“While the strategies and tactics used for each new product launch vary according to the nature of the product, the target audience, trends in the media, retail distribution and consumer lifestyles, certain bedrock principles are required for planning and executing every new product launch. Following these launch basics will put you on the path toward success. Ignoring them will put your launch in peril, no matter how exciting or innovative your new product or service may be.
Launch Basics 101: Assign someone who is strategic and creative to lead the launch team.
“Brand or product managers make the best launch team leaders. These are people who are passionate about the product and have a single-minded focus to make it successful. Unlike people higher up in the corporate food chain, brand or product managers are focused on the task at hand. Good brand and product managers live the product every day and know how to get things done. They also are more apt to have the requisite marketing expertise required to lead a launch, something CEOs and presidents often lack. If you’re a company leader and you think that you should lead the launch team, think again. There is too much riding on the outcome not to put someone in charge who can live, eat and breathe the launch.
“Our only caveat is to involve the CEO along the way in planning, as there is nothing worse than presenting a finalized launch plan the CEO doesn’t like and won’t support because he or she was not part of the process. In our experience, involving the CEO in key planning meetings creates the alignment necessary to ensure the launch plan is enthusiastically received. Also, avoid putting someone in charge of the launch team who is driven solely by sales figures. Launch is an art and a science. Numbers alone don’t always tell the whole story about what is happening during a launch. Someone interested only in sales figures may be apt to pull the plug too early on a launch if sales targets aren’t being met. You have to be able to look behind the sales numbers to really know what’s going on.
Look for a launch team leader who is skilled at:
- Bringing people together from various marketing disciplines to produce an integrated campaign.
- Communicating and reinforcing launch strategies and product messages so team members are consistent throughout the planning and implementation process.
- Fostering innovation in launch strategies and tactics.
- Generating enthusiasm, confidence and a can-do team spirit that will be required at critical moments.”