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Tips for Executing Your First Product Launch: PMM Leaders Weigh In

Posted by Emily Dumas on Fri Aug 30, 2019 08:15 AM

Today’s the day - you’re planning your first product launch! So, where do you start? There are many variables required for product launch success. There are important steps pre, during, and post-launch that will help you nail your first product launch. 

Your first product launch may seem daunting at first, but there are ways to ensure everything goes smoothly. Consider these seven pieces of advice from product marketing experts as you tackle your first big launch. 

Write the Product Narrative 

Before you create your product launch assets, you should write your product narrative, or product brief. You want to ensure that you and your team have a central place for all of the key messaging and information for your various launch outputs. Here’s what Annum Munir, Product Marketing Manager at Google Cloud has to say about writing the product narrative. 

Before you create any asset for the product launch, write a product narrative. Although this is an internal document, it should lay out the one liner that captures the product value, the 50-word description, the key messages / benefits, and the competitive landscape. This document should inform all public comms for the product launch. The goal of this narrative is to get your entire go-to-market team on the same page about how to speak about the product (i.e., position it in the market), highlight its differentiators, and answer the question, ‘Why should customers care about it?’”

-Annum Munir, Product Marketing Manager, Google Cloud

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Set Goals to Measure Your Launch 

No launch will be a success if you don’t set key performance indicators (KPIs). For your first launch, especially, you want to set goals that you will be able to reflect upon and measure once that launch has been executed. Ellie Mirman, CMO at Crayon, highlights the importance of setting KPIs

Launching a product, and choosing the best metrics to determine whether that launch is successful, can be a challenge during your first launch. Setting clear goals around these KPIs, getting alignment from internal teams around your objectives, and ultimately measuring performance against these metrics, will set your first launch up for success. 

-Ellie Mirman, CMO, Crayon

Tap Into Your Internal and External Experts

As a product marketer, you have access to every team within your organization. You should collaborate with the appropriate stakeholders and ensure that everyone involved with the launch process is ready to go. In addition to using your in-house network, be sure to tap into your external resources, to cover all of your bases. Alex Kevork, Vice President, Employer Integrated Segment & Product Marketing Strategy at Monster has a great piece of advice on this. 

“Bring in as many people as you can to collaborate on your plan, but also be sure to lead. It takes a lot to manage opinions, and you’ll often have to make sacrifices, but if it’s your first one, you want to be sure you’ve got your bases covered. Is the sales team properly trained? Have you worked with pricing? Are you sure of the competitive landscape? It’s about collaboration and you need cross-functional stakeholder buy-in, but you should be prepared to be the owner of both the wins and the failures. Also, use external resources. If it’s your first launch, even try to get some budget for a Sirius Decisions or Pragmatic Marketing. They are pros and can help you think about how to adapt their best practices into your specific circumstances.”

-Alex Kevork, Vice President, Employer Integrated Segment & Product Marketing Strategy at Monster

Find Your Points of Leverage

Product launches go through several stages, so you want to be thorough within each stage to make sure you don’t miss key opportunities. Meghan Keaney Anderson, VP of Marketing at HubSpot, suggests that you need to find your points of leverage for your launch. 

Find your points of leverage! Our launches go through several stages - audience research, message testing and development, channel and execution selection, launch and measurement. Each one of those stages can reveal an opportunity - an audience segment you may have otherwise missed, a channel with great compound returns, a collection of advocates - internal or external - who can amplify your launch. 

-Meghan Keaney Anderson, VP of Marketing, HubSpot 

Keep Your Stakeholders Up-to-Date

There are many stakeholders involved in a launch. It’s important to ensure that everyone is on the same page from start to finish, and that communication is is flowing throughout your organization. Jessica Webb, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Trello, shares her insight.

“Make sure all internal stakeholders are aligned and on a schedule. Use Slack? Get them into a channel, stat! Finally, make sure everyone stays on the same page! Trello is great for GTM Launches - https://blog.trello.com/go-to-market-strategy-in-trello as it makes it super easy to for everyone to see progress and updates (and you can copy that board again the next time you have a launch -yay templates!)”

-Jessica Webb, Senior Product Marketing Manager Trello

Analyze Your Launch 

Not every launch will be perfect, but every launch is a learning experience. The best thing for you and your team to do after a launch is to analyze the process. Here’s what Cody Bernard, Product Marketing Manager at Drift has to say: 

“You’re going to make mistakes, but it will only help you get better. Nothing is ever going to be perfect when it comes to a product launch, but it’s something you can continuously learn from. 

After the launch, do an after action report - figure out what went right and what went wrong. Double down on what went right, but take ownership of what went wrong. As you do your next launch, make sure that those are the things you’re looking into as you’re building your go-to-market plan.”

-Cody Bernard, Product Marketing Manager, Drift

Celebrate Product Adoption

Once all of the hard work is over, it’s time to celebrate. The goal of a launch is to bring your product to market, and the hope is that your product or new feature will be adopted by your target audience. Jake Godgart, Product Marketing Manager at Rapid7, has a strong piece of advice for why celebrating adoption is important. 

“Choose to instead celebrate the impact of the launch as you hit milestones and compare it to your expected "split times" - are customers adopting the new solution? Is there an impressive growth in new pipeline because of it? How has that impacted expansion revenue pipeline? Are we seeing net new leads come in? Internally, are the sales teams actively incorporating the new messaging to their demos and calls? If you're not hitting the milestones fast enough, just like a race, you might need to adjust your strategy.”

-Jake Godgart, Product Marketing Manager, at Rapid7 

Unfortunately, there is no magic wand that you can wave for product launch success. But, if you take the advice from these product marketing leaders, you will be able to execute your first product launch smoothly from start to finish. 

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