[This is an article featured in Sydsvenska Handelskammaren, link to Swedish version here]
A global launch: a product or a service that is rolled out in more than one regional market. It certainly sounds a little scary. What should you consider? What are the pitfalls? And how do you stand out in an ever-increasing flow of new products and services?
We met up with with Lisa Önnerlid, CEO of W Communication Agency in Malmö, for some tips. Lisa has worked with B2B marketing and communications for over 20 years, and has helped international industrial, tech, and pharma companies launch everything from heat exchangers and mining machines, to asthma drugs and cranes on the world market.
Lisa shares, “Launching a product or a service is one of the most important but also most risky activities for a company. Today’s media landscape requires managing many different parameters to succeed—globally, digitally, socially. But global launches, often for complex products, services or solutions, are part of our everyday life here at W.”
CUSTOMER, CULTURE, AND CONTEXT
But, what is the right way to launch a product globally?
It may sound obvious, but it’s often neglected: thorough research and a well-developed strategic platform anchored within the organization are both vital. Everything begins, and ends, with the customer in their respective culture and context. What are their needs? What does he or she see, hear, think and feel? What messages and which channels are relevant? Many people think they know what their customers want, when they really don’t have a clue. And if you’re wrong about that, everything will fall. And it will cost you.
Lisa recommends creating so-called personas of the customer group. By collecting facts about the customer, one is forced to get to know his or her challenges, driving forces and decision-making criteria.
WHAT TO SAY, AND TO WHOM?
With personas to relate to, it becomes easier to craft the right message and arguments. And for a global launch, this is the key to success, Lisa says.
She explains, “This is also the reason that the customer promise or the message should not be formulated in the same way in all markets, or to all customer groups. The same product should sometimes be launched in completely different ways depending on things such as market maturity, needs, and culture.”
According to Lisa, it is very common that messages are translated incorrectly, even though they have been adapted to a specific audience. When translating from English, texts may end up watered down or even completely incorrect. Hence, a tip is to work with transcreating* the texts, to make sure the messages evoke the same emotions and carry the same implications.
THE ALL IMPORTANT CUSTOMER JOURNEY
So, what channels should you use? And when? By “becoming” your customer, it is easier to secure the right channels before launch.
Lisa tells us, “A customer journey map tells the story of the customer’s experience from contact, through engagement and into relationship. By mapping different scenarios, we can identify the touchpoints along the journey and adapt messages and strategies for different markets and channels.”
And channels vary for different industries and cultures. In China, for example, we can’t use platforms like Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. And in Germany, XING is still bigger than LinkedIn.
GETTING EVERYONE ONBOARD
A common mistake when it comes to global launches is to not get buy-in and engagement from internal teams.
“Getting the entire team aligned is crucial for a successful launch. Unless the sales reps are trained to deliver the right messaging, and have good sales tool to support them, it doesn’t matter how great the launch campaign is. This applies to everyone with customer contact, from customer service to aftermarket. Professional and relevant internal communication makes a huge difference,” Lisa concludes.
FIVE (OFTEN OVERLOOKED) TIPS FOR YOUR LAUNCH
1. MAKE CUSTOMER PERSONAS
Invest time to make personas of your customer, preferably together with the sales team. Put them on the wall, bring them in meetings and pressure test the material against them—continuously. Need a template? Get in touch.
2. TAKE THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY
Map out different scenarios and touchpoints to take your target audience(s) from unaware to curious, interested, and ultimately to a loyal customer.
3. REMEMBER YOUR INTERNAL AUDIENCE
Make sure your goals, customer promises, and launch plans are communicated internally on all levels, in good time. And not least, support your sales reps with relevant and smart sales materials.
4. TEST & MEASURE
Define your KPIs, and test, measure, and monitor—before, during and after the launch. This way, messages and channels can be customized and optimized along the way. And with measurable goals, it will be easier to evaluate the results of the launch afterwards.
5. LET THE EXPERTS HELP
Use an agency to challenge and sharpen your launch plan, campaign concept, and suggest a mix of channels. You have invested a lot of time and resources in developing the perfect product or service, now ensure your soon-to-be-clients gets to discover it the right way.
* Refers to the process of adapting a message from one language to another, while maintaining its intent, style, tone and context.