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Realizing Innovations with an Effective Market Introduction
Only with a successful market launch does an idea become a real innovation that increases both the reputation and the revenue stream of your company. It is all the more surprising that little attention is paid to this topic. Perhaps no one explicitly claims that "our product is so ingenious that it sells itself." Nevertheless, we often encounter a rudimentary Go-TT-Market strategy with too little budget. If sales do not develop as planned after the market launch, the company usually only then really starts to think about improving the market introduction. At this point, however, it has already lost a lot of time and thus money.
To ensure that the market launch of your new product is successful the first time, good preparation of the market introduction is essential. Here, the market launch goes far beyond pure marketing activities.
"When you launch a new product or when you enter a new market, your Go-To-Market Strategy becomes crucial to your success"
While marketing encompasses the totality of all a company's marketing activities, go-to-market is a time-limited activity aimed at launching a product or service. Not only the marketing team is involved, but also teams from other company departments such as production, sales or quality management.
The instrument for organizing the various teams and coordinating activities is the Go-To-Market or market launch plan. It describes all the tasks that need to be processed before the market launch date, the actual product launch and the activities that need to be continued after the market launch.
A good Go-To-Market Plan (GTM) has to focus particularly on the following objectives:
Parallelizing and coordinating activities in production, marketing and sales to shorten the time to satisfactory revenue streams.
Precise differentiation, optimal alignment with customer needs and adaptation to market conditions to make the product launch a complete success.
Strategic preparation to react much faster to possible product weaknesses, changed customer needs or an altered market environment.
In the development of medical devices, drugs or functional food, the Go-To-Market Plan also ensures that all regulatory requirements are met on time and that reimbursement procedures with healthcare providers are initiated.
So how does a good Go-To-Market plan for successful launch look like? Read on in the next chapter.
A study by Bain & Company examined the success of newly launched drugs (2017). Success factors were differentiation, customer demand and optimized market entry.
A similar study by Deloitte (2020) notes clinical superiority does not guarantee commercial success.
Der Go-To-Market Plan
The Go-To-Market Plan
The three phases of the market introduction
It is crucial to parallelize the activities of the departments and the periods before and after the specific launch date (red triangle).
For illustration, the activities of some departments. The white triangles denote the design freeze and the start of clinical validation. The market launch ends with the establishment in the market.
The market introduction is divided into three phases: The pre-launch, launch and post-launch phase. Let's take a closer look at these phases:
The pre-launch phase begins about a year before the planned market launch. This varies greatly depending on the industry, product category and cycle. However, a period should be chosen when product development is not yet complete and adjustments are therefore still possible. Nothing is more frustrating for the marketing and sales team when they realize that important product features are missing or changes in the market are observed to which they cannot respond appropriately.
At the beginning of the pre-launch phase, the go-to-market strategy is defined, the launch team is assembled, and the go-to-market plan is generatd and implemented. The individual aspects are described in detail in the next chapters. In addition to organizing the many tasks, it is crucial in this phase to
match the product features optimally to the customer and
communicate the benefits (value proposition and USP) within a small target group on a test basis.
This offers the opportunity to make adjustments to the product. Resolving problems after launch is always much more costly.
It also helps to sharpen the medical messages early on. Particularly the intended use should be discussed and clarified with medical doctors and other relevant stakeholders.
The launch phase lasts a few weeks. It begins shortly before the market entry or launch date and ends shortly thereafter. Here, the interaction of all departments involved must be optimally coordinated and run at full speed. All tasks must have been completed, such as the creation of marketing documents, press releases, product certification, collaterals and a first version of the customer or lead list.
Many companies squander the bonus of a product launch by failing to properly inform their market and their customers. Successful companies therefore build up momentum even before the launch date, make customers hungry and really celebrate the launch as an event. A perfect example are Apple's product launches or the so-called "Steve notes".
The post-launch phase can last from months to years. Here, the revenue stream needs to be accelerated and, if necessary, teething problems with the product are remedied. Some companies very quickly switch to pure sales mode here, as if to say, "the product is on the market now, it is up to the sale team to take care of it". This works for well-known products and for companies in whose Go-To-Market plan the pre-launch phase strongly dominates. However, for innovations or companies with rather early launch dates, this phase can quickly become a hang-up. It is therefore important that the development department or clinical team is still available and in close exchange with marketing and sales during this phase, as they are usually the knowledge carriers in the scientific and technical environment and know the product down to the last detail.
