Accelerating new product introductions into 2009 is a strategy that large and small companies alike are aggressively pursuing. Microsoft, who plans on delivering Windows 7 by the end of this year, to auto manufacturers racing to get hybrid and electric vehicles launched to differentiate themselves and thousands of other manufacturers, the highest priority strategy today is getting new products out quickly.
New Product Launches – The Undiscovered Competitive Advantage
Turning new product launches into a competitive weapon is critical in these uncertain economic times. One just needs to consider Apple Computer and their relentless product roadmap of iPods, iTouch and iPhone models to see how an aggressive new product introduction strategy can lead to dominating a market.
Making Every Product Launch Count
With 25% to 35% of total revenues of a typical manufacturer being used for marketing, it’s time for a much greater level of accountability and focus on making product launches a competitive strategy. There are those companies who have a standardized process for managing product introductions – and just going through the motions of these process steps is not enough anymore.
Focus and intensity on making new product introductions the critical catalyst for growing new business is also crucial if new business is going to be generated. Start looking at how you can completely transform your product launch process and gain greater sales by working more collaboratively with channel partners, distributors, dealers and resellers.
In one manufacturer there is a 16-week process for launching products that every cross-functional team member in the organization has memorized. The product launches get executed yet there is no passion anymore, no intensity to excel and use the launch process as a means of gaining market share. Many organizations are like this – and they need a wake-up call to start competing again with their product launch process.
Here are some key take-aways to transform your product introductions from being routine to becoming a competitive weapon:
- Getting suppliers involved as early as possible in the design process. Too often, even for companies including Apple who compete using product introductions, supplier involvement is the most critical. Don’t just stop there however; go after insight into how to make your product introductions more effective by creating a Channel Advisory Council to seek out ideas on how to make each product launch count.
- Get your channels to have skin in the game – with every launch. What differentiates those companies weathering the economic storm right now is that they have created such a strong level of trust and coordination with their channels that their entire marketing and selling strategies execute flawlessly in conjunction with one another.
- Measure, monitor and manage to a common set of channel metrics. This is another differentiating point of best-in-class companies when it comes to managing new product introductions – and turning them into strong competitive strategies. Using a channel collaboration system can significantly improve this entire process.
- Foster competition in your channels regarding new product selling performance. Using a channel collaboration system to nurture competition between channel partners in terms of their selling performance is what Cisco, GE, and all auto manufacturers rely on. A little competitiveness in terms of sales ranking with channel partners can go a long way to getting stronger results. Encourage sales competition and reward the top-performing teams, make them champions. You will be well on your way to changing your entire channel culture for the better.
Bottom line: Resolve to use product introductions as a competitive strategy – an opportunity to preemptively gain market share based on your latest product development. Top performing companies including Cisco, GE and others encourage competition and ownership of product launches in your channels as well – and give every channel partner a voice in the process – and then push for accountability to turn product launches into a competitive strategy that wins.