What is a product launch?
When you think of a product launch, what comes to mind? A good product launch strategy has a simple goal—to be the “hype train”. It’s all about creating buzz and getting your audience excited about your product.
Product launches shouldn’t only be reserved for main releases since you do a lot of work to your product offerings throughout the year that deserves a shout. From a marketing perspective, celebrating the “small wins” is equally important for customer acquisition and retention. One thing is for sure: every product launch is different, and yours is no exception. Let’s break it down.
Types of product launches
Just as you wouldn’t launch a new eBook without an amplification strategy, you shouldn’t try to launch a new (or existing!) product offering without a launch plan.
Product launches require loads of planning and execution, and that can feel overwhelming especially when you’re just getting started. But that work is critical to ensuring a successful launch. Appcues’ Director of Product Marketing, Anand Patel, explains it nicely below:
Some of the most effective launches introduce new products in phases, each serving a unique purpose.
When executed well, a phased approach will build momentum and excitement over time, with each release playing a key role in making sure the hype train stays on the tracks. 🚂
Because of their complexity, phased launches are typically employed when launching a significant new product or feature (just wait until we cover “launch tiers” in Lesson 4!) versus an incremental improvement. Even if you decide to proceed with a more straightforward approach, you can still employ bits and pieces from each phase. We’ll learn more about pre-launch product discovery and beta testing in Lesson 3.
Who’s responsible for product launches?
Product marketers, stand tall 🙋. This is your race, as you should own the product launch vision and strategy (and rely on your rockstar marketing team for execution, of course 👊).
Borrowing from our friends over at Product Marketing Alliance to break down what world-class product marketers do:
The role of a product marketer is two-fold. First, they work to develop on-point messaging and a robust go-to-market strategy for their designated product. From there, they act as a user champion— working tirelessly to understand the unique needs and challenges of their users and then coordinating with engineering to address them.
As the below venn diagram depicts, product marketing is the ultimate cross-organizational role:
The launch team
When it’s product launch go-time, product marketers act as conductors leading the cross-functional orchestra. They are the leader behind all product launch initiatives, keeping everyone organized, accountable, and on target to hit the end goal of launch day.
While every good launch needs a strong leader, they can’t be planned and executed in a silo. Product launches impact—and need support from—your entire organization. That’s why product marketers typically work with a core group of cross-functional participants. Representatives from product management, sales, customer success and support, and marketing are most common.
Once the team is in place, you should schedule weekly meetings to keep communication high and ensure every function is on track with key initiatives. As you get closer to the big day, consider increasing the meeting cadence with daily standups. Things are about to get loud!
Product launch calendars
Speaking of keeping things on track, there sure are a ton of moving pieces when it comes to product launches, huh? It’s truly a juggling act. How the heck do you avoid dropping balls?
Cue the product launch calendar:
A product launch calendar is an effective tool that gives you and your team a clear line of sight and ownership into all the moving parts of your product launch. Unsurprisingly, the best product launch calendars include the early stages of product discovery all the way through post-launch adoption campaigns.
Remember the hype train? A product launch calendar is a must if you want to keep your hype train (and sanity) on the rails. Be sure to review your calendar during every weekly launch team meeting or daily standup.
🚀 Need a product launch calendar? Here are 4 of our favorites.