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How To Use Teasers to Build Hype for a Product Launch

Teasers are an often overlooked marketing tool that can be extremely valuable for generating buzz, especially in the build-up to a product launch. However, the use of teasers can be intimidating because of the perception that it is reserved only for companies with big budgets to blow. In truth, teasers can be effective even for businesses with a limited but loyal following. Done correctly, and integrated as part of a broader marketing strategy, there are few better ways to generate buzz than product teasers.

Oftentimes, the best way to learn something is to take apart that which has been done before, and mimicking the principles that made them effective.

In this article, we’ll take apart three teasers to uncover three principles you can use to design one of your own.

The Teasers

1. Microsoft Lumia
The first teaser we will be looking at is a teaser for Microsoft’s Lumia smartphone. Notice the information contained in this teaser? That’s right – there’s barely any. We get a date in the upper right corner, a partial picture of something that’s clearly a tablet or a smartphone, and that’s all. If we widen our view slightly, we see that this was released by Microsoft’s Twitter account with the hashtag #moreLumia.

2. Spyker B6 Concept Car
Next, we have a teaser for the Spyker B6 Concept car. Once again, we see a very limited set of information in this advertisement. A date for the debut, the general outline of their car, and a date and location for the debut. This teaser does have the additional boon of an easy subscribe button so that their audience can be notified of updates.

3. iPad 3
Finally, we have Apple’s teaser for their iPad 3. You can kind of see the pattern by now. Our information is limited again to a date and a partial screenshot – just enough to show the date of the event and invite the viewer in. This teaser makes a strategic choice in its visual design that puts it miles ahead of the first two teasers, which we will discuss in the next section.
Now that we’ve introduced you to the contenders, let the analysis begin!

The Principles

1. Don’t Give Away the Game
You may have noticed the commonality in all three teasers. The limited release of information in all three of these teasers is the foundation of what makes a great teaser: Don’t give away the game. It’s clear that all three of these teasers were designed to be as simple and elegant as possible, giving away next to no information while still captivating the audience. Microsoft gives the barest hint of a phone, Spyker shows the shining outline of a car, and Apple restricts themselves to the very bottom of their iPad.

Perhaps counterintuitively, these barebone images are much more effective as marketing tools than they would have been had they convoluted it with more information. By giving just enough information for us to wrap our fingers around, it preserves a sense of mystery and keeps us guessing – every aspect about the product is left to the imagination.

When we don’t know anything about the specifications of these products, their price, or their strengths and weaknesses, our minds are optimistic about filling in the blanks. Some will even rave about a product they know nothing about to their friends – exactly what the teaser is designed to do.

However, to succeed at drawing interest, the teaser must have a great design. Hence you should…

2. Design for Impact
Any advertisement needs a good visual design to achieve maximum impact, but teasers have their own special needs. Consider the Lumia teaser: All we have is about 1/8th of the phone’s total area in the upper right corner of the phone. Imagine pitching a design like this for a non-teaser advertisement – you will likely be told that it’s complete rubbish and rightly be told to start over. But remember our first commandment of teaser design: Don’t give away the game. The visual elements of your teaser must incite excitement without revealing too much about the product in question. Showing only part of the phone in the teaser image is one way to keep the imagination vivid – there’s no fun if your audience already knows exactly what the device looks like.

Subtlety is really the key here. In the rush to create great advertising material, people intuitively think they must dump as much as they can on the page. But it takes genuine skill to create a teaser that can stir excitement, and it is best done by creating a sort of “understated elegance”.

It can be argued that Apple brought about the smartphone revolution, yet they were far from the first to release one. During the reign of Steve Jobs, he was known to have a compulsive obsession with making his devices simple and elegant – no more clunky styluses. We all know the result of this. Apple is now the most profitable smartphone manufacturer in the world. The iPhone’s design is subtle, the interface simple and intuitive. People appreciate that. Likewise in all three teaser examples, you never see the teaser overcrowded.

Let’s start with the Lumia. Here’s a subtle cue you probably missed: The front facing camera is just off-centre. In doing so, Microsoft managed to create a teaser with no central focal point, allowing your eyes to take the entire image in. The subtle reflections along the edge of the phone add to the professionalism of the teaser while the light flare on the left side of the phone’s screen prevents the teaser from looking like a blank black sheet. A simple date on the top right of the teaser is all that’s needed to get you to mark that date for launch.

Spyker’s teaser is dominated by the sleek outline of the car. Once again, notice how little of the car is shown – everything else is left to the imagination. They took a risk by including much more words on the page, but they managed to accomplish this without compromising subtlety. There are no wasted words here – every word is designed to build anticipation for the launch date.

The iPad teaser has the greatest variety of colours, but what we see differently is that there is no date – at least not at first glance. Notice the area the finger is hovering over? It’s a calendar – and it has a “7” written on it. It’s not immediately clear, but the launch date was actually March 7. Subtle reflections on the screen of the glass really add an air of professionalism to the teaser. The only words we see on the page are “We have something you really have to see. And touch.” This is a typical Apple move, but it works well for them as it is congruent with their brand image.

Each teaser has its own style, its own theme, yet all of them are subtle. All aspects of each theme are coherent and blend well together. There really is no one way to create a teaser design – but subtle, understated hints add well to the ambience of the teaser and really make a design standout. A little extra work in your visual design now can have a huge payoff for you down the line.

So now that you’ve got your teaser designed, how do you actually launch it?
3. Timing is Everything
As we look at this, we have to keep in mind that the companies we are studying have some advantages over a smaller firm. Because they have a much larger marketing arm, they are able to push a teaser campaign forward in a very short stretch of time. Their teasers are also intended to generate excitement for a launch at an established event. If your teaser is meant to focus on getting the word out for a product you are launching on your own, you would do well to begin your campaign further in advance.

In the case studies we are looking at, Apple released their teaser 8 days in advance, Microsoft 6 days, and Spyker 14 days ahead of the debut. All three of these were intended to drum up last minute excitement about events they were already scheduled to show their new products at. When you design a teaser for your product launch, it may be wise to design a series of teasers, each revealing a different aspect of your product, allowing your audience to slowly fill in the blanks before the final reveal. Plan a timeline for the release of your teasers, slowly releasing information on social media channels like Twitter and Facebook, and outreaching to industry influencers who may be interested.

As you design your teaser to support your broader advertising campaign, be sure that the excitement your teaser supports and enhances the effects of your larger campaign. The good thing is, you can even use print ads materials such as quality printed brochures, flyers, and post cards.
These tips are a great starting point for you to design and market your first killer teaser. Keep them in mind as you prepare for your campaign and you’ll be well on your way to creating a teaser that will excite your audience!

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