Rocket Fuel

In a previous blog, we talked about how launching isn’t just for new products. In fact, anything can be launched as long as it’s worth the time and effort.

But what kind of time and effort are we talking about, exactly? Over nearly 30 years and countless launches, we’ve learned there are six essential elements that you need to have in place, in order for a launch to have a decent chance of success. They are:

Pick your Launch Leadership Team
The first thing on your list is set up a cross-functional team with members from several departments. The variety is important, because you want the benefit of different perspectives and experiences. Most important, though, is that team members are open and honest, and ready to serve as your biggest launch evangelists throughout the company.

Define your success metrics
After your team is set, the next task is to align on what success looks like. That’s right—how do you know if you’ve succeeded? Basic question. There is no standard, set definition for this, but typically a combination of hard and soft metrics is going to be most relevant and actionable for your team. These KPIs are the compass that guides you as you plan and build momentum going forward.

Set up a gated launch process
Launching is about gaining the market momentum needed to break through internal and external market barriers. That’s why you need to follow a set of fundamental best practices to guide your aim, align your team, and shape your communications. Having a well-defined, gated process will set you up for success in a complex, commoditized landscape.

Begin early
All of this pre-work needs to happen early in the process. This is important because it builds alignment from the start, helping prevent early missteps that can delay or derail you later. It also gives your launch team the opportunity to have ownership in key decisions, and the runway to be fully invested in the project’s success.

Get customer insight
The only perception that matters is your audience’s perception. So make sure you are implementing their insights in everything from business goals to creative concepts and external messaging. This ensures you’re delivering what the people who count the most really want.

Launch internally first
You want everybody in your company to be singing from the same sheet when it comes to your launch. Everybody should be saying the same thing, delivering the same messages. Complete, rock-solid alignment is key. That’s why it’s so important to launch internally first. That gives everyone the chance to understand the new initiative and prepares them to be its champions once it’s out in the world.

Want to know more about how these 6 steps are crucial to launch? We’d love to help.

We’re extremely fortunate to get to work with brilliant people—recognized thought leaders in their fields, people who take on extraordinarily complex challenges with mindboggling intelligence and insight.

But all that brainpower can sometimes be a burden. Bright people with deep expertise often struggle to communicate with the level of simplicity that sticks in the mind and wins in the marketplace.

That’s when it’s smart to be the dumbest person in the room.

As the old C.W. Ceram quote goes, “Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple.”

Because you need to break down what you’re offering into the simplest terms and appeal to an essential human benefit. Make that so blindingly clear we can’t help but understand it.

How do you do that? Try the OK, So Game, otherwise known as the Toddler Game. Start by listing a feature of your product. Then ask, “OK, so why is that there?”. Repeat the process until you get to a benefit so clean and clear, no one could possibly ask “OK, So?” anymore.

Except a toddler. They never stop. Here’s a real example of the game for a new flexible bandage made with a proprietary polyvinyl material with multi-dimensional elasticity.

Feature: It’s flexible.
OK, So? It moves with you
OK, So? It won’t come off as you move your body
OK, So? You can move around your hospital room
OK, So? When people come to visit you, you can give them a hug

That’s so simple, clear, and impactful that anyone can understand the appeal.

Want help simplifying your message into something clear and concise? We’d love to help.

Here’s a test. Name a safe car brand.

If you’re like the majority of people, you thought of Volvo. And Volvo does indeed make safe cars. But are they really any safer than other comparably ranked brands, like Honda?

Here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter. People believe Volvos are safe, and that’s all that matters. Because perception = reality.

What people believe about your brand is far more important than what your brand actually is. You could be the best, fastest, most effective in your industry. But if your audience doesn’t believe it? Well, then you’re…whatever it is that they do think. Their perception is what matters. Full stop.

So what can you do to manage the impression you’re giving? Plenty.

Start by learning what the market’s perception of you really is. Not just anecdotally, and not just by asking your most loyal customers. You need unbiased, unvarnished assessments that are unapologetically honest.

Once you know how your audience perceives your business, you can start addressing that impression by shaping your communications to be laser-focused on giving the impression you want to make.

Ready to start taking control of the impression you’re giving? That’s where our TruVu business assessment tool comes in. It’s the simple way to systematically collect the right information, convert it into business insights, and learn what actions to take based on what’s most important to your customers. Learn more.

We get lots of clients who contact us to help launch new products and services. And that’s great. Launching new products fuels growth. But at the same time, applying the discipline of the launching framework beyond new products and services can be incredibly beneficial.

Because anything is launchable if it’s vital enough to your organization, and you’re ready to put in the time and effort.

We group launches in three categories, each with their own needs.

A lot rides on a new product, service, or brand coming into the world. Because you only get one chance to make a lasting impression. And that’s a lot of pressure. No matter how brilliant the offering may be, success depends on bringing it into the market with alignment around a compelling story. That’s where a proven launching process improves your odds.

Increased competition, commoditization, evolving markets—there are all kinds of reasons you may find market share sagging and sales losing ground. It happens to even the best brands. The key is not taking it lying down. The launch process lets you reframe, rethink, and reshape the conversation. Then you can move stalled or slipping sales back in the right direction.

Maybe you’ve identified a new market. Maybe changing regulations present new opportunities. Or you see potential in a new part of the world. But how do you conquer unfamiliar territory? Where’s the map? Launching gives you a disciplined process for charting your course and carrying you forward for success.

