Product Launch: The Ultimate Guide was recently published to the BrainKraft website. It’s a deep dive into product launch planning packed with practical information. This article hits the highlights from the 9,200-word guide.
The guide delivers a deeper dive into go to market planning (product launch) with practical tools to guide you through the process.
Product Launch Fundamentals
First and foremost, a product launch is a big deal. The confusion is often the difference between a launch and a release; the differences are not subtle. A release is a collection of work completed by a development/design team, and a launch is a cross-functional initiative to build momentum for an organization.
There is a pre-launch planning phase, a launch phase, and a post-launch phase to monitor progress.
Setting Launch Objectives
Launch objectives define success. Every launch objective needs a metric, a quantity, and a deadline.
Win, Keep, and Grow are the primary metrics of success. Win is about acquiring new customers, and Keep is about keeping the customers you have. Grow is about increasing revenue from existing customers.
Additional KPIs are also helpful in tracking progress toward the launch objectives.
Launch objectives are developed and agreed to by key stakeholders. It’s a process of negotiation to arrive at acceptable launch objectives.
The Launch Team
A product launch is a team effort, and this is a team that must collaborate, communicate, and coordinate as a unified team with a common purpose.
There are four primary roles on a launch team. The launch director is the one who drives the bus. Launch ambassadors providers provide insight from functional areas and provide domain expertise. The project manager keeps the bus on schedule. An executive sponsor is vital for strategic product launches that impact the entire organization.
A well-run and organized launch team need a common set of tools and practices to unify the team.
Prioritize Resources With Launch Tiers
Product Launch Tiers help focus limited resources on a product launch. Launch Tiers segregate product launches into decreasing tiers of importance. Some product launches are more critical to a business than others.
Launch Tiers range from Tier 1, the most important, to Tier 4, the least important. All product launches are essential, but some have a more significant impact than others.
Know Your Customers Like They Are Friends
Having a standard, unifying definition of buyer personas assures consistency in positioning, market-facing content, marketing channels, sales tools, and prioritizing product direction.
Basic buyer personas are the easiest to build and focus on general buyer demographics such as job title, company size, location, gender, age, purchasing power, etc. A basic buyer persona is essential in marketing for targeting the right buyers in the right places.
Psychographic attributes—how customers think and feel—put you in the big leagues of buyer personas. The level of mastery puts you at the heart of why buyers need your product, and it gives you deeper insight into how buyers think, act, and feel, which helps guide everything you do in product marketing (including a product launch).
Increase the Chances of Success With Market Segmentation
Market segmentation benefits every part of your business. Your marketing team uses it to target potential customers with a message that resonates with their needs, and your sales team uses it to identify better sales opportunities. And these are just two examples. Market segmentation helps your entire organization focus on activities that yield the best results (and avoid the market segments that drain your resources).
The sole purpose of market segmentation is to focus limited resources on achieving the best results. “Everyone” is not your customer.
The five types of customers are Your Customers, Competitors’ Customers, Shoppers, Do-It-Yourselfers, and the Uncommitted.
Be cautious of over-served and underserved market segments. It could be underserved for a good reason.
Understand the Competition
A competitor is an organization that solves the same problems your organization solves. Maybe sometimes in different ways, but the problem gets solved just the same.
The arena of competition is a market segment. That means competitors, even with similar product features as your product, choose to target potential customers within the boundaries of a market segment. Meaning one market segment could be dominated by competitor X and another market segment entirely ignored by the same competitor.
Product positioning is a form of communication. It’s not something you do to a product; it’s done in a buyer’s mind, and it’s all about perception. The goal of positioning is to create a place in a buyer’s mind that favors your product and brand, not to create a list of every feature in your product.
Anticipate Your Buyer’s Every Move
The ultimate insight about buyers is how they make a buying decision. This knowledge lays the groundwork for meeting buyers with the best content at the right time, improving sales readiness, and increasing sales velocity. We capture this insight in a buyer’s journey.
A buyer’s journey documents how a purchase is made. It’s from the buyer’s point of view. A sales process is the seller’s view of a purchase. The closer these two views are aligned, the smoother and faster a buying decision happens.
Launch readiness is a state that results from preparation. It would be best to prepare people in your organization before they are ready to do the things needed for a successful product launch.
You could be mentally ready to run a marathon—get new running shoes, a cool running outfit, and watch YouTube videos to study techniques—but you won’t be prepared to complete a marathon until you physically train.
Launch preparation and launch readiness go hand-in-hand. Knowledge, methods, and tools are needed to enable people to prepare, and you need the mechanisms to assess that they are actually prepared.
It’s easy to get caught up in the creation of the deliverables and activities and fail to recognize the five big launch readiness abilities:
The ability to access buyers.
The ability to guide buyers to purchase.
The ability to accept money from buyers when they agree to purchase.
The ability to deliver the product customers have purchased.
The ability to help customers adopt the product into their organization.
Conduct a retrospective at the end of every launch (in the post-launch phase) to determine what worked, what didn’t, and what to change.
For more product launch insights and tools, read Product Launch: The Ultimate Guide.
UPDATE (3/4/2023): Replaced "Go to Market Canvas" with "Launch Canvas". Resized the Launch Canvas to 8.5 in x 11 in (prints better).