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I have recently been spending a lot of time thinking about product launches. My employer, SellerDeck, is a few weeks away from rolling out a major update to one of its ecommerce software products. While we have the advantage of an existing user base, many of the fundamentals for launching are the same whether it is an existing product or something completely new.
1. Understand the Unique Value Proposition
If your product is sat on the launch pad I would hope by this stage you know what it is that makes your offering different from the rest. The importance of your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) cannot be understated; it’s the lifeblood of any product launch. Review, discuss and research until you are totally convinced you have got it right; you only get one launch window.
2. Talk to prospective customers
Get out there and talk to the very people you want to sell your product to. Discuss your plans for the product, both now and in the future. Get their feedback; it could be you missed something.
3. How are you going to sell and market?
Choosing where to market your product can be difficult. Make informed decisions based on research. It might even be a good idea to run several small pilot schemes to see where you get the most success. However prepare to be ruthless if you’re not seeing the results. It’s easier to make decisions before you have spent the entire budget on something that’s not working.
4. Make yourself heard
Find out who the influential people are in your space and hustle, annoy and pester them. That is until you get a chance to demonstrate why your product is the best. Nothing is better than a personal recommendation regardless of the product or service. Go to events, chat to people and network, network, network!
5. Bring the whole team on the journey
A successful product launch requires commitment and understanding throughout your organisation.
When President Kennedy visited NASA in 1961 he came across a cleaner, and asked him what his job was. The cleaner replied “My Job is to put a man on the moon, Sir”. Now that probably is the greatest launch of all time.
A strong brand will help you win more sales and keep more customers, so spend time on a health check:
1. Is my brand position strong?
Think about what makes your brand unique. How does your brand stack up now and in the future? Why should people care? What your brand stood for in the past may just be that, so have a look at what your competition offers, how they operate and what they do, as well as wider influences and trends.
2. Is my brand clear?
If you are clear about what you stand for and what makes your brand unique, are you clearly communicating it to customers? Be careful of jargon and complicated wording, and be single-minded too – a list of 5 or 6 messages will just lead to confusion, leave the detail for later once you have attention.
3. Does my brand look good?
How current is your look? Think across all your activity, from the logo and identity, to your web site and promotional materials. Are layouts clear? Is your imagery current and clear? Are there elements of consistency? Do fonts work together or look a mess. Brands that look current and relevant feel looked after and worthy of attention, so customers will feel you’ll pay the same attention to them.
4. Does my brand sound good?
All flash looks with not much to say? Ouch. Supporting your central brand promise by what you say and how you behave is critical. Think about how you and your people talk about, sell and service your brand – attention-grabbing looks might get you over a hurdle, but people soon wise up to brands that can’t deliver a promise.
5. Am I my only brand supporter?
Think about who talks about your brand, and where. Is it as much as it used to be? Word of mouth, recommendations, testimonials, social media and news stories will prove it has fans. Prove your brand is worth a look, and maximize every opportunity.
If you’re feeling uncomfortable about two or more of these then it’s time to spend time paying closer attention.
Like Minds People-to-People was about making valuable and meaningful connections. The test now is the connections everyone makes in their sector — armed with the wisdom gained from attending the conference — be that in person or virtually.
We asked attendees to provide us with their take-home message from the keynotes, panel discussions and extensive networking that took place well into the night.
Take-home 1: Strategy's purpose is to enable execution. NOT the other way around. @chrisbrogan wisdom.
Take-home 2: Remove the "media" from Social Media. SM engineering for orgs isn't about media.
Take-home 3: Humanising corporate communications offers a wealth of operational and tactical advantages.
Bonus take-home: @chrisbrogan is every bit as smart as he claims not to be. Truly outstanding.
Take-home: Inspiration, reflection, motivation, acceleration, comprehension, lubrication and a lot of bloody good ideas.
Take-home: Content counts.
Take-home: This is a new medium not a new form of communication, Twitter is the tool, people power it. Authenticity beats brand veneer.
Take-home: Like Minds was jaw droppingly awesome, the creative mix was lovely magic!
Take-home: Inspiring, awesome event. All about the people as the title suggested :)
Take-home: Mine is never, ever take fashion tips from Americans - no matter how famous they are :) #likeminds
Take-home: How can you use available tools to make others feel special? That's a key question.
Take-home: Stimulating, thought provoking and professional. Unexpectedly good way to spend a Friday!
