Business Tools

Product Launches—Must Do’s and Must Not’s

Product launches often do not reach their sales goals, despite the best intentions. After major investments in R&D, tooling, packaging and even independent testing, the product launch strategy is often overlooked, underfunded or poorly executed.

Product launches are extremely important to the overall success of your company. After considerable investment, now is not the time to short change the planning, marketing, timing and buy-in from all company departments and distribution channels to make your new product everything it can be.

Tom Marx, president of The Marx Group and co-author of Marketing Sucks! (And Sales too!), has over 26 years experience in developing strategic planning and communication services for the automotive and heavy-duty aftermarkets. In this time, The Marx Group has been involved in the planning of product launches for specialty, performance and replacement parts products in multiple categories.

Join Marx and a panel of automotive experts November 2 at the 2009 SEMA Show to learn what you must and must not do to successfully launch a product in today's increasingly competitive environments—especially at a time when marketing budgets are being slashed and consumer demand may be down. Panelists include Ron Coleman, president of COMP Cams; Cam Benty, Marketing Director for Flowmaster; and Marla Moore, Marketing Director of Hypertech.

Hear how three of the most respected company brands in the aftermarket have learned from their mistakes and garnered insight into what is needed in today's ever-changing market to have a successful and well thought-out launch executed.

Marx will provide a comprehensive checklist of product launch must-haves and will discuss the importance of timing to ensure that all contingencies are covered. Equally important is the buy-in and education that must occur across all aspects of your business, from sales to marketing, to finance, warehouse and billing. All have to be on board in order to leverage a successful launch.

This seminar can make or break forecasted revenue. Without the right guidance, product launches can leave a company with too much inventory and no quick way to move it off the shelf; confusion in the media about the product; room for a competitor to encroach on the new technology and; disappointed stakeholders who expected a quicker and/or larger return on investment.

Whereas a successful product launch is a seamless sequence of actions that builds excitement and demand for the product, an unsuccessful launch is often attributed to bad strategic thinking, poor planning, an insufficient budget or uncoordinated execution.

Regardless of marketing budget size, or product category, this seminar will give you tangible knowledge that you can implement today in order to increase sales and customer loyalty.

Here is a brief example of what you can learn:

"Every product launch is unique to the product and target market, but there are certain common elements to any successful program. For a technical product, I have always found it best to concentrate on offering a solution to a perceived customer problem.

"Comp's 'High Energy' cam line was introduced during the first energy crisis and was focused at offering both increased power and increased fuel economy which is an unbeatable combination even today. Comp's product launches also involve harvesting ideas from various departments and then coordinating those departments for the best results.

“Our recent 'Thumper' cams series launch resulted from a team effort. The concept originated in the sales office when they were studying some market research. After the concept was developed, the idea went to the designers. Good ideas can come from anywhere, so companies should look throughout the entire organization for new products and ideas for product launches."

–Ron Coleman, President, COMP Cams

"New product launches come with an assortment of challenges requiring a combination of thorough research and some gut level, unemotional assessment about the market based on experience and industry contacts. The key is listening to the end users, be they enthusiasts at shows and races or reps that have requests from retailers and jobbers, and then designing a product that is both cost-effective and really delivers.

“We have re-launched many of our most popular products in stainless steel to meet customer demand. Our Hushpower division features totally new technology that has resulted in major mileage gains for both diesel vehicles and larger fleet applications. Both of these programs required careful analysis to press the emotional buyer reflexes to ensure a successful launch."

–Cam Benty, Vice President of Marketing, Flowmaster

"There are many things to do to get a product launch right from concept to execution, but in the end it's all about the timing. Everyone knows first-to-market wins, but it really takes courage to pull the plug on an innovative product or program that just isn't ready. If you don't, the consequences can be much worse.

“We've all seen many products that won SEMA 'New Product Awards' fail because they were launched too soon. To have your product ready, your pricing solid, your distributors screaming at you to ship, your consumers waiting for it with anticipation, and the media wanting to be the first to try it—it's a perfect storm.

“We were able to accomplish this with our Max Energy and E-Con launch and it has kept our business growing during this tough economic time."

–Marla Moore, Advertising/Marketing Director, Hypertech

Here is the complete schedule of seminars taking place during the week of the 2009 SEMA Show. For additional information on the Show's Education Days, contact Nathan Ridnouer at 909/396-0289, ext. 137.