Launch plan fundamentals
Now that we’ve covered the very early stages of launch prep, it’s time to start thinking about how you’ll actually announce this magnificent creation of yours.
Most companies launch products and features frequently, but not every launch is made equal. That’s why it’s important to come to agreement early on the level of the launch, especially among the key stakeholders.
Using a launch tier framework, you can easily prioritize and categorize launches.
With this system, you’ll rank each launch between Tier 1 (make a big splash) and Tier 4 (release it quietly). This framework allows you to strategize how you take products to market because:
• You can’t shout about each product and feature (or give each the same level of promotion), otherwise your customers will just stop listening
• You have restraints on time and resources, so you need to make sure you prioritize the launches that will provide the largest business impact
• A framework creates a fair and consistent way of prioritizing launch activities, so that something doesn’t get extra love just because the champion was a little bit louder (we’ve all been there)
Once you’ve aligned on a launch tier, you’re ready to start drafting your plan.
Audience & segmentation
The first thing you need to include in your launch plan is a clearly defined target audience.
Since you did the research before developing your product and gathered feedback from beta users, this part should be a breeze. But just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s not critically important to document. Remember, not everybody in your organization is as close to the customer and product as you are. A big part of your job now is to get everybody in the same boat, rowing in the same direction.
If your company has already developed user and/or buyer personas, this is a great time to use them. Small Business Sally can’t wait for this launch!
Positioning and messaging
A solid product positioning statement how you solve your target audience’s pain points and why they should choose your product over your competitors.
Too often, outlining the story behind your product is rushed or overlooked. But we all know how essential storytelling is to connecting with your company’s vision and your audience. Taking time to develop the right narrative about your product offering is almost as important as the product itself.
Product positioning is how your product fits into the market and what pain point it solves. Typically not customer-facing, your positioning statement is most effective as an internal tool to keep your teams aligned.
Used properly, a positioning statement should help ensure that every touchpoint is cohesive and connects back to a clear and unique value proposition. Ultimately, those touchpoints will shape your prospects’ and customers’ perception of your product.
[Your product's name] is the [market category] that provides [benefit that sets your product apart from the competition] for [target user group] who [need/want X solution].
Your positioning strategy should be informed by the research and audience insights gathered through the early stages of this process (hint: starting with discovery). Competitive intelligence should also be an input. What makes your product better—and ideally, different—than the alternatives?
Regardless of your approach, defining your positioning early will put you and your team in a position to succeed.
🚀 VP of Marketing Eric gives a full breakdown on product positioning statements here.
Product messaging is the words that you use to convey your positioning to your target audience. It’s the expression of the positioning—where it comes to life. Your messaging should capture the key points you want to convey about your product or service. Consider: what do you want customers to remember?
Unlike positioning, messaging is written with an external audience in mind. It should resonate with your product’s target audience and be used consistently across all externally-facing assets, including your website, sales collateral, and marketing campaigns.
Hot tip: If your new product or feature still needs an official name, you may be in luck. Consciously or not, your product's name will shape users' perception of it. Take this opportunity to reinforce your positioning—just don't overthink it.
Pricing & packaging
Let’s talk money—more specifically, pricing and packaging. Pricing and packaging is a big topic; one that we can’t possibly cover in its entirety here (🤔 new academy course?). But it’s a critical piece of the product launch puzzle, so let’s cover the basics.
Pricing strategies typically consider one or both of the following:
• What do my competitors charge for this or a similar product/feature?
• What is the value of this new product to my customers?
When it comes to setting a price, think micro and macro. Pricing needs to make sense from a market perspective but also for your brand’s perceptive value.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, we generally recommend pricing based primarily on value. Yes, competitor pricing matters, and may very well act as an anchor to your pricing, but even more important is your audience’s willingness to pay based on the value you provide. The simplest way to get started: ask your customers what they think it’s worth. If they’re not ready to put a dollar value on it, ask them to rank your new product’s value relative to other products and features they use today.
Packaging is the jelly to pricing’s peanut butter. Or, if you’re Elvis, its banana. It’s actually pretty good. You should try it.
In short, packaging refers to the scope of features and functionality within distinct packages, commonly referred to as “plan tiers” in SaaS. Here are a few questions to get you started:
• Who will benefit from this product?
• What segments of my existing audience should use this product?
• How does this product fit into my existing pricing and offerings?
When launching something new give careful consideration to who will benefit from the product or feature. Use this information, along with your “willingness to pay” intel, to determine how you should package your solution for targeted segments. For a product with existing plan tiers, confirm which customer segments benefit from the new feature and how that relates to your current packaging and upsell strategy.
At this point, you’re ready to take this show on the (internal) road!