A cautionary tale on fundamental positioning: why a launch announcement is more than a press release

positioning a launch announcement

Mobeam: Behind the Scenes of an Overhyped Launch | Inc.com. Erik Sherman did an excellent analysis of what went wrong. It’s very useful for startups – or any company planning a product launch. Take a minute to read the article if you like; I’ll wait ;-)…

OK, if you didn’t click the link, the synopsis is that this company’s press announcement was too good to be true at face value, so reporters  started digging for the proof points and the company apparently came up a little short.  (Practical tip: ALWAYS source statistics! Sherman points out that the press release had a stat of solving a $3.7 B problem in mobile commerce that wasn’t explained. I reckon that started the ball rolling all by itself.)

I should state first that I don’t know Mobeam; I’m simply using the piece as the springboard to address how it can happen, and how to avoid it.

Startups are rightly eager and anxious to get their message out above the competition, but even in today’s hyper cycles, you still need to take a long view to build out your story over time and feed the right story to the right target.

Effective positioning is a balance of practical problem solving (what can your solution do today) and credible vision (why you are a “company to watch” in solving bigger problems).  You need to separate and explain the two.

Every sentence in a press release should be able to drill into to provide rationale and context.The press release is a summary and it needs to be defensible.

Launching a press release is only the culmination of a much richer, deeper and critical process of go-to-market strategy. You need to ask the hard questions to make sure that you can deliver on the promise of your story before the PR stage. That’s where outsiders help, in evaluating (and shaping) the answers so they are credible and practical.

You need to specify the various markets you are targeting, articulate the very different problems you are solving for each of them, determine how you will reach them and execute accordingly. It requires a strategic roadmap – defining where you are today and where want to be a year from now (which markets, which solutions, which channels). When the time comes for press announcements, they  should be viewed as the individual stepping-stones feeding that bigger story.

The OEM issue covered in the article (the fact that manufacturers will need to integrate this tech into their devices) is an important point to make about how a  company plans to proliferate its technology as part of its business expansion strategy; it’s definitely worth a mention in a product announcement.   That’s a completely separate (but related) initiative that should have its own messaging, targeting and outreach. (Perhaps a future blog post on the difference between push vs. pull marketing strategies…)

Understand that you can’t cram every possible aspect of your company story or product release into a single press announcement and expect media to digest it wholesale. It has to be delivered in bite-sized chunks.

So, stick to what problems you can solve today for a specific target group…and prepare to expand your story over time. That requires “beginning with the end in mind.” And back up your stats!

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