Have you ever experienced that product samples and communication materials are missing on crucial moments during the development of your new product? That you need to show a sample of your new product online or on a trade show and that you are empty handed? Or that when your product is ready to sell and people want to know more before they buy, but you have no leaflet or brochure to show them. That’s is such a pity, and you miss a great opportunity to show off with your new product! Do you want to know how to prevent this? Involve your communication expert earlier in the development process.
It still happens that when a new product development is finished and the new product is ready to be launched, team members look at each other and wonder where the brochures are and why there aren’t any product samples for the most important trade show of the year. This is a bit exaggerating maybe, but you get my point.
When you start a new product development you are so busy with the technical and manufacturing side of it, the market introduction might seem far away. Probably you plan to get in touch with your communication expert towards the end of the project, when your goods are in mass production or on their way to the warehouse. So, what is the right time to involve your team member who will do the introduction communication of your new product? And what are the benefits of doing this early?
I am sharing what I have learned from involving the marcom expert very early in my new product development and what the right timing is.
Here are the 3 main benefits of having the marcom people join early in the development process:
1. They help you identify when product samples and communication materials are needed in the project planning.
Let’s first talk about product samples.
Already in the beginning of your new product development, you might be asked to show your new product or a demo or mock-up sample to customers or at trade shows or online events.
Samples might be needed for early market feedback. Think about product samples that you want to show during focus groups with customers in the beginning of the development. To get early feedback if they like how the product works, what their feeling is about the user interface and if they like the look and feel of your product.
Trade show samples & brochures might need to be presented at an important trade show. On these events you might need to give data sheets or brochures to customers, as a teaser, to create a buying intention when the product is finally launched.
You might need product samples for training purposes on the features and benefits of the new product, how the new product technically works and how it needs to be connected and installed and can interface with other products.
If you make use of sales agents, they probably like to have commercial sales samples to show to their customers to explain why they should buy your product.
Another example is product samples that are needed for photography by retailers.
They issue product catalogues which include their product portfolio and need to have your new product in time to be able to take pictures, to have their product catalogue ready at their launch date.
Not only development activities but also these kinds of new product introduction activities need to be covered in the development planning. By discussing these topics early, you can take these into account, so they will be available for you at those critical moments and events.
Next to getting clear with your communication expert what type of samples are needed, it’s also important to define the through-put time early on in the process.
The creation of marcom materials and the translation of these materials and the proof reading of translations, takes a lot of time which need to be taken into account in the project planning as well. If you only think about this when your product is ready for sales, you are too late!
2. Your communication expert will give you critical feedback on your product proposition.
Communication people will challenge you on your chosen features and benefits. They need to communicate these features and benefits to the market, so they need to understand them very well in order to successfully create great materials.
So, they wonder: are they unique enough? Is your customer really attracted by them? Are these unique features and benefits you have in mind for your customer, clearly visible on your new product? Do they need a lot of explanation? If yes, it will be a harder sell, than when these features are recognizable by one glance at your new product or can be easily explained by the sales staff, in marcom documentation like brochures, flyers, the company website and on social media.
3. Your communication expert will challenge you to think about the difference in benefits for your direct customer and for the actual user of your product. In some businesses these are the same people, in other businesses it is a different target group.
With the customer in the back of their mind, your communication expert will ask questions to get clear whether there is a good match between your target group and the features and benefits of your new product. They will challenge you to get answers on questions like:
- Who is your target group? Direct customers or end-users?
- Why do your features and benefits appeal to them?
- How are you going to communicate these features to the market?
- Can you reach your end users directly with your marketing communication?
- What is the distribution model to sell the product?
If you get these questions answered in the beginning of your new product development, you can improve your product proposition in time to make sure your new product fulfils the requirements of your customers.
What is the right time during new product development to involve the marcom responsible?
My personal experience is, to involve the communication expert when you’ve analyzed the technical, financial and commercial feasibility of your new idea and you’re about to write the project briefing in more detail to start your product development.
At this moment your communication expert can mirror you some critical market and communication aspects of the product introduction. This is the right moment for you to act and adjust, if needed, the product specification, proposition and positioning.
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