Rocket Fuel

Woman standing on a stage at a national sales meeting with the spotlight on her, her back is to the camera, she faces a full audience in a dark auditorium

Launch Your Business Year at the Sales Meeting

Annual meetings are for team alignment and building momentum for the year — consider it a launch of the business year.

Annual national sales (or training) meetings are a highlight of the year for many companies, which require extensive planning, stakeholder weigh-ins, diplomacy, creativity, etc … aka herding cats like a boss. As the marketer responsible for making it all happen, what results do you anticipate from these events?

Maybe some inspirational moments, a bit of team bonding, photos for social and possibly a hangover. Above all, relief that the whole thing is over and you have a few weeks before it lands on your to-do list again. But with all that effort, as you look at the outcome of your annual sales meeting, could there be more impact with just a shift in perspective?

Shifting Perspective

A national training (or sales) meeting is a launch of the business year, so let’s plan it as if it’s a launch. Launching is the discipline to achieve stakeholder alignment that drives market momentum. Alignment and momentum — precisely what national meetings are meant to achieve.

Reframing your sales meeting as a launch, opens a unique opportunity to build robust team alignment around a galvanizing pathway for your business. You leverage a two- or three-day event into year-long momentum that drives success.

Reframe the Meeting as a Launch

So what does it look like to plan to your meeting as a launch of the business year? If you’re familiar with our launch philosophy (Rethink Launching), you’d probably guess that you treat this like any other launch.

We aren’t suggesting adding more work to your plate. On the contrary, we think that this could actually make that same plate more balanced. With the discipline of a launch you have buy-in and alignment that isn’t always present with events. Think about the effort you’re expending right now without that alignment (ie focus, discipline and shared metrics for success).

As you delve into planning the next national sales meeting, consider shifting the perspective from an event to a launch. Notice how it could focus the trajectory of your event and the business year.

As always, we’re here to lend a hand at any stage in your meeting. That could mean building out messaging around business goals and market needs, then implementing it start to finish. Or we can take a plan that’s already in place and help you execute it at any point along the way. There are lots of ways we can help you keep that plate balanced.

Reach out and let’s brainstorm together.

Priming the Market

You may have heard that Introworks is a huge proponent of starting the launch process early.

That’s bedrock best practice because it allows you to lay the most advantageous foundation for your launch:

  • Cultivating evangelists to mobilize and harmonize the organization around the launch—before opinions and attitudes have solidified to the point that they’re difficult to change
  • Getting the right strategy, positioning and messaging in place before it takes on an internal life of its own
  • Launching internally first, and avoiding missteps due to lack of alignment


But for many of our clients, the most compelling reason to start early is the opportunity to get ahead of the game with pre-launch marketing.

That may not seem like an option if you are in med-tech, or another regulated industry. You certainly can’t promote a medical device before approval, or make claims that aren’t supported by evidence.

What you can do before launching, whatever your regulatory situation might be, is prime the market.

An artist primes her canvas to optimize the surface for receiving paint. On an unprimed canvas, the paint doesn’t flow, and colors lose their impact. Priming, in other words, creates a favorable context for the painting.

Priming the market is similarly about creating favorable context. As storytellers we lean hard on context. Context is what lays the groundwork, setting up the specific problem we’re trying to solve and the solution we’re providing—paving the way for a smoother, more impactful entrance into the market.

So how do you prime? What are some possible avenues and entry points to explore for creating a favorable context for launching?

Unpack the problem
Your product, service or company solves a problem, or addresses an unmet need. It’s the WHY behind your offering. So what is that problem, exactly? How well is it understood by the market? Can we do more to articulate it and bring it forward? Do we need to change the conversation? And is this an issue you can own?

Create a category
What are the legacy options for dealing with the problem your offering solves? These options can generally be grouped into categories—and those categories may not be set in stone. Perhaps there is an opportunity for you to preemptively reposition competitors and create your own category. How do existing alternatives fall short of solving the problem? Consider how you can establish the need for a new category of product, or a different approach to doing things prior to launching.

Build a bigger story
Look inward and upward at your portfolio, business unit or organization. How does the offering you’re introducing change your story at a higher level? It often does, and there’s a lot to be said for shaping that story in advance, and setting the stage for what’s to come.

Expand your audience
Your new offering may present the opportunity—or necessity—to form new relationships and cultivate new audiences. Now is the time to lay the groundwork, let them know who you are, what you stand for, and the problems you’re solving.

By priming the market, you create favorable context, smooth the path, and give your launch a jumpstart well before you push the GO button. If you’ve got a launch on the horizon, don’t wait (see first sentence in this blog). Let’s talk about how we can get your initiative primed for success.

Want more on launching best practices? Read Orange Paper: Rethink Launching (pdf).

