogerati partners. Great post all in all.

    • It’s all about building the hype, so when your product comes out people start buying.

    • if you are deciding to launch a product, then you can have customer feedback by telling its features and function. so that you will have a popularity data for the product. whatever product you are deciding to launch.

  4. Jon:

    Your point re: manufacturer brings up another B2B distinction to consider: physical B2B product (such as your rotor valve example) vs. much-less-tangible, lower-tier B2B product (such as mature, mid-level software).

    In that software example, there’s no way you’re going to snag the CEO for launch; you’re probably constrained by Accounting rules as to when orders can be taken, compared with when the product ships; the product itself isn’t very show-worthy; and your customers would go ballistic if they perceived you were holding back a release from them (which, in most cases, they are entitled to immediately and for free if current on their software maintenance) just so you could get some more marketing mileage out of it.

    This list is an OK starting point but one has to at a minimum consider audience (B2C vs. B2B), product, and market environment and dynamics when planning a successful launch. Too many variables to generalize.

    For example, if you were to deconstruct your rotor valve example to create a launch plan for iPhone 4, how much would it really look like the iPhone 4 launch? My gut says not at all: wrong audience, different market dynamics, and not enough product similarities.

  5. @Brian: There is a difference between strategy and implementation. The strategy is fundamental; it’s exactly the same for every industry and every business. The implementation, however, changes a great deal.

    This is a crude example, but it’s kind of like using a telephone. You can use it to call your mother, or you can use it to sell a CEO a $5 million piece of machinery. Your tone, message, everything will be different, but you’ll still dial the phone in exactly the same way.

    • there is a difference between strategy and implication, its true. but strategy is not fundamental ant not same for all. because in every organization and every steps like production, marketing a manager has to use different strategy to grow its production and marketing and many more.so strategy means planning with intens and implication means in any part or application of your planning get faild then you make some changes in it that is implication

    • Great example, great points. I’ll be suing that Mom analogy, surely. Cheers, M

  6. I am a little surprised at Brian’s comments as my experience has been different. I worked for a company that developed and sold proprietary software and the tools to run it, and I found all of these points on target except for #6; our tools were anything but sexy.
    In my case, we sent out beta releases to key cutomers under NDA agreements and thus got opinion leaders on board early. We were a small company and couldn’t create a launch event, but we brought out major updates at national tradeshows, creating buzz that way. I would often announce via press releases “vaporware” well before actual production release of the s/w, thus “drawing out the suspense,” and we actually offered discounts for pre-orders. Our CEO was one of our best ambassadors for the company; he could walk the walk in the most incredibly believable way because he knew the s/w and hardware – and why we had decided to support certain functionality at the expense of other options – inside out.
    If we did falter, it was in the area of pushing the features of our products over specifying how they helped the customer. However, our customers were themselves engineers and software developers, so they wanted these details. We focused less on selling to other, less technical decision-makers, perhaps to our own detriment. And I’m not sure we PLANNED our product launches in much detail; we just found avenues of promotion and avidly used them.
    Overall, I found this article to be spot on.

  7. Maybe it’s my eyeballs but I’m finding your font a bit hard to read. Gave up even skimming your post.

  8. That’s for physical products..the article could have highlighted with web apps or may be non physical products

  9. 1. I was more interested to see something related to web applications, since we are into web app business and I can relate only a few of these here.

    2. What about the startups? Many things like making a hype don’t really work for startups since nobody cares what you talk.

    • Hype works- even for start-ups. I feel like so many people are looking for cookie-cutter answers that they can copy exactly what someone else did- use it with their business and make millions over-night. Put on your creative and innovative thinking caps- this article has some excellent points that can be translated to work and create hype with YOUR business/products. The beauty of it- is that you get to unleash your innovative beast inside you- and find a way to create hype- isn’t that the basis of marketing? Figuring out a way to convince your target market that they NEED your product?

  10. Apple products are show-offs that’s why folks want to flaunt it off.

    • Not show-offs. Apple has done an excellent job, at creating a brand that people associate a special “club” or status if they own apple products. Volkswagon has done this, as well as Starbucks. They don’t care about having as many people as they can purchase their products- they’ve created such a loyal following with previous users of their target market- that those loyal customers will purchase whatever new edition or new product they come out with- just because it’s “Apple”.

    • apple products are show-offs and alwasy comes with news changes so people wait for anathor iphon or apple product to have something new.

  11. I don’t know how can i do same for web products.

  12. I agree with almost all the point but it is not the only way to promote the business. Evey business is differen

  13. It is very wonderful article. It is enough that it about Steve Jobs. Thank you my friend for this good analyzing.

  14. Very nicely analysed article, I think launching strategy is as important as strategy involved in actual development, because it gives justice to development hard work.

