As product marketers, it’s the foundational materials that we put together hundreds if not thousands of times throughout our careers that in the end result in peak performance when it comes to launching a product.

In this article, I’ll cover the go-to-market foundations and how to unify your entire team around bringing a product to market and ultimately successfully quarterbacking a launch.

I am Jeffrey Vocell, the Director of Product Marketing at Iterable, and I'll be outlining topics such as:

I want to take a moment to begin here to acknowledge what's happening in the broader world, it's just horrific and I wanted to have this background here because I think it's super important that as product marketers, as individuals, as we think about being inclusive and sharing our message out to the broader world right now, we have a real opportunity to lead the way, so to speak, there. I will stop it at that but I just wanted to say that.


Quarterbacking a launch

Tom Brady, now former New England quarterback, which still breaks my heart a little bit - I am located in the Boston area just a bit north of Boston - is one of the best. He's been to nine Super Bowls, won six, and all of his career stats speak for themselves.

I don't need to prove them out to you but really the foundation of that comes in all of the work that he does, all the pre-work that he does before those games, studying game film, his dedication to practice, his home workouts, his diet and eating habits.

All of those things ultimately result in peak performance within games and hopefully really winning some of those games. I think it's pretty similar for product marketers, there's a lot of these foundational materials that we will put together, dozens or hundreds or maybe even thousands of times through our careers.


GTM foundation: reps & sets

It comes back to reps and sets throughout a lot of these materials. I want to start there, as I talk about how to quarterback a product launch as a product marketer.

Market & buyer research

First, it really all needs to start with market and buyer research. The foundation of your strategy has to be rooted in this research and this is where we as product marketers unlock a tonne of value.

The foundation of the GTM process is initially built on market and buyer research.

A lot of other groups within the company such as sales talking to your prospects and your product team talking to existing customers, you can get really close to them, this is where we can really unlock a tonne of value and get really close to the market as well.

Deliverables

I was just at HubSpot before coming to Iterable and I'm going to talk about a few key deliverables that the product marketing team delivers there and that I foresee being important to all product marketers.

Total addressable market

Some sense of what is the market size? What can we realistically capture with this new product?

I wouldn't produce a total addressable market for every launch. For a large-scale launch, you should absolutely be doing this though.

Buyer personas

You should have buyer personas, or maybe an ideal customer profile or ideal company profile that you're rolling out as well. In other words, who should your sales team be talking to and be prioritizing? And how should they be talking to them? Are massively important.

2x2 competitive matrix

I'm a fan of a great two by two matrix of any flavor or variety. In this particular case, I think a competitive matrix can be super helpful because it can really visualize where you fit into the market versus where some of your competitors fit into the market.

I think it can really help with this next piece, which is positioning.

Positioning

If you wind up in one of those quadrants, and all of your competitors wind up in another quadrant, then it's very clear that you should lean into maybe that key area, assuming that area is important to your buyers and important to the broader market as well.

I think it's important to have one centralized positioning document that talks about what your product is, how it fits into the market, what the messaging will be on your website.

I'm not going to dive deeply into how to do positioning in this article but I did want to share this brief grid of what we did at HubSpot.

The positioning of your product is essential during the GTM process.

Positioning grid

It all started with a shift that's happening in the broader world and then went down to the product, who the enemy was and the enemy, to be clear, it didn't necessarily have to be another company, it could be an idea, or even a long-held habit or structure or process that somebody was doing day in and day out within their jobs, why that's bad for their business, what the solution was to that, and then how it tied into the brand.

Ultimately, throughout all of our product launches throughout our roles as product marketers, a lot of our messaging should naturally tie back into the broader brand messaging. I think that's super important. That top and bottom line are incredibly important when it comes to this kind of positioning grid.

Campaign kickoff

This is a document to be clear, this isn't a meeting. This document should include things like:

  • What the value props for individual features are,
  • Keywords actual people are searching for,
  • If you're using an SEO tool you can easily find some of that data - you can also just find it via Google as well.
  • What's the pricing and packaging of your product or feature that you're launching?
  • Who are some of the more key customers that you're either A) targeting or B) are already using this product?
  • What are some goals and KPIs?

