“Hey Josh, we’ve decided to bring forward the new product launch to hit GrandSuperTechExpo in a couple of months, let’s have a quick run through what needs to get done by then.”
Yet another typical exchange between the CEO and CMO of too many tech companies. It starts with a decision to bring forward a release; marketing makes its case for not launching too early and management overrules. There is a pecking order, a chain of command and usually a relatively good reason to bring forward a launch. But the flip side of the decision is often disregarded too quickly.
Despite common misconception, there are good reasons for marketing to make its case, and they have nothing to do with laziness. They boil down to this:
Rushed marketing jobs achieve compromised results that are as predictable as hitting the Black 15 in Roulette.
First: Less time to plan and execute leads to compromises across the board. Rushed jobs cost more because suppliers expect to be paid more. The top-notch suppliers that contribute to a successful launch -- e.g designers and copywriters -- are usually booked in advance, and therefore they either send in the juniors or you need to look elsewhere. Your launch will cost more, for compromised quality.
Second: Work is conducted in execution mode as opposed to testing and perfecting. Mistakes are made. When time is cut, marketers can only decide on their winning hand and hope that it is right. Let’s hope the messaging is crisp enough for prospects to understand what we do and that the design is intuitive enough for them to figure out how it works. Hope and luck again are in control because there is no time for iteration and improvement.
Every marketer has done this -- they run to a show, collect their promo material from the printers on the way or receive the material on the show floor, only to discover that the prints are in the wrong color, or wrong size or have a fuzzy logo. Another golden favorite is reaching demo time at the show, only to have a prospect point out a typo on the sign-up screen. We’ve all been there.
Third: Let’s not mistake a company’s level of agility with knee-jerk reactions to feared changes in the market. There are a finite number of times that you can rush any launch, campaign or a marketing project without your marketing (and company) splitting at the seams. Continuous rush is generated by a lack of knowledge, planning and follow-through and does not enable real growth, learning about the product or how the market is responding to it. It perpetuates constant guesstimating.
Marketing relies on consistent messaging, brand-building (telling your story) and modifications to those and the marketing assets -- website, product pages, customer journey (for SaaS clients), case studies etc. Continuous rushed marketing jobs and ‘pivoting’ of product direction (which is often the root cause of the change) are confusing to the market and to your company. The result is that nobody actually knows what is happening next -- within your company or outside of it.
Finally: Rushing marketing means that you are ignoring the importance of the five touch points (minimum) of the customer journey. As a recap, before consumers of a B2B or B2C product make a decision to learn more or buy a product, they need to encounter the product five times on average. For example, they will see an online banner about the product, they will receive an email, they will hear it on radio, a friend will tell them about it and then they will read about or see it at a trade show and think, “Hey yeah, I've been meaning to check that out.”
There is a heck of a lot of tweaking that is going on between Point A and Point Z that's based on response to the messaging. If executives are rushing the launch or campaign, they're skipping over touch points, hoping for the best and setting themselves up for disappointment. At the end of the day, they will have to go back and do those activities post-launch to achieve marketing qualified leads and sales.
In short, while rushed jobs and bringing product launches forward are not mission impossible, they do come at a price that CEOs need to acknowledge. Rushing a launch does not equate to speeding up a purchase decision, and it is the latter, not the former, that is usually important for the long-term company goals.
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