Fractional Launch Navigator: How to Launch Without Burnout

Let’s say your company is launching a new medical product. It’s a big deal, as launches always are. A lot of time, money, brainpower and effort have been invested—not to mention hopes, expectations, ambition and a liberal sprinkling of angst. The stakes are high. And guess who’s right at the center of it all, accountable for success?

Yep, you’re on the hot seat.

Photo of arm chair in flames. A white upholstered arm chair, which is on fire, sits against a wall covered in classic floral-like wall paper.

You may have the ideal mix of marketing and engineering knowledge it takes to make this launch a success, but do you have the bandwidth?

You’re dealing with leadership, regulatory, multiple teams, customers, big decisions and endless minutia. You’re in meetings, trainings, traveling, planning, working long hours and you’re watching bottlenecks pile up. You’re losing sleep…and burning out.

Don’t let it come to that. Don’t wait ‘til it’s a 911 to get help.

“Help from whom?” you may be wondering. “Staff is already overextended, and we can’t afford a full-time hire, even if we could find the right person fast enough.”

The answer could be a fractional launch navigator.

What Can a Fractional Launch Navigator Do For You

A fractional launch navigator (FLN) brings extensive experience in launching medical products to your project — extending your reach without stretching you thin. They, too, have the ideal mix of marketing, engineering, upstream and downstream experience and familiarity with medical technology commercialization. They can work by your side as a partner to move projects forward, deliver on your objectives and get the launch over the finish line. Then, when the job is done, so is the engagement.

A FLN is a: Planner, Manager, QC, Expeditor, Team Supporter, Sounding Board, Communicator, Agency LiaIson. Graphic overlays text with a woman in a blazer picture waist up, arms across her front, smiling.

And if you find yourself in the hot seat but you don’t have the breadth of experience you’d ideally have to lead a launch — a FLN can help fill those gaps, serving a strategic as well as executional role, freeing you to focus where you bring the most value to the launch and the business.

Learn more about how FLNs can help in our Orange Paper, Fractional Launch Navigator: Launch without Burnout (pdf).

We’re always happy to chat about how Introworks can help you. Connect with us anytime or call Bob Freytag 612.805.9286


A Good Start is Half the Battle

Patience is a virtue. Think before you speak. The best way out is always through. And, perhaps most important of all: Don’t eat the yellow snow.

The world is flooded with words of wisdom, time-tested universal sentiments that can be beneficial in life and at work…Of particular relevance to us and our clients is an Irish Proverb:

“Tús maith, leath na hoibre‍.”

“Tús maith, leath na hoibre.” Proverb on a green background mocked up as an Irish crest with a rocket in the center.

While we won’t attempt to pronounce this Gaelic beauty, here’s what it means: A good start is half the battle. Your initial steps will dictate how well a project is going to go.‍ If your first steps go well, the rest of the work should flow nicely from there.

Our decades of launching have aligned us with this Irish wisdom. You might even say we’ve built a business predicated on the sentiment. While we won’t be altering our branding to reflect it, it is central to our clients’ success and value we aim to deliver.

Internal alignment, clarifying goals together, a strong plan, making sure we’ve got the positioning and messaging right…it matters. By taking those initial steps very carefully and planfully, everyone saves time, dollars and energy — essential resources — down the road. Or you might simply say, “Tús maith, leath na hoibre‍.”

Launch is Long-Term Thinking

Congratulations for creating the world’s largest ball of twine, to be introduced to the world at TwineFest in August. Your twine-gineers worked tirelessly for years to complete the colossal landmark (it’ll be seen from outer space, of course). Stakeholders will be beaming as you pass the ball (sorry) to the marketing team in JULY. On a roll for success (again, sorry)! Welllll…not so fast.


Giant ball of brown twine sits in a clean room, which is all white and very sterile looking. Three scientists in lab coats look on.


There’s a giant red flag, a sure sign that the initiative is headed for trouble: Short-term launch thinking.

It’s the last-first stage.

That short-term perspective is fueled by the conventional way launch is viewed. In a traditional stage-gate development process for medical devices and other B2B products, launch is the last stage — the last stage in development and the first stage in the product lifecycle. And it’s almost always seen as a marketing communications function alone.

While you’re dealing with complexity greater than a twine ball, this short-term launch mindset can lead to problems:

  • A hand-off to marketing with a too-short readiness window to position, plan, brand, and align. A rocky start at the outset.
  • Event-based thinking yielding lost momentum later in market.
  • A launch-it-all mentality arising from the view that launching is solely a marketing communications effort.
  • Launch projections that promise quick uptake without a longer view of adoption.


The a diagram illustrating the steps from product development through to product adoption, highlighting the "traditional" launch period which is after product development is done and right before product adoption.

Traditional product development stage-gate process allows for only a short window for planning a product’s entry to the market, which can lead to lost opportunity.