  15. I agree with building the hype. It is so important to have the buzz spread before you launch.

  16. i thinks it will be a tough nut to get pre orders for an electric car which i m going to launch

  17. yes, i m agree and satisfied with the promotion activities of apple to launch their product in the market but i have a recomandation for it which is that every business has not same nature so we have to make strtegies to launch the product in market according to their nature .making strtegies of launching is very neccessary to success of product.

  18. Definitely each and every thing in this article is important and very helpful during a new product launch. But the concept of taking pre-order was limited up to the reputed and well known company, it will not as good for new company or non popular company. Its good to make buzz of our new product before launch.

  19. prashant singh Nov 29, 2011 at 1:36 am

    dedication and hard work of steve jobs help him to develop these marketing strategies which gives him success and his product too.

  20. RAJAT ADAULIA Nov 29, 2011 at 1:37 am

    the apple products marketing strategy really make him successful because the way they present the advertisement like a buzz really sense as an eye catching element.also the technology is also one of the reason which make him into the buzz in any market

  21. Creating buzz about a new product needs a lot of preparation like innovative product that will be a full of suspense (in case of well known companies), to gaining media attention and launching a product through an event, so that people will talk about your product. With pre-order product launch strategies you can make very high sales like apple did while introducing their iphone 4.

  22. APPLE product have already good maket value in terms of quality,services and price. So they can easly launch product in market due to trust.

  23. Yes, it is very true we have to test everything before launching in the market. Apple has a brand value only because of Steve jobs. Innovative ideas are very necessary to change the world and your business also. I partially agree with all the points but 7th point I m disagree because having a small company we can’t create so much suspense for a longer time. Reducing time-to-market is a key success factor. To meet their business targets, companies need new ways to deliver value to their customers.It is only and only a play of risky game a having full of adventure in it.

  24. When we are going to launch a product, first think about the people not about the product, what people needs and wants. We should care about their problems and how our product is going to fit in their life. Second is to get feedback from customers through Internet and make something to solve their problems with the use of technology, give them an innovative product.

  25. Steve Jobs seemed to have an intuitive understanding that marketing, at its core, is saddled with the paradox that it is a consumer discipline that is inherently anti-consumer. The approach Steve Jobs insisted on at Apple resolves this paradox in a resolutely pro-consumer way by embracing the anti-consumer side of this equation, not by dodging it. Yet Steve Jobs’ approach to the customer experience is, perhaps, the one thing for which he is most misunderstood.

  26. @ Dave George – I agree with you. Apple products are moreover show offs rather than revolution. But i like the launching strategy of Steve, let the buzz to happen, focus on customer needs rather than the product. Finally you are in the game. Sadly, i don’t like APPLE products, they are just product traps.

  27. siddhartha jain Nov 29, 2011 at 1:57 am

    The Apple iphone launch have its own unique way, which is out of the world. The best thing about apple is they never criticise themselves and their product, in case they are really big but still there is an advise for other launchers that never let yourself down. YES, Apple is in market other seller has Zip up their gobs.

    The story is extremely inspiring.

  28. I think every technical company should make user friendly product, which can be easily understood by customer. Without revolution no company can survive in today’s technological world.

  29. srishti singh Nov 29, 2011 at 2:00 am

    I m fully satisfied from Apple because they know the need of the customers. I think that Steve job make a good strategic.

  30. Yes, this is good for the customers who want to use something new and launching plan is very nice. Apple focuses on the customer’s satisfaction. Apple Company manufactures the product according to people want. But it is all about apple because every business have a different different nature.

  31. Himanshu Bhasin Nov 29, 2011 at 2:02 am

    First of all I would like to say that Steve jobs had done a tremendous job and gave a new standard of living to us. His focused only on customer satisfaction but “he said concentrate on people not on the product, product will automatically sell but I am disagree little bit with him because now a days Customer is the real King of the market and marketers are follow him according to his needs and wants. so, customer play a very important role in the life of a marketer.
    Thanks

  32. A wide launch has wide acceptence, Apple has prove that. Yes this i learn from apple. big or small does not mattter, Attitude matters.

  33. A marketer should always follow pull strategies means to attract customers towards the products. so marketer should give more priority to the customer, because marketing means all about customer and after all customer will decide the mark of success and failure of the product. As such steve jobs did so……
    The advertising and promotion of the product play a vital role at the time of launching. These are the tools which make success for your products. So remember before launching the product, everybody should know about your product, create curiosity about your product. And pre-booking is also a good concept.
    For making good launching of product making good distribution channel is very necessary. After launching, as customer demand the product, product should be available in market.

