We’ve discussed the different facets of designing and building a successful product and what the process entails for a PM. Beginning with the initial product concept, a PM creates an all-encompassing road map that strategically lays out a plan for each phase of development, including the product launch phase.
A solid launch is critical to the product’s overall success. Historically, failed product launches lead to companies spending too much extra time and money recovering from a bad launch or worse yet, products being pulled off the market after a short period and massive revenue loss and resources. Google Glass, for example, a wearable tech product from Google, hit the market in 2013, and was discontinued shortly after two years of disappointing sales numbers. This is why for PM’s, the launch phase is a critical point in the product life cycle. Let’s discuss a few ways to prepare for a successful product launch:
Set Goals to Define Your Vision
It’s important to think about your product in the “long-term” and not just what leads up to the launch. What do you want your product to accomplish? What type of problem is it solving for potential consumers? How do you want your product to evolve as it’s life cycle continues? Asking yourself these questions will better help you define your goals for the launch and the product strategy afterward.
Create a Product Launch Checklist and Roadmap
Before the release date, you’ll want to develop a launch roadmap and a launch checklist. As we previously discussed in Breaking Down the Product Roadmap, road maps are not a static document, and there’s no “one-size-fits-all” option. Your launch road map is a high-level blueprint of your plans leading up to the product release, not a detailed launch readiness checklist. It’s an excellent way to communicate your initiative to any involved parties and departments such as sales, marketing, and other stakeholders. ProductPlan says, “You want everyone on your cross-functional team to understand your launch plans at a glance.” Make sure you set up the launch road map based on a timeline. The timeline in your plan represents when all pre-launch feedback and information needs to be collected.
While your roadmap provides a high-level overview of your plan, your launch readiness checklist is a more detailed document that helps PMs think through all of the various steps and processes between all involved departments. For example, reviewing and distributing sales collateral and resources, product testing and demos, and evaluating buyer personas would all be critical action items for a launch readiness checklist. Other common elements of a launch checklist, according to Aha!, include:
- The Product
- Sales and Support
Work Closely with Sales and Marketing Teams
As you’ve gone through the life cycle phases leading up to the release date, such as planning, development, and testing, your next step is to make sure you’re getting all necessary departments and stakeholders up to speed; specifically sales and marketing. The sales and marketing departments play a vital role in the success of the product’s launch, so you want to make sure they have the right tools at hand. For example, the marketing department should be equipped with a solid content strategy and the right distribution channels (social media, email templates, scheduling, etc.); any press releases or media coverage on the release should be established. Similarly, prepare the sales department with any necessary documentation (FAQs and responses, datasheets, product release notes, etc.), and cover other areas like sales strategies, pricing, and technical questions.
Promotions, Preorders, and Incentives
Just because you’re launching a new product doesn’t mean it’ll see success once it hits the market. In a recent article, Neil Patel discusses how to “build the buzz” before a release, and why Apple has a legendary status when it comes to launching new products. One of the key discussion points in his article is the importance of taking preorders and how other incentives and promotions, as such, are commonly overlooked when building a launch strategy. A preorder or early-use incentive is an excellent way to reach potential consumers and generate excitement about your product. I can also provide an opportunity to collect feedback and make any critical improvements before the final release date.