Launching a new Product in the Market

Launch a new product in your portfolio is a challenging task, but if you manage well all the variables then you have better chances of success. The launch phase is not a short phase that you wait to come and is done, but is a whole program – it’s a marketing strategy that uses specific data and time product releases to generate market awareness, customer excitement, and sales.

Tactics include carefully planned and scheduled sequences of events and other marketing activities.

Some features of the launch phase are below:

What is it?

  •  Exciting with new information
  • Addresses specific market targets with clear messages

Company gets

  • Provides initial momentum
    • Ramp sales
    • Set competitive agenda
  • Less expensive and better ROI
  • Gives the company focus
  • Feedback drives future marketing

Make sure your positioning statement is up to date

Before the launch go back to the positioning statement and make sure that it is up to date

  • Leverage your positioning statement and other messaging
  • Lead with product benefits
  • Get creative – use memorable words, phrases, or tag lines
  • Brainstorm to come up with creative launch activities

In the launch phase, you should always have a good plan for it. Document exactly what you want to achieve and include all the success factors:

  • Critical success factors
    • Incl internal commitments and owners
  • Marketing communication plan
  • Financials
    • Launch budget and ROI
  • Marketing Mix

What are the numbers you expect?

  • Generate leads
    • How many, by when
  • Drive revenue
    • How much, by when?
  • Set the competitive argument
    • Against who, what scale?
  • Create initial awareness and buzz
    • With whom, how much?
    • What vehicles (press, marketing, ads, etc)
  • Get the product to customers and partners
    • How many?
    • Why?

How a Product Manager can manage Product launch

The PM is the first person that is responsible for a successful product launch.  To do that he should cooperate closely with Marketing. Simple steps before the launch are to communicate often to keep everyone in the loop to avoid questions and issues. Reduce the times you say the same thing and have everyone get buy-in in most of the meetings. Sales and marketing will have to include your product in their offer, but don’t get offended if they don’t do it immediately. As we said in the beginning, the product launch is a whole program that lasts from the initial idea conceive and up until the post-launch. It is starting from Management, engineering, to sales and marketing – this is closely the whole company. There are many techniques to engage all these people but let’s start from the basics:

It all starts with your message about the new product launch. Start with a one-page overview document to have the critical details “at a glance”, eliminate repeating information and keep the team on the same page. make your message concise and small with the details below:

One page overview contents

  • 100 word description
  • Target customers
  • Positioning
  • Tag line
  • Top 3 features
  • USP
  • Pricing
  • Availability
  • Channels
  • Top 3 competitors
  • Top 3 FAQs

This is different from the message that you will be sending to the Marketing which will be:

Product description:

  • Boiler plate product descriptions
  • Various lengths: 50,100,150,200.250 words
  • Use in press releases datasheet, news articles, collateral,  web pages, tradeshows

FAQ’s

  • Answers most common questions from prospects/customers/press
  • Can address questions on competition
  • Keeps “market-facing” personnel on message 

USP

  • What makes you different from your competition
  • Can use part 2 of the positioning statement

Tagline

  • Succinctly communicate the essence of your brand promise
  • Memorable taglines
    • 1000 songs in your pocket
    • Because so much is riding on your tires
    • Don’t mess with texas etc..

Caution!

No tagline is better than a bad tagline

Many B2B products don’t have taglines

Product launch types

First of all not all product launches and companies use different strategies to make available their products to the users. An example is the annual sales of big IT companies like Cisco (Cisco live) or Apple where they showcase their new products and the press is long awaiting this moment to write about the new IT inventions. But if you decide to work on a launch program you should decide on the type, which usually depends on goals, budget, resources, and amount of time until the launch. See below the types of launches:

  • Soft launch
    • Definition and use
      • Preview release of a product or a service to a limited audience.
      • Used to test the functionality of (and market for) a product before wider release and more marketing effort is expended.
        • Why have a soft launch? (example miscrosoft surface they announced it 8 months before the product release)
          • Don’t have marketing funds or resources
          • Ship data uncertainty
          • Product not fully ready
            • Want feedback
            • Deploy to a few customers
          • AKA “Early Availability”
        • Downsides
          • Little or no revenue
          • No press coverage or market awareness
          • Spend much more on marketing later
          • Customer and market uncertainty
        • Possible market failure
          • No real market need
          • Failure or marketing or product
          • Customer wants to purchase but can’t
          • May purchase a competitive product
          • Lose mindshare with press and customers
  • Minimal launch
    • Launching 2.1 version of products
    • Limitation on funding, resources, or time
    • May target one market segment
      • Target $$ effectively
    • Alternatives to bigger marketing spend
      • Use influencers or evangelists to get your message out
      • Guerrilla marketing – person to person efforts to promote your product
      • Facebook groups, meetups etc
  • Full-scale launch
    • Gives product bets chance of success (do it right and the product will fly off the shelf)
      • Maximizes awareness
      • Generates many leads/sales
      • Puts product/company on the map
      • Uses marketing $$ more effectively
      • Can go horizontal or multiple verticals

As the type of launch depends on the budget mostly, the rule of thumb is that for the established company the budget should be 5%-20% of expected annual revenue and for the less established company they can spend more than the industry average from established companies as they need to gain awareness and overcome the brand deficit.

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