SBM 095: Why Some Companies Fail the Launch and Others Dont with Jennifer LeBlanc

Today’s Guest

In this episode you will learn about the most important element of a successful launch.

Jennifer LeBlanc is an expert in launches and repositioning projects.

This is the 95th session of Smart Brand Marketing.


In a crowded category. It is how you do/deliver what you do not what you do that makes you different.


  • When should you reposition?
  • Go to market
  • Funding vs bootstrapping
  • Most important elements
  • The lipstick on a pig projects
  • The science of positioning
  • The Positioning Ladder
  • How to differentiate yourself?
  • Bending time

Positioning and Innovation: The Secret Behind a Successful Launch

“Making it big”

That’s what you want for your business, right? Entering into mainstream market consciousness is something that a lot of business owners and brand managers would want to achieve as this means that that they can start focusing on ways to have a competitive edge over everybody else trying to make a name for themselves in the same area.

Here’s the problem, though: that part is actually step 2 or step 3 to whatever marketing campaign you have for the business/brand for its entire lifespan. Prior to that, you’d have to think about launching the entire damn thing right. After all, trying to think of strategies to become popular in the market before even launching the business right is like thinking of how to beat King Hippo, Soda Popinski, or Mike Tyson on Punch-Out!!! when Glass Joe is pummeling you left, right, and center (kudos to you if you understood that reference)

So how do you go about launching your project in a market, especially one that is too crowded for comfort? Surprisingly enough, what will make you stand out from the rest is not exactly the uniqueness or freshness of the concept you are offering. It’s actually on how you deliver.

Positioning: What’s the Science Behind It?

If there is one thing that you have to constantly remember in marketing, it’s that every thing out there ever marketed has its own brand. The next thing to remember is that a brand is something that only the consumers can form for the business as it relies heavily on how they treat or regard your business whenever they think about it.

So, if you have absolutely ZERO control on how people will come to regard your business’s brand, what are you going to do? The most obvious answer will be to “tweak” things in the market to make people think of your brand in the way that you want them to.

This is where positioning becomes important and it can be both an art and a science. It’s an art in the sense that it relies heavily on evoking very human emotions on an audience to engage them. This is basically your company’s vision and mission statement as they dictate every single thing that you and your employees do and offer to the market.

On the flip side, it’s a science in itself as it also relies on well-defined processes to work. How positioning should be done is different from business to business but, for the sake of simplicity, you should always make sure that you answer a few questions whenever you are attempting to positioning your own business in the market.

  • 1. What do your customers feel when they think about your business?No matter how well you do your company’s statements, there is always that clash between what images they want to evoke in the market versus what people really think and feel about them. For every fashion designer thinking that their clothes are “fashion forward” and “avant-garde”, there are millions of people in the market that think of the same as “weird, overpriced sh*t”. For every comic book company out there that wants to make people think that they’re progressive, there would be thousand that think they are “pandering to SJWs”. and the list goes on.

    You have to know what the market thinks about your brand or, if you’re just starting out, what they think of other similar businesses. This way, you can have an idea as to how to approach the market given their preconceptions about your business. If possible, also, make sure that that preconception is very specific even if not exactly true and, at the very least, desirable for you.

  • 2. How do you act on your company’s values?If there’s one thing that customers hate, it would be inconsistency and this often happens when you say one thing in your statement and do the complete opposite. The values that you have made for your business’s statement are more than just words to make the reader feel good about you. They’re actually a set of principles that you and your people would have to follow. To the letter, if possible.

    Case in point; videogame company Electronic Arts is no stranger to controversy ever since the early 2010s. The biggest criticism always hurled at the company is when they release press release after press release that they are “in it for the gamers” or has “learned from its mistakes” and would not allow “predatory practices” in their games but would then release games that does neither of the first two and features the third by the handfuls.

    The last controversy they had is the way they handle the overall response to their Battlefield 5 trailer by telling gamers to not buy the game if they don’t like women in it. The end result is that the game, as of writing, has the poorest pre-order figures compared to past games of the franchise and, worst yet, trailing behind Call of Duty (it’s most major competitor, by the way) by a whopping 85%.

    The lesson here is if that a company does what it says, then the chances of the market responding positively will be higher.

