Stop Squandering Your Product Launch Budget
My four-year-old granddaughter told me she had learned the right way to sing a tune, after singing it wrong for some time. When I asked her what the right way and wrong way were, she replied, “Well, Grandpa… there are lots of wrong ways. But there’s only one right way.” I can think of at least three wrong ways to spend your product launch budget. Maybe you’ve sung one of these tunes…
This isn’t launching a product. This is kicking it off the loading dock.
- Under-spend, beneath the product launch budget: Last week a business executive confided— in a whispered voice—that they seldom spent more than $10k on their product launches… even after spending hundreds of thousands developing the product. This isn’t launching a product. This is kicking it off the loading dock and hoping someone finds it.
- Miss-spend, poorly spend the product launch budget: Should you spend $100k on a trade show… or $10k a pop on trade journal ads? Would it be wiser to build a better microsite… or fund an email campaign? There are at least 9 traditional and 9 online media to consider, and the sad reality is most B2B marketers are guessing at the right mix.
- Over-spend, go beyond the product launch budget: I find many B2B marketers under-spend in reaching prospects… but over-spend on their ad agencies. These marketers don’t provide a clearly targeted market and message… so their agencies spend far too much billable time guessing and performing unneeded work.
How to Stop Miss-Spending your Product Launch Budget
Most of your product launch budget goes directly into one or more of the above media, so picking the wrong media—no matter how artfully executed—is an expensive mistake. Let’s examine 2 AIM innovations for selecting the right media with confidence: 1) the Media Strategy Matrix, and 2) the 2- Question Launch Survey.
The Media Strategy Matrix will optimize your product launch budget spending. It places your business in one of 20 cells defined by your industry concentration (number of buyers in your target market) and your industry position (from leading supplier to new entrant). Here’s a simplified 4- quadrant version of this matrix…
Quad 1: You can easily pursue a handful of prospects and build on existing relationships. Ideal media include the Sales Visit (so invest in sales training & tools) and personalized Web Microsites.
Quad 2: Here you need to build credibility with a few prospects. Consider media such as Customer Seminars and thoughtful White Papers.
Quad 3: Now there are too many prospects to reach with sales reps… so you must be findable. Use News Releases & Search Marketing to drive prospects to your website.
Quad 4: In this case you are a respected supplier to many customers. Use your database to build a “community of users” via Email Marketing… and use other online methods such as Webinars.
AIM’s 2-Question Launch Survey is based on a simple concept: Before you spend a bundle the media portion of your product launch budget, shouldn’t you learn which media your target prospects are already using? You can ask prospects in person, by email, or via the web (see example from our LaunchStar® software)… but the questions are the same: 1) How does your company learn about new ideas? 2) Who decides which ideas to pursue?
Responses to Question #1 help you plan which media to use. And answers to Question #2 allow you to clearly focus your product launch budget on a specific job function. B2B marketers must consider a reality that consumer-goods marketers don’t: More than one job function—marketing, technical, operations, etc.—can be a decision maker or influencer.
How to Stop Over-Spending against your Product Launch Budget…
You don’t know what you want… but you’ll know it when you see it.
Ever see this? Your ad agency brings you its “creative” work… you send them back to the drawing board… they return with more ideas… and so on? You don’t know what you want… but you’ll know it when you see it, right? Much of their experimenting—using your product launch budget —stems from a fuzzy view of 1) the precise target audience, and 2) the unwaveringly focused message prospects must receive.
Before your ad agency begins its job, you must finish yours. Your team—not the agency—uncovered customers’ needs, determined the next-best competing alternatives, and developed a product with differentiated value. This may be the greatest key to an optimized product launch budget: clarity about the market and the product’s benefits. You need to deliver to your agency a prospect profile and a message brief… or they’ll guess, wasting your money and missing your objectives.
Prospect Profile: This document defines your target prospect at 4 levels: market segment, point in the value chain, job function, and desired outcomes. You can build it with precision using what you learned earlier in your product development work and through the 2-Question Launch Survey.
Message Brief: This document provides your ad agency, sales force, and others with the consistent, laser-focused message targets will receive. Depending on the quality of your front-end VOC work, you can data-mine your interviews for the exact hot-button language prospects use… boosting keyword search success.
If you’d like to learn more, note this brief video on product launch excellence. For more depth, we have newly revised e-book available, 12 New Rules of B2B Product Launch. Also, we have recently completed a much more powerful, online version of our LaunchStar® software… now available on a subscription basis. This software contains everything a B2B product launch team needs to ignite its next launch… not “release” it.