Internal alignment white paper from the Launch Marketing Council.
April 2019 saw the launch of the fourth White Paper from the Launch Marketing Council. With internal alignment being one of the three main reasons for why 40% of product/brand launches failing every year, we set the council to work focussing all of this talent and insight into a forensic examination of how you can effectively deliver internal alignment, based on a solid bedrock of innovation, to ensure a successful launch.
An Executive Summary below details what the White Paper will include along with more details on what the Launch Marketing Council is setting out to achieve.
What’s your biggest failure when launching a new product?
Not the easiest first question when starting a round-table discussion. But that’s what faced the members of the Launch Marketing Council at the latest gathering. Because, as the Chinese proverb says: “Failure is the mother of success”.
When we ran our Launch Marketing survey (Launch Marketing Report: The Marketer’s perspective) to 738 marketers globally, it highlighted 3 core reasons for why launches fail:
- Lack of internal alignment
- Slow internal processes
- Ineffective marketing
But it’s no good talking about failures without analysing the learnings derived from them, or delivering expert advice on how to avoid them.
So, for our fourth White Paper, we pulled together another council of experts; launch specialists with a huge breadth of skills-sets, experience in corporate and startup businesses and hundreds of launches under their belts. And then we set them to work focussing all of this talent and insight into a forensic examination of how you can effectively deliver internal alignment, based on a solid bedrock of innovation, to ensure a successful launch.
- Ellen Bark-Lindhout, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Collider Netherlands
- Mark Scott, Brand and Marketing Agency Director, National Trust
- Benjamin Lickfett, Head of Emerging Technologies & Digital Innovation, Diageo
- Caroline Hoffmann, Head of Network Engagement, Innogy
- Manuela Borella, Manifesto Innovation Accelerator General Manager, Danone
- Heather Page, Global Marketing Director, Innovation & Brand, Godiva Chocolatier
- Jeremy Basset, CEO, CO:CUBED
- Niall Cluley, Managing Director, Dragonfish
- George Roberts, Client Services Director, Five by Five
Learnings – bring your people on the journey.
First to the failures. Or learnings, as they were also referred to, with tongues firmly in cheeks.
After a tentative start, the ball began rolling and the council were soon jostling to get their stories of “learnings” out. And it very quickly became apparent that there was a clearly defined red thread running all the way through each one; somewhere, somehow, a lack of internal alignment was one of the main causes of failure. Whether that be alienating staff by launching a new advertising campaign without consulting those exact employees it heroed, or a B2B company deciding to launch a consumer-facing product on the decision of two senior people, which not only didn’t fit the DNA of the company or try in any way to involve the employees, but was also developed and promoted by external “hired guns”.
The conclusion to this opening sharing session was that launching a product is a journey, and if you don’t invite your employees, or they don’t want to take that journey with you, you will most likely fail.
Jeremy Basset, CEO of CO:CUBED, said of his time heading up launches at Unilever: “The more I look back and reflect, everything we did with the new business unit that failed, was because we didn’t have the core business on this journey with us. The ideas were good, the executions were good, we just didn’t have the company properly aligned.”
How you handle innovation is also a defining factor in launch success. Whether you in-source, out-source or crowdsource the most important factor is making sure the rest of the company know what you are doing, why you are doing it, what you want to achieve, and eventually what you have achieved.
You also need to be mindful of whether your ideas and solutions are globally or locally-led. Both options have their strengths and both have their weaknesses, but the guidance was that you need to be agile in your thinking, adaptive in your planning and willing to quickly change your approach – depending on what your launch is, what your goals are, who your consumers are and how well aligned you are.
Startups vs corporate mindset.
We were also aware that there will be a pretty stark divide between the two types of people reading this; those from startups and those from big corporates. So as far as possible both mindsets have been taken into account. But what is abundantly clear is that success comes when you bring the two together. Although it’s not easy to do, it’s also not impossible.
Launches don’t happen overnight.
Finally, you have to be patient and give the internal alignment process time. Launches don’t happen overnight, so why would your internal alignment? There are some great examples and case studies in here of how people have taken a steady and considered approach and successfully aligned their businesses internally. And low and behold, great launches have appeared out of the other end.
Remember we’re all human!
But most importantly, the biggest theme that came up again and again and again was to remember that your employees are humans, that your customers are humans and that you are human. Internal alignment is not about numbers and processes, it is a human project with humans at the core.
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Launch Marketing Council.
The Launch Marketing Council was an initiative set up in Spring 2018. It is made up of senior influential thought leaders in the marketing world from the UK, US and Australia, discussing launch marketing, its origin, processes and ideas on how these learnings could be applied to each companies product and service launches.
The members include highly respected individuals from Facebook, Huawei, GSK, Diageo and the National Trust. Each country’s council (UK, US and Australia) will meet on average twice a year and focus in on a particular area of launch marketing.
The ultimate aim; to make launch marketing a discipline in its own right in the marketing world.
- Noah Goodrich, Two by Two
By Alexis Eyre