Get ready for take off - your Pre-Launch Checklist
Taking a new product to market or launching a new initiative is not an easy task. There are many things to consider, there are often a number of moving targets and obstacles to overcome and of course there are lots of actions that need to be taken. Therefore having a good plan is essential for your launch to really take off!
We have produced a pre-launch checklist to help with your launch planning. The checklist mostly focuses on the important marketing steps needed for launch, without covering the typical product management, product engineering, legal and compliance steps that are also essential.
It is however important to note that the Marketing and Communications team could or should be involved in any cross functional product development group as soon as possible. The Marketing and Communications team can bring valuable insight to many areas of the process including:
Customer segmentation and insights
Marketeers can also help with more specific actions for example defining creative naming conventions for new products, ensuring the product name will give maximum visibility and will resonate with customers.
When introducing a new product an area which is often overlooked is master data, this may include the writing of product descriptions or deciding which specifications are listed with a product on a website or internal customer service system. Marketeers can make use of keyword research and customer insights to ensure that descriptions are written in the language of customers and are optimised for digital marketing activities.
Establish your value proposition
Your value proposition should be an easy-to-understand explanation of why a customer should buy your product or service. It should clearly communicate how a product or service fills your customer’s needs, highlighting the added benefits, and positioning against similar products.
The ideal value proposition should be to the point and appeal to a customer’s strongest decision making drivers.
Define a global pricing structure, channel to market and stocking policy
With any product launch setting the initial price and stocking quantity is critical - how many times have you been excited to order something and it is out of stock for months on end? Try not to completely deflate the initial excitement around a product launch, ensure there is launch stock available, and if applicable there is also plenty of stock of demonstration equipment or product sample packs.
Before deciding the price of a new product, it is essential to fully understand and calculate total costs involved for product development, manufacturing and delivering the product. It is then possible to ensure the product is positioned in the market place correctly giving you the right level of margin.
When choosing product pricing, stocking quantity and launch campaign planning you will need to consider your chosen channel to market; direct, e-com, distribution, or a multi-channel approach.
Define your target audience, personas and develop a list of key influencers with an outreach plan
Define your target audience, who do you want to sell your products to? Estimating the amount of companies in the different industries you supply, and the amount of people you need to touch on in each of those companies in order to win an order will greatly help you set your target metrics.
Developing a deep understanding of your buyer personas is critical to driving content creation and campaign development, allowing you to put the focus on the people, not the product.
Within your market there will be key opinion leaders and influencers. Try to develop a network of these people and where possible offer them the ability to try your product before launch and gauge valuable feedback. This feedback could be utilised to produce valuable marketing content such as Q&As, round table discussions or testimonials.
Develop a list of key publications, journals and places of learning based on your target audience
Keeping, updating and developing a list of key publications, journals or other places where your potential and existing customers learn about new products, techniques or applications will help you when you come to launch a new product or when planning nurturing campaigns.
Ensure you have a process in place to collect Voice of Customer for places of learning and map out all of the potential marketing touchpoints your customers may have with you, whether they be digital or non digital.
Follow your customers across social media. Read the conversations they have, the posts they like and interact with. Monitor your competitors for clues into what motivates, drives, and inspires their audiences. Look at where you competitors advertise, the frequency of adverts and the messaging they adopt.
Establish metrics for success
Set metrics that aren’t just ‘fun facts’ that people in the office may find interesting, but metrics that will drive to your desired sales number. Ensure you establish realistic targets, if your targets aren’t realistic your analytics won’t be able to help you tweak and alter your campaign messaging as you drive the promotion.
The following metrics are a good starting point to establish and track against before launch:
Raw lead visibility
Marketing qualified leads
Sales qualified leads
Define your campaign marketing funnel
A marketing funnel describes the various stages of a prospect’s journey, from the initial stages when someone becomes aware of your business offerings, to the purchasing stage, the marketing funnel ultimately maps the route to conversion.
Plan out what marketing activities would be needed to form a logical marketing funnel that serves to attract, nurture and help convert leads.
Develop an action plan for the build of the content and media needed to form your campaign marketing funnel. Be realistic with the amount of resource, budget and time needed. Remember to allow for holidays that may cause delays. Developing a contingency plan is always good because things can go wrong from time to time!
Create your promotional calendar of dates when the various marketing pieces will hit the market. Remember to include dates such as editorial deadlines for external publications and journals.
Develop a launch pack communication
Training and engaging with your channel to market is key to the success of your new product launch. Develop a launch pack and training materials to engage and inspire all commercial members of your team:
Channel and Distribution Partners
Set a post-launch review date
You will need a pre-launch ‘go/don’t go’ meeting to ensure you have everything ready and prepared for launch, however it’s really important not to just launch and turn your focus onto your next project.
Set a series of post-launch review meetings that can provide a structure to discuss:
What needs improvement
By using marketing analytics and by collecting relevant feedback from customers, sales and distribution channels you can modify your promotional launch plan as needed. Most importantly a post-launch review gives you the opportunity to learn what went well, what could be improved and what could be done differently in the future.