We thought it might be fun to start this blog post with a little quiz. Ready? You’re a fancy-pants B2B marketing executive who’s spearheading a multi-million dollar rebranding. It’s going to be big. And it’s your job to devise a strategic launch strategy.
a) Start thinking of ways to make a creative splash with your customer base. Perhaps a themed party and a hot air balloon?
b) Opt to go beyond your current customers, hitting the entire marketplace with a general message. Brand awareness is good, right?
c) Develop a plan to reach your internal stakeholders — everyone from the reception staff to your fellow C-suite colleagues.
If you answered “a” or “b”, we’re going to have to say, Bzzzt! While these strategies should come in time, they aren’t the right place to start. Major initiatives, such as rebranding the company or launching a new product, need to start inside your organization, so you can achieve internal alignment before you introduce them externally.
The goal is to get everyone in your organization on the same page first, so that when the initiative goes public, the customer’s experience — with your sales force, your receptionist, your customer service department, your website — is seamless. Taking an “inside-out” approach is also the most cost effective. Dedicating time and resources to communicate internally will net a far bigger payoff in the end when you start spending the big bucks to launch in the marketplace.
So, where to begin? We’re glad you asked.
Getting buy-in from the folks at the top is critical for a new initiative to gain traction. Management needs to voice their support and make sure they’re “walking the walk” so the workforce as a whole has an example to follow and takes the effort seriously.
Communicate the value of the new program clearly to each department in the company, and make sure each group knows what’s expected of them and what the initiative means for their positions. Tell Customer Service how they’ll need to respond to new inquiries. Explain to the sales force how they can communicate new information to their customers. Tell workers in the manufacturing plan what the new production goals are and what’s in it for them if they’re met. Take it down to the job level and get the message out in an audience-appropriate way. Getting employees on board and empowering them to make a difference will go a long way in ensuring your program’s success.
We’re getting outside the realm of “internal audiences” here, but we’re on a roll. Once you have your internal folks clued in, going straight to the marketplace and skipping over your distribution and supplier partners isn’t a very good idea. What happens when customers and prospects see an ad for your new product and flood your distributor with thousands of orders they aren’t prepared to handle or deliver? Not a good situation. Instead, reach out to your supply chain partners and tell them what you’re doing, what’s in it for them and how their participation can make it a success for everyone.
Once your internal and supply chain audiences are aligned, you’re free to shout your launch campaign from the rooftops! But “shout” to your customers first. They have an established relationship with you and your company, and should be the first to know (before the broad marketplace) about your new initiative. Treating them as a more select audience is a way of rewarding their loyalty.
Prospects and the Marketplace
These audiences are where you end – not where you start. This is where high-impact (and high-dollar) campaigns are focused, and where your dollars will pay off if you do your due diligence in the beginning and make sure your company is properly aligned internally around your program first.
For a more visual approach to achieving internal alignment, e-mail us for an 8-step chart.