Please do add any further take-home comments below.
So, the morning session of Like Minds is over and we’ve covered two interesting presentations which have generated a fair amount of debate.
First up, Jonathan Akwue, the “digital thinker director” of Digital Public, offered “an outsider’s view of social media”. He took a challenging stance, insisting - to gasps -that “Digital technology does not always make things better”. Jonathan cited the example of self-service checkouts at supermarkets, which may have created cost-efficiencies for supermarkets, but are a source of consternation for many frustrated shoppers (although several Marketing Donut correspondents actually said they like self-service checkouts).
What social media has done, however, is release the inner gangsta rapper in all of us. Like hip-hop, social media have given ordinary people the means to control the channel of communication and to get their personal message ‘out there’ in an unfiltered form. Social media are “open source” and they are transforming the way we communicate and interact with each other:
You can use social media to change people’s lives,” Jonathan claimed. “You can use it to save people’s lives. We can make massive behavior changes."
Unfortunately, if you have such an open source communication channel, you need to be prepared for what people are likely to say – a point many corporates have yet to really grasp.
Jonathan was followed by John Bell, digital PR guru for Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence Team, whose “Time for a strategy - Beware social media tokenism” presentation focused on the need for businesses to generate and measure proper business impact through their social media presence.
Citing the example of ITunes on Facebook - which has three million fans - John challenged the easy view that numbers equal success. “Does this really mean three million people are engaged?” he asked.
He went on to stress the need for businesses to find appropriate ways to measure the impact of their social media activities and to only continue with activities that actually have a measurable business effect. Otherwise they are simply tokenism.
His presentation gave rise to interesting discussions around the value of having a social media policy and the kind of voice you should adopt on Twitter, to which several of our followers contributed:
@atkirby I think it's important to try and sound like a human being on Twitter, not a robot.
@7db Like biz attire: Wear (voice) what (how) your customer does.
@global_lingo Strong selling isn't the way forward but for B2B that can be a struggle.
So that’s it for the Like Minds morning session. We’ll be picking it up again shortly – please do follow our live coverage.
Once set, you’ll need to ensure all of the things you can influence are glued together and working toward that unique brand positioning. If you're spending money on marketing materials with different straplines, changeable designs, copy that sounds different or doesn't match up to what you stand for, or products that don't match your brand promise then it's wasting the full potential of your marketing investment. People won’t recognise you, or understand what your brand is about.
Good strong brands do this well and are more stable because of it. Lets take Apple. They tirelessly work on creating innovative new products that work, that people love because of the way they work and because they are at the forefront of the latest technology. They just love making great stuff! So what do they do to back this up and support the positioning? Everything!
Their advertising, website and product brochures all fit together - you know it's Apple as soon as you see it. The products all look cool, even the accessories. Functionally people love to show the product off - look, it can do this! The shops, well they're cool too. And the people in them know their stuff, they help and reflect the brand. They run workshops in the shops on how to get the most out of the products, as well as the usual online support and video tutorials. You can even book time one on one with a ‘Genius' in their shops if you just want some help face-to-face. Everyone loves to show off the product because it's so good. It's just relentless pursuit of their brand positioning.
Apple have got their brand positioning and direction totally clear, and then they execute everything to support it ruthlessly and consistently. Take one area of the business and fail to deliver, or do something a bit different and things start to unravel. Done well, even knitting the simplest marketing activity together like a website, van, you and a business card, and you’ll see dividends.
FACT: If you are the same as the rest then why should customers bother to buy from you?
SO WHAT?: Ignore the one-liner at your peril! Wake up and smell the coffee!
In a world where competition seems to be everywhere, you need to separate yourself from the rest.
FACT: If you compete on price, only the customer will win – in the end the company with the lowest prices (and biggest buying power) will get the business. This is no place for the timid.
SO WHAT?: If you try to be the same as the rest, a ‘me-too’ business, it is incredibly difficult to survive in the long run. After all, the only way you can differentiate yourself if several businesses are selling the same product will be on price. And if you differentiate yourself on price then it becomes inevitable that you enter a price war – customers will chase the cheapest prices – those businesses with the biggest market share (and economies of scale) will be able to command better prices from their suppliers. As a result, these competitors will be able to pass on those savings to customers while maintaining healthier profit margins than their competition. You will end up cutting your profit margins, probably until you go out of business.
Legendary, remarkable customer service will be your secret weapon.