In a previous article, we described the ways in which B2B companies can utilise PR to maximum effect. Today, we’re taking it to the next level, with 5 easy-to-follow rules that will help you to cut through the noise of a competitive market place and launch a B2B product successfully. Without an adequate launch strategy, even the most innovative product will collect dust when it should be providing value to customers. B2B leads tend to be better qualified than those for B2C, but come in at lower volume, so it’s important to bare this in mind when creating your launch strategy. Here are ways to ensure that your launch is celebration-worthy.
Make your product findable
Research by MarketingSherpa indicates that 80% of B2B transactions occur as a result of the customer finding the business – not vice versa. Thus, determining the search terms your prospects will type into Google and making your site as visible as possible are essential. One way to do this is to create a dedicated or thought leadership section on the website and provide unique and valuable free content, for example: white papers on key industry topics, Slideshare presentations, research, infographics and case studies. An active blog is a must-have and featuring guest blogs by respected industry specialists will entice people to your website, especially if you use social media to push visitors to the site.
Know thy customer
In order to launch a successful B2B product, intimate customer knowledge is vital. What demographic are you targeting? Do you need to segment your audiences and tailor messages to each group? What sources of information are currently available to your demographic? Does your product answer a genuine need or concern? Are feedback channels in place? In order to answer such questions, buyer research is required. While this may be a substantial investment initially, it will pay dividends in the long-run – a launch strategy which is tailored to the types of decision-makers who will be interested in your product has a much greater chance of being successful. A tip, if you are a member of a business body, check if they offer market research data as part of your membership benefits.
Before the product goes live, beta-testing is crucial, not only to ensure that the product is flawless, but also to provide you with an abundance of impartial, third-party testimonials. Just as when you find yourself hesitant to buy a product online if it hasn’t received any reviews, the same thing happens when businesses make purchases from one another. Beta testers are also ideal people to bring forward for media interviews and case studies to support the launch.
Do the maths
It’s important to know the exact financial resources you have at your disposal, not only for an effective launch, but also to provide data to inform budgeting strategies for subsequent launches. After determining the maximum amount of expenditure that will be required to fulfill each element of the launch, it’s worth having a 25% contingency in the budget. In a report commissioned by Schneider Associates, it was found that 29% of B2B product companies exceeded their budget when preparing for a launch. The report also revealed that 58% of B2B launchers established success metrics before the launch, 29% per cent did so during the launch, 13% did so after the launch and 6% didn’t set any success metrics at all! If you want to plan effectively and maximise profits, make sure that you’re in the 58%!
Prepare your team
In the aforementioned report, a well-prepared salesforce was described as the most important factor of a successful B2B launch. Aside from knowing the facts and specifications thoroughly, your sales team can also undergo role playing exercises to practice their pitch. Knowing the information and conveying it in a real life environment when a hot prospect is engaged in discussions are two completely different things. It’s also important to convey the information in terms of benefits as well as facts, since the former is emotive while the second is logical, and we all know that emotions sell more than logic (although not to the same extent as in B2C transactions).
In order to research, plan and communicate effectively, your launch strategy should be developed many months in advance. Since there are so many facets to a B2B product launch, you will want to gather around you a strong marketing and communications team to develop strategies and creative ideas. Get your team on board early (especially if you are hiring external consultants), so that they can live and breathe your brand and product. This will ensure that you implement an effective, well-timed launch covering on and off line media and direct marketing communications.