The list goes on. But what essentially are all of those foundational elements to your launch?

A campaign kick-off document outlines the essentials of your launch.

At HubSpot, we gathered all of this campaign kickoff information into the same document that we put our positioning in. That one document was if memory serves me correctly, roughly seven or maybe eight pages because it included a tonne of information.

The length is not important here what is important is to say that there was one central document that everyone across the broader marketing team, everyone across maybe the sales team, or various teams could go to to find out key information about this launch and the campaign as it was really being kicked off.

Deliverables

The key deliverables that you'll roll out here are a kickoff document and a go-to-market spreadsheet.

This go-to-market spreadsheet should be broken up by team that's involved in the launch, and should include very specific assets on each row, for example, a blog post on a row and maybe a webinar on a different row, things like that.

It should include who's responsible for that, what the status is, and when it's due.

Project management is naturally a function of our roles to some extent but if you do some of those things ahead of time, it will take a lot of the weight of that project management off of your plate and put it onto the spreadsheet. Then it's up to those individuals across those teams to consistently update that spreadsheet.


How to get cross-functional alignment

With those materials, you have a really solid foundation for your launch. But that's not all you have to do.

Those materials are a great first step and they will get you a long way towards your launch and towards really quarterbacking that launch in a very successful way.

Sizing up your launch

But you need to be aligned with your team and you need to also size up your launch in the right way. Not every launch deserves the same level of intention or materials that you'll produce.

I've certainly worked with a number of product managers in my career who are incredibly passionate about one specific thing that they're working on, or this new feature or functionality that they're about to roll out.

While that passion is admirable, and in many cases warranted, you also need to balance that with what the impact on the business and what your customers will be.

You shouldn't dedicate the full force, so to speak, of your marketing team, to something that is really small or will have very little impact on your broader business.

Some of the ways you can think about sizing a launch are these four sub-bullets that are identified here, such as maybe revenue, the potential to capture some of the broader total addressable market, and the impact on customers.

Size up your product launch; not every launch deserves the same level of intention or materials that you'll produce

Impact on customers

What I mean when I say impact on customers is really imagine a customer is going through their day to day workflow, and they are using your product, maybe they get up in the morning, they check their phone, they grab a cup of coffee, they log into your tool, and they're familiar with configuring an email in a specific way.

If this new launch fundamentally breaks the way they would have configured that email or drastically changes the way they would have configured that email, then you need to do a good job notifying them well ahead of time and giving them the resources to adapt to that new structure because you're affecting their day to day work.

That's super important and you need to be empathetic and respectful of that.

% of deals feature/product is raised in

If you're using a sales intelligence tool, like Gong or something similar, it's super easy to just jump into that tool and do a quick search and find some data that could really be telling.

There could be a dozen more sub-bullets here, but I think these four are a great starting point for you to think about as you think about how to scope out the size and scale of your launches.

DO NOT develop launch sizing in a vacuum

If you take away one thing from this section it would be this point. I truly hope that you are not developing your launch sizing in a vacuum.

You need to take the first shot at it based on what you think is right but then you need to collaborate with others across product and maybe sales and across your marketing team as well. Because they all need to be bought in, they all need to be aligned and excited about each of these launch tiers that you now will have once this document is produced.

An example

At HubSpot, we had four launch tiers; P1+, P1, P2, and P3. Different things went along with each of these launches.

Tier systems are often used by companies to differentiate between launch priorites.
P1+ campaigns

For a P1+ it was a really large-scale launch. HubSpot products are typically named with 'hub' in the name, a recent example is CMS hub or the example before that was service hub.

Those launches get the full weight and support of the entire marketing team. They get the full weight and support of the sales enablement team and various teams across the business to truly drive success for that launch.

It really should be that way for your business, whatever the top tier of your launches is it should have the full weight and support of all of these teams, all of your go-to-market teams to really help bring that to market in a strong way.

P3 campaigns

Versus something like a P3 had very, very minimal support. In fact, a lot of product managers rolled out P3s themselves without a product market or ever really touching it.

Now we would of course look at some of the copy and ensure that it was good to be customer-facing so to speak but we weren't heavily involved in producing a tonne of materials for a P3 level launch.

