10 top tips to maximise brand and product launch success (Part 1).
It’s been almost 9 months since the Launch Marketing Council was founded. With some of the world’s biggest thought leaders coming together from the likes of Facebook, Diageo, Huawei and GSK, we have brought together the top 10 key learnings from the three council meetings that have taken place so far in both Australia and the UK to help you achieve product launch success.
1. Without internal alignment there is little chance of product launch success.
A major factor in a successful launch is establishing internal alignment from the very start. The development process needs to be open to scrutiny even if there are concerns competitive advantage could be leaked. The ability to bring boards, investors, and the rest of the executive team on the journey as well as all employees that are involved in the launch is absolutely paramount to its success. Not only is it an opportunity for employees to gather a full understanding of the new product/service, but it is a great opportunity for them to express any concerns or ideas on how to expand on the new features or further improvements that need to be made. It will generate a sense of belonging. CMOs and CTOs also need to remember in the early stages of a launch that they generally move at a pace far faster than the rest of the organisation.
Not checking for this internal understanding can cause a massive hurdle in launch success and may result in having to go back to the beginning to re-educate and truly bring everybody on board, potentially delaying the launch process in the meantime.
2. Choose a strong project lead to be your launch champion.
Having a champion of the project can be a critical piece in the launch journey. They should be in charge of making sure everybody knows what is going on, that the right communications are being sent to the right people, ensuring the right team members are involved in every step and reassuring staff that the problems captured as requirements at the outset are being addressed. They are also the liaison between the different stakeholders and business operations. They are your cheerleader pepping up the rest of the team for this long and difficult journey to product launch success. But along with your project lead or champion, you need department champions to help with any dragging of the feet.
3. Prevent fires from growing.
A launch is a hectic time within any organisation. One of the best ways to prevent any fires from growing and ensure product launch success is to have a product management team onsite 24/7 during that key launch period. By making sure a product team member is available locally at any time, you are able to face any problems that come up quickly before those problems grow up the ladder. A customer service rep can’t help in the way a product team member can. When a product person sees a problem, they can either solve it on the spot or they can easily explain it to the tech team to solve relatively quickly.
4. PR should not be an afterthought.
For many launches, PR can often mean a last-minute dash to get something out; an afterthought in what has otherwise been a meticulously planned launch process. However, it should not be seen as a silo, but incorporated and developed throughout the launch planning process from the word go. It’s never been easier for startups to generate media coverage. Today’s fast news cycle has helped to create an insatiable appetite for anything ‘new’ being launched. With so much focus on innovation and category disruption, PR is fundamental and often solely relied upon to launch new businesses, although considered less critical to launch products.
The education must begin way in advance of a launch in order to build the needed interest and momentum for roll out to your different audiences. Informal consultation with media can help you shape messaging and improve the effectiveness of your launch beyond just the announcement phase. It’s a long process, but gives significant results in brand recognition, customer loyalty and revenue. It’s less about budget and more about heavily investing time in proper PR strategy and promotion to achieve the desired impact at launch. You’ve then created the brand and customer momentum at the start to jump into the business-as-usual mentality (find out more details on PR’s role in a launch strategy).
However, there were cautionary words regarding the risk of being news-jacked on the day of launch by unpredictable events that stole their share of voice. Any launch PR effort is not guaranteed to pay-off and the timing of your launch is one of those factors impacting decisions.
5. The trap of perfection.
Startups are able to take a product to market that is 80% complete, however corporates are forced to strive for 100% perfection because the stakes are higher. Many startups push for a quick-to-market approach and with fewer hands on the wheel, you can accept less than perfection as long as that 80% equates to a minimum viable product (MVP); naturally more easily applied to digital offerings. Most startups do not have the money or time to build a completely finished product, and are more likely to release their MVP into market with only the basic features in order to test, gauge interest and learn what to improve. MVPs allow you to launch a product with minimal investment, hedge against losses and validate the product and idea before scaling up. With real customer feedback, you can continue to iteratively improve the product by adding new features. This minimises risk whilst maximising viability.
However if you’re going to market with 80% of the product, it can’t be 80% functional – what’s there has to work perfectly, it just includes 20% fewer features than might be necessary to prove it successful. The mistake that corporates fall foul of arguably more than startups, in their attempts to launch with innovation is that they can get trapped in a features war to try and leapfrog competitors in the hope that will steal a fraction of market share.
Furthermore, in needing to launch perfectly, there is often a lack of invention on what would come next to sustain the product’s popularity.
By George Roberts