Marketing Musings, Technology Adoption Programs
This is the third piece in Projectline’s series on early adoption programs. In this post, Derek Mathis explains why product evaluation programs are an important step in the release readiness management process and highlights the benefits that these programs offer.
In a previous post, we defined TAPs (technology adoption programs) as one type of pre-release readiness program that allows you to validate the features and functionality of your products. Once this type of program is in place and the feedback is streaming in, you will want to start thinking about the next stage in early adoption. There are a number of programs in this area, such as rapid deployment programs (RDPs), which present a great way to move from product validation to the generation and capture of customer evidence, such as case studies, customer quotes, customer references, and testimonials. This collateral will be invaluable for product launch and post-launch promotion.
While product validation programs typically run early in the product life cycle and aim to gather customer feedback on new products and/or features, product evaluation programs generally begin a bit later and aim to build a pipeline of customer references and marketing materials.
As the product launch date approaches, a number of PR requests will need to be fulfilled, and this is where product evaluation programs can really pay off. Having a strong pipeline of customers willing to provide references and participate in the creation of marketing materials that cover your key messaging and positioning points will not only ensure that these requests can be filled, but also that there is ample support for any and all launch and post-launch events.
Key reasons to implement a product evaluation program:
- To continue to gather feedback from product validation customers who have moved out of the testing phase and deployed into a live or production environment
- To build trust and strengthen customer relationships through the program engagement, facilitating product buy-in and overall brand loyalty
- To develop a range of marketing materials critical to supporting the product launch and post-launch, including but not limited to case studies, solution briefs, customer videos, and business value studies
- To build a pipeline of references for launch and post-launch related events, such as customer quotes, press releases, customer-to-customer referrals, analyst references, and keynote speakers
It’s now probably obvious that there are benefits to the company implementing a product evaluation program, but what about the participating customers? What’s in it for them?
Benefits for participants:
- As with product validation programs, customers get to test-drive a product prior to the public release
- Customers are typically provided with dedicated technical assistance in the form of consultants and also given access to a team of developers and testers to facilitate their rapid deployment
- The marketing materials created, such as case studies, press releases, blog posts, white papers, and business value studies, can also be leveraged by participating customers to promote their own companies, showcase innovation, and drive sales
- Participation in launch events provides great publicity for participating companies
Have you run a product evaluation program? We would love to hear about your experience, how it impacted your business, what worked well, and what didn’t work so well. We realize that the ways these programs are run can vary depending on the size of a company, available budget and resources, coverage of the product launch, and many other factors.
Interested in this topic? Find me on Twitter and let’s chat.