Inbound marketing is driving the need for a redefinition of product launch processes. By 2015, SiriusDecisions predicts that 71 percent of all inquiries will be inbound in nature. This trend must be reflected in launch budgets and strategies, which, historically, have been heavy on events and direct marketing. Our perspective at SiriusDecisions is that organizations that fail to formally weave inbound marketing techniques (e.g. search engine optimization, search engine marketing, digital marketing, Web site conversion optimization and social media) fueled by thematic, topical, thought leadership content aligned to audience needs do so at their own peril.
Let’s take the press release. Are traditional two-page press releases still a cornerstone of your launch program? If so, why? Press releases were designed to become articles in trade journals. The content strategy for a launch needs to go way beyond a press release to be effective. Content must be audience-based, delivering information and messaging to each buyer persona involved in the purchasing decision for the product being launched. A press release is generic, lacks relevance and most likely isn’t adjusted for local market requirements, or it delivers vague value statements that don’t resonate with an individual buyer persona.
In addition to thinking about information (aligned to buying cycle stages) and messaging (directed at each unique buyer persona), you need to incorporate asset types into your content strategy. The formats you need depend on your audience’s content preferences (e.g. video, mobile, Web, white paper, case study, demo). If you refer to a standard internal launch checklist and build content from a historic, internal construct, you are probably missing the boat, because you lack a sound content strategy.
Product and solution marketers and product managers should also tap into customer insights by tracking online presence and activity, using social media to understand what buyers want to talk about. A shift to inbound marketing elevates the importance of measuring the effectiveness of the launch’s content strategy by determining which content attracts potential customers and how content is used. Focus on the quality and drawing power of messaging and deliverables originating from the product side of the organization.
Because of the rise of inbound tactics in launch programs, product groups are establishing closer relationships with functions that manage the corporate Web site and curate content for social media communications. Product information is necessary to support the rollout of a new or enhanced offering. Let’s face it, if we stop producing product collateral, the wheels will fall off the bus, so we suggest supplementing product and solution content readied for the launch date with information assets (e.g. video, e-books, white papers, case studies) that refer to business challenges or industry trends related to the offering.
Finally, as inbound techniques are increasingly intertwined into launch plans, the cadence of launch will change. Planning must accommodate the longer lead times required to build content that frames buyers’ issues.