There's a spectrum between a P1+ and a P3, of course, and at least in my experience from my career working at numerous companies in product marketing, probably about 70 or 80 ish percent of launches fall in the middle two buckets.

So it will really be important for you to define what's in those buckets and how you can really divide those up in a really great way.


Product alignment

You have your launch levels, you have some of your positioning and some of your foundational documents like the go-to-market kickoff document.

1:1s

You should, of course, be having regular and recurring one on ones with your product managers or the broader product team.

Develop great relationships

I'm sure that probably sounds obvious, you're like 'yeah, of course', you probably are already doing that which is great. But it's important to get to know these people personally as well.

They're not just at your company to talk about work, or the project that they're working on, or the launch that you're working on together, get to know them a little bit.

  • What do they really enjoy doing?
  • What are some of their hobbies?
  • Are they married?
  • Do they have kids?

Whatever the case may be, figure out what they're passionate about, see what are some of those passions that maybe you share, and talk about those a little bit. That will help form a deeper relationship, a deeper bond, that ultimately will make your launches better because you will get information that maybe you wouldn't have, if not for that relationship.

Product alignment is essential. Have meetings with PMs and product teams, get to know your counterparts, and develop relationships.

I put a few key things here to discuss in one on ones, the list could certainly be a lot longer than just these four things but I think it's very, very important to discuss these four things, which are:

  1. What's the timeline for upcoming releases? I think PMs do a great job generally driving this but you need to also balance that with how much time do you need to prepare the true go-to-market for this launch?

If you can find out what the timeline is for alpha or beta, and then the full launch, that's awesome. It's especially awesome if you have weeks or months or however much time you need ahead of time that you're finding out about this.

  1. What are the roles and responsibilities? This will differ per company, there's no perfect structure that will work for every single company and for every single person. But there is certainly some overlap and some grey area between product managers and product marketing managers. Think about what that should look like.
  2. Size and scope of launch. At HubSpot, for example, some of the product managers are responsible for some of the pricing and packaging and how things will roll out, and what tier they will roll into. So they will produce a feature matrix, for example.

I mentioned CMS when we decided to roll out a brand new hub with two tiers, professional & enterprise tiers, the product team, of course, with input from product marketing, and sales, and executives and others, defined what those tiers would be, and they configured this feature matrix, that we helped distribute out to the broader organization to help enable the sales team, to help various marketers write about these features and write about the different tiers.

There's a whole bunch of things there, the feature matrix is probably a small piece of that, but you really should think about what those roles and responsibilities should be. It's not about being territorial, it's really about optimizing your work together so you can complement one another, as well.

  1. Examples of alpha or beta customers, the sooner you can get a customer into a product, or using your new feature or product, the better off you will be. It's just my personal opinion that you shouldn't be probably rolling out a really large-scale launch, like a P1+ style launch, without at least one case study, if not two or three case studies.

As well as logos of customers who are using that product, I think that's incredibly important. Social proof is incredibly important in today's day and age. Identifying some of these people early will pay dividends down the line.


How to align with marketing

The next team that you really need to have great alignment with is your broader marketing team. Your marketing team needs to get bought into the larger style launches that you have. When you develop that launch sizing, P1+, P1, etc., you should also join that together with a set of baseline activities.

Baselines activities

In other words, what activities are your marketing team going to do for each launch tier? Are you going to:

  • Produce a blog post,
  • Product video,
  • Product page,
  • Partner training,
  • Sales training?

The list is endless but what are you going to do for each of those launch tiers?

Regardless of how you tier it, whether it's t-shirt size, numbers, or something else, you don't need to do all of those things for a really small-scale launch, as much as you certainly do for a very large-scale launch.

That's why getting that buy-in from other groups is incredibly important. Because once you have that baseline set of activities, once you have the launch tiering, you suddenly have this great process throughout the organization.

You and the product team are working on a launch, you agree that it's a P2  and you have this standard set of activities that you can do.

Again, I want to be clear that this isn't cookie-cutter, this is just a starting point for your launch.

Align your marketing during a large-scale launch.

Demand generation

As far as groups that you should work with demand generation is, of course, incredibly important. Our launches to a large extent can be revenue-driving activities. When they are, you really need to work very closely with your demand generation team, think about ways that the pain points that your product is solving for can tie out to the broader marketplace without being centered solely around your product.

