Life after Launch!

Google search “product longevity” and you will find a list of (many being semiconductor) companies advertising the fact that they are committed in keeping their technology into production for a given number of years (many times at least 10). Most industries like networking, medical, industrial, space and automotive require production guarantees to service their customers during a long period of time to cover product obsolescence policies. Consumer is the only one that we could debate about the desired lifespan (for economical and environmental reasons: see report from the German Environment Agency).
You might then wonder why this discussion is critical when launching of a product into the market, especially for a small business or a start-up: PLANNING and STRATEGY.
One one side of the spectrum, impatience and market pressures drive speed of decision about investments and staffing; on the other side, customer satisfaction and brand recognition require nerves of steel for the length of time required to mature. Like a good wine, putting it into the bottle does not mean that it is at its best for drinking yet.
Start-ups: wait a little longer for celebration
Product out of the door... open the bottle of Champagne!! Hold on... not that fast!!
Unless your customer is buying tomatoes, its biggest desire is to buy once and keep it going for a while. This means that once the initial customer experience of the purchase and first usage of the product are digested, you have to ensure long lasting positive customer delight before you can claim your victory.
To ensure that you are up to par with the challenge, the customer support infrastructure and follow-up on warranty must be created from the ground-up as the product is designed, prototyped and put into production. In other words, pre- and post-launch strategy is critical to repeat success.
Don’t procrastinate
If you think that it is safe to wait to address customer support strategy till your have a successful launch, think again: you are about to lose all of what you have created!
Similar to a customer buying a smartphone and wanting to make sure that the next OS update will be carried on or that you have a structure to update firmware on that smart IoT home- gateway of yours, advertising your post-launch customer services is part of your brand identify and reputation. If you decide to tackle the task after your product is launched, you have missed a great opportunity to differentiate yourself into the market (and you might just fail all together).
Is this just for Start-ups?
Buzz words like Over-The-Air updates (OTA Updates) or lifetime “anything" (i.e. maps) are no longer optional in your product launch and marketing plan. You might be told that cost of technology goes down but we are still paying a hefty price for any device with embedded electronics. R&D costs are high, speed of technology replacement continues to accelerate and the customer, regardless of consumer or professional, requires guarantees about the possible lifetime of the product he/she is about to purchase. Start-up of today or established OEM, all run by the same rule... don’t skimp on your product pre- and post-launch strategies.
Drive your brand identity
As you work on your planning, give special consideration in collaborating with an ecosystem, partners and distribution channel that sign the longevity bill. At no time you can afford to have a gap in your customer satisfaction chain. The extension of your sales force (distributors), accessory sale (ecosystem) and technology follow-up (partners) must be 100% in line with the values you wish to convey in your brand and your product. Don’t settle for any less. Brands like Apple or BMW are many times seen as “dictators” into the supplier and channel market place; they are acting in the best interest of their brand and values that are so appreciated by their customers.
Regardless of time pressures, well prepared pre- and post-launch strategies are important for your brand image. They will help create a stronger customer loyalty and keep your product active in the market longer. The extra-time spent to investigate and associate the right extension team to delight the customer for a longer time will bring you multiple folds of value and market recognition.
Stiffan Consulting strives to help startups and established companies to create strong product launch strategies and team assembly process. By assisting you in reviewing your goals, understand the potential markets and validate the right approach, I help ensuring product market success for you.
Taking your Ideas beyond: www.stiffan.eu

© STIFFAN Consulting March 2017