This post was originally published on the WebMarketCentral blog in September 2009.
According to research by Schneider Associates, only 38% of b2b product launches are rated “successful” by the companies introducing the new products. After decades of new product launch experience, why such a dismal rate? Why does the following still sound familiar?
“Traditional launches act as big corporate Lighting Bolts, the big Ta Da. We plan big events, create loads of new sales tools and collateral, place those all important ad campaigns. All the while keeping everything in hush, hush secrecy ‘til we near the big day. Then comes the big ‘Ta Da’. Our press release hits the wire, we hold some big chest-thumping event and then start selling our hearts out, having trained the sales force the day or week before. The next day (or week) we go back to business as usual. Exhausted, but assured that we’ve done our jobs. Just look at all the attendees at the launch, that great PR coverage, the acclaims from near and far. Then reality strikes. Revenues are slower ramping than we expected, the sales force cries for qualified leads – and the excitement of the launch day fades to a distant memory. We shake our heads and wonder why we aren’t successful.”
Those are the questions asked, and answered, by marketing strategist Rebel Brown in her new eBook, Rolling Thunder: Powering Momentous Market Launches. She contrasts the traditional “lightning bolt” launch process with a more gradual, momentum-building approach she calls Rolling Thunder.
Lightning-bolt launches simply no longer work as well as they did in the days of information scarcity. Information overload makes it more likely that even big announcements will be missed. The Rolling Thunder approach addresses this by building credibility over time, creating anticipation, and leveraging social media to feed the momentum.
As Rebel puts it, “Successful launches leverage a series of interactions, laying the foundations for market success before the ‘announcement’ ever happens. Great launches build momentum over time to propel a product or company into the market, far above the noise and with sustainable credibility. Rolling Thunder launches increase in power over time, just as a single raindrop becomes a downpour.”
A key requirement of the Rolling Thunder approach is flexibility—the ability and willingness to change messages and tactics based on early market feedback. With the lightning bolt approach, you have one shot at getting your message right, and if it falls flat, the launch is a disappointment. With Rolling Thunder, if the message isn’t quite right at the outset, there is time to make adjustments before your mainstream market is exposed to it.
In addition to laying out an effective launch strategy, Rebel includes some important “don’ts” for a successful launch:
- Don’t make claims about yourself. Let your customers and other key influencers speak for you.
- Don’t rely excessively on advertising. It may be part of the mix, but focus on leveraging PR and social media.
- Don’t bash competitors. Don’t even mention them.
- Don’t rely on press releases to drive leads. They are part of mix. Used properly, they help build credibility. But relationships, not announcements, ultimately lead to sales.
Want to make your next launch more successful? The Rolling Thunder eBook provides a compelling new framework.