Did you read how Mark made fighting deadly infections serious play? Now, as promised, let me tell you about my other friend, Carol.
Imagine an ice cream truck jingling by as everyone sits tight at home, scared the virus would pounce on them if they dared to step out. Waste of some good ice cream, right? Not the best time to launch a new flavor, either.
I did not tell Carol this when, towards the end of February 2020, she announced her plan to launch her company’s medical device. By designation, she is charge of new products. In practice, she is ever generating bold new ideas. When doors are shutting across the world, trust her to create a window. With Carol it is never “Can we?”, it is always “How do we?”
I am sure several wise souls must have told her to follow the example of umpteen other companies and desist. Carol had her reasons and a clear roadmap. No matter if no one was using either roads or maps.
Why Now? Why Not!
From Carol’s point of view, the lockdown was the best opportunity for the launch. Precisely because conferences, exhibitions and stand-alone launches were all cancelled.
“We are going digital, Rahul,” Carol beamed over Zoom. “And we are going to get maximum return on our investment. I have picked you and your team because I want a digital partner who does not start and stop with digital. Together we are going to strategize, plan, design and execute. And we are doing it now. Not after God knows how many months.”
Carol’s enthusiasm was always highly infectious.
The initial plan, when the world was more normal, was a phased launch, one country at a time. Now she was going global at one go. “Digital knows no boundaries, Rahul! Aren’t you the one who keeps saying that?” Guilty!
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At any physical launch, Carol and her team would have had to deal with a few hundred visitors. Now she was gearing up for thousands, round the clock.
So, she was going all out: the right speakers, appropriate testimonials, views of product experts, promotions in various digital forms, and the all-important portal for visitors to register so that her team could chase and convert them later.
Going All Over, Staying Put
I would not like to brag that my team did a fantastic job. Suffice to say that we kept up with Carol and executed her vision.
There was the microsite, the web banners, the online events, and the social media campaign. The big component was the VR experience. That gave every major client an opportunity to virtually try the device out. Not surprisingly, the conversions began to keep pace with the booming interest level from all over: Asia, Europe and the US.
For Carol, this was the most successful launch of her career yet. Of course, the backslapping had to be all virtual. She did pause to email me that her regional teams were thrilled with the VR solution. “It’s a hit! Great experience for the client! Great sales for us!”
Get Basics Right, Harvest Every Opportunity
The solutions that we delivered to Mark and Carol were poles apart. But they had something in common with every other successful marketing professional we work with.
Both chose to go the digital route. Both went ahead when many others preferred to wait and watch. Both did not either skip or dilute the fundamentals.
What is your strategy? What does your product do different or better? How well do you know your customer? Which pain point will the new solution erase? How will it delight the customer? Which digital tools must you use? Why? How will they deliver what you need?
Both Mark and Carol were thorough in their homework. They arrived at their answers after a lot of thought. Yes, they could have failed. However, the intensity of their preparation made success highly probable.
Neither Wand nor a Genie
Digital does what you make it do. It can dazzle and garner a million likes without converting a single prospect. Or it can quietly make a difference to those who matter most to you.
A cynic working with one of our clients once questioned the utility of a game we were developing for them. Draw duck. Shoot duck. Get points. Where was the creativity in this?
If the duck’s death can give the player a new insight on fighting infections, the game has worked. If the sound effects, the funny expressions and the color scheme induce more and more of the target group to play the game, the creativity has worked. It is our responsibility to make the whole business of chasing the quacker a great gaming experience. Before that, you as the client, need to be clear why you want people to chase the duck. If we save and improve more lives at the end of it all, it is a win-win for all of us (sorry duck, not for you!).
New Road Ahead
Carol is already planning her next launch. She can go physical this time, at least in the main markets. Or she can go hybrid—part physical, part digital. She is doing neither.
“Take one look at the cost-benefit ratio of our last launch and give me one good reason why we should ever go physical again!” Carol is excited but knows that there will be occasions when her team will have to go physical. But digital would have already done the hard work and ensured the physical encounter would be productive and last only as long as essential.
She has put us in touch with her colleagues. She believes that communication is crucial to every function and digital is the best flavor of communication. The conversations must begin with the what and why of communication before we get into the how of digital. Just the way we like it!
This is what Carol and Mark have taught us. Do not wait for an opportunity. Don’t dilute the preparation.
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Written by Rahul Deshpande, Chief Solution Provider and Lead Storyteller at Ethosh.