B2B product launches are exciting. Engineers are energized by their innovations. Copywriters and designers love explaining and branding the new solution. Marketers are busy building strategy and navigating the sales and advertising channels for a smooth roll out. Sales teams are learning about the product, pricing, and return on investment so they can make the perfect pitch. Packaging, launch kits, web pages, promotions, social posts, articles, demonstrations, presentations, and trade shows are all in development. It’s a circus!
However, is it a good circus, or a bad circus? Bad beliefs can destroy an otherwise winning strategy, dooming the launch to failure. Whether it’s good or bad, the activities look the same in every business function. But festering inside could be one serious oversight or bad belief, and that is all it takes.
Bad Beliefs to Avoid in B2B Product Launches?
- Great products sell themselves — Hide your great product under a bushel and charge twice the market rate. Now is it selling itself? Always prepare to market and advertise the product, and train the sales channel.
- Customers will pay a premium for the product — This may work with premium consumer brands, but B2B has less appetite for emotional expenditures. Pigs get fed and hogs are slaughtered.
- The return on investment pays for the solution — If you have $10, the product costs $20, and it will save you $30 over two years, how are you paying for the product? Sure customers can buy on credit, request additional budget, or convert the expense to OpEx, but you need to figure this out. ROI is a big selling point, but your customer cannot buy on savings
- The pricing is too complex or unimportant outside of sales training — Secret pricing is a major red flag. It’s being hidden because it’s an ugly story. Unless you’re selling an ERP system or building a highway, high-rise, or space station component, it’s time to leave the meeting. You have no idea what you’re selling or who will ever buy.
- The product is so great it will knock down market disruptions — Your new solution’s labor savings is somebody else’s reduced rate. You also shouldn’t overlook regulations, industry standards, unions, and the roles of distributors and value-added-resellers. Everyone in the value chain needs a piece or you’re on your own and perhaps surrounded by competitors.
Winning Strategies for B2B Product Launches
- Define the Ecosystem Value — I’m not referring to the environment. Define the benefits of the solution to every link in the value chain. The customer must see value, but so should the sales person, distributor, reseller, installer, and end user.
- Prepare for Disruptions — Begin discussions with regulatory bodies, standards committees, and various channel partners early on. Prepare a PR strategy to overcome challenges. Build advocacy by demonstrating value and including disrupted parties where possible. You may even consider joint partnerships if going against the status quo is too disruptive.
- Inclusive Proof-of-Concept Phase — Include the entire ecosystem in the proof-of-concept. If you manufacture a network solution, do not manufacture, sell, and install it yourself. Include advisors from your authorized resellers, certified installers, and distribution partners. The more inclusive you are, the fewer surprises you’ll encounter later on. Provide benefits like exclusivity and reduced pricing for their participation.
- Powerful Value Proposition — If your value includes great customer service, superior performance, elegant design, or anything categorically similar, start over. Your competitors aren’t claiming bad service, terrible performance, and ugly products. Skip the expectations and go for the meat.
- Have a Content Strategy — This is a critical component of your digital marketing strategy. Bring the writers in the room to begin scripting, writing case studies, creating articles, and drafting a concise value proposition. It’s never too early to consider your key phrases, brand names, and sparklers (stats that get attention).
- Media and Influencers — Whether you need an industry news outlet or network of social media influencers, put your media kits together so they can share your content and help get the word out. Many of these kits can help you launch the products with distributors and retailers as well.
Surround Yourself With Competence and Honesty
So much goes into a successful product launch. While some aspects are formulaic, every product, service, market, and channel offers unique challenges. You need a lot of positive energy and honest guidance. Be careful not to surround yourself in an echo-chamber of positive feedback. Pitch it to your most difficult customer. Bring the “yah-but-ers” in the room. Build an inclusive panel that represents the ecosystem and get feedback from customers as soon as possible.
If you’re looking for marketing support to launch a new B2B product or service, contact us. Our Marketing Leadership, Content Strategies, and Social Media services can help you build a successful launch.