Launching any new product or line of products can be a complex undertaking. It is therefore vitally important to use your company’s valuable time and resources in a systematic and efficient manner.
The costs incurred by businesses launching a new product can be massive. For B2Bs, many branches of the company are often involved—from the R & D department and engineering—to operations, purchasing, C-Level management, and of course sales and marketing.
If your company is launching a new product or line of products, you need an integrated strategy that addresses all the vital issues. Below are five steps to help your B2B business achieve a successful product launch.
- Do Your Market Research
It may seem obvious that you need to first test your new product idea’s viability, but unfortunately many companies are so enthralled by their own creative concepts that they fail to do their market research or they dismiss what it tells them. The following factors need to be considered:
- Demand. Conduct a survey of your customers and industry contemporaries to find out whether or not your new product has potential.
- Competition Analysis. A SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) will help assess the product’s market positioning and identify any hidden opportunities.
- Unique Selling Proposition (USP). List your product’s features and benefits that distinguish it from competitors (e.g. low cost, technological breakthrough, one-of-a-kind).
- Competitive Analysis. Pinpoint several of the top direct and indirect competitive products and companies and compose rebuttals to each of their advantages, features, benefits and USPs.
- Pricing/ROI. What is the ideal price point for your product and what is your expected return on investment? Do you expect to have scale-up pricing as it gains traction?
- Test the Product
Once you’ve determined through market research that your product has real value, it’s time to test it before launching it. Contact key influencers such as friendly customers, industry opinion leaders and trade journal publishers. Scheduling calls with some of these people can take awhile so allow plenty of lead time. Be sure to write compelling briefing requests that clearly state why it’s worth their time to hear of your offering. Encourage them to review or test your product and get them to answer these questions:
- Does the product perform as expected?
- What are its shortfalls?
- Does it fill a need?
- How does it compare to competitor products?
- What other criticisms and feedback do you have?
If your product falls considerably short, it may be time to go back to the drawing board. Or, in some cases, it may be worth an early launch of your product even if it has minimum viability since this will help you gain valuable data on what your customers want.
- Involve Your Partners
Your various channel and marketing partners are natural allies when launching a new product because they a financial stake in its success. When you create a buzz amongst those who are championing its release, there’s a better chance that your new product will achieve lift-off.
- Follow “The 3Rs”
Successful sales strategies require the following:
- The Right Market. Based on your market research and early customer feedback, create unique customer profiles. This will help you present your message to the correct audience.
- The Right Message. Always craft your value proposition by placing key customer benefits up front. Be aware that your various buyer profiles move through a natural buying cycle. Use awareness content early in the cycle and and persuasive content later on.
- The Right Channels. Be sure to choose the best possible media blend to suit your company’s circumstances and product. Examples include website tweaking and microsites, Pay-per-click advertising, Videos, trade show collateral, blog and social media posting, seminars, webinars, email marketing, press releases and white papers.
Be sure to keep rolling out new content. Examples include new customer testimonials, announcements and posts pertaining to product uses or details about how your product is beneficial to specific buyer types.
- Measure and Refine
Once you’ve launched your product, you need to weigh its ongoing impact. Depending on the pace of the rollout, track its progress week-by-week or at least month-by-month. Use your analytics data to measure important metrics such as website visitors, page views and social shares. Divide your measurements by channel so you know which are driving the most leads and sales and then refine the campaigns accordingly.
New product launches should build brand awareness and bring about early customer acceptance and adoption. Success is by no means guaranteed and it’s important not to waste money or miss opportunities. However, with proper planning, execution and follow-up your company stands an excellent chance of successfully launching its new product.
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