Realizing the vision of a new product or service is both an exciting and busy time for organizations. It entails a high degree of collaboration across your teams, including operations, sales, marketing and more, as well as independent creative and strategic thinking. However, bringing your new offering to fruition is only part of the puzzle. Focused strategic planning is needed to successfully launch and promote your new solution to targeted audiences. In shaping your go-to-market strategy, it’s essential to understand which launch approach will align best with your offering. We sat down with the product launch vets of Launch Marketing’s executive team, including Christa Tuttle, Jeff Raymond and Shawna Boyce, to address some of the key questions and best practices that impact go-to-market strategy and product launches.
1. How can leaders determine the type of launch strategy that is best for their offering?
Jeff: One of the first steps is understanding the type of offering involved with your launch and zeroing in on it. For instance, are you launching a product, a service or a solution? By honing and defining the kind of launch you’re executing, you’ll have a clearer picture of where your offering fits into the market space and what need it addresses. This will help you articulate your unique product or service offering, which will help inform your brand messaging for your entire launch.
Shawna: Understanding your unique value also allows you to have a better idea of the audience that your offering is going to speak to the most and who it should be most visible to. Knowing your audience will help you understand what types of communication will be most effective in getting on their radar. This may involve forging relationships with the analyst community so that credible third parties are now a part of your launch and product messaging.
Christa: There’s ultimately no black and white answer to which launch strategy will be best, but it’s about assessing what makes the most sense for your solution, your audience and your resources. Is it in a new or established space? Are there some competitors you’ll need to differentiate from? What marketing channels is your target audience most active on? How much time do you have to execute your launch? Taking all these variables into consideration will be essential in developing a unique strategy for your particular offering.
2. What are some best practices for identifying the goals and key outcomes for a product launch?
Christa: Goals can be broken down into quantitative and qualitative categories. When defining goals for yourself and your team, make sure to keep them realistic and on pace with the market you’re launching into. Some examples of quantitative goals may be metrics such as how much revenue you want to generate for a certain product line or determining how many accounts you want signed up for a trial or service. Qualitative goals, on the other hand, focus less on the numbers and more on the big picture objectives, like how you’re going to expand your current launch solution into a wider offering or set of offerings. It could also be geographically based, such as expanding into different territories within your market.
Jeff: Qualitative goals will also consider how your go-to-market strategy is strengthening the organization as a whole. You want your launch to highlight how this new product or service is adding value to the entire organization and contributing to a positive and consistent brand voice. This sort of planning will primarily involve internal expertise and possibly some external testing to vet with current and potential customers how well the voice and tone of your strategy aligns with the current image of your brand.
Shawna: Your quantitative or quantifiable goals should always be SMART, meaning they’re specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based. Setting up SMART goals prior to your launch provides your team with a realistic and timely roadmap of key components so they can prioritize effectively. Not creating goals that are realistic can really hinder an effective go-to-market strategy because if you overshoot or underperform on set expectations, you’ll end up with a skewed point of comparison for future launches and marketing initiatives.
3. Are there pitfalls that organizations sometimes experience with product launches and how can they avoid them?
Shawna: Not planning ahead and creating an actionable strategy can be a major detriment to any launch. Being too focused on the end goal and not thinking about all the strategic steps in between can result in missing key points of the launch. Also, rushing key components and not giving your strategy the proper amount of time it needs for each phase or step can result in errors. Naturally, if you rush things, there are bound to be mistakes. You need to be realistic when creating your launch timeline, which will involve considering contingency plans as well. For instance, you create a base landing page, and then as the weeks progress, plan on rolling out more of an expanded landing page that builds on top of that initial landing page prior to an event, so you’re not spending too much time reinventing something that already exists.
Christa: You also need to make sure that your internal teams are well educated on what your launch is offering. Your messaging includes how your team members communicate your offering to prospects, so they need to be confident in the product’s benefits and differentiating factors. We always recommend creating marketing materials that all teams can rely on to communicate your offering consistently and answer questions effectively.
Jeff: I’ve also seen organizations make the mistake of not starting with the milestones—company or launch-related. Begin your go-to-market strategy by identifying the big pillars of your launch. This can include securing lighthouse customers, grabbing new market share, launching a new website or anything that signifies a momentous moment in the process. Building your launch strategy and go-to-market timeline around key events allows you to balance out the bigger company picture with the smaller execution details.
4. Are there post-launch practices that should be followed to support long-term growth?
Jeff: It’s important to get plenty of feedback throughout the product testing and launch stages, but you also need to test and gather feedback post-launch. Creating a feedback loop is imperative because this will generate much of the insights and critiques you’ll need to execute future launches more successfully and hone messaging and value propositions for your new offering as needed. Post-launch surveys and questionnaires are one of the simplest methods to incorporate for immediate and straightforward feedback.
Shawna: Be sure to involve your customer support teams and any other internal teams who are regularly attune with first-hand information from your customers. Following up with new and existing customers in a timely manner will not only help your team collect authentic post-launch impressions, it will also help foster improved relationships and sustain them long-term. Customers are at the cornerstone of modern B2B marketing, so integrating their feedback and communicating with them consistently can pay big dividends for your brand and company reputation.
Christa: Continue to showcase your product or service post-launch. Your offering shouldn’t disappear or fall off customers’ radars after the launch, which is why your timeline should incorporate strategies for marketing your product post-launch. This may not be as forceful and prominent as your initial launch, but it should still be thoughtful and targeted. Community events, targeted emails and direct mail campaigns are just some of the tools you can utilize to keep your offering top of mind. Be sure to capitalize on the momentum that your launch built and look at your launch as an opportunity to propel your marketing and outreach long-term.
Looking for help building your next go-to-market strategy? Request a free marketing consultation to start working with a Launch Marketing expert.
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