In order for a company to manage the right effort during the post-launch phase, it needs to define a set of KPIs that measure the success of the launch and align expectations with reality. If sales do not develop as planned, and this is often the case with innovations, it is necessary to ask why on a broad basis and across functions so that the necessary measures can then be taken at the right point. The problem is usually not found in the sales department!
The end of the post-launch phase and thus the market launch is defined by the revenue development. If the new product starts to become profitable for the company or it is well established in the market place, the market introduction is finished. The growth phase starts until the end of the product life cycle.
"There is one more thing...“
With this famous phrase Steve Jobs announced new products on the "Stevenotes".
The curve of sales development is reminiscent of the shape of a field hockey stick: in the first few years, the curve is flat until it rises steeply and into a straight line
Start-up companies in particular often see this development in their post-launch phase. If they only focus on sales instead of actively managing this phase, however, they will never see a steep rise in sales.
The Go-To-Market Plan, as mentioned earlier, is a structured approach to define the many, different tasks, coordinate the different departments, and launch in a concerted manner. The tricky part is, that tasks are often interdependent. For example, the marketing department cannot create the promotional materials until the clinical team has prepared and provided the appropriate data. If the collaboration between teams does not work properly here, product features will be blurred or even misrepresented.
If, on the other hand, the tasks are processed sequentially, e.g. the marketing team only becomes active once the final data has been filed by the clinicians, time is unnecessarily lost. In the case of radical innovations, especially in the life science sector, whose market introduction can easily take several years, this can lead to failure. The most important success factor for a good go-to-market plan is therefore that it is viewed as an integrated process and managed accordingly.
The following figure shows the three phases of a market launch based on a medical product or diagnostic test development. Important is that all functional units or teams need to work together along the product development and later market introduction.
Die Go-To-Market Strategy
The market launch of innovative products and service takes a comparably long time and therefore requires a good strategy. It lays the foundation for the success of a product. The so called Go-To-Market strategy (GTM strategy) defines the type of market entry, timing of the launch, (measurable) goals, the road map, the team with its responsibilities, and the budget. It is clearly an essential prerequisite of the market introduction.
In principle, the Go-To-Market strategy must be tailored individually and specifically to a product and its corresponding market. None withstanding, the following three elements need to be part of any Go-To-Market strategy.
1. Types of market introduction
First of all, not every product needs a GTM strategy and plan. Accessories or regularly new consumables such as reagents rarely justify the effort of a product launch, and if launch events are too frequent, customers will get tired. Here, marketing and sales campaigns are perfectly sufficient to drive sales. The Go-To-Market strategy becomes a crucial tool when introducing (truly) innovative products, entering new markets or both together.
The simplest scenario for a market launch is when the company is known in a market and wants to offer an innovation (new product or service). In this scenario, the company already has customers, the market conditions are known and the marketing measures have been tested.
If, on the other hand, a company wants to launch one of its existing products in a market that is new to the company, it has to deal with the new market situation, acquire potential customers from scratch and, here a well-thought through Go-To-Market strategy is key. Depending on its brand recognition, the company must introduce itself as a new player at the same time. This is often neglected and it is not uncommon for the new product, although technically superior, to succumb to the market players. The brand power of the established players and the customer's habit to buy from a known company should not be underestimated.
The most time-consuming task is to launch an innovation in a market that is also new to the company. This is usually the case for young or small companies. Despite the fact that the they launch an exciting product or services, they are surprised at how long and sluggish the sales development can be. These companies underestimate the effort and time required for the pre- and post-launch phases. Here, it pays to really start very early with the market introduction of both the company and the innovation.
The 4 Typs of
The newer the product and the target market, the more elaborate the market introduction. If the company is unknown in the target market, a market introduction plan for the company itself is needed.
2. The right timing of the launch
There are different concepts for setting the launch date. Either placing the main activity of the launch team in the pre-launch phase or rather in the post-launch phase. The latter should be better avoided. Ideally, the team is "launch ready" by the end of the pre-launch phase and sales of the product or service can begin immediately one day after the launch date.
A company is not always free to choose the launch date, e.g. if a product should be launched at a particular trade fair, if it has to fit in with a certain season or if interest groups are pushing for the launch. It is also not uncommon for the competition to play a role in this decision. This becomes a nightmare, if problems then arise in the final phase of product development and the deadline can either no longer be met or the market launch begins with an incomplete, immature product.