Work with the demand generation team around that. Direct mail lately has been incredibly successful, webinars, virtual events, especially in a day and age where we are all in quarantine right now, is certainly one lever there.

But there are so many levers that you can pull and talk about with your demand generation team, that this is important.

Customer marketing

For your customer marketing team, they're going to be curious about a lot of things, such as:

  • Does this impact existing customers’ contracts?
  • Does this change existing functionality that they have?
  • Is there a cross-sell or upsell opportunity?
  • Is this an add-on they can add to an existing product that they have?
  • Do we need to notify the entire customer base?
  • Is this a small segment of the customer base?
  • Legally speaking, do we need to notify our customers? And if so,
  • Does that need to be a transactional email versus a standard marketing email?

All those questions are a subset of the questions your customer marketing team will ask of you. If you prepare some of those foundational documents that I mentioned ahead of time, the campaign kickoff, the launch tiering, the positioning, you should have answers to a lot of those questions, maybe not all, but a lot of them ahead of time.

You won't need to scramble last minute to find the answers to these and you'll be better set up for success when you go to customer marketing and talk about the thing you're launching or the new feature/product you're launching.

Partner marketing

Partner marketing is really an untapped resource. I think for a lot of product marketers, frankly, we could dedicate an entire article just on this topic and how to do it really well.

If you work with other technology partners, other companies, or maybe some agencies, like a PR agency or a web agency, consider how you can go to market together with them.

  • What's in it for them?
  • Is it lead sharing?
  • Is it usage of both of your tools?
  • Is it sales of both of your tools, and packaging those together to some extent?

Consider what the story between those can look like. Because if you're going to market with especially a broader company, for example Slack, they have an incredibly broad reach and an incredible customer base so think about ways that you can do co-marketing together.

If you're going to market with other agencies such as service-driven agencies like PR or maybe website design. etc., consider how you can go to market with them too and how they can maybe write on your blog or other activities to really get the word out about your launch.

Social & content marketing

I included a few questions here because I think it's important to focus on your story and your narrative here more so even than just your product. Now, don't get me wrong, both are incredibly important but you want to balance those.

If you just share your product page out on Twitter, you're probably not going to get a tonne of engagement from that versus if you share more story-driven format through audio or video or short headlines. With things like that you will naturally generate more engagement, you can certainly drive those folks back to maybe blog content or back to your product page.

But just directly sharing your product page may not have the desired results. I think these three questions can help you identify how to work with those folks and how to align with your team on the social and content marketing team.

  1. What is the broader narrative that needs to be told to the market?
  2. How can you best bring this story to life?
  3. What SEO opportunities are there?
Marketing alignment between partner marketing and social and content marketing is critical when launching a product.


How to align your enablement

Of course, it doesn't stop with just product or marketing, you need to align with sales as well as services and support.

Sales alignment

For sales, I think a lot of times product marketers wait until they have something relatively polished or it feels like it's maybe perfect to some extent. I think that's actually waiting too long.

Bring them in early

What I would do is if your company is at a size or scale where you have a sales enablement team, pull in a few of those folks or pull one of those folks early on in the process.

Have them get a demo of the product, whether it's from the PM or yourself, and share with them where you're positioning, where your messaging and narrative is at, at that point.

Because they can give feedback, they're maybe demoing the product day in and day out and they can give you really great feedback and points to think about pretty early on.

Enablement resrouces

Then talk about different enablement resources that they will need to really find success in pitching this product, whether that's battle cards or pitch decks or whatever the case may be, talk about various things that you can enable them with to ensure that they find success.

Services & support alignment

I think just as important is enabling services and support - they are getting questions day in and day out from customers about, does your product do this? Or, I wanted to use your product in this way and I'm not quite sure if I can do that.

Bring them in early

All of those various questions your customer support and customer success team are really the frontlines for. If you bring them in early and effectively, let them just ask a tonne of questions of you, give them a little bit of context about what the new product is, and then let them ask questions of you, the PM, and have the PM with you as well.

That can really uncover a lot of things that maybe you didn't think about in your narrative or positioning or your launch plan and maybe the product manager didn't think about from their side of things either.

