John Whiteside is an accomplished marketing executive with a track record of building high-performance, revenue-focused marketing teams in the B2B tech space from his roles at companies such as 6sense, HighRadius and Alert Logic.
I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Whiteside and learn more about his product launch experiences and how they’ve shaped what he loves, likes and would not recommend other marketing executives try when bringing a new product or service to market. Let’s dive in and discover Whiteside’s best practices and how they can be applied to your next launch.
Love It: Embrace New Possibilities: How a Product Launch Can Unlock Opportunities
Whiteside’s most memorable product launch came during his time at HighRadius, a SaaS company that provides a platform to help Chief Financial Officers transform their order-to-cash, treasury and record-to-report processes. Before the product launch, HighRadius focused on automating order-to-cash processes, but the launch introduced a range of products to support the treasury side of the finance sector, breaking ground in an industry where order-to-cash and treasury solutions were traditionally separate entities.
Whiteside noted this launch as “a launch that fundamentally changed who the company was.” His team crafted a launch plan, which included multiple announcements, customer conferences and strategic conference tie-ins. The launch itself was executed smoothly, bringing some interesting results. Not only did the launch elevate the company’s profile, it also prompted competitors to enter the space, either through acquisition or product development. As a pioneer in this side of the finance sector, it allowed HighRadius to go from offering a niche set of products to transitioning to broaden its offerings to include a completely new audience.
With the new product offering, their sales and account teams needed to spend more time tasking, and answering key questions about their customers, such as “Which product do we think they’d be interested in?” To answer these questions meant they had to understand their accounts more and have a true comprehension of pain points and needs. Some products were better suited for customers compared to others, and sales and account teams needed to make the determination based off their expertise and understanding.
The valuable insights and findings from Whiteside’s memorable product launch are instrumental, allowing us to dive deeper into how to recreate an impactful launch, particularly focusing on messaging and market fit.
Like it: Uncover and Gain Insights From Existing Customers When Launching Your New Product
Early in his career, the company he worked for launched a product with new capabilities and pushed it out to their entire customer base. While most customers were willing to adopt the new product simply because they trusted the company, some had trouble with implementation because the solution did not match their needs and they were not ready to manage the technology.
From this experience, he shared that rather than taking the approach of blindly launching a product with minimal customer insight, Whiteside advised to think carefully about what customer segment needs the product or new capabilities that you are introducing. Then, work closely with them to ensure they will benefit from using the product as this insight will also be valuable when going to market more broadly. When it is a fit, gradually onboard them to ensure the product is working optimally for their needs and delivering the value they require. When launching a new product, Whiteside stressed, “If you can boil it down to the best fit with the clearest need, you’ll have much more success than trying to throw it out into the world”.
Leave It: Master Your Messaging to Avoid Product Communication Pitfalls
Whiteside gave an insightful example of a launch that showcased an exciting technology that had capabilities which would be extremely helpful to those with cloud infrastructures. It was a fascinating product that excited the team and of course, they knew the product inside and out. With this enthusiastic energy, the team put together marketing materials and got the product into the market, without thinking twice. After the product was launched, they were not receiving the expected results from their marketing campaigns. Ad clicks were low, and sign-ups weren’t coming in as anticipated. This caused Whiteside’s team to take a step back and reevaluate. After taking a closer look at things, they realized the messaging faltered. While it resonated internally, their audience was not connecting with it, thus leaving them uninterested in the new product.
“It is the most obvious mistake you can make, but in the rush of excitement, especially in smaller companies, there’s a tendency to overlook the foundational steps. Avoid falling too deeply in love with your product to the detriment of crucial groundwork,” Whiteside noted.
Another key insight Whiteside highlighted was the importance of clarity in conveying your product’s story. Whiteside explained that especially with a tech product, your messaging can sometimes be overrun with technical jargon and buzzwords. This muddles the core message. “Be self-critical about the language you use and what you’re saying to customers to really peel back the layers and get your point across. Use human language that speaks to people’s emotional needs,” said Whiteside.
To help form messaging that truly connects with customers, Whiteside offered a piece of advice; adopt a deliberate approach when shaping your strategy and make it a priority to have conversations with customers. This helps to identify what messages and language resonate with target audiences. After gathering this important information, it is then ideal to move forward and craft messaging.
Product Launch Lessons Learned: Insights to Takeaway
Amidst the excitement surrounding product launches, Whiteside’s insights are clear: focus on the customer and don’t be hesitant to embrace the possibilities of a new product. Product launch success lies in understanding and connecting with customers. From exploring industry opportunities to analyzing your customer base and refining product messaging, Whiteside has given us several components for navigating a successful product launch journey.
If you’re looking to truly understand your audience, conduct research and formulate messaging focused on the customer for your new product, Launch Marketing has you covered. We have honed our expertise in helping B2B companies craft impactful B2B messaging for new products. Take the first step towards crafting your launch strategy by scheduling a consultation with our experienced team. Together, we’ll ensure your product or company launch is a success.