A good GTM strategy and its corresponding GTM plan therefore define when launch readiness is accomplished. If the product is not mature, it needs to take into account how to deal with customer complains or delays in revenues stream. A good example is the failed launch of the Galaxy Note 7: the decision makers should have considered, what could cause the larger problem: a delay in market introduction (head-to head race with the iPhone) or possible dissatisfied customers. Both would have hampered revenues, but with which issue, Samsung could have dealt easier. It tells a good lesson, what can happen if launch dates are arbitrarily set. If such a situation arises, it makes sense to use scenario planning to evaluate the various options and give the necessary attention to the post-launch phase. At least here, Samsung has responded quite well to the customer feedback and could recover from the dip in annual sales fairly well.
3. KPIs - the need to measure success of market introduction
If the product sells like hotcakes and the sales figures go through the roof, the market launch was probably successful. However, it takes a lot of launch experience to achieve such success on a regular basis. The reality is very different. That is why it is important to define key performance indicators (KPIs) right from the start to manage the launch.
An obvious KPI is the definition and measurement of sales figures. But this is insufficient and will lead in the case of innovations to wrong conclusions. KPIs should also evaluate the response to the marketing activities and customer satisfaction with the new product. Digital sales and marketing tools help tremendously to identify trends early on and take countermeasures if necessary. Otherwise, the launch will fizzle out and the market introduction will become a disappointment.
In fact, a successful market introduction can often be seen long before the actual launch date. Employee enthusiasm and high interest among early adaptors or beta testers, such as the medical community, give an early indication of whether a market launch is on the right track. It is important to test whether the product is well received already in the pre-launch phase.
Samsung and the Note 7.
Shortly after the launch of the Galaxy Note 7, it turned out that the battery can ignite under certain circumstances. The Note 7 had to be taken off the market after a short time. The estimated damage amounted to 5.3 billion US dollars.
The immense time pressure to bring the product to market before Apple's iPhone launch may have led to product development decisions being made in favor of the set launch date.
The introduction of Corona vaccines at the end of 2020 has quickly revealed supply bottlenecks. Here, political pressure has demanded an early market entry date. Approval procedures can be greatly accelerated, but there are inherent limits to the development or expansion of production capacities.
Die Go-To-Market Strategie
Your Check List for a Good Market Introduction
An integral part of any launch plan is a comprehensive checklist of all the materials and information needed. It makes it easier to manage the pre-launch phase and measure launch readiness. Although the detail and scope of such a checklist depends on the nature of product, market and company, we would like to list some key tasks that are often forgotten or at least underestimated.
1. The development & production team
At first glance, it seems self-evident that a product has been fully developed and works before it is brought to market. However, the reality is different: The app does not work on all devices, the scaling of the production of a vaccine turns out to be bumpy, a functionality turns out to be flawed in widespread use. Rarely is it possible to bring a perfect product to market, at least affordably and in the foreseeable future, so the art of a market launch is not only to advertise the strengths, but also to be prepared to quickly identify, improve or communicate weaknesses.
A good Go-To-Market strategy defines as precisely as possible at what stage of maturity the product will be launched, how and when it can be improved, and how complaints will be handled. In addition, we never get tired of emphasizing how important it is to test prototypes sufficiently in advance.
Design Change of Medical Devices
is associated with a higher regulatory effort after its certification today. ISO 134896 in chapter 7.3 regulates this process and specifies when a change must be reported. It must be part of the GTM planning to consider such processes.
2. The marketing team
At the time of market entry, all marketing material must be ready, digital marketing channels implemented, and the press release prepared. While this is self-evident, the key task of the marketing team is to position the product optimally in the market, to tailor the value proposition to the target customers and to differentiate itself from the competition via the USP. This is a challenge, if the marketing team consists of only one person like in many SMEs. But as long as this is not fully worked out, marketing activities will not show the desired outcome.
This means the marketing team must really internalize the benefits of the product and work intensively together with the research & development department. On the other hand, the team also needs to understand the needs of the target customer and the market environment. In the medical field, this could be talking to various KOLs and healthcare providers to match the benefits of the new medical device with the needs of the physician and patient and communicating accordingly in professional brochures, on websites, and alike. It is also helpful to collect feedback from the sales force during pre-sales. Digital tools in this context should not be underestimated for in-depth analysis of customer needs and competitors. These "insights" are an invaluable advantage in today's data-driven world.
Marketing activities begin during the pre-launch phase to draw attention to the product From the response of these first leads, customers and users, it is possible to estimate how the market introduction will develop. And last but not least, it needs to prepare the upcoming launch to build momentum.