Create FAQ document

My recommendation is to get all those questions on the table super early, think about them, and then create an FAQ document based on everything that you've heard not only in that meeting, but the meeting with sales and other meetings you've had leading up to that point, and then publish that document internally.

Because it's likely that executives or others throughout the organization will have questions as well. That can really help bring everybody on the same page.


How to communicate to company executives

I would be remiss to have a session about quarterbacking your product launch without talking about how to communicate up.

Whether you are a Junior Product Marketer or a Director of Product Marketing, or anywhere in between, communicating up is incredibly important to not only your career but the success of your launch as well.

The importance of executive communication

Review early

A few tips that I just want to briefly cover here, which are review your positioning and messaging with key executives early.

If you're at a size company, or just even if you're at a company where executives like being involved in the process, this will be incredibly important.

At HubSpot we went through a positioning process where first the product marketing team would review it,  then the marketing executives would review it and then even the founders of the company would review it.

That was a great thing to be totally candid because we got really great feedback in each of those sessions where we really refined and honed our positioning and our narrative and our story.

If you're at a company where maybe the founders really like to be involved, then don't shy away from involving them, get them involved early, because the earlier you get that feedback, the more you will mitigate last-minute changes to your launch plan and to your launch messaging, which can have a pretty wide downstream impact across a lot of various teams.

Adapt materials

If your executive team learns in different ways, or like seeing materials in different ways, versus just maybe text on the slide, then consider mocking that up in different ways.

For example, at HubSpot, we really liked mocking up things in a webpage format, because it visually brought it to life to a large extent, and visually showed, 'here's what this is going to really look like'. Consider different ways that your executives want to receive those materials.

Weekly or bi-weekly progress emails

You should send a weekly or maybe bi-weekly email that should go to the whole go-to-market team as well as some of the executives who are really bought into this launch.

That email should include a stoplight chart. In other words:

  • What is done for the launch? What percent of materials are done for the launch?
  • What is in progress, what percentage of materials are in progress? And,
  • What percent of materials are maybe blocked or not yet started?

If you even just have those three buckets that will bring a lot of transparency throughout the entire project. If you're sending that to the entire go-to-market team, as well as the executives, that will go a long way to really helping you stay on track and clear out roadblocks as well.

As you get closer to launch, include key executives

As you get closer to the launch, you should be having regular and recurring go-to-market team meetings that you should naturally pull executives into as well.


How to execute a go-to-market strategy

So far I've talked about the foundational materials, on one hand, I've talked about aligning with teams, which is the second piece of that. Now, as the quarterback of this launch, how are you going to execute that strategy? I'll talk about a few key ways of doing that.

GTM timeline & enablement

GTM team meeting

The first is when you kick off the go-to-market effort, you should get the entire go-to-market team, in one meeting, that you as the product marketer lead.

By the way, just to be clear, when I say go-to-market team, what I'm really referring to and the people that you should have in this meeting are obviously yourself, you should be leading the meeting, you should have the product manager in that meeting, or if this feature or product rollout encompasses multiple PMs then pull them all into that.

You don't necessarily want a team of 10 PMs in that meeting so if it's that large, then maybe define a few people who can speak for the group but if it's a smaller group, then pull those one or two individuals in.

You should have functional heads from various groups, such as customer marketing, partner marketing, and demand generation, assuming those are relevant and important to your launch.

You should have somebody from sales enablement, or services or success enablement in your group as well. If your company's at a size or scale where you don't have those enablement functions yet, maybe talk to a rep or two, or a CSM or two, and ask for their help being the figurehead for their group for this launch and pull them into those meetings, ask for essentially an hour of their time per week to really help you align around that.

What to cover

In this very first meeting, what you should go over is what is the product? Give the PM some airtime here, let them present what the product is, why they're developing it.

Then you should jump in with who's a target customer, what's the positioning, some of the pricing and packaging breakdowns, share any of that user or market or customer research that you've done so far, this is incredibly important because it'll get everyone on the same page.

If you have launch goals figured out at this point, then definitely share those, this will help bring everyone together onto the same page.

