Countless products are launched every day by small and large companies. Not every product succeeds. In fact, it is more likely for a developed product to never reach its market. According to the Marketing Research Association, just 40% of developed products make it to market. Of those that make it, only 60% will generate any revenue. Therefore, 76% of all developed products never sell at all!
In the oil and gas industry, these stats are probably even lower. In this blog, I will discuss key aspects of a successful product launch in the oil and gas industry.
Understand the market opportunities for your product
Before you develop a product, ensure you have done market research to understand the need your product will meet. Companies often focus on one application but research might show that there are opportunities across multiple sectors.
You might need to take time to better understand the sectors by going out and talking to people about their challenges. Consider ways to solve the most pressing issues in these sectors.
Know your potential buyers’ priorities
It is also important to know the potential buyers that you want to initially target. Find out if your product will be a priority purchase for these buyers. The reality is often that buying companies require resources to take on a new product.
There might be competing resources where your product will save a buying company £2M but there is another product in a different area that might save it £200M. You can guess where the buying company will put its limited resources.
Consider the risks to the buyer
Introducing new technology usually brings significant risks to the buying company. Understand these risks so that you can adequately support the buyer, and answer questions about liability and legal implications.
There is also the risk of a steep learning curve. That is, how long will it take the buyer’s employees to learn the new technology and be efficient in their use of it? Will there be downtime? Do staff need training? These are some of the questions that you will need to consider when launching a new product.
Research indirect competitors and alternatives
When you are doing your market research, don’t just look at competing products that can do exactly what your product does. Look at indirect competitors to your product and also alternative technologies. It’s about knowing where your product fits so that you can find your niche, both nationally and internationally.
Align with industry priorities
If your technology doesn’t align with current industry priorities, it could be difficult for buying companies e.g. oil and gas operators to pay attention to your product — regardless of how good it is.
For the oil and gas sector, industry bodies have specific calls for ideas. Consider these when developing your product; alignment with these is likely to help you gain funding and support to launch to the market.
Comply with commercial requirements
Ideally, you want to have both strong technical and commercial team members to allow you to create a robust, sustainable business model.
Ensure you have people in your organisation looking at finance, quality e.g. ISO standards and environmental impact, which are required to do business in the industry. Do this so that when there is an opportunity to sell to a buyer, you can say, “Yes, we tick all the boxes”. Therefore, the transaction is likely to go smoothly. You can get support in these areas from an outsourced resource, it doesn’t necessarily need to be a staff position.
Have the right roles in place
You need sales, business development and marketing working together to create an effective strategy so these roles are crucial.
If the groundwork is done properly, you will have the right messages and a good understanding of your target customers. Over time, your marketing team will have drip fed key messages via various channels so that your product launch doesn’t come out of nowhere.
Get support for international expansion
If you are looking to expand your launch outside your current location, reach out to business support bodies such as Scottish Development International (SDI) if you are based in Scotland and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) if you are outside Scotland.
Ensure that your product is ready for an international audience and that you have considered all political, economic, social, environmental, technological and legal aspects. Having SDI or DTI support you, and with the right team in place, you should get the advice you need.
Create a robust business development plan
At the beginning of product development, the focus is on market research and product design so business development doesn’t have a key role, however it can support the marketing team with research using face-to-face relationships.
When that’s done and the product is ready to launch, the priority then becomes creating visibility for the product. This could be through exhibitions, speaking engagements and simply opening the doors within potential buying companies, suppliers or partners. Business development (BD) often acts as the focal point for these relationship-building activities.
Communicate and track success
Stakeholders such as investors need to be kept updated with what’s going on. The BD role can support in the engagement by tracking success and creating a pipeline.
If there’s a sale or a lead, it is important to reflect on that success and identify what has worked. By creating a sales process, building a good understanding of customer touch-points throughout the sales journey. That way, you can replicate the steps that led to a successful product launch.
Build a strong company brand
Companies often launch a great product with a strong brand. While this is beneficial from a branding perspective, most potential buyers want to develop a relationship with the company — not the product.
In developing a brand for your product, make sure that you are building your company’s brand too and not overtaking it. Your company should be clearly associated with your product’s brand so that customers get to know your business. In doing so, you set yourself up for selling more products into the market. It will not be such hard work to introduce future products as your company’s trusted brand is at the forefront.
Manage new clients and deliver well
It’s not over when you make a sale. The journey with your new client begins after PO is sent and it’s now time to implement an account management structure that enhances the customers’ experience.
Actively ask your customers for feedback, always verifying what you thought you knew and creating iterative communication lines between your company and the market it serves.
Document lessons learned
Over time, you will have more and more information from your market about your product’s performance.
Create processes for regularly updating your website and social media platforms. This allows you to build awareness of your company’s success in the market. Collaborate with your customers to document case studies and testimonials, which you should share with prospect clients.
Developing new technology and successfully launching to an ideal market is a challenge in any industry. However, with careful planning, support and documented lessons, it will be easier each time you do it. Your market will come to eagerly await your next product launch.