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Your Launch Checklist: Startup Marketing Best Practices

June 21, 2011

Anyone trying to get things done right will do better with a checklist, according to The Checklist Manifesto by Dr. Atul Gawande, a MacArthur Fellow, surgeon, professor at Harvard Medical School and writer for The New Yorker Magazine.

Dr. Gawande’s focus is on complexity – from the cockpit of a 747 to a hospital emergency room.  Professions of all kinds, he asserts can do better if they use the discipline of a checklist.

We couldn’t agree more.  Launching a new tech product can involve a tremendous amount of complexity.  Startup marketing chiefs can manage that complexity and increase their chances of a successful launch by using the power of a checklist.

We recommend these ten checklist items be met in order to launch:

  1. Clearly define how your product benefits the customer, and how those values stack up against competitive offerings.
  2. Coalesce your product’s unique value proposition (UVP) and ensure that every employee can repeat it consistently.
  3. Once you’ve nailed down the UVP, be sure your message can hold up to these two simple questions:  “So what?” and “Who cares?”
  4. Build a brief product demonstration that articulates those benefits.
  5. Define a customer acquisition model that shapes your website, sales tools and demand creation programs.
  6. Create several downloadable assets that describe your product and its value:  video, data sheets, product collateral, white papers
  7. Identify three referenceable customers who will validate your product benefits with objective commentary
  8. Secure your company IP by making appropriate patent/trademark filings.
  9. To leverage the media’s ability to raise your visibility and shape your customer’s buying decision, identify the most influential voices in your market as part of your PR strategy.
  10. To measure the return of your marketing investment, agree on what you will measure before you launch.

Another interesting point that Dr. Gawande makes in his book is that using a checklist is a powerful management tool because it helps build a team.  We agree again.  When we have led complex, global product launches that require many months of preparation, we are working with a diverse team from marketing, engineering, legal sales, customer service and more.  There’s nothing like the long hours and late nights preparing for a launch to bond a team.  But a checklist can make that investment even more rewarding by helping to ensure a more successful launch.

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