HR & Management

Getting internal buy-in for a new product launch

6 min read

26 July 2016

Your business is launching a new brand or product. There’s a clear gap in the market and it has the credibility to enter the space with kudos. Your product’s been masterfully co-designed with your consumers and the marketing has been tested to within an inch of its life. What could possibly go wrong?

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To answer that question, look closely at the people and teams within your organisation that have the ability to impact the success of your launch. Have they come on the journey with you? Do they understand the opportunity and do they believe in the new product the way you want your customers to? Do they love it?

The unfortunate truth is that stakeholder management can often get overlooked when embarking on a new launch or a different direction for a brand. But people in the business need to understand their role in the unfolding drama of your company’s fortunes and have to believe it’s worth playing a part.

In our experience, there are often internal barriers to overcome that have the potential to affect the success of a launch – and you should address them upfront.

Step one: Define your business goals

Put your launch into perspective. What is the business trying to achieve? Where does it need to be? It’s easy for individual departments to get wrapped up in what they’re working on day-to-day and forget the bigger picture. Educating teams about the wider business needs and how they can help contribute to this will unite employees towards a shared goal.

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Step two: Set your objectives

Be clear about what you’re trying to achieve and back it up. The team at Adidas Body Care, for example, knew the brand’s ambition was to become a leading global fragrance and body care brand, but it was operating in a high-spending, low-interest category with very little differentiation.

The brand was reliant on price promotions and losing brand equity, but there was an opportunity for Adidas to own an area of the marketplace that competitors had ignored by engaging with the target audience emotionally and reflecting what they really valued.

The key was having solid statistics and research to back up the strategy. This new direction for Adidas would impact marketing, sales, pricing analysts, field marketing and distribution teams, so stakeholder management was vital.

Moving away from price promotions and towards emotional engagement would almost certainly cause a stir internally, so its reasoning had to be watertight with detailed research and market analysis to support it.

Continue reading on the next page for how to handle the stakeholders.

Step three: Identify your stakeholders

Who do you need to engage with to get the campaign off the ground? Identify your internal allies and those that have the potential to be barriers to the success of your launch. This might be any department from finance through to distribution. Ensure you have covered all bases.

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Step four: Stakeholder communication

Now you know what you’re trying to achieve, ascertain how this feeds into the wider business goal and the people you need to get on side. It’s time to engage with them and arm each team with the information and tools they need to make this a successful launch.

What type of communication are they most likely to respond to? Consider their needs and interests and how you can meet these. What challenges and perceptions do you need to overcome?

For example, we worked with Activision, the games publisher, on the challenge to create brand ambassadors in-store to help combat “title fatigue” due to the continuous cycle of game releases.

It created an “academy website” where sales teams could log in and get advance access to new content around the launch of a new game, whilst also being tested on their knowledge. They were incentivised with prizes along the way and clocked up points, enabling each store to rank on a UK-wide leader board.

By creating a bespoke communication for these stakeholders we were able to engage and excite them about the Activision game launches using a language and process they were familiar with. The communication was fun and interactive but also informative, so the sales teams were fully equipped with the knowledge they needed to sell the games.

So whilst there’s no predetermined formula to winning over your internal stakeholders, having a tailored strategy and action plan in place will certainly help you get the buy-in you need.

Remember that a successful launch starts from the inside – and give your launch the best chance of success by building this into your plan from the very beginning.

Michelle Mitchell, strategy director at Five by Five

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