  34. Bhishmendra Kumar Pathak Nov 29, 2011 at 2:08 am

    This article is wonderful content for those persons who want to launch their product in global as well as domestics market.
    we know steve jobs not only his hardcore technical skills but for his fruitful strategies which make “APPLE” a leading brand in the globe. This article is another example of steve jobs wisdom and ability to become successful in the market.

  35. only one thing which i liked in above blog that never tell the customers features of your product which is most common thing to do.always tell the facts those will make your customers differ from others.
    and also it is not so beneficial for the company to make a long suspense for launching your products because other may take undue advantage of that.
    eg. Samsung took undue advantage of this in Australia against Apple, Samsung launched its own iPhone before Apple.

  36. Nutan Kr. Varshney Nov 29, 2011 at 2:21 am

    This article is really very nice. These 7 points of marketing of Apple product is really unique. Steve jobs was the greatest, successful entrepreneur and strategist in the world, because of his strategy management Apple computer as well as i-phone reach at top level. Apple products also have good market value in terms of quality, services, technology and price. So they can easily launch and promote their product in market due to trust, brand value. But now – a – day’s apple product did not get success in Indian market till now.

  37. Rahul Kr. Sauni Nov 29, 2011 at 2:24 am

    The article is really very nice. if we go through all the stages of product launch as written into the article, we will find that every point is of the vital importance and to be kept in our mind when we are going to launch a product in the market. Steve Jobs was a great and very successful entrepreneur as he have the great intellectual power to reach to the customers need and that was the reason why he got a great success in launching the i-phone.
    i-phone got a great success in the market of electronics. the people liked it very much and bought. Every person going to launch a product should keep in mind all these seven steps and the strategies followed by Steve Jobs to make his/her product a great successful one in the market.

  38. Abhishek Chaudhary Nov 29, 2011 at 2:25 am

    Undoubtedly, when Job Steve is on the stage, its really a showtime, because he is a showman.
    I completely agree with the strategies used by the legend i.e steve for the biggest always opening sells of apple products.
    Talking more about what fixes the needs of consumers then talking about what does the product comprises of, grabs the attention of chatterboxes and the consumers. Not only this, people used to make their mind before grabbing a product by going through the critic reviews, so getting them before the product is shipped leads to a higher sales.
    Being revolutionary, recognizing the window of opportunity leads the organization to the hights never before.
    Taking pre-orders and letting people goissip about what the product could be will turn the curiosity to grab it first. Making it so stylish and its launching as a grand festival to grab each pair of eyes dispite of their disinterest is the x-factor working behind the success of Apple Inc.
    The best way to make a product a grand success is to let the people talk about it. Let them be curious before they see it and excited after they do..

  39. Well I would like to say that I believe this article has achieved what the author set out to do.

    The 7 points are very relevant to the launch process and those of you that say businesses are different are not considering that each business is run by people, whether B2B or B2C and therefore the decision to buy or not to buy involves emotions.

    This was Steve Jobs greatest gift. He understood his marketplace and the motivation behind the buyers. Its all emotion based.

    Jon, I applaud you. You have engaged our emotions here just as Steve did. This is a copywriters mandate and Steve knew he needed wizbang language to capture the imagination of his market.

    Great post and great point of view.

  40. Nicolas Tobin Feb 05, 2012 at 11:57 am

    I greatly enjoyed reading this article. I found it very interesting and inspiring. I also read Steve Jobs’ biography and got a lot of insight as to what he did certain things in his company.

    I am a freelance graphic designer. I have worked for small privately owned businesses my whole life. I’ve seen some succeed and some fail. I’ve seen some use great business practice and some use bad business practice.
    One thing I have learned from Steve Jobs is that people don’t care about the products themselves. People love the consumer support Apple has. Apple only wants the best for their consumers. Every aspect of Apple is designed specifically for the consumer.
    That being said, the reason why Apple product launches deliver so much anticipation Is because the new products / updates to older products are solely to benefit the consumer.
    With all do respect, Some of the comments on here are absolutely absurd. They make no sense. Apple’s business practices will work for any business, any industry, and to any audience. How you use these practices to fit your audience, and industry is up to you. Apple deals with multi billion dollar companies worldwide and do not alter their business practices to fit that. They don’t do anything differently. And somehow, they are the most successful company on earth. There’s something to be said for that. So for the people posting comments about how these practices only work for certain situations, or people posting about how Apple products are Just show offs to flaunt around, think what made Apple $95 billion in 3
    Months. They must be doing something right. And so can you.

  41. Great article.

    I believe a lot of these objections are easily answered by looking at your market first and the value you provide to it, instead of looking at your product first.

    Chris

  42. This is a great post but needs major modifications to apply to the B2B market. We’re all not Apple and we’re all not Jobs.

    Thanks and keep up the good work!
    Jeff Ferry

Comments are closed.

← Previous ArticleNext Article →