Product Launch: is a marketing plan enough?

Launching new products on the market is always risky. We can reduce this risk by looking at product development, sales and marketing planning in a broader perspective. Marketing plans alone may turn out to be insufficient.

The success of the implemented product often depends on marketing plans or the effectiveness of the vendors. Of course, PPC, SEO or social media campaigns can help us reach the right audience with the right message. But do we need to start planning our activities straight off with the marketing channels?

At the initial stage, identifying the “first recipients” of the product – what exactly to offer them and how to reach them – is more important. 

From the very beginning, let’s consider which group will be the fastest to persuade to the product and will be able to afford it. However, we are often too ambitious in these plans.  We want to “catch the big fish”, but this requires a lot of action and time. Thinking big generates costs and lengthens sales processes that the company and the product may not survive. 

That’s why the success of new products depends mainly on developing the right go-to-market strategy.

What is a go-to-market strategy? 

It’s a different term to define exactly what we are going to sell, to whom and how. It seems very trivial, but defining these areas does not come so easily. The product is often produced first and then we make further plans for it. The analyses of the market potential are neglected, as well as a thorough research of personas or their willingness to pay for specific product functionalities or features. 

Sometimes, product developers, including our customers at Project: People, are sure that such analyses are very expensive. The truth is that with the current accessibility of information on the Internet and social media, we are able to carry out such activities without spending much money. However, the methodology of carrying out the research and prior identification of what we want to discover becomes an important issue here.

  • whether the market is large enough to enable us to achieve profitability,
  • the advantages the competition has in terms of business, marketing and tactics,
  • who the persona is and what problems she has,
  • what the needs of a particular segment may be addressed by our product, 
  • whether and how much the potential customers would be able to pay for the product, 
  • what the customer’s shopping path looks like,
  • what the main decision-making factors are,
  • the chances, threats, weaknesses and strengths of the company/product.

By doing this, we produce an assessment of sales opportunities even before the product is launched. If, based on this information, we determine that we can achieve the goal that interests us, we can boldly move on to the stage of strategy development.

What are the elements of the go-to-market strategy? 

Some people may find the go-to-market strategy a bit like marketing plans. In fact, such a strategy should be the basis for defining them.

What is it supposed to include then? 

  • The target groups we want to focus on,
  • a description of the persona,
  • specific competitive advantages,
  • a unique value proposition,
  • defined product positioning,
  • examples of marketing communication,
  • the effective ways to reach the target groups involving sales and marketing activities,
  • a planned marketing and sales funnel and matching channels,
  • the demand for competence and team responsibilities, 
  • SWOT,
  • the pricing strategies,
  • the marketing channels, 
  • a roadmap of activities, 
  • financial budget.

As you can see, these are not tasks to be completed within a couple of days. It may take much longer. It is a kind of homework to be done so as not to lose track when planning activities, both sales and marketing. 

This requires cooperation of many departments: the product, marketing and sales departments. Often external companies are also hired to look at the product and main assumptions from a different perspective.  

At Project: People we organize the research workshops that help our clients gather the necessary information from the client, the market or potential users. It is amazing how much we can discover through these workshops. Our clients appreciate these conclusions most. This offers them a new perspective on action planning. 

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    What are the most common mistakes in the strategies for launching new products?

    In a perfect world, extraordinary strategies are developed and each business is highly profitable. In fact, we learn from our mistakes and draw conclusions. That is why you have to collect and share them. 

    What to avoid then? 

    • Duplicating our competitors – by making our actions similar to those of our competitors we do not seek and create new value for potential clients. We create a situation where price becomes the deciding factor. This, in turn, puts us in a loop of decreasing the value of the product and reduces the chances of increasing revenues.
    • Misalignment of strategy to the size of the company – we can plan activities within a large capital group differently than as a start-up. In case of the first model, we can try to create new product categories and afford longer payback periods, because, for example, other revenues can cover the emerging costs. For young companies, the aim is to achieve a quick return on investment. We need to focus on generating a lot of interest from recipients and creating such value that will help us get the first paying customers.
    • Focusing on too many target groups – to reach many people, it is more difficult to create a competitive value. Without concentrating efforts on a specific group and defining their “pain points”, it is harder to match the right functionality or product features. There is always a chance that someone will do it better. With the necessary knowledge of the needs of a narrower group, we can create such unique distinguishing features that the recipients of the products will be able to pay more. This way our revenues will grow.
    • Ignoring the expectations of potential users in product development – unfortunately, this happens too often. The products are based on the assumptions of the managers of the individual departments or on a market analysis only. Obviously, this information is important, but the advantages arise together with the users. That’s why it’s worth communicating with them and using consumer insights to stand out. 

    Less risk through strategy

    With a specific goal, target groups and steps set, we are able to make decisions that will bring us closer to success more easily. Fewer questions appear, but there are more quicker decisions and possibilities to verify them. 

    The strategy also supports developing cooperation between the departments and showing them a common goal. Then we don’t focus on our own department, on the contrary, we think how to help each other and how to create new, common initiatives. As a result, we get more consistent and coherent actions that bring us step by step closer to the effective launch of a new product on the market.

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