‘Build it and they will come’ makes a great story, but it’s a bad B2B product launch marketing strategy. In today’s highly competitive market your product will flop no matter how good it is. If you launch a new product or roll out a feature, you need to make sure people know about it. That requires a solid marketing strategy from the outset.
There’s also the added complication of the new world of work. Previously major trade shows offered a simple platform and timeframe to announce new products to an engaged in-person audience. In a remote world that’s no longer guaranteed and you need to accommodate more touchpoints for audience engagement.
Getting your B2B product launch marketing strategy right requires advanced preparation. Ideally starting from the moment your product or development team starts building. That means making sure your marketing, communications & PR, external agencies, and product teams are in early stage meetings together.
Feedback and discussion should be flowing in all directions, ensuring the final product has the best chance of success. Any potential issues can be managed effectively by the PR team, and everyone understands the product’s purpose and audience.
Top tip: Make generating demand your guiding principle.
Too often B2B product launches come across as boring. It has to be exciting. B2B product launch marketing is all about generating demand from potential buyers. Consider each strategy and tactic within that framing. Building excitement before a release will save you, your marketing and your sales team a huge amount of work. Not only does that mean you can understand demand, but you can nurture this audience for immediate results. More detail in part 1 of our startup marketing blog here.
Planning & strategy – finalising your B2B product launch marketing messaging and positioning
The first step is getting to the heart of what your product is all about. What’s the position in the market? What are the personas of your target buyers (here’s a free template from our friends at HubSpot). Once you have these in place you can define a messaging framework for your strategy that connects with customers.
Your messaging should highlight your differentiator and unique selling point. This might be about the approach to the problem you’re solving or the feature set. But don’t just get caught up in the product – now is the time to connect that to the market. What challenges do your customers face that this problem helps solve? What is happening in the world and market that links back to your product? You want to end up with a clear and concise document that can form the backbone of your campaign activity.
You should also start testing this messaging before you launch the product. Asking trusted customers, partners and even the media for their input or trailing it using paid social media for example. This can save you time down the road before you have committed resources and assets to your strategy.
Benchmark and assess prior launches
At the outset, set some measurable goals so you can understand the performance of your launch once it has run. Are you looking to build a percentage of market share within a certain number of months? Do you need to generate a specific number of qualified leads for the sales team to work on? Making them specific and measurable will help you define the tactics you use.
This is also a good opportunity to assess prior launches and consider what worked and what didn’t. On the other hand, if this is your first entry into the market then assess what might be missing. Do you lack brand awareness or trust in your company? Now is the time to put a strategy in place to combat these.
Go-to market – pre-launch and launch tactical implementation
Simply put, this is the combination of tactics that you will use. Whether they to build awareness, get potential users into your funnel or close deals. After your positioning is finalised, you can plan how you’ll tell the world about it.
And yes, you’ll need a combination of tactics. According to McKinsey, B2B customers use ten or more channels to interact with suppliers (up from just five in 2016).
Consider this in two stages. The pre-launch – you might seed the product to a select portion of the market to trial ahead of time. Then the full-launch, where you’re in full marketing mode, from emails to media to your website homepage.
But first, you need to pick the tactics that are going to deliver the goals you set in stage one. There’s a huge array of tactics to pick from, so be strategic in where you dedicate time and resources to. For example there’s no point spending a fortune on Facebook advertising if your audience is on LinkedIn. Similarly, now is the time to build tracking mechanisms into your tactics. For example Google Analytics tags for your content funnel or separate referral codes for different social activity.
Here’s a selection of tried and not-so-tried tactics to help you get started:
Nurturing your existing audience
- The waitlist – managing demand and excitement is crucial to get your product to market with a bang. All too often B2B marketers are afraid of creating demand before the product has launched. As soon as your product is near the final stages, start building demand by getting a waitlist on your website.
- Organic social media – your existing fans are most likely a key audience for your new product launch. You can incentivise your
Targeting new buyers
- Leveraging analysts – particularly for enterprise B2B selling analysts are a crucial link between you and your customers. Pre-briefing analysts and having a team on hand to provide demos and briefings on launch is critical.
- Content marketing – tried and tested. Creating content for your own website, or placing articles in the media, helps you illustrate the problem your product solves. You can also capture lead information via gated resources.
- Webinars – perfect for filtering those in the ‘consideration’ stage of the purchasing cycle. This is the time to get more into the features, pricing and technical solutions of your product.
- Paid social media – with tools available on platforms like LinkedIn, you can create highly targeted campaigns that match your audience. You can try a direct approach to advertising your product (e.g. “we’ve launched x, try it here”) or use this to leverage and promote other aspects of your campaign like content.
Building trust and awareness
- Video – easily shared across your marketing channels is video. Can you shoot a video that demonstrates a key proof point – here’s a great example from location optimisation software Naurt.
- Testimonials from pre-launch users – potential customers love hearing how buyers like them have used a product. Getting these as videos, case studies and press releases ahead of time gives you evidence to use at the outset.
- Influencers – working with influencers isn’t just for B2C, B2B brands now understand the benefits of teaming up with industry influencers.
The follow up – measurement and momentum, was your B2B product launch marketing a success?
After all the work you’ve done to get to this stage you don’t want to miss the results. Look back against your original goals from stage 1 and the tactical objectives and measures. Was your B2B product launch marketing strategy a success? Did you hit the right goals? Which tactics outperformed, and which under-performed? Make the most of the in-built analytics that come with social platforms. As well as the likes of Google Analytics and more comprehensive reporting options if you use a platform like HubSpot.
It’s also important to consider that this is just the first step in marketing your product. Now is the time to double down and create a plan to nurture and convert the leads you gathered. Prioritise ongoing engagement, qualification and ultimately a handover to sales.
Working with the media
While working with the media is usually a tactical stream, it has nuances that we felt warranted its own section.
The press can be a great stage-setter for your product launch. But you have to think of ‘issues and problems’ rather than product. A pre-launch PR campaign can help tee up the market to be receptive to the product you’re launching.
Help your audience, via the media, understand the pain point and how it hurts their business and the market. You can offer the news as an exclusive to a key journalist you’ve built a relationship with. Host demos for the more technical press. Team up with their paid advertorial teams to directly target their audience with your messaging.
On a practical level, working with the media is different because fundamentally they run to their own beat not yours. But harnessing their authority and stamp of approval can supercharge your product or platform.
Want to ensure your B2B product launch marketing strategy is a success? Contact our team of experts today to find out how we can help.