  • 3. Does Everyone in the Company Share the Same Goal?The message you have to convey to the market should not only be good, it should be unified. Basically,everyone from every department, top to bottom, However, it’s not enough that everybody in your company knows of your mission-vision. They’d have to agree to it.

    The reason for this is simple: every single person employed in your company acts as a representative of sorts for the business. As such, their actions outside can impact the overall image of the company.

    Just take a look at the curious case of the would-be intern at NASA who got fired over her tweets.

    It’s not the fact that she was quite profane when she announced her internship at the agency on Twitter that got her fired. It wasn’t even really the fact that she told Homer Hickam to do something with her, well, private parts that really sealed her fate. It’s the fact that she is bringing such an attitude to the work place of a company that values professionalism at all times that did. Just imagine the damage control NASA had to perform if they allowed her internship to proceed while already setting up a negative precedent online.

  • 4. What do You want to be Known for?Let’s set things straight, there’s a difference between your product/service claims and your mission statement. In other words, what you want to be known for is entirely different from you making a claim about something that your company offers.

    A Domino’s branch may say that it offers the best pizzas in town (like we haven’t heard that before, right?) but what it wants to be known for is this great place to order pizza at with your friends and family. Those two things might correlate but they are never the same.

    The thing that you have to be known for, in short, would be the legacy that it leaves once it closes somewhere, hopefully, in the distant future. Whatever that is, it must be seen in your statement, manifested in your actions, and widely practiced by the company inside and out.

Innovation Done Right

Admit it, you’d rather innovate. After all, innovation is the way that businesses grow and maintain a competitive edge over everybody else in the market. In fact, it’s the only way that you can keep your business relevant in the market.

Here’s the problem, though. Not all innovative ideas are, well, equal. Some are so simple yet so effective that you wonder why you haven’t thought of it in the first place, some are quite demanding but will yield you considerable returns if you play your cards right, and there are those that are the business equivalent of putting lipstick on the proverbial pig i.e. an exercise in futility.

So, how do you tell apart which innovations work and which, well, don’t? There are a few aspects that you have to consider in order to do that.

  • 1. Value Proposition The reason why that innovative idea should be a core to your value proposition is for the simple fact that you are going to invest a considerable amount of time, effort, and resources in it. If it does not help your business meet its goals, why even bother doing it?

    The very first aspect you have to address here is the purpose for the innovation. Are you doing it to help the company grow or are you innovating just for innovation’s sake? Also, you’d have to define the market that it is going to target as well as the strategies necessary to promote it.

  • 2. LeverageThe major element that you have to identify here is Opportunity. Is the innovative idea you have target an opportunity you have identified in the market or, at least, born from it? Are there preset tools, strategies, and logistic chains that can help you pull this idea off while saving you a lot of money from implementation? What would be the impact that missing out if you don’t apply this idea?

    The point here is to identify whether or not your business already has the ability to apply this idea. Alternatively, at the very least, the business should benefit greatly from it should it go out of its way to implement it.

  • 3. PriorityLastly, you’d have to determine how much a single innovation is going to change the very way your business operates. To do this, you must consider the topmost priorities you currently have now. If you implement your ideas now, which of those priorities would have to give way or be scrapped entirely? And if you put that innovation as the topmost priority, what would the people above and below you on the organizational chart say?

    You have to understand that a lot of innovative ideas are labor intensive which means that, if they become priorities, you and your people will have to sacrifice equally important activities just to complete it.

    Just remember that these aspects are meant to clarify your ideas, not disqualify it. If you think that some of your innovations are a bit lackluster in any of these three areas, its an opportunity for you to refine them and give them supporting strategies, new and improved mission statements, and every other tool that you can think of that can make your ideas feasible; at least in paper.

Are You Ready to Launch?

So, can a whole lot of preparation ensure that you will have a successful launch for your business? Not really. Nothing in this world can give you the assurance that your business will be a 100% success on launch.

However, what preparation does is make you a bit more knowledgeable as to where you should take the business for maximum effect and what risks to avoid or mitigate. After all, learning what can make your launch successful tends to increase your chances of doing exactly just that.

What possible problems have you envisioned when launching a business? What strategies do you have in mind to address or avoid them? Let us know in the comments below!





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