Tuesday, October 19

PDMA Conference

I attended the PDMA (Product Development & Management Association) conference yesterday, and spoke as part of a lab series on new product launches.

In my talk I spoke about how everyone on a launch team is a marketer, even if marketing isn't in your job title or job description. When we are putting together a plan for a new product launch, it's important that everything is in sync and aligned around our target consumers and how they live their lives. Everything: packaging, pricing, product attributes, distribution, retail, and yes the marketing messaging as well.

When we are in launch mode, we are all in marketing. And we should all be focused on serving consumer needs (rational benefit) and wants (emotional benefit), so that we can add value to them.

It was absolutely fascinating to compare and contrast the various launches across industries, to note the commonalities and the differences. From a NASA launch (talk about high risk) to the Olympics (did you know that they get completely get re-invented every time around) to American Idol (completely shortened the development cycle of a successful artist) to packaged soup (yes, even that can get pretty complex).

After an entire day of think tank sessions, I walked away with two nuggets:

One: as organizations, we tend to develop certain ways that we "launch". It becomes highly formulaic and predictable so the key is to break that cycle to produce innovation

Two: a key ingredient in every launch is managing the complexity and the risk. As a team, we need to understand the factors that add complexity and create back-up plans upfront should issues arise along the way.

New product launches are arguably the most exciting part of marketing. All the elements have to align on one single day, and have to seamlessly fit together to fulfill a market potential. The entire brand experience takes shape in that one moment, and the teamwork that goes into making that happen is just so rewarding.

If you'd like to read another recap of the conference, here's a great report via a Twitter friend, Chris Dolan.

What's your experience? Jim.

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