Cheryl Black has many years of experience as a demand generation marketing leader with roles focused on creating collaborative relationships with sales leaders and improving funnel efficiency for brands like ESO, Lightspeed Systems and in her current role as Senior Director of Demand Gen at MessageGears.
I had a great time catching up with Black and discussing some of her experiences with product launches. She shared some practical insights about what she loves, likes and would leave out of them and I’m excited to highlight what she shared, so let’s dive in!
Love It: Personalize Launch Approaches for Customer vs. Net New Logo Opportunities
When I asked Black to share her most memorable product launch experience, she recalled one she was a part of during her role at ESO. She set the scene by saying there were two pipeline-focused goals, one to cross-sell to current customers and one to generate net new logo opportunities. When we dove deeper, she shared that the team had put together a revenue model showing the anticipated revenue and speed to revenue for each audience related to new product sales.
The outcomes of the launch were exceptional yet a bit unexpected to some. While they did not reach their net new logo goal, they exceeded their cross-sell pipeline by so much that it more than eclipsed the new logo goal and the cross-sell goal combined.
While it was an incredibly impactful launch overall, Black noted, as they were working on the planning of the launch and having discussions with current customers and prospects, they realized the product was going to resonate with each audience a bit differently than anticipated. Thus, it was in their best interest to personalize their marketing approaches to make a stronger connection with each audience even though the benefits and value of the product were identical for both.
Black emphasized that keeping customers and net new prospects separate was incredibly important to their success. Here are a few marketing tactics she offered when catering to customers versus new logos.
- Highlight exclusivity as a key tactic when engaging with customers about an upcoming product. People love the idea of something being exclusive and it shows customers that you value them dearly to give them an inside look at something no one else gets access to.
- Skip over basic information about the product. Since they are current customers, they understand the foundational product elements your company is offering. Instead, go into more detailed information that customers are looking for – such as value, benefits and immediate impact on the organization.
- New Logo:
- Focus on the buyer’s journey and provide information that aligns with each stage. “Err on the side of having content that outlines all of those pieces and if a buyer needs it, it’s available, and if they don’t, they skip it,” Black commented about the buyer’s journey.
- Develop content that raises the notion that they have a problem – this helps draw them in so you can get them into the top of the funnel.
- Guide them to the idea that a technology, or whatever product you have, will resolve their challenges.
- Establish with them that the right product to resolve their challenges is your solution.
Like it: Create a Cross-Departmental Team That Frequently Collaborates
Black’s number one tip for the “Like It” component is to create a cross-departmental team, like a super team, who meets every week or on a certain cadence, depending on how far out the launch is. Black outlined exactly who should be involved on this super team, what the purpose of it is and why it matters.
- Ensure Every Department is Included: “Every department should be represented in this team,” Black stated. “Even those you might not think about such as accounting, finance, tech support and legal.” In business, when it comes down to the details, every department plays a key role in the success of a launch. By having them involved throughout the process you can ensure no key details are overlooked.
- Align on Launch Readiness Criteria: The goal of the team and the meetings is to ensure readiness through every step leading up to the launch. This starts from product ideation and moves through product development and ultimately the launch.
- Establish a Launch Green Light Date: The planning must include a go/no-go meeting at least 48 hours before the public announcement of the launch. Everyone must say they are a go. Even if this feels like a formality, Black said, it allows everyone to give the green light for their department. Plus, this can highlight any hesitancies and uncover any reasons for potentially holding off the launch. It also allows for things to be caught at the last moment.
Black mentioned that without this team, departments can get off track, alignment can become uncertain and not everyone is all-in for launch day.
Leave It: Always Set Realistic Expectations
“Unless your company is Apple or Disney, day one of the launch is not going to render millions of dollars in revenue,” Black commented. Her remark is a great reminder of being realistic about product launch expectations. It is easy to get comfortable and view the launch day as a day where so many amazing things will happen and if those things do not happen, it is a disaster. The reality is that the launch day is often the time your product is being put in front of prospects for the first time. It often takes 5, 6, 7 or more touchpoints for them to buy.
Black’s insights remind us to always set realistic expectations for product launches. “Just because you don’t break the internet on launch day doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong,” Black highlighted. Do not sell yourself short but understand that it can take time to see the product launch marketing efforts generate some returns.
Going back to Black’s “Love It” moment, while ESO’s product launch was a huge success for the company, there were still lessons learned when it came to setting goals and aligning expectations. Black shared that for this launch, management had set targets for the cross-sell and new logo goals, but she and her marketing team felt like they were slightly off. In hindsight, Black realized the marketing team should have pushed harder to adjust the goals and expectations for the new product earlier in the process. Based on beta customer insights, they believed traction would be fast with the current customer base and thus the goals there should have been higher. In addition, if the goals were shifted this way early on, then the client success team would have had time to ramp up additional resources to support it. Setting realistic expectations and goals also ensures the business is readily prepared for what comes as a result of the launch.
Lessons Learned: Insights to Takeaway
With Black’s proven track record of impressive demand generation leadership, these product launch takeaways focus on results and collaboration. From setting realistic expectations and goals to ensuring frequent collaboration with all departments and diversifying marketing approaches for different audiences, Black’s insights remind us of some instrumental factors that contribute to product launch success.
With more than 60 successful launches under our belt, Launch Marketing is passionate about inspiring and supporting B2B business leaders with actionable tips and insights from the experts who’ve been there. Visit our website to explore more product and company launch resources or to connect with our team to see how your team can get started on the path to a successful product launch.