Building a product and launching it are two sides of the same coin and understanding user needs is integral to the success of both. “Nobody wants to use software” is probably not a great tagline for a company like Design Center, but it doesn’t make it any less true. People use software to do other things that bring value to their business or their day-to-day experience. So a successful launch requires that they understand how this particular product is going to do just that.
Just like any successful marketing campaign, there are a standard set of questions that need to be answered.
Build and grow the product vision in parallel with engaged stakeholders to position tangible outputs to use for launch.
Start with Your Audience
Launching a new product takes vision, focus, determination and follow-thru. To develop a lasting solution, start by defining key objectives and outcomes upfront (the what and the why). This will help fashion effective design personas (the who) (Effective design personas for B2B products | by Elena Sviridenko) to produce a compelling positioning statement (Write a Positioning Statement with 10 Considerations & 6 Examples). The initial planning phase will identify metrics to measure success and outline activities to monitor performance that demonstrate impact.
Stakeholder Management is an important discipline to gain support from others. The difference between success and failure can be simply in knowing project advocates and opponents, understanding their respective needs and levels of influence, and aligning the project accordingly. Ask yourself whose help you need to develop, release, and provide the product. Once identified, analyze how you should engage with them. This focuses your efforts, generates the desired buy-in, and allows you to spend your time wisely. Pro tip: complete an informal RACI analysis during this phase. A RACI matrix will outline and document post launch ownership to define the individuals who are responsible, accountable, consulted or informed for an activity or decision.
Knowing your B2B value and the benefits that your product provides is the starting point of success. A value proposition isn’t just the product you agree to deliver to the customer — it’s the ingredient of your business that solves a problem competitors can’t. A successful value proposition is concise, communicates specific results, explains market differentiation and is simple enough to read and understand in seconds.
The vision, customer experience, processes and technology have been defined to produce your product’s go-to-market strategy. The next phase is to generate content that will support and align with those promotional efforts. Videos, blogs, white papers and infographics are important to educate, build interest and credibility, motivate to learn more, and boost SEO. For B2B it’s important you think about the buyer journey, not just at launch but beyond to determine which content you should create for each phase of your prospective customer.
There are so many B2B products coming on the market every day, you have to know how to stand out, and how to build a message that circulates itself. With that in mind, a product launch is much more than a press release – and the most successful launches use marketing assets to their advantage – showing off the solution and its value to tell a story and showcase how it fits into industry trends and challenges. The ultimate success of the new product is as much due to its successful positioning, promotion and pricing as it is to the features of the product itself. At the end of the day product launches are about awareness and sales outcomes. B2B tech communicators need to be honest about expectations, align on goals and creatively use assets to drive customer interest and achieve success.