Interested in learning how launching can propel your success? Let’s talk.

At Introworks, we love launching. It’s what fuels us day in and day out. But here’s the thing: Not everything needs to be launched. In fact, some products or efforts work better as a release. And knowing whether you are launching or releasing is essential because each has a particular mindset and approach.

We hear from a lot of companies that say they launch everything. But that Launch-It-All Mentality steals time and attention away from the efforts that are most vital to your success.

So how do you know if you have a launch or a release? Answering two questions is really helpful:

1. How important is the offering to your business?

Here you’re looking at the potential this opportunity represents for your organization and how critical it is for your long-term success.

2. How complex is the offering and the market environment?

This is about figuring out how difficult it will be to communicate externally and internally and what you’ll need to do to differentiate the product in the market.

Reserve the focus and energy of a launch for the projects that are the most vital to your business and most challenging to communicate. That way you can save your time and resources for the biggest initiatives and increase your chances for success.

Interested in learning more about how you can better prioritize your efforts? Get in touch and we can walk you through our Launch Criteria Chart.

As marketers, it’s natural to want to find answers to problems. We’re in the solutions business, after all.

But searching for a solution before clearly defining the problem isn’t just putting the cart before the horse. That’s a cart without a horse.

Because addressing the correct problem is the first step in any successful campaign or launch.

Ask yourself what problem, issue, or need does your solution solve? Or, put another way, what does the world gain by your existence? It seems like such a straightforward question, but clearly and succinctly articulating the right answer—the one that will set you up for success—can be surprisingly difficult.

There are two common barriers in figuring out the problem you’re solving.

First, there can be a tendency to be too short-sighted. We see companies who don’t cast a wide enough net to capture the entire business problem. This narrowcasting can lead to problems later if you try to grow or expand.

Second, some audiences don’t even know they have a problem. They are getting along just fine without you. In this case, you have a solution in search of a problem. So first you need to shake your audience from their sleepy equilibrium to understand (and agree!) they’re facing an issue. Then you can come in with your new technology or product that allows them to solve this (previously never realized) problem.

Note that your audience is always the problem solver. The hero. You are simply helping and guiding them. More on that in a future post.

So before you start thinking about how to launch your world-changing solution, take a moment to step back and ensure everyone’s aligned on the problem you’re solving.

You love your brand. You live your brand. And you wish others would, too.

But while you’re the center of your own world, you’re not in the world of your customers. Not yet, at least. Because you have to earn your spot.

So how do you do it?

It starts with creating a connection. Your aim is to own a unique and meaningful place in the mind.

And how do you do that? It starts with a singular, consistent positioning. It takes dedication and discipline to do that. Pick the one thing you want to be known for and create everything around that central idea.

Next, you need to get emotional. Just screaming I’m reliable! or I’m efficient! isn’t going to cut it—even if you are those things. Move past the facts and figures and get to an emotional appeal. Because emotion drives motivation. And motivation drives behavior. Plus the higher on the emotional ladder, the more universal your positioning can be.

Doing these two things will be your competitive advantage. It’s your best chance to occupy an essential place in your target’s mind. And being there, well, that changes everything.

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before.

You’ve got a new product to launch. You spend months, maybe more, preparing and planning. Scrutinizing every detail and nuance. You’ve invested a whole lot of your team’s collective effort getting ready for the market introduction.

You count down the days. Your ducks? They’re in a row.

Then The Big Launch Event™ comes.

And then? Well, let’s just say the rocket launch you hoped for is more of a fizzle.

What happened?

Chances are good that you put all your effort into preparing for an event. A finite thing.

But that’s not how a launch works. Because launch is a verb, not a noun.

Viewing launch as a noun is short-term thinking. It implies a date or an event. But successful launches require a more long-term, comprehensive approach. It’s not a thing that happens. It’s something you do with discipline and collaboration.

Because launching is a process that demands cross-functional teamwork to aim, align, and, ultimately, build momentum. Launching isn’t the sole responsibility of marketing. Many disciplines need to work together in lockstep to coordinate efforts before the product goes live—and continue to collaborate after the product is in the market.

So next time someone at your company talks about launch day, caution them on the dangers of that short-term thinking and planning, and set their sights on a long-term approach.

Follow along with our Rocket Fuel series to get some more tips on how you can make the most out of your product launches.

Launching a product or service is important. That’s not exactly groundbreaking info. But how important? A cross-industry study found product launches account for 50% of revenue and 40% of profit. As those numbers continue upward, so do failure rates. Another study showed nearly 9 out of 10 launches fail to meet forecasts.

Given their immense and growing importance, why do so many launches fail?

The short answer is they’re hard.

The longer answer is more complicated. There’s the ever-expanding, hypercompetitive global marketplace. Complex internal networks with multiple touchpoints and differing—sometimes competing—priorities. And then there’s the rapid pace of innovation that can turn “the next big thing” into tomorrow’s old news before launch even happens.

So what’s a smart marketer to do? How can you ready yourself with a plan that honors the importance and complexity—and sets you up for a successful launch?

Answer: Get some Rocket Fuel.

In our Rocket Fuel series, we aim to share what we’ve learned over almost 3 decades helping to propel some of the most successful brands and products. We’ll keep it short and digestible because you don’t have time for long-winded launch sequences. And they’re loaded with tips and ideas you can implement today.

We hope you’ll join us for the ride.

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