As marketing continues to evolve, marketers have become like storm chasers, using the latest data-driven techniques, tools and methods to do a better job of staying in front of their intended audiences, who are always moving, changing and evolving. Storm chasers look to get as close to the eye of the storm as possible, as do marketers – the eye bringing a calm and a clarity related to seeing and truly understanding customers so they can easily engage with them at the right time and in the right way. Much like with B2C, the B2B marketing opportunity is also focused on using these data-driven techniques, approaches and technologies to better engage. One way B2B marketers can make a big impact is adapt best practice techniques and approaches to get their product launches right. Here are six tips for success:
- Know Your Audience – As with many principles of marketing, this one is fundamental. Marketers should have a firm grasp on who the solution is intended for, which industry the solution is tailored for, what are the buyer and user personas and which of these is key to reaching to generate awareness of your offering. Also make sure you consider not only your external audiences but also your internal ones. Your internal audiences – such as sales, delivery, account management – are critical personas as well who should be armed with the materials and content. They need to understand the offering and how it will provide clients value and make a business impact.
- Know Your Product – A critical ingredient to any successful launch is ensuring marketers have a good understanding of the product or solution. This is sometimes taken for granted but is absolutely essential. Without product management providing in-depth communication of the full essence of the solution provided to marketing, product launches can be significantly compromised, with less than optimal messaging and content strength; this can definitely impact overall success. One tip here is to have a template, or “playbook” marketing can use to collaborate with product management to collect key input on the essence of the solution, covering not only details of what the offering is, how it is created, how it is delivered, etc., but also covering details of the product strategy, the value proposition, how it is different, the go-to-market strategy and plan, including sales model, pricing, etc.
- Create a Message Map – A message map is a foundational piece recommended before any marketing content is developed. This simple map, typically created on one slide covers the solution’s topline promise and value proposition, including key benefits and business impact for the target audience. A critical element to the map is highlighting the distinctive competency of the solution, in other words what makes it truly unique versus competitive offerings in the market.
- Have a Launch Process – Each organization is different, but what I found very helpful is to establish a process for product market launches that fits your organization. It does not have to be overly complex, but identifying a simple approach that covers the basics of a successful launch is critical particularly when partnering with your cross functional teams. This process should ideally cover marketing and sales tools, sales readiness content and support, thought leadership content develop and internal and external marketing campaign planning to generate awareness and leads.
- Get Your Campaign Right – Not all launches are created equal, of course. Depending on the strategic relevance of the solution, more or less may be done. For example, a strategically important push may include things like an analysts briefing, larger thought leadership content development and a bigger in-market promotional media campaign. Aligning your marketing efforts to the strategic relevance of the solution is key. Another important element is understanding how to most effectively reach your audience – this is where having a data-driven approach is important. A few quick recommendations include doing keyword search research connected to your value proposition and offering, understanding what is being searched on, where the target audiences are engaging, across which platforms and publications are all key in building your digital campaign. Also, looking at historical data, which tactics for these same audiences have worked in the past and looking at your own historical marketing measurement data are critical, too. Based on your overarching marketing strategy, it may be more appropriate to weave in your product specific message within the context of your larger campaign efforts.
- Get Your Creative Right – As with any marketing, a key piece to spend some time on is the creative look associated with your new solution and your internal and external marketing campaign efforts. Marketers should tie back to their message map and target audience, while also taking more time to evaluate how the creative look and graphics tie to the product message. In this day of digital marketing, social platforms and multi-device realities, the way your message looks is important. Think about a few key questions when working with your creative teams on those launch assets – does your photography connect with the message of your product, or does it contradict it? Is your creative aesthetic driving more emphasis to your key message points or is it combating that? The more you can streamline your creative to align with your product message, the better – obviously within the context of your overall corporate brand guidelines.
As with all things marketing, using data-driven techniques, and a few tried and true practices can take your new product launches to new heights.