Your role as Chief Marketing Officer is crucial to success. You have two major responsibilities; Sales Enablement and Promotion. Prepare the field and give them tools to succeed. Then generate demand through promotional channels. Failure in one of these areas is death for the product launch.
Failure isn’t an option with SBI clients. Promotion may be your weak leg of an upcoming product launch. Companies invest millions in product development. The investment is often followed by unimaginative promotion plans.
Make sure you have the right promotional channels for your product launch. Download the Persona Ecosystem tool to explore the ideal channels for your promotion plan.
Product Launch Marketing Plans – The Wrong Way
Your team produces a comprehensive marketing plan for the product launch that seems to be complete. The plan includes a mix of online, social, PR, traditional and event marketing efforts. The plan components are integrated well with a good mix. The budget levels are robust to drive sufficient inquiries. Yet how unique is it from past plans? How unique is the plan from competitors?
Often marketers find something that works for them and they keep going back to the well. That makes sense to repeat what works. Where the wheels fall off is when the new product target audience is a little different than your traditional target. For example you might be going more upstream in company size. You miss opportunities with an undifferentiated approach.
World Class Approach
Last summer I participated in the planning of a client’s new product launch. Internal pressure for a successful launch was intense. The new product was entering a new segment of the market. The CMO was not confident he had the right promotion plan.
He asked me to sit in on a presentation of the new product launch marketing plan. I needed to give it a sniff test to make sure it was capable of driving the inquiries required for success. At first glance the plan looked impressive. As I reviewed it with the team I found it unimaginative. It smelled like limburger cheese.
The product launch plan was a lift of past promotion plans. The team updated dates and added a few social media additions. But it was essentially the same traditional approach for the other products. Going to market with the plan was a risk.
Missing were innovative connections to the audience. The same tired industry trade websites, Google adwords and social glitter weren’t going to carry the day. The target audience for the new product was different, yet the promotion channels the same. There was no imaginative brainstorming of potential channels.
We brainstormed a new plan to identify the right promotion channels. I helped facilitate a whiteboard session with the team to map out the ecosystem. New product promotion plans require careful planning of influencer touch-points. The end result was a new plan with new promotion channels. The approach was a complete differentiation from the competitive set.
My client’s product launch kicked off in Q3. To date the new product launch has produced $40M in net new pipeline opportunities. This surpassed the goal by 3x.
The Right Approach
Brainstorm the right promotion channels through an outside-In approach. Leverage the Persona Ecosystem planning tool.
Step 1: New Product Target Personas
Place your target audience at the center. Most complex decisions are made in a group decision. This involves multiple roles, each key role requiring a Persona:
- Ultimate Decision Maker – Final approval of the decision.
- User Prospect – Buyers using the solution.
- Technical Prospect – Buyers evaluating the solution (Purchasing, IT, etc.).
- Key Influencers – Anyone with input into the decision.
This configuration gives you clarity on dynamics of the interactions within the target company.
Step 2: Insert Third Party Influencers
Plot the natural voices in the market. Who does the buyer look to for guidance on this new product? This includes analysts, peer groups, member associations, conferences, and thought leaders. This may also include respected publications and websites.
Perform this exercise in an exhaustive manner to fully understand the dynamics surrounding the ecosystem. This gives you a tangible view of who you want to reach in the product launch.
Step 3: Plot Touch-points
Now that the prospect and key influencers are mapped, plot your company’s potential touch-points with the Persona. This includes sales staff, website, Lead Development Representatives from your Lead Generation program, customer service, etc. This should also include partners and resellers if you sell through channel.
Once plotted, your marketing team can begin to visualize opportunities. Drive new interactions from existing touch-points.
Step 4: Brainstorm New Promotion Channel Opportunities
At this point you have an Ecosystem of your Persona with the surrounding influences in the market. Your company’s presence is plotted.
Begin mapping how you are going to orchestrate the product launch promotion. Map known proven tactics. These are the no-brainer promotion elements that are part of every promotion.
Enrich the existing plan by brainstorm new ideas. Generate ideas through the lens of a visual view of the market. You will find your team’s creativity is enhanced. New ideas will be generated by reviewing the network of influencers. Map new opportunities into the ecosystem to finalize your promotion plan.
Successful new product launches require innovative promotion plans. The persona ecosystem approach provides greater context of market influences. The end result is a promotion plan targeted to the right promotion channels.