B2B Public Relations: The Launch Sauce Secret

by Wendy Marx

Horseless Carriage and BrandingRemember that Zen question: If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it exist?

It kind of reminds me of a product or service launch.

No matter how terrific your product or service is, if no one knows about it, frankly, it doesn’t matter.

It never fails to amaze me how much money a company will spend on the launch of a new product or service but spend just a tad of that time thinking about its messaging and positioning – and how best to communicate that. I think that’s because there’s an assumption that the product is its own best advertisement. The thinking goes like, “It’s great. We know it’s great. Therefore, everyone must think it’s great and will want to have it.”

Along those lines, there’s an interesting article in The New York Times
about how the first automobiles were complete duds. The problem was the darn strangeness of it.  People were confused about what to make of these new contraptions that looked like three-wheeled machines or bicycles. Once, however, the machines were made to look a little more familiar (more like carriages) and were given a name that was easy to understand, everything came together. The name: “horseless carriage.”

Mary Tripsas, the article’s author, makes a key observation. We make sense of the world by classifying things into categories. For that very reason, when we introduce a new product or service, we need to make it easy for potential consumers or clients to classify it.

The blogosphere recently has been having a collective laugh riot over a Microsoft video about holding a launch party for Windows 7.

In case you haven’t seen it, the video features a group of politically correct people talking about having a launch party for Windows 7 in a way that’s totally unbelievable and horribly acted. Apparently, it’s not a parody, but meant to be for real.

Microsoft would do well to remember the key factor behind any successful launch. It has nothing to do with using the latest cool technology or gizmo and everything to do with properly positioning your product or service.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re launching a wireless product that enables companies to better track merchandise by automatically identifying the location of the merchandise. Yes, it may have the latest technology, have more features than a competitor. But what description will best capture its benefits? Sure you can call it a wireless tracking device but what does that truly mean? Why not call it a MerchandiseTracker or MerchandiseTrackingDevice?

So next time you are launching a new product or service, here’s some questions to ask yourself:

* What do I most want my customers or clients to remember about my new product or service?
* What will get them most excited and most likely to want to know more?
* How can I describe it so that the description makes it easily understood and put into the right context?

I’ll be talking about this and other issues in two upcoming free webinars. Click here to learn more and to register.

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