If you are like us at #TeamStrategy, you have been anxiously following the vaccine rollout across the country and have been wondering when will your loved ones be eligible. When will you be eligible?
We’ve also been watching with an eye towards the marketing around the vaccine, and have a couple of key takeaways to share with you that you can apply towards your own business. And as an added bonus, we’ve got some ideas on how you can ride the vaccine rollout wave with your own business.
Product Launch Strategy
A good product launch requires careful advance planning. You don’t just drop a product today and expect there to be immediate demand. No one will even know your product exists. You might fail before there is ample consumer demand, or the demand will grow at a frustratingly slow rate.
A good rollout involves careful and planned release of information about the product prior to the launch. Since most product launches don’t share the same national stage as the COVID vaccine, it is important for businesses to establish an audience, build buzz, and have someone to talk to when you are ready to launch a product. Once a brand has established communication channels, it can tease information about the forthcoming launch. Brands like Apple do this extraordinarily well – making sure consumers know when and what is launching. By launch day, there is high demand. More everyday brands can use their social media channels, websites, email marketing, and advertising to build buzz. Share behind-the-scenes videos and clips about the development or design of the new product. Release the product to a few beta testers and ask them for written and video testimonials.
A good launch strategy has two goals:
- Alerting the public to the new product
- Persuading the public that they need your product
The vaccine “product launch” was a model in product rollout (the appointment process… well, that’s a different story). Over the second half of last year, it was hard to read or watch any news without coming across an update on vaccine development and production. From the timely utilization of technology that has been in development for years to the ultra-cold storage requirements for the Pfizer vaccine, we were given a peek into how the vaccines were developed. Even if you were not carefully following the vaccine process, these big picture items were coming across our daily news feeds on social channels, radio, and the evening news. By the time those first trucks rolled out in December, there was ample demand for the COVID vaccine (which is what stressed the actual distribution system.)
Associate Your Product with Joy
For the last year, the world has been filled with sadness and despair. The arrival of the vaccine has brought with it hope. Once again, we might be able to safely gather with friends and family to celebrate a birthday or to catch up on a Friday night. The initial photos of the frontline healthcare workers being vaccinated in December brought a window of hope for all of us. Starting in 2021, we are now starting to see older Americans, teachers, and health compromised individuals start to receive the vaccine. Their beaming smiles behind their masks tell the story of people who have long worried about COVID-19 finally seeing some joy in their future.
As a business owner, how can you align yourself with this happiness? There are obvious associations. Pharmacies such as CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid are providing the vaccine directly to older Americans. People are coming to their websites, scheduling appointments, and coming into their stores to get their vaccines.
But what if you are not in an obvious business, what can you do? Lift and Uber are partnering with local cities to offer free rides to vaccination sites in cities such as Houston, Chicago, Atlanta, and Jersey City. Meanwhile, Target has partnered with Lyft to provide free roundtrip rides to all team members for COVID vaccination appointments. You can read more about these ride initiatives here.
Other businesses are offering incentives and support to employees to get them vaccinated. Many national companies are offering paid time off for employees to receive their vaccination and for any adverse side effects. This AARP article has a great lineup of businesses and their efforts to support vaccination by their employe
Even if your business can’t directly align with the vaccine joy that is spreading the country, the lesson here is that happy customers help promote brands. Whatever you can do in your own business to capture the joy or satisfaction from your clients, and leverage that joy in your marketing, the better. This means getting testimonials, photos, or customers using your product, creating clever campaigns to share customer feedback, or stoke viral media.
Think about how rampant the trend is of people posting their vaccination card photos or selfies of getting their shot. If your product was getting a sliver of this type of happy customer promotion you’d be a success. Don’t ignore your happy customers! They are the key to getting new customers.
Don’t Forget Logistics
The research, development, and testing that has occurred in the last year are unparalleled at any time. Never before has a vaccine come to market a fast as the COVID-19 vaccine. All the scientists who have toiled for years behind the scenes developing this new technology are to be applauded for their dedication and determination.
But the actual logistics of the rollout?
When you have a new product in development, you need to think through not only how to successfully launch the product, but also how to actually get that product to your customers. It’s great if everyone in Arlington and Falls Church wants your new handbag or hoody, but if your product is stuck in a warehouse in Texas, that’s going to be a problem. If your new eye cream needs to be kept chilled. And none of your stores have a cold case; that’s going to be a problem.
Who can and cannot store the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine seems to be a daily discussion. To be fair, it is a global pandemic, and they are moving quickly through these steps. But when it comes to your business, please don’t forget that last mile of actually getting your product into the hands of your consumers. Your customers (and your bottom line) will thank you.
What can your small business do to ride the vaccine happiness wave?
You are now ready to tackle your next product launch armed with some takeaways from the vaccine launch. But maybe you don’t have anything coming to market for a few months; what can you do for your business now? How can you be a part of this hope and joy starting to spread across the country?
Take Care of Your Employees
A pretty simple starting point is to offer paid time off to your employees to go get their shot and for any adverse side effects. The investment encouraging your employees to be vaccinated will pay back quickly with less chance of illness and greater confidence in your business by the public. It also doesn’t hurt to include this type of initiative in your own marketing. Mention this so the public knows. People like to support companies that are doing right by their employees, so don’t be shy about spreading this good news.
Americans love freebies! From a free Slurpee on 7-11 day to a free glazed donut from Krispy Kreme on election day – we are ALL in. As the vaccine rollout continues, we would expect to see some businesses start to offer discounted or freebies to vaccinated individuals.
What can your business offer? Are you a coffee shop? Throw up a wall hanging that says “I’ve Been Vaccinated” and have customers sign their name for a free coffee or pastry. Restaurant? Offer a free appetizer to people who indicate they have been vaccinated. It’s all an honor system, but it reminds the public of how important it is to get vaccinated and that a vaccine will allow people to once again enter your business safely no matter their risk profile.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and be a part of the biggest thing to happen to any of us.
Join the Vaccine Movement!
With love, #TeamStategy
If you need more help with your new product launch, or unsure of how to ride the vaccine happiness wave, contact us today. We are experts in cause-based marketing and product launches. From start to finish, we can help your next product soar.