Creating a Marketing Launch Plan that Isn’t ScaryOctober 30, 2018Your developers have been heads down on a new product for months, and despite the buzzwords floating around the office, most of the people within your organization aren’t even quite sure what this product does. Now, its your job to figure it out, give it an identity and explain why anybody would even want it. If any of this sounds familiar, you must be (at least partially) responsible for marketing and launching a new tech product, and I know exactly where you are. In fact, if you’re working on creating your marketing launch plan, I’m glad you’re here because I’m excited to share some pointers I picked up after helping launch our new cloud product, DaVinci. Creating Identity Your developers have been coding this product for weeks, months or even years now, probably in parallel to developing a love/ hate relationship with “product X.45,” or some other name that you as a marketer probably loathe. Now, marketing is tasked with making it friendly, fitting and marketable. Creating a new name and identity for development’s baby is going to take some getting used to for everyone, but your hope is that the new identity will quickly become sticky throughout your organization to get used to people internally calling it, let’s say, DaVinci, and not Cloud Product Version 2.344373. If you’re successful in creating its stickiness, when it comes time to speak to the media, customers, opportunities, etc., everyone is already in the habit of using its friendly, marketable identity. So what should be included in your product’s identity/ branding? Here is a great place to start: Product name Description Tagline Logo Color scheme Naming a product seems so difficult I recall several conversations with teammates from different functional roles when we were trying to find a name for our new product that would just “fit.” Because we were producing a cloud product, the usual suspects came up: stratus, cirrus, nimbostratus; and because identifying that the product was flexible, tacking the “flex” to the end of any noun also seemed like an obvious choice. So, more than likely if my organization didn’t have a few creative-minded members, our product, DaVinci, probably would have been named something like “CirrusFlex.” While it sounds perfectly fine, it isn’t consistent with the rest of our product names, which have an “artsy” theme – like Contact Canvas and Agent Palette. And for the extra imaginative creatives like myself, it doesn’t paint the full picture (see what I did there?) of the product because it is quite literal. As a marketer it’s our responsibility to paint that picture: to make whatever the name is work for the product and still fit within the branding of the rest of your company, which can be a difficult concept for more analytical thinkers. You can name the product whatever you want, as long as you’re able to tell the product’s story in a way that people understand and hopefully, appreciate. Consider Apple, arguably one of the most successful brands of our time. At one time Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were contemplating “Executex” or “Matrix Electronics,” but decided on “Apple” because it was “fun, spirited and not intimidating,” which has remained consistent with their simple, intelligent and easy-to-use products since the beginning. “Executex” just doesn’t give you that same feel. Connecting the dots Once the name is decided, use the description and tagline to connect the dots between the name, what it does and why anyone would be interested in it. Because we decided to go with a less literal product name, DaVinci, I knew we needed a description and tagline that accomplished two goals: 1, explained what the product was, and 2: told the benefit of this product without overshadowing the benefits of our flagship product. What we went with: Name: DaVinci, Cloud Contact Center Solution Description: A flexible cloud based contact center solution that scales to fit the needs of any organization. Tagline: Invent your ideal contact center It is also helpful to have all of this branding together on one document for easy referencing for anytime you may need specs, like forums, marketplaces, press releases, etc.. Giving a face to a name Pass all of this information to your designer to come up with a logo and color scheme. Once your marketing team has decided on a logo, get the rest of your organization excited! Pass the new face (logo) and details, like description, tagline, etc. As you begin to develop collateral and your developers begin to brand the actual product, giving it the official look will help keep things consistent. And lastly, fall in love with the branding, take it on multiple dates, but don’t marry it. As the product continues to evolve, your overall messaging may need some tweaking. Create a launch schedule. And make people stick to it. Early on in our product launch planning period, our marketing team and I decided we needed to give the company a deadline in order to effectively plan our marketing efforts around the launch. Although we were nervous about announcing such a tight deadline to the company, the reaction ended up being uneventful. In addition to asking people to work on tight deadlines for the company, we opted to share our marketing agenda around the product launch as well. I think showing employees from other departments that marketing was rolling our sleeves up in parallel, helped them feel less concerned about the approaching deadlines, but also increased the excitement because they saw their work was going to be getting the public attention it deserved. Always give yourself more time than you think you need. We all have that one friend who we tell to be ready at six o’clock, when the event doesn’t actually start until seven. Treat these deadlines like that friend. If you have the ability to, give yourself time between deadlines for things to go wrong or take longer than expected. We added in some “wiggle room” by announcing internal soft launch dates and external hard launch dates. We even opted to give our hard launch dates a little cushion where we could by being intentional with the event planning. For example, we planned to schedule a press release on the first day of a hard deadline, knowing we had a few days of flexibility if needed. In reality everything takes longer than expected and more teams will often overlook the possibility of occurrences that happen outside of their control. So what events and activities should you consider for your marketing launch plan? Here are a few of the marketing activities we decided to engage in as part of our marketing launch plan and a few questions to consider when planning them: Press release(s) – Is one press release sufficient? Should you combine it with other events to get more pick-up? Tradeshows – Are there tradeshows or events going on as part of the launch where collateral will be needed? New website or web pages – Will updating your current website with the new product information suffice or are you building a new site? Purchasing mechanisms put in place and/ or customer journey – How will people purchase the product? Have you established pricing? Are the logistics set-up for purchasing and or the journey to find the product? Any collateral, marketplaces and/ or third party sites that need updating – What locations besides the website will need updating or creating of totally new branding with the new product? Will you run any ads or social media campaigns as part of the launch? What is the budget? Once you’ve established when the marketing activities are taking place, you and/ or your marketing team can easily figure out in which order the items will occur and can prioritize tasks and responsibilities for accomplishing them. Most marketers would agree that a mixed media marketing approach is the best, so that you can reach different audiences. And lastly, have some fun with your launch! Get everyone at your organization excited to launch the new product and thank them for their hard work. We gave out “inventor awards” to a couple of employees who had put in huge efforts towards the product launches, presented all of the new branding information as an introduction and even through a DaVinci launch party with rooftop food and drinks! If you’re just starting to work on your marketing launch plan, feel free to drop me a line to chat more (firstname.lastname@example.org)! To see some of the marketing work we did with DaVinci, check out www.contactcanvas.com. Mariah MaysMariah spends her days in Illustrator and marketing stat spreadsheets at AMC Technology. She enjoys summer days outdoors, exploring the food scene in RVA and spending time with her husband, son and dog.