Rolling Out a New Product? Take 3 Steps to Nail Execution
While finding the right new product or service is a pretty high hurdle in and of itself, there’s also the marketing plan and the often overlooked execution plan to consider. Here are three steps you can take to keep all the parts of the marketing plan heading in the same direction as you roll it out into market.
A few months back, MIT Professor Erik Brynjolfsson made the observation that today “technology is transforming innovation at its core, allowing companies to test new ideas at speeds and prices that were unimaginable even a decade ago.” He continued, “companies are able to get a much better idea of how their customers behave and what they want. This gives new offerings and marketing efforts a better shot at success.”
Technology has indeed been a boon for marketers when it comes to trying out new ideas BEFORE introducing something new to the market. What’s kind of interesting to us, though, is that so much of the discussion of using technology to improve new product success has been mostly limited to testing different configurations of new products and services. But why stop there?
While finding the right new product or service is a pretty high hurdle in and of itself, there’s also the marketing plan and the often overlooked execution plan to consider. Because it’s so often done on the fly these days, we thought we’d focus on pointers for nailing execution in this post.
Here are three steps you can take to keep all the parts of the marketing plan heading in the same direction as you roll it out into market:
#1 Identify specific aspects of the plan that you want to track as you move ahead.
Technology has made it possible for marketers to monitor key performance metrics and many, if not most, routinely track things such as awareness, “online buzz”, trial, purchase consideration, repeat purchase, etc. While important information, these metrics by themselves won’t tell a marketer how well each of the different elements of the plan—the advertising, the website, social media, packaging, events, etc.—reflect the same targeting and positioning strategy and/or if it’s the targeting and positioning strategy contained in the marketing plan. As far as execution goes, marketers need to know the extent to which the marketing strategy and plan have been implemented and which areas might be going astray.
#2 Formulate the list based on the key areas of implementation concern, customized by category or industry.
At this point in time, there’s a pretty extensive public history of marketing plans that have gotten off track and ended in disaster that marketers can use as a guide to what they need to pay attention to during the roll-out. Presumably, they also have company, market, and industry knowledge of how important different plan elements are to reaching and influencing target customers.
Key areas for close watch might include:
- Media weight and schedule
- Communications message as a reflection of the positioning
- Integration across marketing vehicles
- Product packaging
- In-store display and point of sale advertising
- Product formulation
- Product SKUs/sizes
- Banner advertising
- Social media/blogs
#3 Determine the specific metrics that will demonstrate compliance.
Finally, pinpoint the specific measurements to take that will give more than just a superficial read on the execution phase. In some cases the measures might seem obvious. With blogs, for instance, tracking the number of conversations and categorizing the content—positive vs. negative or new product mentions vs. general comments related to the company—has become a popular data point to follow. But remember, the end goal with this measurement plan is NOT to get raw numbers that demonstrate how well/not so well one particular element is working to generate awareness and trial, but how well you are doing sticking to the strategy and tactics outlined in the plan.
Marketers can capture multiple measures, scored from 0-100, within 60 days after launch. Some possible measures of conformity include:
- The extent to which the planned media reach, frequency, and engagement matches that which was executed in the marketplace.
- The extent to which the digital effort has been executed as planned and integrated with everything else.
- The extent to which the positioning/messaging strategy for the brand is effectively communicated by all the traditional, non-traditional, and digital media.
Going off on a few too many tears and tangents with the marketing plan can spell disaster for innovation ROI. The more preparation that goes into the implementation of the marketing plan, the more likely all areas where execution could go awry (because it often has in the past) get closer attention to neutralize damaging forays off plan.