This may sound like a description from one of the many parenting manuals as opposed to anything related to products and branding, however you may be surprised.

Developing a product has some synergies with bringing up a child: you nurture, provide a framework of values from which you hope they can make sense of the world, and by which they in turn will be judged, and then slowly let go as they grow and develop – you hope into a star.

The irony is that the interventions we make as parents have a big impact on how our child develops and so it is with products. The thought you have nurtured into a big idea, which you’re confident the world needs and wants, and so, filled with confidence you launch it into the world hoping for it to rise with the other stars…

It’s estimated through research undertaken by Nielsen that more than 76% of FMCG product launches fail in their first year. McKinsey’s research found that 33% of all product launches in the pharmaceutical market failed and a study by the Product Development & Management Association, found that failure rates are between 35% and 49% depending on the industry.

But don’t be put off with such attrition rates because there are things you can do that will help you launch a successful product and go on to maintain a star brand.

The reasons for product failure vary but most can be categorised to a lack of work done in the prelaunch phase, issues such as:

• No, or little, market research on the product or the market has been done

• Most of the budget was used to create the product; little is left for launching, marketing, and selling it

• The product’s key differentiators and advantages are not easily articulated

• The product defines a new category, but inadequate customer education and marketing is planned

• The sales force doesn’t believe in the product and isn’t committed to selling it

• Unfocused marketing campaign because the target audience is unclear

• Sales channels are not educated about the product

• The product is untested by trusted customers and feedback gathered.

It can come as no surprise then that with little or no strategy and planning done, launch phase issues follow, such as:

• The launch is aimed at the wrong target audience. Big brands such as Coca Cola get this wrong, think of C2 launched with a marketing budget of £50M; it languished

• Unrealistic goals are set

• The marketing mix is inappropriate

• The product is launched too early and doesn’t work reliably

• Supplies of the product are insufficient to satisfy orders

• The product is launched too late for its key selling season

• The product is launched without influencers to promote it

• The product has no trained spokesperson to educate the media

• The company spends the entire marketing budget at launch, with insufficient left to sustain the campaign.

There are many tools and models that the large brands use when they develop and launch products and services but SMEs don’t always have the budget and manpower which got us thinking… what if we could come up with a simple to use toolkit that would help SMEs manage their product portfolio and launch new ones. So after some liquid stimulation and lively debate we came up with a solution (available to download from KWIB website) consisting of the most useful models and tools for launching and branding a product. At the heart of our toolkit is a simple process – Analyse and plan, Brand creation, Marketing plan, Launch and monitor.

Analyse and plan

We firmly believe that having a robust strategy is the bedrock in managing and launching products and services which is why our toolkit has a number of models that will help you to define your strategy and keep it on track. One of our favourites is the Growth Share Matrix or Boston Matrix, which helps you identify your best performing products/services, those that need attention and the ones that need putting out to pasture. Doing this exercise when launching a new product is important as you need to be aware of the implications it could have on your existing portfolio.

Other models that will help you with your strategy are:

• Product lifecycle

• Target market penetration

• Segmentation, targeting and positioning.

Brand creation

Once you’ve got your strategy done it is time to move on to consider your brand. This is a key consideration but often many organisations jump to this stage not having developed a strategy. But why do I really need a strategy I hear you cry! Branding focuses your visual identity and tone of voice in a manner that reflects your product and that will appeal to your target audience. Undertaking the thinking required when deciding on your strategy should help you define who your audience is as well as their preferences.

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it” – this is the mantra of Simon Sinek (author, motivational speaker and marketing consultant) in his TED talk about leadership. As a branding agency we strongly believe this, and if you think about this statement and the brands you buy, I would hope you would agree. Two models in our toolkit worth particular mention that will help you define your brand in a way that communicates what you believe are “The brand onion”, developed by Interbrand and “The Onliness Statement”, developed by Marty Neumeier.

The brand onion will help you develop the values of your brand. It considers internal factors – your vision and values and external factors – personality and positioning. When considering your positioning the Onliness statement will help you verbalise this in the following way:

• What: the only (category)

• How: that (differentiation characteristic)

• Who: for (customer)

• Where: in (market geography)

• Why: who (customer need statement)

• When: during (underlying trend).

Marketing plan

A marketing plan is essential, as it will help you to map out clearly what you need to achieve with your marketing and plan exactly what you need to do to achieve it. Much of the information you need will have been identified when creating your strategy and reviewing your brand. A key consideration is the mix of marketing channels you should use to promote your product. Knowing who your audience is will make the task easier. Our toolkit will help you through this process. But be disciplined about following your plan. That doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible or that you can’t make changes, just that you need to have direction and focus.

Launch and monitor

In most cases you will need to develop some content to communicate key messages about your product. Once this has been developed a content plan is a good idea – this will help you track when it is needed and in which marketing channel it will appear. You’ll have considered this as part of your marketing mix – such as Digital, Social, PR, Print, Events, TV & Radio etc.

Having undertaken the previous steps you’re now set to monitor your activity bearing in mind the following points:

• Only ever undertake marketing activities that can actually be measured in some way

• Set achievable, measurable and clearly defined targets for all your activity before you start. Refer back to these objectives regularly

• Put in measurable points throughout the plan not just at the end so you can identify quickly if you are straying from targets

• Don’t be fooled by short-term results alone. If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you’re trying to build long-term value, not shortterm results. So there you have it, a simple 4 step process to help you with your products and services and raise them to be a rising star and not a problem child. However if you want to consider this discussion further, please get in touch.

Paul Bailes
Cohesion Marketing by Design

Subscribers to KWIB magazine can download a free copy of the Product LaunchPad guide from the KWIB website.





Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here