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What is Launch Marketing?

What is Launch Marketing? The definition of it is simple. It’s how you launch a brand, product or service into a marketplace, to the relevant target audience, in the right place at the right time.


In reality, where are we currently?

Unfortunately, it is not as simple as the definition suggests. With 61% of consumers unable to recall a launch in the last year and 40% of product launches failing every year* (up to 76% in FMCG), it highlights that the current system is not working for the majority. In fact, marketers only spend 40% of their valuable time when launching a new product/brand. Furthermore, aligning an organisation to ensure something is launched successfully, right from the corporate boardroom to the consumer’s living room, is a huge challenge.

The pace of innovation in an age of entrepreneurialism and the impact on iterative launch planning, makes launch marketing a definitive specialism and different to everyday marketing practices.


3 main challenges.

Launch Marketing focuses on practices that will help overcome the distinct challenges faced when launching a new brand or product, to ensure success. According to marketers, the three main reasons that launches fail were narrowed down to:

  • Lack of internal alignment.
  • Slow internal processes.
  • Ineffective marketing communications.

It only takes the failure of just one of those parts to sink the whole brand launch.


Why is Launch Marketing different from everyday marketing?

You only have one shot at impressing your customers with your new product and in today’s society of constant media immersion, even less time, as consumers’ attention spans have shortened considerably.

Furthermore, marketing teams focus so heavily on the launch marketing communications aspect of it, that they forget about their internal alignment challenges, ensuring that everyone is on the same page as them. Ultimately Launch Marketing has as much emphasis on branding as well as the internal alignment issue.


Defining the different areas.

If you break launch marketing down into the individual areas, you can see the difference a launch focus makes:

Launch Alignment.

It usually takes X no. of years for a company to come up with a new product and then so often is the case, the company decides to incorporate launch communications into the mix in the final few months before the launch date. For a start launch communications need to be on board prior to the NPD stage even starting.

Furthermore, within each company, there are a number of stakeholders with differing objectives that need aligning. This is a job often made easier by either an objective participant or one from outside the company. They can ultimately pull all the work streams together and ensure that a seamless pipeline is put in place right from the boardroom down to the shop floor right through to the consumer, to ensure that every single person involved is on the same hymn sheet.

Launch Planning.

We must start with what a launch plan is. It is an itinerary of events and actions incorporating the preparation, execution and activities post launching a new product, brand or company. The most significant part of this definition and the part that so many marketers regularly forget is that a launch plan does not incorporate just the run-up to the big launch date, but should carry on into the post-launch period. If anything, this post-launch period is the most integral period. It is the time when you can still make or break a campaign.

Unlike everyday planning which focuses on an ongoing strategy that targets existing audiences, launch planning hones in much more on the development of a more profound audience immersion from day one prior to the NPD stage starting to fully understood them from the outset. It is essential to remember that before a launch takes place, your audience will not be aware and are able to live their lives perfectly fine without the product or service.

Most marketers will tell you they are working to a launch date, but a launch can sometimes take months to roll out as it may need adapting based on audience behaviours and attitudes. The benefits of what you are launching may be different for the Innovators who buy it first but represent just 2.5% of the audience, in comparison to the early Adopters (13.5%) and Early Majority (34%) who represent the volume and the sustained life of the product/service (Roger’s Adoption Curve).

Roger's adoption curve

You must immerse yourself into these different audience groups at each stage of Roger’s Adoption curve and have a thorough comprehension of their attitudes, motivations and issues firsthand in order to plan an effective launch strategy. The messaging may need to be tweaked to maximise relevance and engagement.

Do not forget to carry out some pre-launch testing to help confirm any leap of faith assumptions before it’s too late.

Launch Creative.

Everyday creative involves strengthening or building a brand. Launch Creative is different, it is about creating a campaign that grabs the consumer’s attention, making them aware of something that they previously did not know anything about and convince them that they now need to adopt it into their lives.

The messaging needs to be clear and concise much like any launch, you only have one attempt at making a good first impression. With a heightened understanding of the new target audience obtained from the launch planning phase, it’s about ensuring that the launch creative plays to these consumers’ best touch points.

Launch Execution.

Everyone thinks a launch date is only about the communications campaign going live on that day but in reality, it is so much more than that. It is about aligning all employees that have been working alongside the launch before the day of launch, ensuring they fully understand what is expected of them in order to deliver the experience that the customer has been promised via the advertising campaign.

A launch is like planting a seed in the ground, you can’t just sew it and then hope it grows, it needs to be nurtured as it starts to grow and gain traction. While the launch is moving through the Roger’s Adoption Curve phases, there will be a constant need for nurturing and adjusting the campaign.

Launch Marketing Council.

Due to Launch Marketing having a completely different set of skills, processes and a different approach to consumer behaviour understanding, an international Launch Marketing Council has been set up. Their main focus is to delve deeper into everything launch related through insight from senior thought leaders in this area, ultimately trying to determine the answer to the big question – what is Launch Marketing? Brands involved include Facebook, GSK and Diageo. White papers have been and are being continually produced, each tackling different areas, to ensure that the main key learnings and insights are easily mapped out for anyone planning their own launch.