You progressed through the BrainKraft Product Launch Framework to the point where you're ready to explore two things many launch planners fail to acknowledge: the Advantages you can leverage to achieve your launch objectives and the Obstacles that can get in the way.
Think of advantages and obstacles as opposing forces. The advantages are pushing you forward and the obstacles are holding you back.
Ask each ambassador on your launch team to answer the following questions about the advantages and obstacles for their functional areas. Keep in mind it’s only an advantage if it helps to influence a potential customer. It’s only an obstacle if it prevents influencing a potential customer.
The advantages and obstacles you identify help refine the definition of your ideal customer and bring clarity to the market segments you plan to target. They also bring a level of reality to launch planning that can cause you to revisit your launch objectives.
For example, you could have a set of advantages in one market segment that isn't valued by potential customers in another market segment.
Organizational Advantages and Obstacles
Ask each ambassador on your launch team to answer the following questions about the advantages and obstacles for their functional area:
Do we have experience selling to this potential customer in this market segment?
Do we have experience selling this type of product?
Do we have experience delivering this type of product?
Do we have experience supporting this type of product?
The purpose of the questions is to expose organizational advantages and obstacles. You may notice these questions are very similar to those posed when evaluating launch risk. Only this time you’re drilling down to the functional level.
An example to illustrate the point is when software companies introduce a SaaS version of their on-premises product. The common mistake they make is believing SaaS is just a different way of delivering the same product.
The truth is that a SaaS product and an on-prem product are different products with a different business model. They are developed differently, they are delivered differently, they are priced differently, they are sold differently, they are delivered differently, they are supported differently, they have different value propositions, and revenue is recognized differently.
Some of the advantages of selling an on-prem product that have accrued over the years may not transfer to selling a SaaS product. There are also new obstacles to consider: hosting infrastructure, pricing strategy, backup, security, licensing, sales compensation, service level agreements, and revenue recognition just to name a few.
Market Advantages and Obstacles
Market advantages and obstacles focus on your target market segments and potential customers.
You should expect to identify a few obstacles on every launch, but you shouldn't panic. Obstacles are not the end of the world. An obstacle is just something you need to acknowledge and then find a way to remove. Some obstacles are hard to remove and require a major effort. Some are easy. Remember to view advantages and obstacles through the lens of your potential customers.
What will potential customers see as advantages to doing business with us?
What will potential customers see as advantages to evaluating our product?
What will potential customers see as reasons NOT to do business with us?
What will potential customers see as reasons NOT to evaluate our product?
If your team has difficulty answering these questions it may be due to a lack of market knowledge. It's important not to guess the answers to these questions. If market knowledge is limited, go to the market to learn. Don't guess.
Obstacles are not the end of the world. An obstacle is just something you need to acknowledge and then find a way to remove. Some obstacles are hard to remove. Some require a major effort.
The following can be categorized as either advantages or obstacles:
Expertise (industry, domain, technology)
Access to customers (promoting, selling, delivering, supporting)
Without the knowledge of your advantages and obstacles, you could choose an ineffective launch strategy and waste valuable time and resources.