Regular cadence of meetings

You should naturally establish a regular cadence of these meetings. If you find out about a launch six months ahead of time, or 12 months ahead of time, you can probably have those meetings a little less frequently to start and then have them ramp up in terms of frequency as you get a bit closer.

But the importance here is to establish some sort of regular cadence that works for you and the team that will naturally lead you to a great place.

Establish a GTM channel

The third thing here is to establish maybe a go-to-market Slack channel - if you use Slack - or if your company leans a little bit more heavily on email, specifically, if you use G Suite, then establish a Google group which will have a shared email address that you can email and it will go out to everybody.

Share updates in that way. I have never worked on a single launch in my career that hasn't had some sort of changes throughout the lifecycle, whether it's last minutes, whether it's somewhere in the middle, whatever the case may be, and for whatever reason, it is (it doesn't matter what the reason is), communicating those changes out to the broader group and the broader go-to-market team is incredibly important.

Doing that in some easy ways, such as this team meeting, or a Google group or Slack channel will make your life a whole lot easier as a PMM rather than trying to go individual by individual or team by team.

GTM timeline and enablement.


Driving accountability

If I had $1 for every PMM who has told me 'but I'm like not a project manager' I would be a rich person and I may not even be delivering this article.

In all seriousness, I think as product marketing managers, we do have some responsibility for driving accountability across the entire go-to-market team.

I think where a lot of PMMs get held up is they feel the need to constantly check in with people on how are they doing and where's that asset at? If you have a standard and centralized resource that is agreed upon across the broader go-to-market team, is agreed upon across some of the VPS, directors, marketing, or across the organisation then you don't need that level of project management that some folks are thinking of.

GTM spreadsheet

All of those details of what you're doing for that launch should be in one central place, whether it's a spreadsheet or wiki page or something like that - I prefer a spreadsheet, I think it's a great resource for it.

Then there should be a DRIS on each of those, I mentioned the go-to-market team meetings, whether you're holding those weekly, bi-weekly, or whatever the cadence is, you should reinforce with everyone who is a part of that meeting and a part of the go-to-market team that they need to update the spreadsheet before that meeting.

That will be important and as a part of reinforcing that, that will naturally relieve a lot of the project management that you as the PMM have to do. Because you will constantly have an up-to-date spreadsheet week over week that you can show to your boss or some of the company executives or anyone that's curious about this launch.

Drive accountability within your team; this'll improve output and performance.


How to measure and communicate results

It's not just about aligning the team, but how we measure and communicate results is incredibly important. Certainly in my career, I've seen a lot of launches get let's just say 80% of the way through before we decide goals.

Decide goals early

I think that can be dangerous because you want to define what activities you're doing and those activities that you're doing across marketing should align with your goals.

If you have a launch that is around user generation, then you should really be aligning a lot of your paid spend and a lot of your broader marketing around user generation versus paid lead generation.

Set up appropriate tracking, routing, and reports

Based on what those goals are, if you have a product ops team, or revenue ops team, or marketing ops team, or maybe a business intelligence team, or even a web strategy team, maybe get a meeting on the books with you and some of those folks to set up the appropriate tracking, the appropriate lead routing, or user routing, and some of the reports to capture a lot of that.

Centralized dashboard

Then try to take some of those individual reports that they're putting together and put them into a centralized dashboard. Regardless of what tool that you're using, maybe Google Analytics, or Looker, or Amplitude or something similar to that nature, if you have one central place that you can direct everyone to find out about the success of that launch, that will go a long way and really help you share the results of that launch.

But also will keep everyone on the same page as well and it should reduce any confusion across the team.

For large launches...

For your largest launches, whatever the top of that scale is for you, I would recommend communicating on a cadence of:

  • Day of launch. If your product is launching at let's just say 9am in your respective time zone, then at 5pm or close to that in your time, send an email out to some of the executives as well as the entire go-to-market team involved in that launch with day of launch metrics.

Some of these day of launch metrics have to be naturally top-of-the-funnel focused, such as number of views to the product page or shares on your social content or things like that. Because especially if you have a longer sales cycle, you may not have deeper metrics to share at that point.

  • One week. You should share another update one week in and this update should go a little bit deeper into some of the core business metrics, assuming they're available at that point.
  • One month.
  • Three months.

