Product introductions, or product launches, are a broad topic and I’d like to focus on just one critical but often overlooked element, the audiences. The obvious, knee jerk response is that in order to build sales momentum, the audience is the intended customer. No argument there, they need to hear about the product in order to start the sales cycle. But it’s not that simple.
If you think about the sales process in the B2B world, there are at least three different intended customers who need to hear about your new offering. There are the user buyer, the economic buyer and the technical buyer. Each has a different role to play in the purchasing process. You must keep all three in mind as your prepare.
Don’t forget your current customers. First, they’re likely purchasers of your new product and even if they’re not, you have several goals with your introduction. You can strengthen your relationship with them and assuage any concerns they may have about the potential negative impact of the new product on their use of your current offering. Are you shifting direction? Will support go away on the current product?
Your direct sales force or distribution channel will be hungry for the appropriate information as they will be delivering the message and answering questions from your highest potential prospects. And don’t forget your partners in the value network. If they provide complementary products and services, you’ll want them to be prepared to contribute to a positive introduction.
When you hear about a new product for the first time, where to you go to learn what others think about it? You probably go to your favorite industry analyst, blogger, or industry-specific web site. Those first reviews and impressions are critical because with instantaneous access, the waves of positive or negative reviews are formed in hours. Therefore, your introduction plan should include industry influencers.
Last but not least, don’t forget about your own employees. A new product introduction is an excellent way to reinforce your mission and strategy. It’s a chance to celebrate the hard development work and strengthen their understanding of how your company is delivering superior value to your intended customers.
Are there any other audiences that should be added to this list? In my next post, I’ll talk about the timing of messages to the different audiences.