Launch Strategy Patterns

PERFECT PLAN?

Remember that business is about learning, based on assessing the results of various implementations into the market, not first attempting to develop a ‘perfect’ plan before even testing the market. Even if your plan is perfect, it may not be the perfect time to implement it. Even if your plan is perfect to you, it may not be perfect to others. Even if your plan is perfect in every way, that doesn’t mean that’s what people are looking to buy in your market right now. Then again a perfect plan may be as perfect as it sounds, but if it is never implemented completely (which requires momentum and task management) then there’s no way to know that and the investment required for a perfect plan is very high while there is 0 guarantee of its success.

Ideally in a perfect world your company would have enough resources to develop a “perfect plan” in a timely manner, immediately implementing properly, and updating the plan as market feedback comes in. However if you are just starting out, you may not have the kind of resources, support or time to develop the “perfect plan” before heading into market, though you should still have the attitude that you do. Thus it’s the same for both the startup on a shoestring to the well-established corporation; they need to simultaneously develop and ascertain their business plan, testing out their product or service performance against their launch strategy, grounding their plan updates, where necessary, in actual data based on how well each product, service and access method is driving sales; making each new implementation either better or a grounds for learning the best overall process.

100% AGILE?

It should be noted that being too reliant or swayed by market feedback, though highly relevant for reference and perspective; a longterm approach should simultaneously be in mind looking not only at the micro level, with each single sales period, but how the same method is responded to at different times and under different conditions, not assuming that if one launch at one time didn’t get a lot of response, that it wouldn’t at a different time or situation. Depending on the resources, supplies and real estate of a product on your store, for instance, you can set a mid-to-longterm limit on how long your willing to test that same method against the market, before taking it off the market and archiving it.

On top of this you should consider how consistently employing the same method over a long period of time, may not only give you the chance to see whether the same strategy may work better in different seasons but also to see how much you can influence and cultivate the credibility, authenticity and appeal of your access medium. Furthermore different launch times and conditions for the same product (or updated versions of the same product) with the same deployment style may also realize varying market patterns. Another aspect of re-releasing the same or updated versions of the same products in different launch conditions, in itself can build up recognition, mind share, and trust.

MODELLING OTHER COMPANIES

You can model or learn from different companies whom are big or small to see how they work their business ventures against the market, all the different things they try with the same investment streams, how they react to the performance of each one, whether they stay consistent on the release style for a long period, attempting to bring people in (even if there was no momentum during launch), trying to ride the wave of their initial sales spike based on their precedent promotional campaign, immediately pulling from market if initial sales are much lower than expected, or whether they choose to release a new version, update or re-release; what they do, when they do so and under what conditions for what brands.

Nintendo and Apple first came to my mind, eventually extending to every other major corporation including Sony and Microsoft. Because I’m focused in technology and software, those are the kinds of companies that come to mind. Nintendo and Apple first come to mind, probably because of the positive association in the field of pre-launch, release and follow-up strategies I have with those brands in my mind, at least what is most immediately lucid to me at writing time. Companies like Sony and Microsoft spring to mind because of their clear potency and presence in employing those kinds of launch strategies consistently. Of course many small companies also come to mind, and seeing how they did differently from an independent perspective including Minecraft, Angry Birds, and lesser known, yet still highly niche and successful independent companies like Gameloft along with many others.

AAA VS INDIE: PROS AND CONS

Oftentimes the bigger, already established corporations tend to be able to afford a greater investment in research and development, thus better “perfecting” their plans before implementation; while having the luxury to rely on data already built up from previous ventures. On the other hand the smaller, ‘more’ independent companies, have less to invest in their own research and development, have less data on market demand and less of a personal foundation to work from. Though the companies well seasoned in business success instantly pop out as the better situation; both situations are a double-edged sword.

A larger company, though more easily capable of trying new things, may be tempted to be conservative and stick solely to the data, discouraging trying new things and truly innovating in order to guarantee business growth status quo. A low-budget startup however is completely free to try absolutely anything, starting from no reference point; allowing for a huge opportunity to differentiate themselves completely from others. Though the unique value of the larger companies then are at risk of being diluted by an overly conservative approach, the smaller businesses are at risk of investing too much of their potentially limited resources into something that could fail completely, making it very difficult, if not impossible, to continue practicing the business reasonably; with potential issues like lack of equity, or even worse, debt.