But what is the ideal product launch timeframe?

Ideal launch timeframe: Start earlier. End later.

Launching medical devices and other B2B products should involve a cross-functional Launch Leadership Team, led by a “Launch Navigator” who manages a go-to-market process that dovetails with the development process early on. How early does the ideal product launch timeframe start? We say, as early as possible. In highly regulated industries that might be when the project moves from upstream to downstream — 9-12 months is a good estimate. An early start allows proper time to achieve alignment on strategy, narrative, branding, and planning. It gives you time to launch internally, validate with customers, build momentum and make adjustments, so you can hit the market with the right velocity.

Similarly, your launching endpoint should be later than you may think. Again, when? Certainly not just a couple months from your go-to-market date. You don’t want to lose valuable momentum when you’re just entering orbit. 12 months is a good milestone to plant your Point B, with a roadmap that aligns hard and soft KPIs to that date, and into the adoption curve.


The same diagram as above, illustrating the steps from product development through to product adoption, highlighting the launch period that starts during product dev and ends after the product adoption curve begins.

Starting launch earlier—involving a cross-functional launch team—improves alignment on strategy, narrative, branding, planning, and can increase momentum into the adoption phase


You might be thinking, “If we did all of our launches this way, then we wouldn’t be launching as much.” Exactly. And that’s what we’ll cover in our next post.

Let's Go to Jupiter

Why are we so single-minded about the discipline of launching at Introworks?

Why work so hard to get off to the right start when the analytics and automation tools available to any marketing team today make it so easy to iterate and adjust as you go?

Maybe, thanks to technology, you can get away with kinda winging it?

But no.

Think about launching an actual rocket into space.

NASA (or pick your space agency or billionaire) doesn’t go into a mission saying, “Let’s go to Jupiter. We’ll blast the rocket into orbit in the general direction and tweak from there.”

You won’t hear them muse, “Let’s go to Jupiter…or maybe Mars. Heck, it’s probably on the way. In fact, let’s go to a bunch of planets.”

They won’t say, “We’re going to Jupiter but not sure if we have enough fuel or momentum to slingshot around that bad boy out there.”

Definitely not, “We’re heading to Jupiter, and I sure hope we’ve accounted for gravity and other physics stuff that could cause logistical issues.”

Okay, silly analogy. But seriously, you can’t approach these complex, high-stakes business challenges the same way as you do the other 80 percent of marketing activities.

The adage, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish” is generally true. Heck, I just watched a basketball team start a game down 16 points and go on to win the national championship.



But in these off-to-the-right-start business challenges, it’s a different ballgame. There’s too much at stake, it’s too late to correct misperceptions once they’re out in the world, and it’s too hard to recover revenue or share you never gained.

As with a rocket launch, alignment, aim, and articulation in a product or service launch are critical.


Alignment is what gives you the momentum to overcome gravity and arrive at your destination. It’s about the process you follow, and the teams you form. It’s crucial that your organization is aligned on goals, strategies, branding, all of it. (Imagine a NASA launch where everyone is not on the same page.)


Aim encompasses many things—how you segment, prioritize, plan and measure success. Mostly, though, and too-often underappreciated is that the focus is towards the customer’s brain—the emotional part of the brain.


Articulation is pivotal. You can have everything else—aim and alignment—in perfect order, but storytelling, messaging, and branding errors can blow up the whole effort. Words matter. Visuals matter. Experience matters.

Stick to the discipline. Align, aim, and articulate right, and you’ll be in the space you want to be. Quicker to revenue, stealing market share, ready to acquire a complimentary product or service.

That’s when you bring in all the measuring, managing, and adjusting you, your team, and modern technology can muster.

You want the win. That means doing everything in your power to achieve it.

Let’s go to Jupiter. We’d love to help.

The Value Equation written in white over a close up on the rocket engine and exhaust pipes of Saturn 5 rocket

People think about value in a lot of ways, but the common denominator tends to be money. Weigh the benefit you expect to get from a product or service over its cost, and the difference is value.

That’s not wrong.

But if you want to elevate the value of an offering in the eyes of your customers — which, of course, you do — here’s a different formula for you:

Value = Joy – Pain

Value is Emotional

The equation is emotional, not numerical. It makes sense, because buying decisions are made emotionally. Yes, that includes B2B, even med tech.

In his book Under Think It: A Marketing Strategy Guidebook for Everyone, Adam Pierno explains how it works:

“We essentially weigh the joy we derive from a product. This is heavily skewed by the perception of the brand. [Our emphasis] Once our brains score how much joy the thing will provide, we begin deducting points for pain […] If the pain doesn’t cut too far into the joy, we act. We click. We subscribe. We buy.”

When you calculate the value equation this way, you’re forced to go beyond features and benefits and look at the bigger picture.

