Overseeing a new product launch is tough, but it forms a huge part of your role as a product marketer.
Granted, there may be times when tight deadlines leave you tearing your hair out, or poor planning and avoidable errors can leave you feeling nauseous, but there’s an easy solution that’ll see you and your team over the line and keep key stakeholders happy: a water tight product launch formula - and we’re gonna tell you how to put it into action.
What are new product launch essentials?
As part of any product launch, certain things are indispensable as you and your team strive for success: customer development, positioning and messaging, internal communication, effective planning, great content, and awesome team morale.
Not sure what customer development is? Don’t overthink it.
Simply put, it’s merely a fancy term meaning ‘understand your customer’ - we’re not playin’ tricks on you, that’s literally all there is to it.
Any great product launch is built on the knowledge you have about your customers; the more you know about them, the more equipped you are to launch a product that’s likely to tick all the boxes and address their pain points.
There is an abundance of customer and market research tools designed to help you learn more about your prospective buyers - don’t put them to waste! Use them, delve into the data, (qualitative, quantitative - or both), identify trends, and act on bonafide customer needs.
Launching a product people aren’t interested in is destined to fail, if anything, it’s a luxury very few, if any, can afford, as beer company Coors discover to their detriment when it launched Coors Rocky Mountain Spring Water.
While on one hand, it was admirable to see the company attempting to broaden its horizons, truthfully, beer drinkers weren’t craving sparkling water from their favorite beer company, and before long, it all went flat.
“But I don’t have the time or resources to survey thousands of customers to see what they want…”
We hear you, and it’s a common assumption you need to ask every man and his dog to get the insights you need, but here’s the great thing - you don’t need to speak to hundreds of people when conducting market research. Reaching out to 15 customers can give you all the information you need to conclude, and make a telling contribution to your product marketing plan.
Positioning and messaging
Having toiled to make sure you’ve got a sound understanding of your customer’s needs, it’d be a darn shame to brush it under the carpet and forget about those juicy insights, right?
This stage of a new product launch is based on three essential questions: who is this product for? What does the product do? And most importantly, why is your product different?
To start with, you’ve gotta familiarize yourself with these key terms:
- Target: Prospective customers you’re hoping will buy your product.
- Segment: A defined group of people who have a particular attribute that makes your product or service attractive.
- Brand: The name of your product.
- Category: A competitive frame for the target audience. Consider who it is you’ll be competing against and think of a way to make your option more appealing.
- USP: This is your unique selling point; what do you have that the competition doesn’t?
- Proof: Hard evidence to back up your claims.
When you’re positioning your product and constructing your messaging, don’t just tell your customer what features are included as part of the package - they can find this information out for themselves. Explain why these features are going to make their lives easier, and why they should invest.
In 19e83, BT released its first cordless phone - BT Hawk, and examples lends itself perfectly to why product positioning is crucial when launching a product. As a prospective customer, would you be swayed towards A and B?
A) “The BT Hawk is our brand-new cordless telephone.”
B) “Introducing the brand-new, cordless BT Hawk telephone. Say goodbye to the inconvenience of knotted wires and calls in one fixed spot. Go mobile and take the chat throughout the home.”
Sure, option A tells the buyer what the product is, but option B lets the consumer know why this will benefit them in the long run and make calls more convenient when in the home.
Key takeaway? Any new product launch needs strong messaging that’ll position the product as essential and valuable, so devote time to nailing your messaging to help you thrive.
There’s no room for keeping secrets when you’re planning a new product launch; you need to be sure everyone contributing to the process is aware of your positioning, so communicate internally to align expectations.
Building customer relationships is essential, but internal teams also need to be pulling in the same direction and excited by the prospect of the new product launch, and if this means popping on a pot of freshly brewed coffee and doing overtime to build your bank of internal advocates, then so be it.
No rest for the wicked. 🤷♂️
What do you call a PMM without a product launch plan?
A lost PMM.
Product launches at big and small companies are planned to precision, and the same principle must apply to you.
There are plenty of things to remember during a new product launch, and communication and collaboration are a crucial part of the process. Speak with multiple teams and pick their brains for ideas, before considering A) the impact each idea will have on the launch, B) whether you think the idea is feasible, and C) if you did include it in the launch, how easy would it be to test its effectiveness?
Planning allows you and your team to put contingencies in place to navigate any curve balls that may come your way. The process can be stressful enough as it is, so why make things harder for yourself?
Carefully planned content
You know what they say, “content is king”, so it’s only right to grace your new product launch with material fit for royalty, and there are plenty of content and opps tools to help you create material that’ll make your competitors green with envy.
Remember, these will be the assets you’ll be using on the big day and form a critical part of your product launch plan, so don’t skimp on the details - they’re a big deal.
There’s nothing worse than working tirelessly for weeks, sometimes months on end, only to let yourself down with mediocre assets to accompany your launch.
The golden rule when creating your content? Always make sure it’s relevant and measurable. Data and insights are invaluable when you’re launching a product, as they’ll essentially tell you if your product launch has been a resounding success or a terrible flop.
Also, never be afraid to tease your audience and give them hints about what’s to come when putting together your content plan.
For instance, if Nike produced a bunch of content on retro sneakers out of the blue, it wouldn’t take a genius to figure out the likelihood is they’re on the cusp of releasing a retro-inspired shoe soon, and the hype could be supplemented with social media campaigns and blog content.
And as we all know, when buyers get hyped for a product, the product flies off the shelf when the product launch takes off.
Maintain team morale
Internal communication is the glue that holds any product launch plan together. If teams in the company are none the wiser, how can you possibly be expected to execute your launch to perfection?
When you're holding meetings, consider holding multiple sessions in which you can tailor your agenda to each relevant group of people. For example, if you’re discussing sales enablement with the sales team, you don’t need non-sales staff there with you - their attention will wander and your big day could suffer as a consequence.
Keep your team motivated and keep calm; if you start to wobble, your panic will be noticeable and it can easily rub off on other members of the team.
Convinced you’ve forgot to cover something? Don’t worry we’ve got you covered. If you’re a PMA member, you can check out our launch checklist in our templates and frameworks section.
Lights, camera, ACTION!
We’ve taken you through every single step necessary to execute your product launch with aplomb. Remember, it isn’t unusual for curveballs to materialize, if this is the case, trust in your team and put your faith in the preparation.
Many product marketers fall into the trap of assuming the hard work ends once the product is available to the masses, but this couldn't be further from the truth; the post-launch stage plays as much of a role in your product launch formula as the build-up itself.
Follow our guidance, and you’ll smash it. 🔥