The 6 critical, but often overlooked, ingredients for a fast launch

Product Launch Steps

Maybe its time to take a closer look at your product launch process.

For product launches to be successful, and be successful quickly, requires more than the “promotional plan”, which is where many marketers start and stop. Most product launches fail due not to product design flaws, but because of a poor launch plan. The three areas of failure are; lack of planning, lack of coordination between sales and marketing, and lack of coordination between marketing and production.

At The W Partners, we have a product launch process built upon best practices. The foundation is three-fold – First, we provide ongoing project management to supplement our client’s team. Secondly, we offer easy-to-use tools and templates to help them quickly gain momentum and cloud-based smart-sheet tools for easy tracking and accountability. Lastly, and most importantly, we ensure coordination across the organization.

Now, for the best practices. We have found that the following 6 areas create a fail safe plan for a successful launch. Missing one of these could aversely effect the trajectory of your launch and missing more than one could cause failure.

1.) Sales and Marketing Coordination.A huge roadblock occurs when the marketing team doesn’t fully understand the customers needs and the sales team doesn’t fully understand the marketing pitch. Our solution is to create a Sales and Marketing Must-Haves Contract.

2.) Account Management.Too often, sales teams use a shotgun approach, selling to everyone and everywhere. They lack focus. This shotgun approach also makes it harder to manage through leading KPI’s. Our solution is to identify the ideal account mix and lay out a precise action plan to penetrate the target accounts. Then test, tweak, learn and validate.

3.) Pitch Development. Often, the pitch to the trade is not impactful because of a flawed design or delivery of the pitch. Our solution is to have what we refer to as “pitch validation and control.” The deliverables are: A Pitch Deck (this is an art in itself so it isn’t a snore fest) and a Sales Call Schedule and Resource Calendar. There need to be clear action steps from one meeting to the next because let’s face it, sales people can be slippery (no offense, we are all sales people at one time or another.)

4.) Promotion Plan (offline, online, trade, spending, discounts, etc.) The problem is these are often not focused enough and/or they are not implemented on time. The goal is to have it far enough in advance to alert your team members. Our solution is to do a campaign validation. We take a look at what you have in mind and ensure that it is the right mix. One simple example, you may have a geo-targeted Facebook with radio planned, but for it to work, you must ensure you have good penetration in that area. Therefore you need to be talking with customers to get them aligned.

5.) Service Level / Inventory Management. The problem here is that too often there is not enough inventory to service customers or there is too much slow-moving inventory. The solution is marketing and supply chain alignment. Our solution is to ensure that marketing and supply chain agree on multiple ‘what if’ scenarios to ensure accurate sales forecasts.

6.) Executive Team Reporting. New product launches are critical business activities but they often suffer from inadequate communication with and reporting to the Executive Team. Our solution is regular and concise reporting. The documents to support this are the launch plan (target customers, timeline, volume forecasts, spending plan, P&L) and regular updates and communication through cloud-based apps.

One of The W Partners mantra’s is that we help companies and brands become unforgettable. Companies can go a long way to becoming unforgettable through a carefully orchestrated and integrated product launch process.

Looking for help on your product launch strategy, give us a call! 717-278-3900 We want you to be unforgettable!

One big reason businesses struggle

If I have a sign on one side of the room and a candle on the opposite side and I ask you read the sign what will you say? You’ll say, you can’t read it. The reason you can’t read it, however, isn’t because the light isn’t bright enough. The real reason is because the light isn’t concentrated enough. The same candle power in a flash light from across the room will illuminate the sign to become readable because now the light is concentrated into a beam.

This is the same thing that often happens when we communicate about our businesses. The messages are not concentrated and therefore people don’t have a quick way to assess your value to them and they quickly disappear. Think of your website, you have between 5 – 10 seconds to communicate your value before people are gone. So, we need to put guardrails around our messages so people can understand quickly why they should do business with us. Before you do any marketing; create a tagline, a website, a brochure, or sales training, its important to create concentrated messaging (it starts with the development of your value proposition and a brand platform.) Guardrails keep us from veering off cliffs and in this context keeps us from generating fuzzy messages that splinter off in every direction not unlike candle light. There’s a place for candle light of course, but lets save it for dining and romance.

