There are many things to consider when bringing a product or service to market but all too often many of the critical stages are overlooked in favour of focusing solely on the launch to market. Without careful consideration of strategy and the reasoning behind it, such as audience insight, market research and key messaging, businesses risk jeopardizing their chances of successfully marketing their brand, product or service to the intended audience.
The Scott Partnership recently hosted a workshop on how to prepare for commercialisation for 8 science and technology companies that were all at varying stages of development. The program was designed so that each participant completed a workbook that essentially gave them an outline commercialisation plan to launch or grow their business. This blog provides an overview of our 6-stage approach to commercialisation:
- Identify your target audience
It is important at this stage to not only define your target audience but also understand it to be able to develop an appropriate strategy and tailor your marketing accordingly. By mapping out your key targets, you can then create buyer personas for each group so that you can understand what drives and motivates them, how they interact and engage but also how they find information on suppliers and any geographical or cultural influences.
- Develop a strong brand proposition
To communicate brilliantly, it is important to first capture the essence of your company and your products or services. This will ultimately inform your mission statement, promise, values, key messages, logo and visual identity so some important questions to ask yourself at this point include:
- What is unique about your product/solution?
- What market need does your product/solution address?
- Why should people choose you? What’s your story?
- What are the alternatives and how will you replace them?
- Who needs your solution and what influences them?
- Who can help bring your solution to market?
Creating an elevator pitch for your brand is a great way to ensure you can clearly communicate a short summary of your brand proposition to a stranger in under 60 seconds, the time it takes to use a lift (elevator). It should be short, concise and informative enough to spark discussion. It sounds easy but you may find it more difficult than you think, especially in technical or scientific markets! Some examples of good elevator pitches can be seen from the finalists of the HSBC Elevator Pitch competition!
- Set SMART objectives
As with all objectives, its important for your business and marketing ones to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Timely) as they will be your main source of success measurement. All businesses should have very specific business objectives e.g. increase leads from xx to xx by xx. Ideally, your top level business objective of ‘increasing leads’ should then inform your brand marketing objectives which could be ‘to launch xx new product in xx region’ which should then later inform your tactical/campaign objectives e.g. ‘Generate xx new leads at xx trade show, resulting in xx worth of business in xx months’. These tactical objectives are specific enough for a thorough measurement of ROI for that specific deliverable and can help you to clearly show which marketing tactics have contributed to your business goals.
- Develop your strategy
Now that you’ve considered stages 1-3, you need to think about how you‘re going to achieve it (aka your ‘Strategy’) Using your insights from your audience research, brand proposition development and finalised objectives, this is where you think about defining and mapping out your route(s) to market, your sales pipeline development, your launch plan and not forgetting your evaluation and validation stages.
- Create your marketing plan
How you decide to go to market will greatly impact the way you communicate with your audience. Equally, your sales pipeline will inform what materials and messages you need to have ready for your audiences when they reach different stages. It’s important to consider an integration of activities at this point including PR, digital, advertising/sponsorship, direct communications, sales tools and tradeshow attendance. While you may not do all of these at once they should all be considered when putting together your longer term marketing plans.
As your business grows, so will your number of leads, so it’s sensible to consider implementing a way of capturing these leads as you are in your infancy. This will then make it easier to monitor the journey your customers take as you grow and allow you to adapt the ways in which you engage with them via a nurture programme.
- Measurement and evaluation
This step often gets omitted from the process but is arguably one of the most important and requires resource allocating to it! While many see this as the final step, this should be something that is monitored throughout the life of your programme. Why? It allows you to measure ROI at different stages so that you can change or adapt your programme if needed. Returning to your SMART objectives should be easy and this is where you measure the success of the tactics and overall programme. Having evaluation models and tools in-built into your marketing will help you greatly and there are now a lot of options available and worth considering.
We have experience of supporting start-ups in the scientific and technological industries prepare for commercialisation on both a strategic and tactical level. If you would like to find out how we can help your business, contact us via [email protected] or call a member of the team on 01477 539 539.
By Celine Goodier, Account Director at The Scott Partnership