Successful product launches are one of the most important contributions a marketing team can make on behalf of their organization. They’re a dynamic, exciting opportunity for marketers to shine - but are also a highly collaborative and risky endeavor with multiple moving parts, any of which can go sideways.
Thankfully, there are ways to minimize uncertainty and make your next product launch a success.
Jeff Thompson, President and Co-Founder at Aventi Group, sat down with Helen Dwight, Global VP and Head of Marketing Intelligent Enterprise and Industries at SAP, for an #AventiLive Chat on best practices for Go-to-Market launches.
Read on for some of their key suggestions, and download our free eBook on product launch best practices.
We’re going to hone in on a variety of best practices critical to the success of any GTM program, including:
- The role of messaging
- Putting contingency plans into place
- Why it’s recommended to start with a small team
- Preparing for launch day
- How to focus on the basics
Messaging, messaging, messaging
The first thing you want to do when planning a product launch is to define exactly what it is you’re launching - and to whom.
You can broaden your target segment as you go along, but make sure your product messaging covers that specific group first. What are the customer needs, wants, and pain points, and how does your product address them?
Once you’ve determined your audience and answered these key questions, craft a message that’ll make your story relevant and compelling to that group. However, don’t go into too much detail - your messaging should be simple as well as memorable.
Can you describe your product concisely, or does it require you to memorize a long list of adjectives? If you can’t remember your pitch, chances are your customer won’t, either.
Endorsements are key
In order to hone your messaging, talk to the early customers that’ve been working with your product development team.
Their endorsements will give you a proof to back up your value proposition, and they will give you plenty of unique, funny, or even newsworthy stories to make your product stand out from the rest.
For example, Helen Dwight mentioned an early analytics customer that used SAP software to track bear attacks in British Columbia. This use case was a clear departure from other early customers, so it was a great example that was guaranteed to make potential customers remember their product.
Make a plan B (and C, and D…)
It’s also important to realize that even in the best-case scenario, things won’t always go as planned.
For example, your key spokesperson or customer may not be able to make it; you could encounter technical difficulties (which are becoming more and more likely in the current day and age); the venue may cancel or change, and so on. Therefore, always play out as many possible scenarios as you can, and have a plan B - or even plan C, D, etc.
For example, many organizations are now going totally virtual with their launches or providing a hybrid backup plan just in case. While virtual launches can present a whole separate set of issues - did someone say technical difficulties? - it’s smart to have at least one set of variables accounted for beforehand, as outlined in our piece outlining how to plan a successful virtual event.
Start with a small team
Having the right team of people around you makes all the difference in planning and implementing a successful product launch. You’re going to be working under a lot of pressure, so collaboration and communication are key.
One good strategy is to start small. Choose a core set of people that need to know the intricacies of the process, then reinforce the roles, responsibilities, and timeline with them.
Be sure to keep all of your stakeholders informed of the plan to avoid any surprises down the road, and expand the active team slowly and strategically by bringing others on board at the right point in time.
The big day
In terms of actual execution, even the best-planned product launches depend on one key thing: having the product easily available to customers.
So, as the big day approaches, make sure all the key logistical pieces are in place for your launch: Is your content ready? Do you have enough inventory for your event? Have your sales and customer service teams been trained on the new product, how it benefits customers, and how to use it?
While you’re checking on those final essential details, build anticipation by running launch announcements via social media, email lists, press releases, etc. Use all of the platforms available to you to get that carefully crafted message in front of your potential audiences’ eyes and drive sales.
Focus on the basics
Product launches can be unpredictable, tricky, and time-consuming to plan. But a successful product launch can also be the key to putting your new or updated product on the map. As Helen Dwight reminds us, make sure you lock in the basics first:
- A differentiated, compelling message
- As many early customer endorsements as you can get
- The right set of people and skills around you
- A backup plan - or two
Once you have those key pieces figured out, you can get creative with your offering. For example, can you schedule the launch at a venue in your main competitor’s hometown? Or find a conference that’s focused on the exact need your product is addressing?
Because remember: product launches are supposed to be dynamic and exciting, both for the attendees as well as the team putting them on. So get your plan locked in, buckle in, and enjoy the ride.
This article was written by Sasha Mostofi-Jorgensen, Partner at Aventi Group.
She has over 20 years of experience working for technology organizations in strategic roles across development, sales engineering, and product marketing. As the Vice President of Product Marketing and Inbound Marketing at Spirion, a data security company, she was instrumental in driving campaigns that contributed to 75% of the sales pipeline.
Prior to Spirion, Sasha led product marketing at WhiteHat Security, where she built the product marketing team from the ground up, managing the entire portfolio of SAST and DAST products.
Sasha is on the board of Girl Up Uganda Initiative, and an Executive Mentor for social entrepreneurs at Santa Clara University’s Miller Center.