As marketing launches proliferate, making the right kind of splash is increasingly critical for long-term success in consumer markets
For marketing teams, getting a campaign launch right matters more than ever and can spell the difference between being a marketing launch leader or laggard. According to a new report from Bain & Company, Let’s Do Launch: The 5 Best Moves for Your Marketing Launch Playbook, marketing launches are proliferating. Bain, together with Twitter, surveyed more than 650 marketing executives in the U.S. and found that using the launch best practices allows companies to realize 1.5 to 2 times higher revenue growth rates for a brand.
According to the research, launches rose an average 27 percent per company in 2018 – with some product and service launches seeing even steeper growth. Companies are spending upwards of $10 million per launch, all with the goal of reaching consumers amid constant media din and across numerous channels. In this environment, marketers must get smarter and more systematic about their launch activities to earn attention and motivate consumers to act.
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“We know from our extensive work with CMOs that marketing launches are never easy, but the stakes have never been higher,” said Laura Beaudin, global head of Bain & Company’s Marketing Excellence practice. “A lot has to go right within an organization for a marketing launch to be even remotely effective. Not surprisingly, launches require rigorous planning and a willingness to be flexible, but perhaps most importantly, it’s engaging with the consumer right from the start. Listening to potential customers at the outset is essential if marketers want to realize success in the long run.”
Three-quarters of survey respondents agreed that a launch’s near term results are a reliable indicator of long-term success, but marketers face an uphill climb in breaking through the clutter. One emerging challenge is the compression of launch time. Launch leaders—defined as the top 15 percent of respondents who reported financially successful launches, plus market share and revenue growth over the prior year —recognize they operate in a make-or-break period once the product or campaign goes live. That’s partly due to consumers being jaded from launch saturation. Channel decisions put a premium on fast launch returns as well. Half of marketers said this make-or-break period has gotten shorter over the past five years, which makes planning and reacting in this narrow window more challenging.
Given the greater emphasis on launch success, Bain & Company and Twitter assessed launch strategy, behaviors and tactics to understand what separates leaders from the rest of the pack. Elite launchers have built distinct capabilities with the following precepts in mind:
- Learn before you launch. Marketers make initial assumptions about how many people, and what kinds, will buy or engage, but those assumptions should be pressure-tested through social listening and by mining the reams of data now available about consumers. Launch leaders not only have more advanced data aggregation and analysis, they also take care to understand the nuances of consumer communities. They are 2.4 times more likely than other companies to use social listening data to refine their launch strategies, message and offerings, the Bain survey shows. As a result, they are 2.3 times more likely to understand the priorities of their target audience.
- Own your voice. Most marketers aspire to convey an authentic, distinctive voice for their brand as a way to connect emotionally with consumers. Launch leaders are 2.3 times more likely to emphasize evoking an emotional response and twice as likely to assert that audiences viewed their messaging as authentic. That emotional connection helps a company stand out from the background noise.
- Go for influence rather than reach. Enduring influence comes not from online celebrities and influencers, but rather from a small group of passionate consumers who share their opinions and advocacy for a brand or product on digital platforms. Leading marketers and content creators are 1.8 times more likely than others to invest early in specific audiences that are more likely to engage with content. They are 2.4 times more likely to create shareable content, so that fans spread the word, which helps promote an early success.
- Go big on the reveal. Virtually all companies would say they invest heavily in their launches. But launch leaders spend much more of their full launch budget by the end of the launch day. Other companies, by contrast, parcel out more of their budget in week five and later. Launch leaders are 1.7 times more likely to blitz on three or more channels at once when they introduce a product or brand. On average, blitzers use six channels at once, including the array of digital social media, display ads and paid search, as well as more traditional print, direct mail and public relations campaigns.
- Prepare to pivot. With launch timelines condensed and consumer attention fleeting, marketing organizations must be able to make course corrections quickly. Launch leaders are 2.9 times more likely to monitor all their platforms during launch and make real-time adjustments to their content and strategy. They most often make adjustments in messaging, followed by channel mix. One reason they can make adjustments on the fly: They are 2.5 times more likely to have the right analytical talent and coordination across marketing silos.
“We’ve seen the power that a successful launch can have on the long term success of a new product, product extension, feature or brand, particularly when it is powered by Twitter’s audience,” said JP Maheu, VP of U.S. Client Solutions at Twitter. “Working with Bain, a best in class firm, has not only qualified that impact, but also brought to light the specific tactics marketers can use to move the levers of success.”
Companies today face a high hurdle in launching something new, but by conducting due diligence on the target audience, going all in up front with relevant content that strikes a resonant chord, and being ready to change course on the fly, marketers can chart a course for long-term success.