Coordinating a product launch requires a concert of activities working together. By creating a foundation of strong shared understanding around the buyer and their process for purchase, every team can contribute to the success of a launch.
Mapping the Customer and the Buying Process
A logical place to start is with your product team. Your product managers have a good reason for developing this new product — they know the customer’s job to be done and the potential market. They probably already have personas they have identified. While these won’t perfectly align with your marketing personas, they can be a great start. The development of customer journeys and personas early in your marketing planning will provide the tools for your whole team to have a common understanding of your customer. It's also standard practice to revisit and update these documents as you learn more about the market will mean that everyone has the tools to be successful.
Brand Continuity Across Materials and Product
Your product, whether physical or digital, already has a design aesthetic in its user interface and/or industrial design. Building the branding around these existing elements is an important part of creating a cohesive and memorable experience. Packaging, landing pages, supporting collateral — they should preview what the actual product will look like. If marketing is the first touchpoint in the customer experience, it makes sense to match it to the product itself. The product branding should follow a consistent aesthetic across all touchpoints:
- social media
- trade show booth
- training materials
- customer support.
Consistent branding can bolster customer affinity and will increase recognition. It makes the customer experience consistent.
Building a comprehensive branding guide and distributing it across all parties creating customer-facing material is a critical component of a mature marketing program.
Content Marketing Prior to Launch
Long before the official launch, the marketing team should be tightly coupled with product managers, and just like the product development process, content should be developed and tested. Fortunately, in this digital age this can be accomplished with ease. It starts with mining the problem set the product was designed to solve. The product team should have ample material that builds the case for the product.
Ahead of launch, brands should be publishing and distributing articles and guides around both the buyer’s and user’s problem set. This content has three key impacts:
- Enriching your segmentation: A steady stream of content around this problem set means you will have the ability to identify who in your audience has the strongest interest. It also allows you to separate buyers from users.
- Identifying key pain-points and benefits: Your content performance will tell you what messages resonate most. Organic traffic will indicate the size of a potential market. Split testing and browsing behavior can indicate which messages are most attractive. At the same time, you can begin to engage this audience in marketing research with polls and conversations. This mix of soft and hard data gives the marketing team strong indications of the types of positioning and messaging that will work best for launch.
- Finally, this content primes this market, building awareness around new problems and increasing their thirst for a solution.
You can see that by starting well in advance, we build a list of highly qualified, engaged prospects who have been primed to buy and we identify what messages will be most effective with this audience.
When properly structured, this early content work sets the stage for capturing top search results for key terms once you launch. When your target searches are small enough that they are tough to find data on, you can start gauging scale using your own data.
Social proof is an important part of any marketing program. As social media has become the default channel for engagement, customers respect endorsements and influencer reviews far more than traditional marketing materials. By engaging with influencers early, you can create a win-win — influencers increase their audience with early insight and you get access to their audience. By having a clear set of goals, your work with influencers can be highly effective. You want the influencer to answer three key questions for their audience:
- Are customers like me successful?
- Why should I buy this product?
- Will this product help me achieve my goals?
Once created, this content can be used across your launch materials. The influencer relationship can be extremely powerful because both parties are vested in creating effective content.
If you are a manufacturer who sells through distributors, training these distributor sales teams is key to your success. They are representing your brand and they can only do that as well as you empower them to. Beyond training, providing collateral that can be freely modified and reused enables them to start selling faster with less friction and gives them the tools to be successful using their own typical methods of outreach and communication. The key to quality training is capturing your market insights and sharing them in a digestible, actionable way. Sales partners need to know your stellar case studies and best practices, and they need a library of on-brand collateral at their disposal. Depending on your partners' needs, sales people may need:
- a company profile
- product background sheet
- product data sheet and specifications
- product safety data sheet
- product brochure
- product presentation
- leave-behind presentation
- competitive comparison
- news release reprint
- customer testimonials
- case study
- product video
- customer evaluation guide
- selling guide
- qualifier form
- proposal template.
Sales enablement uses digital tools to amplify and accelerate your sales team’s effectiveness. For manufacturers, it is key that you are supporting the external teams that often initiate the customer relationship. Your early marketing efforts have given you strong indicators as to who in your database is most qualified for this product and ready to buy. With targeted email campaigns and regular nurturing, you can deliver these partners a collection of warm leads, ready to buy.
Preparation is key to taking advantage of the big awareness push that comes with your product launch. By nurturing your prospects early and developing the supporting materials ahead of time, your launch has the potential to be bigger and the sales that follow can come faster. This early preparation isn't enough though, see our guide to a B2B product launch campaign for more details on making it all work together.