Life gives us one chance to make a first impression. Whether it’s an interview for a dream job, a first date, or a pitch meeting to win a big contract, first impressions matter. You never get a second chance to make a good one.When it comes to introducing a new product, first impressions matter, but substance has the final word. Beyond the opening splash, you have to do your due diligence in developing your market strategy, competitive analysis, and customer messaging. Now imagine striking the perfect balance between substance and sizzle to increase your odds for success.
We don’t address the myriad business issues that will prepare you to go to market with your new product. You’ve done that work already. We can, however, provide some guidance to help you produce an internal launch event that will inspire, educate and motivate your sales force to leap out of their chairs and take your product to the streets.
When planning an internal product launch for your sales team, it’s important to develop a creative approach that is strategic, engaging and memorable. You’ll need to ensure your team gets the training they need so they know exactly what to do when they get back to their territories. Even more critical is to ensure they leave with the inspiration and reasons to believe in their new product.
What gap does your product fill?
Be clear on how your product fulfills a vital need. Why does this product matter? How will it improve lives? How is it different from every other product in its category? Who is your customer? How will it benefit them and their stakeholders? Make your product story personal for your sales team so they can articulate the benefits to their customers.
What is the experience?
Once your internal audience understands the driving force behind the product, use that as a springboard to develop the experience. How do you make sure your audience understands and empathizes with the need for this product? Take them on a journey to understand, step-by-step, how your product will change or improve lives. At this point, you’re ready to work with your internal team and creative partners to immerse your audience in a launch experience. Throughout the event, find touchpoints that utilize live storytelling, lights, sound, video, special effects, digital and live performance to demonstrate how your product will make a difference.
What’s your story?
As humans, we are hardwired to respond to stories. Nothing sticks like a good story and there are many ways to think about storytelling to capture the hearts and minds of your audience.
Simon Sinek’s groundbreaking ‘Golden Circle’ explains how great storytellers start with WHY? What inspires your audience is not just your brand, product or service. It’s more about Purpose. Why are we here launching this product at this time? How are we, as an organization, contributing to making a significant difference? Tell that story, and you’ve got passionate advocates for the success of your launch.
How can you demo the product for increased engagement?
There are many ways to allow people to engage with your product, but if direct engagement is not feasible – launching a healthcare product, for example – there are other ways to enable engagement. Patients and caregivers on stage or on screen sharing first-hand stories of how their lives have improved due to your product can bring an audience to its feet.
Technologies such as VR, AR, holographic and binaural sound can help attendees gain insight into the benefits of your product. High-touch engagement with immersive theater enables engagement in surprising and memorable ways.
Educating your representatives about the strengths, opportunities and competitive challenges of your product so they can engage in meaningful discussion with their customers is job #1. Training is when creative matters most to maximize engagement and make your workshops sticky. Think about the types of learners you have on your team. Now challenge your creative partner to and training department to develop activities that make an indelible connection. In addition to traditional training, consider all the ways to engage them, for example:
- Surround them with imagery, information and hands-on experiences.
- Utilize gaming to fire up their competitive spirit.
- Design a digital scavenger hunt for information.
- Immerse them in a VR experience to demonstrate the impact of your product.
- Take them on a product development journey with an interactive touchscreen,
Making the learning experience rich and engaging will help you see measurable results when your team meets your launch objectives.
Shake up expectations
It is important to grab your attendees’ interest straight away and hold it throughout the launch. Experienced salespeople may have attended other launch events in their lifetime and will show up with expectations. Try disrupting them by putting them on notice to expect the unexpected.
Keep in mind your audience's attention span while programming your sessions. The meme “That meeting was too short, said no one ever” couldn’t be more accurate. Challenge your creative team to get your attendees on the edge of their seats and keep them there. Once you’ve established that they’re not going to take a normal path, you need to pay it off with surprises along the way.
Get them on their feet: Rather than sitting in a dark ballroom for extended periods listening to a parade of speakers, provide experiential opportunities for your attendees to understand the benefits of your product, for example:
- Immersive launch journey: Create a physical journey from the point of view of your product so they understand how it evolved from idea to reality.
- Choose-your-own-adventure: A self-guided tour through your launch readiness components enabling your attendees to take control of where they need more understanding and information.
- Turn-the-table: Rather than a typical Q&A panel, turn the tables by having speakers ask the audience questions about their ideas to reach their customers and end-users.
- First-person experience: create ways for the attendees to take a walk in the shoes of end-users to develop empathy.
- Close with commitment: We all want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Once you’ve fired up your audience to achieve your goals, give them an opportunity to seal the deal with a personal commitment.
Doing the unexpected is not change for change sake. It’s digging deep to find ways to connect your attendees to the purpose behind the product, so they communicate the messages with passion and knowledge.
It’s all about launch preparation. You’ve done the work to:
- Define the need
- Understand the target audience
- Know the buying process
- Differentiate your product from the competition
- Create your brand voice
- Develop the brand messages
Now it’s time to let your brand tell its story in a launch experience that connects with the most critical component of your organization – the salespeople who will bring your messages to life for their customers.