Ready for Take Off

by Jessica Ramesh

Launches are high profile, high risk operations but they come with high rewards. A launch can make or break a year – and a career. Martin Flavin, Creative Director at launch specialists Five by Five, counts down eight tips for an explosive take-off

1. Have a reason to exist

The iPod wasn’t the first MP3 player to be released, but its 2003 strapline (‘1,000 songs in your pocket’) provided consumers with a clear and immediate reason to want one. Not everyone, of course, is lucky enough to be launching something that’ll change the way we consume music forever. But even with less glamorous products, the principle applies. Make full use of audience insight and know what consumers need. “Articulate that in a compelling way,” says Flavin, “so that people feel they need your product in their world.”

2. Have a golden thread

This is the guiding theme, explains Flavin, which binds together all your campaign elements, uniting stakeholders, audiences and channels. “It needs to be powerful, simple and flexible. But you also need to be disciplined. Once you have your golden thread, people will want to change it. Don’t let it go.”


3. Tell a story

Storytelling, acknowledges Flavin, is one of the most ubiquitous buzzwords in marketing right now. What, in a commercial context, does it really mean? “Making facts interesting,” he says. “That’s it. It’s not magic. The best stories are about overcoming easily identifiable challenges. Every story you’ve ever read has an element of that: it’s a journey, and we identify with the challenge.” Storytelling is what gives your golden thread substance and makes it meaningful.

4. Co-ordinate

“There’s a difference between being responsible for a launch and running it,” says Flavin. “A launch is an organisational nightmare. There are an incredible number of channels, people and stakeholders and it all has to be perfect. You may be responsible for a launch, but think about whether you’re the right person to run it. And if not you, who? You need an organisational ninja – someone with amazing attention to detail who gets the bigger strategic idea but who can still work on the front line.” Find that person, says Flavin. Give them a big hug. Put them at the centre of your project. Trust them. Then take a step back and let them get on with it.

5. Be a democrat and a dictator

“There are times when you want to be inclusive and have people be part of the discussion,” says Flavin. “And there are times when you need to hold a straight line. Knowing when to do what is really important and can make a difference in the direction of a launch. Being impartial and self-aware are really important.”

6. Get your people onside

“A lot of institutions pay lip service to this,” says Flavin, “but you should put as much time into getting your people onside as you do your customers. They need to get it like you get it – to be inspired and love it. The war isn’t won in the boardroom or during strategy or brainstorming sessions. It’s won by the sales teams and the people out there talking to your customers. Unless they’re inspired and educated and listen to your customers, you may win the war in the boardroom, but the wheels will fall off the moment you go outside.”

7. Customise for each audience

“Think about the touch-points for each audience and how that links back to your golden thread and your reason for existence,” says Flavin “Sure, this is like the first day at marketing school and the principle ‘what’s in it for me’. But that’s the core. Understand what’s in it for each audience and be able to deliver that.”

8. Have fun

Confidence in the product and optimism about a campaign are infectious, says Flavin. A bit of positive energy may just provide your launch with the spark it needs to take off.

Martin Flavin spoke at the July 2014 Figaro Digital Marketing Conference.

Article by Jon Fortgang