Wednesday, March 6, 2019
Charlie Stephan, Vice President/Creative Director

I’ve gotten to be a part of some pretty incredible product launch campaigns at Swanson Russell. Big, gigantic multiplatform efforts that bring all hands on deck – and smaller, more targeted efforts that require us to think creatively on how to make budgets work harder. The common thread to all of them: overcoming one serious enthusiasm gap.  

By the time we clear off the whiteboard to start thinking about ideas on how to launch a new product, it’s been bouncing around engineering rooms, R&D sessions, focus groups and testing. They come to us downright giddy. “Here comes the next big thing.” Help us tell the world about this “game changer.” “This is gonna be our biggest launch ever.” And why wouldn’t clients be excited? This is their baby. This is the thing that their teams have toiled through and battled over for months or years, and it’s finally ready for primetime.

And we’re excited, too! We get out of bed every morning for new challenges, and that’s exactly what every product launch is.

But here’s the problem: one key person, generally, isn’t nearly as excited. And unfortunately that person happens to be the target audience.

While we’ve been testing and concepting and media planning, our target audience has been going about their everyday life. Work, home, hobbies, family, school, church. If you’re lucky, they’ve occasionally thought about your brand. If they’re normal, they haven’t.

So how do we come to the table with all of our enthusiasm and meet someone who might not want to be at that table at all? How do we bridge that enthusiasm gap?

The key is to stop focusing on the things that get us excited about it: its newness, its potential in the market, its shiny features, its flashy ad campaign. Start instead by thinking about what might get them excited about it: how it makes their life easier, creates wiggle room in their budget, lets them do more of what they love or be better at their job. Benefits, not features. That sounds elementary enough but in the fog of activity and excitement that surrounds product launches I’ve seen people (myself included) forget that it’s not enough for us to care about it. Our job is to make other people care about it.

That thinking is why I’ve always liked Swanson Russell’s promise of Real Connection™ (Company Man Alert). It acknowledges our place in the target audience’s ecosystem and challenges us to earn their attention and their money every single time. And nowhere is that truer than in a product launch, when the expectations and the enthusiasm are higher than usual for us, and par for the course for them.

This isn’t a knock on that enthusiasm, by the way. Doing big, tough things in complicated markets requires people who are passionate about getting it right. Those people make great clients, and great coworkers. The best, though, are the ones who can compartmentalize that enthusiasm for the product and focus on what matters more: the person they made it for, what they need, and how we can help.

At Swanson Russell, we’ve learned a lot over the years about launches. They’re one of the most frequent requests we get from both long-time clients and prospects. If you’re starting your next product launch any time soon, download this Product Launch Toolkit, full of practical tips and tools for planning and executing a successful launch. Once you’ve done all that, give us a call. We’d love to help.