You think holistically, considering the entire universe around your offer.

That could include delivery times, training packages, warranties, maintenance, education, access to experts and manufacturing capabilities, not to mention the experience you’re delivering with your website, social presence and other communication channels.

Let’s say you’re a small medical device company and you’ve got an amazing product. What you haven’t got is the resources of the big players. Maybe you rely on channel partners for service, training, even manufacturing. Maybe you don’t have the most sophisticated, content-rich website.

You can still create immense joy in your offer. But you need to be clear on where you’re potentially inducing pain, and reducing value, and have answers for those things.

And juice up the joy. Have a story that wins, shape a brand that speaks to your audiences, be the company customers love to work with.

We can help with all that and more. Ready to amp the joy and improve your value equation? Let’s get in touch.

The Tangibility Hack. Background is a closeup of the Saturn V rocket engines treated with an orange and blue filter.

Marketing Intangible Services

So you sell a service. It could be preventive maintenance contracts, medical education, business consulting, systems integration—anything that’s tough to see, touch, or put in a package and ship.  

Since your customers can’t look at what you’re selling or get a demonstration, or readily compare it with competitors, how do you stand apart? 

We get asked that question a lot. And, for once, there’s a relatively simple answer. Convert your tangible offering into something tangible.

Here’s a simple rule any good marketer can benefit from:

If you have a service (an intangible offering), you need to make the value tangible. Inversely, if you have a product, you need to make the benefit intangible, but that’s another blog. 

The tangibility hack works because it lets you sidestep that nagging question in any service business: what makes you different and better? When you give your audience a tangible hook, they can ground themselves in your offering and better understand how the value impacts their needs. 

Creating tangibility gives you a different, ownable path, and there are several ways you can do it. Here are a few we like. 

Three Ways to Differentiate Intangible Offerings 

Make a metaphor. 

This is a classic play. Because, well, it works. Find a thing or symbol that characterizes your unique positioning. You know, “Like a Good Neighbor.” Hey, Introworks has a rocket. Just be sure your metaphor is a real thing that can be understood easily. Otherwise, you’re doubling down on the intangibles and that sends you down a rabbit hole of abstraction. 

Take an attitude.  

What’s your adjective? What describes you? Once you know your values and brand attributes, pick one and run with it. Could be how you approach every challenge. Tenacious. Geeky. Pioneering. Whatever it is, lean into that. Obviously, these values need to be absolutely absolutely true to who you are at your very core.   


Processes and business models can be tangible assets. When people and technology work together to create a solution, it becomes real. Call it something like an “engine.” Or brand it with a meaningful name. Once people understand the noun of what you provide, they can better understand the verb of what you do. 

If you’re introducing or revitalizing a service offering, we’re here to deliver tangible results.

White text that says: Bucking the Biz Babble," overlayed close up on the rocket engine and exhaust pipes of Saturn 5 rocket. The image is treated with a blue and orange filter.

We’ve all been there. At the airport, next to the guy with ear buds pacing back and forth, seemingly talking to himself as he prattles on about “synergistic asset allocation for seamless transparency.” 

Uhhh…we have questions. First, why is he talking like he’s playing MBA Bingo? Second, who asks his wife to pick up milk like that?

Many of us laugh at a situation like this. Then pull out similar business jargon when we’re creating our next comms piece. 

Sure, there are good reasons for industries and professions to develop and communicate in their own language. They communicate with each other, which makes them more credible in a business conversation. A wrong word in that context is a sure sign of being an “outsider.” Also, like lawyers or medical professionals, language provides a perceived advantage. 

But here’s the thing. No one likes that. Because no one talks like that in their real lives. After all, the omnipresent usage of impenetrable business lexicon that permeates the quotidian business conversation can be counterproductive. (Oops, there, we did it.) 

It would have been much better to say, “Using too many complex words hurts your message.” 

The purpose of communication is to attract, engage, and prompt your audience. Too much biz-babble just confuses your audience and turns them away. To say nothing of the almighty search engines.

Take a moment and Google a couple different businesses. Go to their site and you’ll soon find telltale signs of business speak gone astray. There it is nestled in paragraph four: “By taking a holistic approach, we’ve reengineered the paradigm.” Wow, powerful stuff. Huh? 

So, write it straight. Instead of, “We employ expertly skilled sales engineers to ensure maximum revenue optimization,” try the friendlier and more effective, “Our people really know your business and they’ll make your sales numbers sing.” 

It works because it sounds like a person wrote it to have a conversation with another person. And that’s what you’re trying to make happen, right?

Ready to ditch the biz-babble? Get in touch and we’ll help give you some simply smarter ways to communicate. 

A Launching Agency

13911 Ridgedale Drive
Suite 280
Minnetonka, MN 55305