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Why are so many B2B product launches train wrecks?

For some readers, the title of this article may be a rhetorical question. To others, morbid curiosity. It's a serious question. Lots of #B2B product launches are train wrecks. They suck.

I have opinions on this topic that I'm delighted to share with you that help explain why.

Reason 1: Great marketing, lousy product

Some people mistakenly believe that great marketing can overcome a bad product. They are wrong.

P.T. Barnum told us, "You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." The saying holds true for products. Sooner or later, that lipstick on a pig catches up with you.

Reason 2: Great product, lousy marketing

Some people mistakenly believe that a great product is all you need for success. They, too, are wrong.

If no one knows about your product, it won't succeed, no matter how great it is. You might as well have never built it. You could have used the money to party or give it to charity.

Reason 3: Great product, wrong market

Reason 3 is a riff on Reason 2. Sometimes, you get the product right and the market wrong. It happens all the time.

The original target market you analyzed and validated is right, but an executive decides it needs to be bigger. So, they pick a market based on bigger rather than better. A few early wins trickle in, giving everyone false hope. Then, the bottom falls out.

See also Reason 1.

Reason 4: Great product, not enough internal support

A lack of internal support for a product launch happens more often in large companies. Someone gets funding to build a product, it flies under the radar, and when it's ready to launch, it's crickets.

Resources to launch don't get allocated because they are already committed. A worthy development effort down the drain because of poor coordination. Or, even worse, it's a stealth project using resources without permission (party foul--update your resume).

Reason 5: A lack of cross-functional coordination

Some call this "Run as One". I call it Day 1 Launch Readiness™. Yeah, I'm tm'ing it. A lack of cross-functional readiness happens when silos operate independently of each other, assuming all the pieces will magically fit together. Where, in your life, does this ever happen?

Launching a product is a team sport. Teams don't win unless they work together. You need the 4Cs of product launch: collaboration, coordination, communication, and commitment.

"I did my part!" they will say. "You can't blame me."

Every snowflake pleads not guilty to an avalanche. You have processes for selling, marketing, developing, and many other parts of your business. You need a launch process too.

Reason 6: A lack of launch experience

Launching a product well is every bit as hard as building it. A product launch--done well--is an intense cross-functional initiative. It takes careful planning, resources, and focus from people who have day jobs.

If you're making it up as you go, it's a case of you don't know what you don't know. Mistakes and missteps will happen that could be avoided with the right experience.

Reason 7: It's your turn

Share your--or someone you know (wink, wink)--experience with a B2B product launch that was a train wreck. I just might add a sanitized version it to the list.


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