When creating product launch or marketing plans you should start with a broad perspective to define the high-level landscape. Planning around customer definition is no different, and first assessing the high-level situation relative to your customers and the product you are launching is a useful conceptual exercise. Figure 2‑2 describes a framework for this. Understanding where your situation falls in the Figure 2‑2 grid is a start toward fully understanding your target customers and implies the amount of marketing effort you must provide to clearly identify and understand your customers and rollout the product. For example, from Figure 2‑2, determine which quadrant describes your situation:
• Quadrant 1—Existing Segment Penetration: You are essentially launching or re-launching your current product to existing customers, although you may be reaching more broadly and expanding into new customer accounts (e.g., focusing on Fortune 100 today, expanding to Fortune 1000 with the launch or re-launch). Lowest launch marketing effort required relative to other quadrants.
• Quadrant 2—Segment Extension: You are extending, or adding, new customer targets. In essence, you are launching your existing product into a new category of customer not previously addressed. Moderate level of launch marketing effort required.
• Quadrant 3—Cross-Sell/Up-Sell: Here you are developing a new product (could be brand new, could be upgrade, or next version) and want to launch it into your existing customer target base. Significant level of launch marketing effort required.
• Quadrant 4—Brand New Ball Game: In this most radical quadrant you have a brand new product and are focusing on a completely new set of customers. Considerable marketing and launch work is required.
Understanding your goals and intent relative to the Figure 2‑2 grid can help you focus on what you intend to achieve with your launch. This level of focus can also help ensure that relevant stakeholders across the organization (technical, business, operations, etc.) are on the same page.
Although it is quite possible your intentions may fall within multiple quadrants of the grid, the most relevant ones for a new product launch will likely be Quadrants 3 and 4, where you are taking your soon-to-be launched product into your existing customer base or into new market segments. A typical new product launch scenario for companies with existing products in-market is to go after a cross-sell/up-sell scenario into your current customer base while also attempting to move into new customer segments with the new product.
This is a fine strategy, but it requires that the appropriate marketing program development, funding, customer understanding, and resource/ level of effort prioritization and trade-offs are explicit and rational. Typically a “one-size-fits-all” approach leads to mediocre results within both scenarios. You need to design your go-to-market plans and post-launch sustaining market plans to address the unique requirements of each scenario (or quadrant you are addressing) or risk failure.
The required marketing effort will vary somewhat depending on the quadrant addressed. Essentially, each quadrant presupposes a different level of customer knowledge and places you at a different starting point from a launch perspective. Any launch, by default, requires a significant amount of work and some basic must-do activities. However, starting with significant clarity about who your target customers are gives you a leg up in the launch process and removes some level of effort.
For example, in a Quadrant 1 scenario, you likely already have some understanding of and data about your customers, access to prior sales information, existing marketing collateral, current product messaging, and are executing ongoing demand generation programs. However, in Quadrant 4, you have nothing—no customer data and no direct prior customer knowledge. Everything must be created from scratch, including developing positioning and messaging, creating brand new collateral, developing new partnerships, and understanding and describing your customer attributes.
Regardless of which quadrant you fall into, let’s assume that you don’t have a clear definition or understanding of your target customer, whether you have a new product to launch or an existing product in market. This is a valid assumption—it is never a bad idea to review and rethink existing assumptions about how you currently define your customers and your true level of customer knowledge and understanding. Regularly challenging your assumptions and continuing the learning process around your customer attributes, needs, and profile will help refine and improve your marketing and sales activities.
Your task then is to figure out who are or should be the correct target customers and to make sure all the internal stakeholders in your company are brought into this focus. Multiple customer segments could be candidates for your attention to ensure a successful product launch. However, each potential target segment may differ in relative importance regarding their need for the product, influence in the purchase decision cycle, or budgeting and spending authority. Some customer segments may be harder or more expensive to reach than others, and you must make appropriate trade-offs. It’s important to clearly identify exactly who you are reaching out to in your launch and subsequent marketing campaigns given your starting point.
There are three specific actions you must take to achieve clarity and definition around your target customers: •
- Define and segment your customers.
- Understand these customers and their attributes in depth. •
- Describe the customer persona and usage scenarios in detail.
I’ll be blogging about these actions in upcoming blog posts- stay tuned…Visit Blue Rain Marketing at www.bluerainmarketing.com