Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Launch Day

For me, the preparation and build-up to a major product launch is one of the highlights of technology marketing. The sheer volume of effort that goes into a successful launch makes the launch project stand alone in our marketing craft.

The process starts with early visioneering sessions – a chaotic white-board soup of R&D schedules, customer requests, market directions, competitive analysis, sales input, calendars, strategy, and healthy dollops of both hope and optimism. What’s in? Out? Important or filler? When can we release?

With a date locked in, the real work begins -fashioning the story. Who are we targeting with the launch? What do we want people to believe? What do they think about us now? What will change their minds? What will catch their attention? How will the headline read? What claims can we make (with a straight face)? What benefit will the customer see? What proof points can we offer? What quotes can we get, from whom, to back it up?

With messaging blocked out, execution begins. We need a customer facing technical white paper to lay out the story in detail. Then web content, blog posts, videos, advertising copy, social media posts, the list of collateral is limited only the by the time left to prepare.
Internally, we start socializing almost immediately after the date is chosen – reaching out to every employee – sales training, operations training, you name it - everyone who answers the phone, sends an email, they all need to know the launch story.

Writing the press release itself is an art form that I may have to espouse upon in a separate blog – suffice it to say that V.10 or more isn’t unusual, and the final document will have more red lines than black by the time we are done with it.

And don’t forget translation – all that material, all those cute videos, all those web pages – must be translated into 6 or more languages before we can hit send on the release.

Finally – just when we are getting sick of telling the story – we start telling the story – first to industry analysts (which often drives V.8 through V.10 edits to the press release), and then to business and tech press. By the time we are done with the 20th briefing, we are giving this pitch in our sleep.

Then we wait…and watch the clock…hoping no one breaks embargo, hoping the website is ready, hoping the headlines are favorable…hoping the market approves…

We give a tired little cheer when the press release crosses the wire. Wishing for a well-earned nap, instead we hit the phones and the keyboards to make sure our baby gets all the attention it deserves.

Maybe we will sleep in a bit this Saturday, because Monday we start visioneering for the next one.

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