Most call it go-to-market strategy and planning, others simply call it marketing communications. We call it a brand launch.
It is the period of time when the brand idea gains momentum, when it gets on a set of train tracks with an "All aboard" shout out, on the peak of a mountain with downhill skis or at the beginning of an airplane runway with engines on. It's that exhilarating time in new brand launching when our brand strategy team achieves the first milestones in reaching revenue goals. It's the culmination of strategy, energy, ideas, nerves, deadlines (not to mention some late nights fueled by a little Red Bull) and expertise manifesting into the brand's voice to reach its target market. For us, it's the most exciting time in a company's (soon-to-be) history and certainly for the brand we're launching.
Maintaining Brand Integrity as the Methods for Brand Launches Evolve.
Our brand launch process has 22 years of perfecting our best practices, focusing on cost efficiency and effectiveness. We call it a "rolling thunder" launch, whereby we build certainty and gain momentum as we ratchet up the marketing investments.
As an inbound marketing agency, we continue to innovate brand launches around Internet marketing initiatives. As social media has evolved, we infuse our brands into today's social networking sites. By being laser focused on our brand strategy and positioning, we are able to define and maintain a brand's integrity as it moves into the worlds of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and beyond.
This brand launching strategy is from our MicroArts Creative Agency blueprint, which we customize to fit the brand we are bringing to market. Our experience and success in brand launching crosses multiple industries, from B2B to B2C to B2B2C to 100% Internet to 100% brick and mortar.
Brand launching today requires solid prep work:
The first six months is a critical time for our agency and the brand we are launching. Together with our clients (literally... come sit in our conference room, roll up your sleeves and draw on our white board) we dig in and establish our course of action. We may reorganize the order in which we complete the following milestones in this go-to-market process, but not too often. Of course, we adjust to fit a B2C brand versus B2B brand and based upon the brand's business model, but this is our strategic process for a major brand launch.
STEP 1. IMMERSION (Month 1)
- Think Tanks: Dive in with our clients and establish the go-to-market brief for this new brand, or in many cases, the brief to reposition an existing brand and redeploy it into the market place.
- The Biz: Understand the business model and collaborate how this new brand will deploy, as well as review similar business models and understand success metrics and pit falls.
- Competition: Conduct and/or validate competitive research to understand competitive brand positions and the strength of the positions they hold.
- Perceived value: Conduct or evaluate industry/market research to understand what specific ROI attributes customers/clients value most from an emotional vantage point.
- Differentiators: Detail brand's superior value features or differentiators and align with those the target industry/market value most, then prioritize the differences from most valued [most likely to move the masses to buy your brand over your competitor's brand] to least valued.
- Buying process: Review, understand and/or craft the customer's/client's buying process for the brand. Most often, we'll modify the process to fit specific environment for a product category. A common purchasing process is: Discover. Learn. Believe. Try. Buy. Re-buy. Recommend.
STEP 2. SKETCH OUT (Month 1.5)
Develop (literally draw out) a "straw-man" communications plan in order to establish the following:
- Objectives: What are the key milestones defining success for this brand from today, through launch, and into its first year?
- Budget: Align the objectives with the established budget in year 1.
- Timeline: Place objectives and budget investment along the timeline for year 1.
STEP 3. BRAND STRATEGY (Month 2 & 3)
- Establish the Brand strategy
- Craft Brand position
- Design Brand identity system
- Determine key word strategy and cement long-tail key word portfolio that drives all content creation for the brand communication assets as well as the website itself
- Design key brand communication assets
- Create SEO optimized digital collateral system for sales team
- Validate critical brand strategy assumptions and key creative
- Segment markets by industry/verticals
- Create why-to-buy messaging to target each decision maker type within each vertical market to be personally relevant to their life
- Concept the big idea creative to carry the brand's message to market
- Determine educational leadership strategy for brand
- Develop consumer package design [B2C] or craft sales team's new business presentation [B2B]
- Establish 3rd party/customer validation strategy to support brand position
STEP 5. LAUNCH WEBSITE (Month 4)
- Develop website strategy and execute. We typically recommend creating and deploying what we call the self-service website. This website enables a visitor to self-qualify themselves as a viable prospect for your brand following the predetermined buyer's purchase process established in Step 1.
- Develop landing pages or micro sites by industry / vertical market
- Deploy initial SEO strategy and development plan, creating a dynamically alive web presence with a pre-determined pipeline of daily/weekly updates to the website content to capture our target traffic as determined in our long tail search word portfolio.
- A/B test creative, promotion, key words and conversions using PPC-leveraged landing pages
STEP 6. LAUNCH INBOUND MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS PLAN (Month 4.5)
- Craft inbound marketing communications plan via Internet
- Deploy blogger outreach strategy and integrate with educational leadership strategy for brand, including seeding the conversations around your brand in the blogosphere
- Deploy all major search engine marketing programs with supporting micro sites and landing pages, continuing A/B testing to improve conversions and determine predictable and profitable programs
- Deploy expanded PPC programs to mirror the profitable SEO strategies and PPC strategies
- Deploy webinar / webcasts from online engagement strategy
STEP 7. GO PUBLIC (Month 5)
- Launch PR campaign, referencing 3rd party validation and blog conversations just as the online murmur is beginning to buzz into an ongoing conversation
STEP 8. LAUNCH ONLINE ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN (Month 6)
- When the brand's business model allows, we prefer to launch outbound marketing campaigns via Internet media advertising to determine measurable conversion ROI metrics. The objective is to determine formulaic ROI conversion metrics on media investments, creative effectiveness and promotion via A/B testing. Once ROI conversion metrics are profitable, we:
- Finalize the launch creative, promotion and media investment
- Deploy a highly focused Internet banner advertising media plan
- Leverage our inbound marketing knowledge and success into outbound marketing including print, broadcast media, email, SMS and even tradeshow planning whenever it is appropriate to do so.
Throughout the entire first year we aim to perfect our communication programs into a formulaic and predictable ROI based upon website conversions of both new business leads [B2B] and new revenue conversions [B2C].
Here, help our web conversions.