I can’t tell you how many times my colleagues and I have heard clients lament over former failed B2B product launches. “We just don’t do product launches well around here,” they say, to which we respond, “You’re not alone!”
While there’s plenty that can be achieved through marketing communications to raise needed awareness, generate leads and help to convert prospects, there’s also a lot that needs to happen before the product even gets to this launch period.
In a recent survey to some of the top manufacturers’ rep firms in the foodservice industry, we asked them what product launch mistakes they see in the field, and here are five that were mentioned over and over again — most of which happen before the marketing communications activities even kick in.
Lack of market research
If there’s no clear owner of this function within your company, find a way to take ownership. Before a product should even make it to development, there should be a clear business case showing the market for this product and needed features/benefits. Without this critical legwork, there could be a lot of money invested in developing and launching a product that no one wants — no matter how cool it may be.
Introducing the product before it’s available
We totally get it — product development can take a LONG time, and you want customers to know what’s coming so they don’t go somewhere else. But it presents a problem for your sales channel when a product has been introduced far in advance of availability, threatening sales of current products and even your brand’s credibility if unexpected delays occur. (And when don’t unexpected delays occur, amiright?)
Not fully field testing the product
There might be nothing worse than hyping your sales channel and prospects about a new product that then begins to fail in the field. Even after fixes have happened, your third-party reps and dealers are going to be gun-shy, and word of mouth may have already taken a toll.
(Re)introducing tweaked products
You’ve likely heard people joke about the overuse of word “innovation” these days. If you simply update a current product, and it’s not truly new, this is different than a true product launch and should be treated as so. It’s certainly good to promote it, but you should use the right messaging and initiatives.
It’s important to ensure your sales and service channels are adequately equipped to support your customers. Kicking off a launch period with an educational webinar or training session is a great way to get your channel educated and excited about your new product, hand off the marketing kit and share your marketing plan.
When companies follow these steps, they’re setting up their B2B product launch for success — ready for marketing to take the launch to the next level.
Have more questions than answers about product launches? Check out this post about the top 3 FAQs we encounter.