Thursday, September 28, 2023

Mastering the product launch

8 Steps for a fantastic product launch for your kick-ass product

So the development cycle is almost done. Customers reviewed your product and are loving it. You are ready to take it to market, but how do you go about it. Here are 10 steps for a kick-ass launch.

1 Make a plan

A product launch is not the same as just organizing a launch webinar. A solid product launch requires many activities that are spread out over many days or weeks, and require the involvement of a lot of people.

When launching a new product I start writing down the activities, task owners and timelines. This gives you a feeling for the amount of work involved in launching the product. You can then use a Kanban board for example to visually track completion of your activities.

Positioning Marketing Prep Launch prep Launch Post Launch
Positioning of the product Sales deck ready Launch type (webinar, roadshow) Dry-run of the event Follow up email
Key messages Demo video Invitation Launch event Handholding first
Channel selection Website up to date Training of
sales teams
Announcement to key partners Check in with
sales team
Buyer personas Product factsheet / brochure Speaker selection Send out press release Post launch evaluation
  Pricing defined and
active in system
Contract venue /
webinar company
  Product available in system Launch incentive    
  Frequently asked questions Launch website    
  Product embedded
in processes
Distribution list    
  Sales contracts updated Social media messages    
    Blog post written by influencer    

2 – Be clear about your positioning

The right positioning of your product is an art in itself. High price – low price, high quality – low quality, fast – slow, no frills – luxurious. The positioning you choose for your product will influence many things – like the price you will be setting, the type of marketing activities you will be performing, etc. If your product is positioned similar like your competitors products, you will find yourself in a situation where you have to keep explaining your proposition against the competition. If you find an interesting (and attractive enough) niche, you will be be able to lead.

Product positioning describes the specific market you intend to win and why you are uniquely qualified to win it. It’s the underpinning of your go-to-market and impacts everything from marketing to sales, to customer success and the product itself.“ April Dunford

Finding the right position is key before your product is going to the market. If you don’t do this well from the get-go, it will be very difficult to change this later.

3 – Overdo your collateral

You’ve lived your product since inception and know exactly what your product does, how it works, and how it will delight your customers. Your product does not need an introduction, it speaks for itself – right? Unfortunately not. Build content while keeping the end in mind. What does your customer need to know about the product, how will your sales team engage with this customer, what marketing content does the marketing team need, what will you write in the release notes for the operations teams.

I typically start with building the sales deck, as this makes you think hard about the positioning of the product and its’ key features. The Why has to come out clearly in this presentation. Next is the content for the website, basically your presentation with a solid notes section. Then a product fact sheet, explaining the What in great detail. If you need more, it will probably be a tutorial, associated with a video. I’m not a big fan of brochures, so i’m staying away from those, unless roadshows are part of the gig.

4 – Communicate directly with your customers

Your account managers rock, they are your eyes and ears in the market and guardians of the relationships with your customers. However they are not necessarily marketeers. When they engage with customers they have to consider priorities and figure out what is the best topic for a conversation with the customer. This may not be your product!

So don’t push the product through the sales team to your customers. Communicate directly with your customers, and create a pull towards your sales teams. Your sales team will love this, as it’s the most optimal way to spend their time.

5 – Make the launch event memorable

The launch event needs to be a slick delivery. This is only possible when your preparation is thorough. Make sure your venue, or online webinar provider is slick. Go visit them to check out the place, don’t assume anything. Make sure the food is good, and the camera crew know what they do.

Prepare the storyline for the event, and the key outcomes you want people to walk away with. Write the script – write the script – yes, write down everything. Prepare questions and sample answers, and be ready to use these questions in case no questions will come. Conduct a dry run to test out the messages.

It sounds like a lot of work, is that necessary for the launch? Yes, as if this is done well, you will benefit from this long after. There is only 1 chance to make an impact.

When using tech instead of face to face deliver your webinar on a Tuesday or a Thursday between 10.00 AM and 2.00 PM. When your audience is global, deliver 2 seminars, one in the morning and one in the evening to ensure you cover as many countries as possible. If you are sending out emails, don’t send out emails on Fridays or Mondays.

6 – Involve supergurus

Supergurus are influencers who know their stuff. Involve them in your session for two reasons. First, they are a brand and you can leverage this brand to draw attention to your brand. Secondly, they provide credibility for your product. It’s just like advertisement on TV that relies on celebrities to tell a story.

7 – Prepare your team

Many people in your company are going to play a role in taking your product to the market. Not just the sales guys who are going to position and sell your product, but also the finance team who will manage invoicing, the ops people who need to deliver the product as well as the marketeers who are going to run promotional activities for your product.

Think about the information need for these audiences, and how to best convey this message. Product management is about taking everyone along in loving your proposition so spending the extra mile in education your team will help you do miracles.

8 – It ain’t over until the fat lady sings

One of the biggest reasons for product failures is the lack of follow up after the launch. You probably thought – the product has been launched, my job is over. Sorry pal, your job is only starting now. Product managers take control over their product from cradle to grave. This means you have to keep nurturing the product in the market, review your products’ adoption, assess performance, continue to run marketing activities. The risk is that your attention shifts to the next product in line, internal meetings, and operational issues that need to get sorted.



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