Product Launch Tiers help prioritize limited resources needed for a product launch. Launch Tiers segregate product launches into increasing tiers of importance because some product launches are more critical to a business than others.
There is an unavoidable relationship between launch tiers and deliverables. In some organizations, launch tiers become packages of launch deliverables, where a high-priority launch tier gets the big package of deliverables, and a lesser tier gets fewer deliverables.
The intent is for the right reasons, but the results are not. Getting a deliverable you need from a tier 1 deliverables "package" for a tier 2 launch can become a battle. Launch tiers cannot become either-or decisions because the result is that everyone will advocate for a tier 1 launch to get what they want.
Launch Tier definitions need simplicity and clarity
Defining launch tiers is an effort that requires careful planning.
Let's use 4 tiers to keep it simple. Tier 1 represents the highest priority launch tier, and Tier 4 represents the lowest priority.
Before going further, let me add that a product launch and a product release differ. A product launch aims to create momentum to accelerate business goals. A product release is a collection of work a development team completes that could be shipped (released to customers). A product launch requires a product, but a product release doesn't need a launch.
Good launch tier definitions are easy to understand and simple to implement. Everyone on your GTM team and every stakeholder understands why one product launch has a higher priority than another.
The criteria that define each tier must be clear, which helps to avoid conflict and unnecessary negotiation. Below are suggestions to help you get started. While packaging deliverables by launch tier is inevitable, it shouldn't be the primary focus. A press release is an example. Some organizations will limit a press release to only a tier 1 launch. Maybe a press release should be a negotiated option rather than an absolute one.
Define the launch tier criteria to make the most sense for your business. Remember to make it unambiguous and flexible. Of course, not all product launches can be Tier 1. Sometimes a launch doesn't fit the definition of a Tier 1, but the circumstances indicate that it should.
Another advantage of launch tiers is when launching products within a portfolio of products. One product may have substantial changes that justify Tier 1 launch status, but the entire portfolio doesn't.
👉👉👉 Get the Launch Tier Guide from the Product Launch Worksheets and Templates library
Launch Tier 1 - New products, new capabilities, new markets
Reserve a Tier 1 launch priority for the most important product launches. Tier 1 product launches have the highest visibility of all product launches. Everyone is watching. They are critical to successful growth.
A Tier 1 launch gets the highest priority for budget and resources. Lower-tier launches could get fewer resources when there is a resource constraint.
Choose a Tier 1 launch priority when you:
Enter a product category for the first time (or create a new product category)
Enter a new market with an existing product
Introduce significant new capabilities to a current product
Make a change to the status quo in substantial ways (internal and external)
Launch Tier 2 - Competitive advantage
A Tier 2 launch is essential to a business but less crucial than a Tier 1 launch, but still very important. A Tier 2 launch is for an existing product in existing markets for which you have an opportunity to create space between you and a competitor.
Choose a Tier 2 launch priority when you:
Increase competitive advantage to increase market share
Launch Tier 3 - Competitive parity
A Tier 3 launch is a lower priority than a Tier 2 launch. A Tier 3 launch is still essential to your business but could be sacrificed for higher-tier product launches.
Choose a Tier 3 Launch priority when closing the gaps in your product which cause you to lose business to competitors.
Choose a Tier 3 launch priority when you:
Catch up to competitive offerings
Introduce features and services intended to reduce customer churn
Introduce features and services designed to increase product adoption
Launch Tier 4 - Routine product improvements
A Tier 4 launch is the lowest priority launch tier. It's intended for product releases where customer communication of what's new is the only effort needed.
Choose a Tier 4 launch when you:
Introduce minor updates to a product
Improve product performance
Why is having a Tier 4 launch needed? It's because of the conflation of product launch and product release I mentioned previously. Many organizations still refer to a product release as a product launch. A Tier 4 is a convenient place for them.
👉👉👉 Find more on product launch tiers in Product Launch: The Ultimate Guide, including more information about launch tiers.