New report, new best practices. Sorry! New report, SAME best practices.
Unfortunately, I didn't find it new.
This is not a knock on Schneider & Associates, the producers of the report. They did a bang-up job of funding and compiling a free report; I truly mean that.
Plus, their finding are based on the feedback of, as I understand, lots of BtoB marketers. So I guess it's a knock on BtoB marketers. Here's the report summary (and my feedback is below that).
"Based on our survey results, here are our top 10 suggestions about how to improve your chances of B2B launch success:
1. Create a documented launch process.
2. Set a separate launch budget and make sure it is adequate to meet the launch challenges you face.
3. Establish your launch budget as early in the product development phase as possible.
4. Keep your launch budget stable throughout the implementation phase.
5. Determine your launch performance measures before the launch begins.
6. Measure the “right” success metrics.
7. Include the “right” external launch professionals on your team.
8. Fight for bigger budgets.
9. Educate your sales force and other internal audiences about your new product or service. Also focus on distributor, retailer or dealer education.
10. Spend money on word-of-mouth campaigns rather than on advertising."
#10 (WOM) is the only new one in, like, twenty years (or at least as long as I've been marketing, so 15 years).
#8 (Budgets) is right up my alley--I advise two things on this front to my clients--first, always pad budgets by an extra 15-20% as your boss will always cut. Otherwise they don't feel like they've done their job. So play the chess game and budget accordingly. And, second, always go back to the well (board) and ask for more water (money).
#9 (Internal Buy-In/Internal Communications) is crucial, this internal communications disconnect and marketing and sales being at war is a huge reason for failure. I suggest it be moved up to the top 5.
Not a single best practice...not a single mother lovin' one...mentions the customer. Go ahead, glance back up there to check my math.
While I struggle to say that customer service is our single biggest issue; it's not. It's myopia. How to cure myopia? Stop talking to each other: start talking with and listening to customers every step of the way.
(And not just in focus groups where everyone either agrees with you or gets to decide if the theme should be A or B).
Oh, you say, "But they already did their customer research before they went into launch mode so it's before these practices even apply." Baloney. The thing is, every launch worth the big budgets this report is addressing should be implementing test launches and pre-launches. CPG companies do them all the time, and for decades. So if a BtoC company does this for a $4 food product, why not a BtoB marketer with a $400k product? Especially since they're talking a "new product launch" not just a "new ad campaign."
Seems to me if we keep doing the same thing and expect different results it's a waste of time and budget. (Actually, expecting different results from the same actions is the very definition of "insanity.")
But that's just my opinion as I didn't have a say in these practices. Apparently neither did customers.
PS: Just so I don't sound like I'm all talk and no action, in my plight to get the word out, I'm currently compiling a "10 new best practices" presentation. I assure you, the practices are actually new. And the focus of the piece is putting the market first, the marketer after. Happy to share it. It also features a cute theme--after all, why do "best practices reports" have to be so darn bo-ring?
Update (11.05): Joe Pulizzi has a great assessment (and suggestions) on this list over at his blog here. It's worth checking out as he's far more articulate than I.