“Nailed it!” the marketing leader thought as he went to bed after the end of a grueling week. Four days earlier Quinn and his team launched a new product at their enterprise software firm. For two weeks leading up to the launch, Quinn and a dozen others across the org had worked 14-hour days so they could have everything on their launch list checked off by launch day
A few of those activities included:
-20 downloadable assets for different audiences & buyers journey stages
-100 Sellers & Partners trained via webinars, in-person sessions & technical briefings
-50 different pre-developed pieces, including video, for posting across social platforms
-25 eDMs written and built in Eloqua
-12 industry analysts & reporters pre-briefed
-Most of the above translated in to five languages.
Not only had they hit their deadline of creating all the assets and training all the sellers, but many of their week 1 launch metrics were way above forecast. Email open rate, # of re-tweets, content downloads, and training satisfaction scores were all at least 30% higher than goal with several metrics 200% of plan. “Best launch ever” one of Quinn’s subordinates had said. The Sales SVP, and her boss the CEO, were pleased with the effort, but nowhere close to celebrating.
Many marketers mistakenly equate vast amounts of launch activity with vast success. Quinn’s launch had a ton of activity, but does anyone outside the marketing org really care that email open rate is 250% of plan? Unlikely. Arguably, the multitude of metrics now available with the digitization of marketing makes it harder to measure true launch success.
Many marketers confuse metrics that can be counted with metrics that count and it’s especially true for launches. Here are six tips so that everyone celebrates the launch:
1. Pre-align metrics with Sales & Marketing. Most Sales leaders & CEOs care little about the 100+ marketing metrics one could count for a B2B product launch. A few (no more than 10) of the most relevant marketing metrics should be on your Exec launch scorecard. It’s critical to review those well before the launch so your execs know how those metrics link to sales, revenue, new customers, etc.
2. Add a Sales or Revenue Target. The ultimate barometer of success is usually measured by sales or revenue and as such they deserve a spot on your launch scorecard. Even if your product has a long sales cycle, even if you don’t “own” a sales number. When you include a revenue number on your launch scorecard, it shows your execs that you’re a partner in their need to drive revenue. It also highlights to your junior staffers that, while a rocking eDM open rate deserves a pat on the back, the company doesn’t succeed unless those turn in to sales.
3. You Should Have Some RED on the Launch Scorecard. When Alan Mulally become the new CEO of Ford Motor Co., he famously chastised his leadership team for showing up to his first staff meeting with almost all green on their dashboards. Though it may hurt your Type-A personality to have the universal color for below plan linked to your team, a 100% green scorecard is often inferred as:
a. Goals not set high enough
b. Your team can’t forecast accurately
c. The team isn’t taking any risks.
4. Don’t Confuse Activity with Outcomes. Quinn’s team at the start of this blog was fist pumping because they developed dozens of pieces of content, flawlessly updated the web site, and had a few hundred sellers go through a 45-minute training webcast. While that indeed took a huge amount of effort worth applauding, marketing organizations do themselves a disservice celebrating the launch activity if the rest of the organization doesn’t feel the impact.
5. Be Ruthlessly Honest About What’s Needed for a Launch. Using data from your prior launches, force a prioritization for which activities are needed and which are not. Most organizations can reduce the launch deliverable content set by 30% (or more) with de minimis impact.
6. Continue to Follow Up After Well After Launch. The only way for your execs to know the impact to their key metrics (e.g. revenue, share, new customers, etc.) is for you to show it. While the launch metrics won’t change much after a month, that is when your sellers may start to feel the impact. If you’ve done tip #1 and #2, you can keep the same scorecard and then focus on the metrics that count the most.
Eric provides marketing strategy, demand programs, & launch services for clients of Aventi Group, a technology product marketing agency based in San Francisco. In previous product & marketing roles, his launches have ranged from dial-up Internet service to carrier core routers. Let Eric help you on your next product launch. Contact us today for an introduction.