Check List for your
The launch team is the steering committee and coordinates all activities. In particular, it must ensure that the activities of the various departments are coordinated.
(This list makes no claim to completeness and is far more extensive in reality.)
In addition to flyers, websites or product brochures, medical devices and therapies also require specialist brochures and, in the case of product descriptions, the so-called intended use. This medical marketing needs to be enriched with peer-reviewed publications of clinical data and real-world evidence as they offer a company-independent source of data for clinicians, health insurrance and patients.
„Get out of the building" is a quote by Steve Blank. Applied to the market introduction, do not rely on internal analysis but talk to potential customers already during the pre-launch phase (or even sooner).
3. The sales team
Sales should start one day after the launch. To do this, the ordering and delivery processes must be in place, pricing models must be worked out with the marketing department, and the sales team must be trained and equipped with professional sales materials. Not to mention, a list of potential leads and customers should be available. This can only succeed if a sales strategy has been defined during the pre-launch phase and preparations have begun early.
Typically, beta testers or early adopters have already been acquired in pre-sales. Also here, their buying interest provides a good estimate of how the market introduction will go. This experience needs to be shared with the launch team to further improve the launch. It is a strong motivator for the sales team, especially in the case of innovations, whose sales quotas are often difficult to estimate, when there are already some genuine interested parties willing to buy.
One word of caution with purchases of friends and existing customers. They know your organisation or are heavy users of your technology and are easier to convince. Those early sales may lead to an overestimation of future revenues. Include in your pre-sales activities also new leads.
Die Rolle des Launch-Teams
The Role of the Launch Team
The market introduction generally works best if the launch team is equipped with an appropriate budget, clear responsibilities, but also concrete targets. This launch team is made up of representatives from the various departments (development, production, marketing, sales, quality management, etc.). The launch team should typically be led by a product manager who has the necessary technical understanding, experience in product launches and can communicate cross-functionally. It is a mistake to leave the market entry to the marketing or sales team alone, as they are unlikely to have the technical knowledge. Much more effective are quick-witted teams that want to help the product succeed with dynamism and enthusiasm. Cross-functional competencies, skills and diversity are in demand.
In order to successfully introduce an innovation to the market, the first decisive factor is the general attitude to the launch. In our experience, two points regularly lead to the launch being set on the right track right from the start and the revenue stream is speeding up quickly:
The launch team can work in an agile manner and is not bound to artificial or process-oriented deadlines, e.g. the first day of a quarter.
The management visibly takes the launch seriously and "treats" itself to a launch team. This is often difficult, especially for smaller companies, because the employees are involved in day-to-day business. This is understandable at first. Nevertheless, this extra effort is worthwhile, because why make all the investments in development, if a company does not capitalize on its achievements.
We are very happy to support you in these exciting times! Take a look at our offer and talk to us.
We Design and Implement with You
Your Go-To-Market Strategy
Do you have a high-quality product or an intelligent service and want to launch it on the market in the foreseeable future? Do you need experience and professional support for the launch? Do you see hurdles that make it difficult for you to enter the market? We accompany you through the phases of market introduction as your trusted partner.
We Use Agile Frameworks
Launch is a multi-faceted project working towards a defined launch date. Planning is essential. Nevertheless, especially in the pre- and post-launch phase, we rely on agile methods that require interaction with customers and data-based tools to act flexibly.
The Market Launch is not Getting off the Ground or Revenues Develop Slow and Sluggish?
Sometimes the launch does not meet expectations and maybe it was not possible to plan and execute the market introduction par excellence. No problem! We identify the barriers and work out solutions with you to make the market launch a success after all.
Let's just call it "post-launch-loaded Go-To-Market strategy".
Go-To-Market Strategy and Planning
Think of the market introduction as an interdisciplinary project.
Analysis of launch readiness
Development of your launch strategy
Market intelligence for your strategy, a preliminary USP and value proposition
Creation of the Go-To-Market or launch plan
Building the launch team
Customer Need Analysis: Tools & Methods
Understand customer's needs and touch points.
Interaction with users and potential customers
Analyses to specify customer needs and touch points
Development of the value proposition
Creation of messages for marketing materials
Selection of the most suitable marketing channels
We support you as product manager on an interim basis.
Strategy & planning of the launch
Building the launch team
Implementation of the launch during the pre-launch phase
Integration of the launch team
Preparation and execution of the launch
Control of the post-launch phase until market establishment
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