Selling to Internal Audiences
Preparing to introduce a new product or service is a significant undertaking for any business. You have invested considerable time, money, and resources in developing a great product, honing your message, and planning your marketing activities, and you want those efforts to pay off. Although the ultimate goal is to engage your external audience (potential customers) and get them to buy the product, it’s also important to get buy-in from your team.
A strong internal communication plan is just as important to the success of a new product launch as your external marketing plan. Communicating the product message and strategy to company employees—and helping them understand their role in the plan—increases productivity, improves morale, and answers the question, “Why should we care?”
5 Key Elements of Internal Product Launch Communication
How much of the marketing “master plan” do you need to communicate to your team in order for them to carry it out successfully? How should you deliver this information? Consider the following five tips.
How and what you communicate with your employees often depends on team members’ roles in the plan. Your core product launch team should understand key points such as:
- The objective of the launch
- Target audiences
- Positioning statement and key messages
- Problems the product or service solves
- Product description
- Key activities and timelines for the launch
- Ongoing lead generation and awareness campaigns
Your sales and service teams should be familiar with specific features of the product and how it works. Sales and channel partners should know pricing details, and the marketing team should understand key promotional activities.
Leadership should also make sure that everyone has the information and materials (sales collateral, etc.) they need at the appropriate time in the product launch process. The five main stages of a product launch are:
- Initial planning – setting goals and metrics, understanding your target market (creating personas), product positioning
- Pre-launch – creating marketing content, developing sales training, planning key launch events and marketing activities
- Sales and channel partner launch – providing sales tools and training to salespeople and distributors
- Launch day – public unveiling of product or service, gathering initial feedback
- Post-launch and follow-up – evaluating metrics, gathering feedback, establishing a long-term lead generation and marketing plan
Marketing influencer and entrepreneur Neil Patel stresses the importance of “practicing” a product launch through good communication. “When you rehearse the launch process, you ameliorate a significant risk,” he writes. “If you expect your launch to be successful, you must control the features of the launch that are within your control,” such as training and content.
Like with external communication, it is important to use a variety of communication channels to get your message across. These, too, may vary by internal audience—salespeople might prefer in-person meetings while engineers want email updates. Ask team members what will work best for them, but also use at least one secondary channel to reinforce the message.
Methods of communication can include:
- Email notifications
- Town-hall-style meetings
- Internal social media sites
- Intranet or screensaver messages
- Posters or banners in the break room
Avoid marketing jargon when communicating with team members outside the marketing department. Focus on key messages, and present information in terms that everyone will understand.
After the internal launch, it is vital for the launch team to remain visible and provide ongoing support to the rest of the staff. Take time to speak to groups of employees about the product launch plan and answer questions. Consider direct marketing programs to help retailers market the new product, and offer ongoing promotional support and incentives. Host local events to reinforce a national launch event. Share customer feedback with team members after the external launch.
Like with any new initiative, one of the challenges of launching a new product is fostering understanding and interest among employees. By providing clear, concise instruction and continuing guidance, you can prepare your team for success.
Download our Product Launch Checklist, a comprehensive, organized list to help you execute your product launch activities.
Editor’s note: This blog post was originally published in January 2013 and has been updated for comprehensiveness and to reflect current best practices.