Judging by the tendencies displayed in the launch strategies of larger and smaller companies we can note certain patterns.

LAUNCH STRATEGY PATTERNS

Due to the fact that larger companies already tend to have brand recognition, and consumer trust they may more easily lean towards deepening the strengths of the relationships with the already established client base rather than innovating with completely new brands or dramatically changing their current brands. Very skillful large companies then ensure to have two or more lines of the same brand with different variations and spin-offs, appeasing the hardcore fans of the original brand success, while appealing to those who want a substantial update, variation or different take on the same brand. Otherwise there is the danger that they practice a purely conservative approach, more or less continuing the same exact product line in pretty much the same way no matter when; which can be effective at the peak of that brand’s popularity, while maintaining the respect of the most loyal audiences, but can quickly fall into irrelevancy and a loss in momentum.

Smaller companies then, not having the same ability to leverage off of their own resources, data, network or pre-established systems are tempted to simply look at what others are doing and copying their methodologies and standards instead of taking the opportunity to try something that may end up as a huge risk to the very little they may have to work with. So a skillful smaller company then would have a proper plan, that is consecutively being implemented in trial and improved upon in error, ensuring to put as much investment as possible into what they are most likely to put in the most work at the greatest frequency over the longest period of time regardless of what others are doing; since that is the best way to root a business or intellectual property in its industry. The big mistake often made then is having an exit strategy, a plan B, or failing to properly identify what business can absolutely be committed to by the company combined with a lack of expedient strategy development nor market feedback assessment; leading to a massive waste of resources, which can be absolutely devastating to the business owner and operator’s confidence to start again.

Whether or not a company is large or small, new or established, I’ve noted that there are two main ways, as manageable, to drive the sales of a brand. Most companies may lean more on one of these two methods while some may work more from a hybrid method.

THE TWO MAIN METHODS

One of the methods is to do everything independently building one’s own platforms, distribution, media, network and so on, then distributing from the core while working to attract or draw people in and garner their interest for further commitments. This is usually the chosen method for smaller businesses since their weaknesses tend to be a lack of external support potentially motivating them to create those support systems themselves.

The other method is to compete, pitch, register and apply continuously, until accepted (depending on the requirements and output) towards distribution systems and networks already established by others. This way, if the company is already well-known, it is usually easy to be accepted or partnered with, while this may be more challenging for smaller companies or independents.

In each method on its own, the business is faced with the same challenge; It is simply difficult to differentiate yourself in a sea of other businesses, brands or products.

In the case of the “purely” independent path in establishing support networks and systems, it is hard to be found in the first place, all the work put in to building one’s network ends up directly correlating with what one gets out, before there may already be enough momentum so that the brand can flourish into a life of its own. Thus it is challenging to create momentum against not only other independents, but more significantly, the massive networks already built or controlled by others.

In the “traditional” approach of ground-up competition, standard registration and application processes along with sponsorship or partnership initiatives it may be hard to get one’s business promoted through the channels against better connected and known competitors, but that is not the only challenge as making good on one’s position when one is accepted via the channels is of particular pressure and may have your product go unnoticed without a proper marketing budget to be featured or promoted within those channels, which can be expensive for startups while potentially spreading thin the budget of larger corporations’ marketing plans.

However by consecutively combining both methods you get the benefits of both (albeit the task at hand of managing it all) making it much more likely you can make the sale. This works by pushing the company to mobilize its own network and establish its own properties from scratch while concurrently, through major channels, making its products more accessible on top of ensuring one’s in house accessibility is also top notch. This gives confidence for potential publishers, distributors or partners to work with the company while maintaining greater control on one’s properties; strengthening the business’s trustworthiness direct from the source, and consumer confidence accessing from popular distribution networks.

HYBRID METHODS

These same principles can be transferred to hybrid methods such as crowd-funding, ensuring that one’s groundwork is strong enough to gain a substantial enough base to work from, towards greater recognition and support from the business’s own depth in a concentrated niche, while being connected to or known from popular sources of distribution for media or products. Both of these major respects have no less vitality in fuelling and raising awareness for a crowd-funding campaign than they do in cultivating an independent business or in maintaining an already established name.

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