Marketing and selling products inside of a traditional advertising agency has no doubt been the biggest challenge of my young career. It’s not just selling. It’s marketing, it’s change management, it’s legacy business models, it’s politics. iQ, the product development group I work for at GSW Worldwide, has been creating software-as-a-service products for about a year and a half.
Next week, we’ll be announcing the 2.0 of our flagship product, iQ.mercury—a digital presentation platform for pharma and healthcare sales reps. Since the launch of the 1.0 version shortly after the release of the iPad in 2010, many software vendors and CRM providers have entered the space with their own platforms. Digital detailing has become an IT solution, not a marketing solution.
So we developed the 2.0 as a way to prioritize presentation capabilities while minimizing the IT footprint (very important for brand managers who don’t enjoy dealing with their organization’s IT team). We’ve positioned it as a marketing tool built by marketers. We’ve eliminated the bells and whistles and focused solely on features that enhance the conversation between reps and their customers.
When the 2.0 version rolls out next week, it will be supplemented with a 3-phase communication plan to educate and equip our core teams with the knowledge and expertise needed to be advocates for iQ.mercury 2.
Phase 1: Activate the internal sales engine
Our experience launching products has taught us that resistance usually results from not having enough information available. Phase 1 is all about providing information—launch announcement, why it was developed, how it’s different from competitors, features and functionality, product demos, FAQs, and tech specs. Over the first 30 days in-market, we’ll focus our messaging on telling the “story” through various channels:
– Internal & external social media channels (Facebook, Salesforce Chatter, Yammer)
– Blog posts on agency and sister company blogs
– Company website banner and landing page
– Press release
– Targeted emails to key internal influencers
Takeaway: Phase 1 is all about telling the story, all about creating a connection.
Phase 2: Drive top-of-mind awareness
Creating buzz and excitement around something—especially a new product launch—is probably the easiest part of a marketing and communications plan. Maintaining top-of-mind-awareness with key stakeholders and customers is a challenge.
We’ve learned there is sometimes a resistance to be the first to try something new. In phase 2, our focus will be on creating a comfort level with the product and its features, while also turning influencers into leaders that our front lines can follow.
– On-going email campaign to highlight specific features/functionality
– Video blogs w/ key account leads and company influencers
– Network-wide eNewsletter
– Buzz campaign around new research findings in the category
Takeaway: Phase 2 focuses on creating a comfort level with the product.
Phase 3: Equip front lines with product knowledge and category insights
We developed this tool to help our clients meet specific goals. In phase 3, we’ll be working on helping our internal teams leverage the tool and its features to create strategies and tactics to meet those goals.
– Product workshops
– Thought leadership to position our agency has expert in category
Takeaway: Phase 3 focuses on providing our core teams with skills and knowledge to help them do their job better.
I highly recommend that you read up on change management. We’ve started building many of our marketing and communications strategies around these principles and have added tactics into various touch points in the sales process.
A sincere thanks to Keith Speers for his coaching and helping me connect these dots. Keith is an executive coach in Columbus. Connect with him on Twitter: @KeithSpeers