Linda Roach is a marketing executive and product marketing expert with over three decades of experience. She is best known for her strategic marketing leadership for well-known brands such as Planview, Pervasive Software, VTEL and Kodak.
Throughout Roach’s illustrious career, she has had the privilege of navigating every aspect of the product launch journey, from the inception of product ideas to the meticulous execution of launches. In our interview for this series, Roach graciously shared some of the standout moments from these experiences, offering inspiration for fellow B2B marketing leaders. In this article, we will dive into Roach’s perspectives on product launch strategies, examining them through the unique prism of “Love It, Like It and Leave It.”
Love It: Harness Research for an Impactful Campaign Launch
Roach’s “love it” can be traced to a recent launch at Planview where her team aimed to drive awareness and engage C-Suite and VP-level contacts. Her solution? To launch an integrated campaign driven by research findings tailored to their audience.
Recognizing the need for flexibility in a post-pandemic business landscape, Planview embarked on research to understand the evolving state of strategy execution adaptability among business leaders. To engage C-level leaders, Linda Roach and her team partnered with The Economist Impact, the research arm of The Economist, and conducted a global survey spanning 600 executives across seven countries and six industries.
The research findings revealed that the strategy implementation gap is widening due to rapid changes driven by economic uncertainties, market disruptions, technological advancements and digitalization trends. Surprisingly, only 15% of executives expressed confidence in their organizations’ ability to adapt effectively. These insights were leveraged to create valuable content marketing resources, including a press release, an executive summary, and infographic all framed from Planview’s perspective to accompany the study white paper published by the Economist Impact.
Roach’s expertise went a step further as she facilitated the integration of research findings into sales strategies by developing a sales talking points grid. This tool empowered the sales team to align on Planview’s perspective, research data and prospective outcomes when conducting discovery calls with potential customers. The guidance was a valuable way to connect with executive prospects and have insightful conversations around topical angles that resonated most with them.
Sales Talking Points Grid – Key Headers Sample for Reference
Through a deep understanding of their target audience and collaboration with a reputable research partner, the Planview team successfully initiated a powerful study that could be repurposed by marketing, sales and customer success, effectively engaging the intended audience and guiding them further along the conversion journey.
Like it: Assemble the Right Team and Strategy to Capitalize on Product Opportunity
One of Roach’s most memorable experiences was leading the product launch of a high-resolution laser printer for Kodak’s division in the health imaging sector. At that time, the diagnostic imaging industry relied on existing CRT analog technology to produce a sequence of CT or MRI images on film for diagnosis. With this context in mind, Kodak recognized a significant opportunity to leverage emerging technology and set the stage for the introduction of a high-profile product in an evolving field.
To translate Kodak’s vision into reality, Roach began assembling a cross-functional team, including experts from marketing, advertising, product development, supply chain, sales, finance and more. Together, they defined the product’s goals and objectives, guiding its design, development, customer trials, and market entry.
This approach resulted in detailed plans that covered every aspect, from customer requirements to go-to-market strategy. Roach’s plan paved the way for a highly successful launch, and established a new business process, setting the precedent for future product launches for Kodak’s health imaging sector. Her dedication to the project led to her receiving a division recognition award, affirming her choice to specialize in product marketing.
“This was a pivotal moment in my career. I had an impactful objective with the opportunity to bring together the right people and think creatively about the best path forward. If you want to see your launch succeed, align on measures of success, build a plan, get the right people involved, see the pieces come together and then have the announcement,” said Roach.
Roach’s story underlines the vital role of collaboration in successful product launches. In a complex process with many moving parts, having the right stakeholders involved from the start is essential. This ensures that foundational components, such as audience research, goal setting, product development and product marketing, are well-aligned, leading to a higher probability of successful results.
Leave It: Have Complete Buy in on Product Naming
Learned through experience, product naming is a very critical step when launching a new product. While it sounds like a simple element, it goes much deeper than what appears to the eye. Roach shared that product naming is not easy to get right and can have the potential for short- or long-term challenges if not well thought through.
While at Kodak, Roach shared the product naming structure required incorporating the brand and sub-brand names first, which meant there were already three names before they even got to the product’s name. While this approach gave a structure to follow, the elongated naming model was not ideal from a marketing perspective.
Another approach to product naming is using the year for product versioning rather than sequential numbering. The only problem is if the product release was delayed past the year it was named, it would create market confusion. In example, Roach gave a nod to Microsoft and their Windows product, whose year and product name didn’t always align.
Most recently, Roach experienced a rather unique product naming situation. With a name solidified and a launch ready to go, there was a plot twist that rivaled even the best primetime television shows. 48 hours ahead of the launch, the team was asked to make a name edit. Pulling all resources and brain power together, they were able to make the needed changes on a very tight schedule, steer away from a potential cliffhanger, and conclude with a positive outcome and successful launch.
The moral of the story? Roach highlighted the importance of setting a “Lock in” date for the product name that is agreed upon by all and on that date, if there is buy-in from all stakeholders, the name stays. Establishing a lock date is now a part of the company’s launch process to avoid similar renaming situations in the future.
Getting the product name right is a big task and a team effort with long-term implications, so as we wrapped up I asked Roach about her favorite product name to date. She shared “The Rx Rover” for a mobile telemedicine system at VTEL which replaced FRED, Friendly Rollabout Engineered for Doctors. I can see why she loved the name, it clearly and concisely describes what the product does and the value it delivers!
Roach’s storied experience with product launches provides insightful takeaways that many companies can leverage to achieve success. From harnessing research and data that influences an integrated marketing plan to assembling the right team with aligned foundations and locking in on product naming with solidified buy-in from all stakeholders, these touchpoints fuel a comprehensive, well-thought-out product launch.
At Launch Marketing, we have you covered from all angles of a product launch. Whether it is developing a B2B marketing plan, naming a product or solidifying core messaging, we can guide you on the right path to launch a product that makes an impact and generates positive results. Schedule a consultation with our team of experts today to get started!