Every business and every sales cycle may be slightly different - if you have a very long sales cycle that's maybe 90 days or six months even then you probably want to change this cadence a little bit.

You probably actually want to add a six-month email in that case so everyone across the entire go-to-market team and across your executive team has a full picture of how that launch impacted the business. I think that's incredibly important.


How to lead a product retrospective

Your job doesn't stop when a product is out the door. In fact, we could have an entire other article dedicated to driving adoption of the product once that product is out the door. But I think for product marketing teams like mine at Iterable and the team at HubSpot as well it’s very launch-focused.

The product team is cranking away and developing some really amazing things and so you stay very, very focused on launches which can develop and turn into this great cadence for the product marketing team.

Because of that, you really need to think about leading a retrospective.

Entire GTM team

You should get the entire go-to-market team together in one meeting, and lead a retrospective, somewhere between three and maybe four weeks post-launch, you want it to still be pretty fresh in their mind without being too early.

Safe space

I think you should do this next thing in all meetings, but it's especially important in this meeting where everyone needs to feel very safe, and feel empowered to be incredibly candid in this meeting.

Otherwise, you're not going to learn and be able to apply those learnings to the next launch. There's never been a launch in my career, I've worked on dozens and dozens and dozens of launches throughout my career so far, there's never been one single launch that's been absolutely perfect.

A few have been pretty close, I think or at least I hope, but there's never been one that's been totally perfect. That's okay. I want to strive towards making each successive launch a bit better than the previous launch was.

Capture lessons

The way that we do that is through these retrospectives and through learning, and the only way to truly do that in the right way is to get that feedback from other people. Learn what not only you are doing but what the broader team is doing well and could be doing better.

That one meeting can really be great. I think it's important to have everyone in that meeting, because you may hear something that you should be doing from another member of your team and those ideas can bounce off a few members and it can turn into something really great or a great conversation.

Share lessons

Once you have all of those learnings in one central place, whether it's a Google doc or something like that, share it with your PMM team, especially if your PMM team is two or more people, it's likely that the other person or other individuals across your team are working on a launch, while you are leading a retrospective for the launch that just happened.

If that is the case, they can take some of those learnings and apply them to their own launch so that they can improve. When they have a retrospective they can share those learnings with you for probably another launch that you may be working on at that point. It's incredibly important to share this across the team.

Lead a retrospective with your GTM team 3-4 weeks post-launch.


RECAP: quarterbacking a launch

First

Set yourself and your team up for success by starting with the fundamentals - reps and sets, we're going to do this over and over and over again in our careers as PMMs.

It starts with research, it goes into positioning, and then the campaign kickoff. Doing this in the right way will be incredibly important.

If you do it really well you should have a pretty smooth sail into the launch. It's of course a lot of work but doing these fundamental things upfront, will set you up for success.

Second

Choose the right size launch, choose it based on the impact to your customers and the impact on the broader business. Of course, take people's opinions into account when you're thinking about this but don't solely base a launch size based on one person's opinion or one person's passion for that specific thing.

Third

Organize your go-to-market team, figure out who you need in that launch team. If this launch has a tonne of potential to capture new business, then you need your demand generation team in there, you need your content marketing team in there, and make sure to get them bought in.

If you need to meet with them one on one, go ahead and do that, then bring them into the broader team meeting. But it's super important to get them involved and have a broader kickoff meeting between everyone that will be involved in this launch.

Fourth

I can't stress this enough, get those goals defined early. At HubSpot, we found it was great to have one primary goal, whether that's revenue-based, user-based, or something else, and then a few secondary success metrics as well.  

I think that's a structure that works really, really well.

Fifth

Communicate broadly via check-in meetings or Slack groups and also think about communicating up - up to executives and managers leading up to the launch.

Part of your job is ensuring that you are pushing the entire team forward, you're quarterbacking that, you're setting the plays, then you're driving those plays through with the team.

Ensure that you're communicating broadly because that's how you take the strategy and build it into some of the tactics that will ultimately define the success of your launch and turn this into a winning launch campaign.

A summary of the key points outlined by Jeffrey Vocell on how to quarterback a launch.

If you take away anything from this article, I really hope it's these five things.