How to Launch a Product

I took a course over the past month that teaches you how to launch a product. The course, Product Launch Masterclass, was developed by Daniel Murphy (@_danieljmurphy) who is VP of marketing at Privy (eCommerce) and former marketing manager at Drift (sales automation). Both of these companies are B2B SaaS companies. So while the lessons apply primarily to similar businesses, they can help you think about how a marketer who’s launched over 50 products thinks about the process. Here are my notes from the course. 

Why set a product launch?

  • Product launches can help you achieve a strategic company goal.
  • Events force action. Set a deadline and date for the launch to rally people toward the deadline.
  • If you’re launching a new product, then you’ll want to drive demand.
  • Launch activities can include things like public relations (PR), blog posts, and social posts.
  • You may want to measure free trial sign-ups or meetings booked meetings.
  • A strategic goal might focus on reducing churn through product adoption. 

The product launch system

  1. Schedule a monthly meeting with product leadership. Understand what they are building and why (what problem are they solving for customers)
  2. Set your launch goal. How many goals should you set? Try to set only one goal. Stay focused! 
  3. Plan your launch activities
  4. Pick your audience
  5. Write your positioning
  6. Start internal marketing
  7. Run internal training with a video + quiz
  8. Start launch day with an ask of your team
  9. Write the post-launch report

How to manage a product launch

  1. Get leadership buy-in
  2. Stay aligned with product management
  3. Use the product launch system

Product goals

  • You launch goal should be the short-term focus of the launch
  • Your goals will not always be the launch outcome. The launch outcome is what you report back about what happened.

For example, your launch goal could be 250 new signups. To get there, your launch activities could be creating a new landing page, email marketing, and more. But, from your efforts, a launch outcome could be 50 customer meetings booked. Although the 50 customer meetings weren’t part of your goal, they are the result of the actions that you took. You’ll want to keep track of these so that you can report on them after your launch.

This was one of the biggest eye-openers from the course. There’s usually many goals involved in a launch. But, this can be counter-intuitive because more goals can lose your team’s focus. It’s best if your team stays aligned on one goal, while knowing that other outcomes are likely. 

Daniel recommends using Gong.io, an intelligent transcription service. Gong gives you insights into your sales and customer-facing calls. With Gong, you’ll want to understand how well your audience responded to the launch and how well your sales team talked about the launch. You can do this by searching for the name of your new product in Gong.io and filtering by date. 

How to plan product launches

How do you decide who owns what? Daniel recommends that product marketers own the launch and the launch goals; whereas product managers should own getting the product ready for launch. Along with the launch, you should work closely with the demand generation team, who’s responsible for driving leads.

If your goal is to increase adoption of a new tool, you’ll want to work with your CSMs. Train the CSMs, make sure they know about the benefits of the new product so they can confidentially communicate those benefits to customers. 

How to hit your goal (launch activities)

  • Create a list of launch activities. The list should be your launch plan. Make sure it’s public within your organization so anyone can access it. 
  • Line up each activity to a goal. 
  • In your sheet, you should have columns with the following: activity, owner, status, and goal. 
  • For example: Blog post, @sandra, in-progress, new trials.

Launch audiences

  • Any group of people who you want to customize your launch for.
  • Customers with dedicated customer success managers → book 30-minute meeting with CSM.
  • Customer without dedicated customer success managers → join a product training webinar.
  • Customer on the pro plan → speak to sales about upgrading to Platinum. 

Your job is to be obsessively involved with the details. You are the glue that holds the team and activities together.

The week before the launch is always going to feel hectic. 

Make your launch bigger than one day.

Writing positioning

You can’t learn everything about positioning in 15 minutes

NHS positioning framework. 

  • Name
  • Headline
  • Story (Benefits)

Example

Apple’s iPod: Ultra-portable MP3 music player puts 1,000 songs in your pocket. 

Macbook air: Apple introduces Macbook Air – the world’s thinnest notebook. 

Name of your product: You want people to remember the name of your product. 

Your headline needs to catch their attention. It should make people stop and read it. 

How to uncover your benefits

You should find 3 benefits of your product. 

Find pains and tie them to solutions

  • Pain: I can’t log into infinity while I’m working in the field
  • Solution: with our new mobile app, you can access from anywhere, anytime. 

