Sometimes, the most important thing since sliced bread isn’t.
Yet, according to McKinsey & Company,1 in the last three years, 400 new pharmaceutical products have been launching annually. In fact, more than 70,000 consumer products are launched annually,2 and despite the fanfare, the hails to innovation and the corporate celebration, Progressive Grocer claims 75 percent of all launches by established brands are toast.
And those brands will make many excuses as to why their launch failed: poor timing, not enough marketing budget, foolish customers, the wrong name for the product … the list is unending. But there’s one overarching idea that can defeat most of those excuses.
The secret? Take the patient long view. If you have an offering you’re on the verge of unleashing upon the world, this isn’t the blog for you because the time to start your communications has already long passed. Your messaging must begin well in advance of any launch. And we’re not talking weeks; in our experience, it requires more than a year of conditioning leading up to the big day.
Marketers face a number of challenges in coordinating the patient product launch.
First, budget thresholds and timelines for research and development, production and shareholders may not only be carved in stone, they also may not be shared with marketers. News of the near-finished product and its release is often the kickoff for integrated teams to develop a launch campaign.
Hamstrung by deadlines they didn’t set, marketers are often challenged to drum up news and interest in new products at a breakneck pace. To take the long view, however, marketing should be working hand in hand with the research and development team every step of the way in order to build anticipation.
Second, sales and marketing goals are often developed in silos. Much like development and production timelines, sales teams may have launch goals that are developed independent of marketing’s ability to raise product awareness.
Finally, marketers are challenged by new product noise. With more than 70,000 consumer products launching and countless new considered-purchase B2B innovations entering the marketplace, “product launch” risks are becoming synonymous with “now in color.” Cutting through the noise of so many claims of new, innovative thinking, marketers must engage the market in ways that break through. Sometimes that breakthrough is more about the long-term collaboration and priming than it is a deus ex machina idea saving the day at the last minute.
The public and your customers may not appreciate the scope of your innovation if you’re not telling your story in the right way or at the right time. Spend months educating them that there is a problem — a need — before you offer up a solution with all its features and benefits. Doing things right means they’ll have a thirst for a commodity such as yours by the time you deliver your quenching product.
We at Bader Rutter have done this successfully with a number of products, especially those in highly regulated industries where “launch” often means hurry up and wait for another certification or another set of permissions achieved. Download our e-book to learn five key tips for combating the challenges of product launches and to build the tools for a killer product launch.
A product launch is not to be rushed. It should be a slow burn that attracts as much attention from as many people as possible rather than a big bang that’s gone before anyone knows what hit them.
Tom Posta, vice president, group director joined the BR team in 1996 in the Relationship Marketing department after spending a few years at a consumer database and direct marketing firm. Today, he oversees account management and strategic planning for the Dow AgroSciences account. Want to know more about how Tom facilitates major market preconditioning? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Ahlawat H, Chierchia G, van Arkel P, et al. Beyond the storm: Launch excellence in the new normal. New York, NY: McKinsey & Company; 2013.
2 Crimaldi L. Most memorable product launches of the last year. Boston.com. February 10, 2014. Accessed January 9, 2017.