Successful new products can enhance the success of an organization, and product introduction is critical to that success. With a failure rate of new products estimated as high as 50% at launch (Cooper and Edgett, 1996), new product launch strategies are critical to new product success; or, as Delre, et.al., (2007) suggest, “the initial phase of market penetration is a critical moment for the future direction of a product. A fast and substantial takeoff can guarantee a competitive advantage.”
As Duquesne University prepared to launch the Master of Science in Sports Leadership (MSSL) program for fall 2006, it was acknowledged that, in order to facilitate diffusion and reach enrollment targets, pre- and post-launch advertising messages that both appealed to as well as reached the potential students had to be developed and placed. Delre et. al. (2007) acknowledge the complexity and unpredictability of promotional planning, noting that “the optimal targeting strategy as well as the right timing for promotional mass media campaigns remain unclear.” Recognizing these challenges, the MSSL program launch committee was charged with identifying an optimal promotional strategy.
LITERATURE REVIEW The MSSL program uses quantitative measurement to assess the attainment of stated objectives of particular advertising campaigns. In terms of true advertising effectiveness, measurement of website hits following ad drops can be considered a measure of desired behavior by the target audience. Subsequent student applications are another measure of behavior, and, as such, equate with sales. Bendixen (1993) suggests that actual product sales, or “surrogate variables such as market share” are the only true measure of the behavioral stage of communication, such that “advertising effectiveness measurement is concerned with the quantitative description and interpretation of the advertising sales response function.” While Bendixen also suggests that advertising effectiveness measurement is not as concerned with specific campaigns as with the long-term due to sales and advertising often aggregated on a monthly basis. However, due to the use of web statistics through SLPnet, we were able to capture data on a pre-campaign basis. Abraham and Lodish (1990) and Lodish et al. (1995a) suggest that an effective advertising strategy begins with an understanding of how advertising works (i.e., how it affects consumers), as ineffective campaigns waste organizational resources. Promotional strategies can play an important role in new product launch, particularly in the early stages of The Journal of International Management Studies, Volume 4, Number 2, August, 2009 89 the product life cycle, helping to propel the new product from introduction to growth thus impacting product adoption. External influences, including promotions and advertising, tend to drive sales during the introduction phase, though it can be challenging to determine the most effective targeting and timing (Delre et.al., 2007). Because expenditures in both marketing and production occur in product development, Guiltinan (1999) suggests that product launch may be one of the largest financial investments an organization may make. Numerous studies of product launch/product introduction have been conducted in the industrial arena. There is much research to support the necessity of promotion as a mechanism for facilitating diffusion of new products (Delre et.al, 2007). While the new product in question, the MSSL program is not an industrial product, the authors accept that similarities do exist and borrow from this literature.
According to Calantone et.al. (1996), new product success correlates to the level of marketing skills and resources as well as technical skills and resources, and a launch strategy includes reaching a target market with the marketing offer as well as generating sales through marketing efforts (Green and Ryans, 1990; Choffray and...
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