Compose a deck (instead of a doc) can be more helpful in improving positioning over time. 

Your positioning might not be perfect the first time. Start, iterate, and improve. 

Process:

  1. Pain mapping
  2. NHS positioning framework
  3. Launch story deck
  4. Positioning video

You don’t have to reinvent positioning along the way. Tell the same story, again-and-again. 

You never know when your positioning is ready for launch. The key is to take a V1 and pitch it to someone. Pitch it to sales reps, CSMs, customers. Then listen. What’s their feedback?

Internal marketing

Internal marketing is all about getting people within your office fired up about your launch. 

Make another video with the positioning, but also include a behind the scenes stories.

Try to answer:

  • Why this new product?
  • What competitor are we going after?
  • Why this will make sales more money?

Get this video in front of sales, service, marketing, and product

You want these people to get so excited about the launch.

Internal marketing activities:

  • Take over the company meeting just before the launch
  • Present the launch story at each team’s weekly sync
  • Share social proof from beta users
  • Create one-pagers and print them out for your customer-facing teams
  • Create spiffs with your sales leader

How to train people on the new product

  • Don’t do this live!!!
  • Instead, try building video and training quizes
  • The training deck (5-10 minute video), answers:
    • Who is this for?
    • Why will they care?
    • What it actually is (a demo)
    • When will you launch it? 
    • Where are you launching? 
    • How do they get it (plans and pricing)

Then create a quiz in g-suite forms (don’t make it hard or tricky). Ask: 

  • Who is this feature/product for?
  • Why will they care about it?
  • How does it deliver value? 
  • When will it be launching? 
  • Where will it be launching? 

You know you’ve nailed the internal marketing when folks are saying,“Big week” or “big day tomorrow” during the launch week. 

How to manage launch day

Launch days should start with an ask from your team (spiff, share, etc). 

Keep everyone engaged throughout the day with reactions and updates. Look on Twitter for feedback. 

Remember that launch day is just the beginning. 

Post-launch

Ask: 

  1. Did you hit your goal? Why or why not?
  2. What other outcomes came from your launch? 
  3. What would you do differently next time? 

Coach sales and customer teams:

  • Look for the product’s name in Gong to understand how teams are talking about it. 
  • If you launch a product for a particular audience, see if that audience is coming in. 

Report back on market response:

  • How did people respond? (Twitter, LinkedIn). 
  • This could change the product strategy. 
  • Do an internal tour to let people know what you learned. 

6 product launch secrets

Pre-announce the launch: 

  1. Countdown clock, the story, get email sign-ups.
  2. Build momentum and hype (and set a date)
  3. Build an email list with interested people
  4. Test positioning before your big launch
  5. Build a bigger beta program

Build your launch audience on social media months prior:

  1. If this is a big play for your business, and you’re working with beta customers, you’re going to be learning a lot about the product you’re launching. 
  2. Document, don’t create on social media: document your process and learnings instead of creating original content. For example, share your lessons online. This is also known as learning (or working) in public. 

The Marketing team should own the beta program:

  1. Marketing understands customers’ pains/solutions
  2. Makes it easier to get social proof from customers
  3. Marketing focuses on more than just the TOFU for the launch. 
  4. This will help with social proof and make it easier to write copy

Control demand with a waitlist or make it invite-only

  1. Ex: hey.com, superhuman, 
  2. CTA: “Request Access” 
  3. Scarcity and exclusivity makes people want it more 
  4. Helps you control the experience of early interested people
  5. Creates social proof “we have a waitlist”

Pick one headline and one visual to use everywhere:

  1. People are more likely to remember a face than words
  2. Repetition helps emphasize a message
  3. Give your launch personality — not many companies do this

Don’t let the product dictate what you’re launching

  1. Launch something your customer will care about
  2. A new product or feature (is not) what your customer wants
  3. Adding content, training, community, exclusivity, better messaging or a solution can help you hit your launch goal. 
  4. Product Marketing = connect the magic of your product with your customer. 

And that’s it! Those are my notes from Daniel’s course. 

If you want to check out the course an see the full range of examples provided, go here

I’ve implemented some of Daniel’s lessons on a recent launch at HubSpot, and they’ve proven to be extremely helpful. 



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