You’ll know if its time to re-think your messaging if any of the following applies to you:

  • You feel you are inventing the wheel every time you have to write or talk about your business
  • Your sales team members don’t say the same thing when selling your products or services to prospects
  • You’re losing business to competitors because their marketing messages are more polished
  • Anyone in your industry could use your tagline
  • Your mother couldn’t explain what you do
  • Sales are sluggish

Keep an eye out for more tips on marketing messaging. For a quick diagnostic on your marketing messaging consider signing up for our free 30 minute messaging strength assessment.

Two critical aspects to outmaneuvering the competition.

There are times it takes a better strategy for delivering your products or services. In other cases, you may already have a better strategy but to compete more effectively you need to do a better job of communicating your unique strategy, your bigger difference.

Think of times when people have come up with a better strategy. They have changed the game, even changed the rules. They have strategically innovated to uniquely meet the needs of customers. When done right you can use this to dominate an industry. Richard Branson changed the game, changed the rules – and then communicated it effectively “Virgin Atlantic. Flying in the face of ordinary.”Apple changed their focus from providing intelligent computing to challenging the status quo (Think Different.) In doing so, they are able to dominate an industry.

At The W Partners we find many companies with whom we work have a bigger difference (a unique strategy) but it is buried in a lot of confusing conversation and messaging. They try too hard to say everything and thereby bury the main nugget of what makes them truly different. I maintain that companies may not need to completely overhaul their strategy to be successful. They may however, need to do some surgical dissection to uncover their meaningful competitive advantage. And, despite what others may say, every company has one!

This is even true for companies in a crowded category, for example, over the years we have done a lot of work with cabinetry brands. In one instance, our research revealed that homeowners had a true emotional connection with their new kitchens. The company was not in a position to alter their business strategy but we were able to help them reposition the company differently. We summarized a new position throughout various consumer ad campaigns and dealer support materials and summarized it with a tagline that combines the enduring quality of the product with the emotional experience a homeowner feels every time they walk into their new kitchen – “Fall in love every day for a lifetime.” The new position provides guardrails for all communication from sales playbook messaging to marketing materials. We featured actual customers and their testimonials and real kitchen installations to validate the “love” position. For another cabinetry manufacturer we developed the tagline “Unpretentious Distinction.” It’s a unique position that no other cabinetry brand of its kind could accurately lay claim to. And, one that uniquely blends the culture and business philosophy of the company with its alluring cabinetry selections.

So, by all means, change how you compete by changing your strategy to uniquely meet the needs of your customers and then be certain to effectively capture and communicate your bigger difference.

If you would like to have our outside perspective on the strength of your messaging, give us a call.

Are you communicating your unique value in 5 seconds?

Time is short. Attention spans are shorter. Ask yourself these 3 questions about your brand or product…

1. Within 5 seconds of a visitor coming to your website, seeing your brochure or interacting with your signage, are you confident that they understand who you are, how you’re unique and how you make their lives easier?

2. Does your mother understand what your company does and how you’re unique?

3. Does everyone on your marketing and sales teams know your unique value proposition and speak it accurately, succinctly and consistently?

I was speaking with one of our clients who will be revealing their new product at a trade show and asked him if he had worked on his 30-second speech about the product in preparation to talk with prospects. He began to ramble on and on, and in all honesty, I can’t remember exactly what he said. This was only yesterday. It’s either me being dense and having quazi-dimentia (is that a word? If not, perhaps it should be as I often find myself in that state) or he was not being succinct and adhering to the rule that you have 5 seconds to communicate your unique value.

We recently completed a product launch and I will use the product brochure as an example of the 5 second rule. When you see the brochure, in about 5 seconds, it communicates what the product is (modular outdoor kitchens), it’s unique value (installs in a day) and the target audience (groovy, tattooed, male, DIY’er). If the viewer likes what they see, there’s more information for them to digest. If they don’t, they can move on, happy that we didn’t waste their time with meandering, complex messaging.