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Product Launch: The Ultimate Guide

Read Product Launch: The Ultimate Guide. It's packed with great launch insights and thinking tools to get you on the path to a successful product launch. 

Product Marketing and Launch Glossary

A glossary of commonly used terms and acronyms used in the development of software products. 

Announce

The point in time a product is announced to the public.

 

It's a milestone when communication with a target audience begins for a product. The timing of when to announce can vary considerably. A product with a very long sales cycle might get announced long before it’s generally available. In other cases, an announcement might occur at the same time as RTM, LA, or GA. 

This is common practice in the auto industry, where new car models are announced long before they are available. It gives buyers visibility to new cars so they consider them in their next car purchase decision. 

Available

(See also GA and LA) - the point in time when a product is available to the public. 

Beta 

Typically defines a testing phase for a product where the product is stable enough to share with a limited audience. Beta can also be used to validate Positioning, Unique Value Propositions, and stress-test operations. 

Beta is a milestone when real users get to use a product in the real world for the first time and provide feedback about their experience. A beta test program is typically offered to a limited number of customers, who are likelier to test a product more thoroughly and provide constructive feedback.

The Beta program isn't just for product testing. It's also a time to refine positioning and discover which features customers value the most, which feeds into value-based pricing. 

Buyer Persona

A fictional representation of the people who are involved in a decision to buy a product or service. The Buyer Persona is developed from factual information about people through interviews and observation. 

Buyer Personas are the atomic element in a buyer's journey. Their needs, desires, and requirements factor into buying criteria, which form the acceptance criteria of a buying decision. 

 

Buyer's Journey

The typical steps buyers (see Buyer Persona) take to purchase a product or service is a BUyer's Journey. It is much more detailed than a sales process and more expressive of what buyers actually do. It can also be referred to as the Buying Process.

The advantage of documenting a Buyer's Journey is to identify gaps in support for each Buyer Persona and focus resources on the areas that can drive revenue growth. It takes some of the guesswork out of what to do to drive pipeline growth and sales acceleration.  

A Buyer's Journey maps the path different buyer personas take along the way to making a buying decision. There are typically different buying roles including the economic buyer, technical evaluator, user buyer (sometimes called a functional buyer), and researcher.

 

The sales team often equates the economic buyer with the decision maker. Technical evaluators look at a product or service through the lens of compliance. It either matches, or it doesn't. The user (functional) buyer views a product or service through the lens of functionality. That is, will it help us to do our job better. And the researcher is the Buyer Persona tasked with finding a solution to a problem. 

Buying Center

A group of Buyer Personas involved in a decision to buy a product is called a Buying Center. Contrary to popular belief, a Buying Center is rarely an organized group with a common agenda. Often the Buyer Personas in a Buying Center operate independently and provide their feedback as they engage in their part of the Buyer's Journey. 

Campaign (Marketing Campaign)

A series of connected activities designed to bring about an accelerated result. A simple email blast-no matter how large the list-isn't a campaign. The most effective marketing campaigns are multi-channel.

There may be several email sends, coupled with automated nurture streams, common look and feel, and outreach tools for a sales team. 

 

Competitive Landscape

A summary of all potential competitors (rivals) capable of solving a similar set of customer problems. Used to identify threats and market entry points, develop value propositions, and position a product offering.

Having deep insight into competitors and their products is critical to positioning your product and re-positioning your competitors. Most competitors have a quality or other attribute they position as their strength. The goal of re-positioning competitors is to make them look less attractive to buyers. 

Continuous Delivery

A software development practice of pushing new features to a clone of the system which has passed automated testing. Software releases in the clone are ready for manual testing. New features are often delivered with feature flags.

Continuous Deployment

A software development practice of pushing new features into a live system which have passed automated testing. The new features are often deployed with feature flags to allow them to be turned on and off. Depending on the state of the feature flag, new features can be available to all customers or limited to select customers. 

Continuous Integration

A software development practice that merges the code of all developers into one code base. 

Customer Advisory Board (CAB)

A group of customers who provide feedback on company/product direction. In times past a CAB was used as a mechanism to get feedback on which features to build next. Over time CABs evolved to be a component of a customer retention program. 

 

Customer Profile

Another term used for a Buyer Persona.

Dark Features

A software development practice of releasing features to a subset of customers. The features can be validated and modified as needed. This group of customers may not know they are being tested (they are "in the dark").

Demo Dolly

A lighthearted term used to describe someone who conducts a demonstration of a product.

Framework

A basic, conceptual structure that provides direction and guidance. E.g., development framework, design framework, testing framework, messaging framework, or go-to-market framework

General Availability (GA)

A term that denotes that a product can be sold and revenue can be recognized. Used widely in the software industry. 

Golden Master (GM)

Borrowed from the days of burning a software product onto a CD or DVD. It's the final version that is released to manufacturing (RTM). 

It's a development milestone that signals the development team is finished. It is a formal handover to the (product) marketing team. The term originated in the days when software was burned onto diskettes, CDs, and DVDs.

 

Go to Market (GTM)

An umbrella term used to describe the set of activities involved in bringing a new product or new version of a product to market. Some organizations use Go-to-Market and Product Launch interchangeably.

A Go to Market Strategy anchors a goto market effort. This typically focuses primarily on how awareness and engagement results in sales leads and how a sales team is prepared to have discussions with prospective buyers.

Go to Market Strategy (GTM Strategy)

The overarching approach (stratagem) that is taken to introduce a product to a market in order to achieve a business goal. Developing a Go-to-Market Strategy requires identifying ideal customer profiles, target market segments, communications channels, partnerships, distribution channels, competitive landscape, business models, and pricing models.

Launch Director

The individual who is accountable for launch success.

 

Limited Availability (LA)

The state of a product when it can be sold but only to select customers. LA is used to control the delivery of a product and is often used to get reference customers in advance of a product launch. 

It's a milestone when a product is available but only to a limited number of customers. Typically LA is used as a way to control access to a product when there are concerns that going GA would be detrimental or too risky to the business in some way.

 

Marketing Asset

An artifact, skill, knowledge, or quality that helps achieve a marketing objective, e.g., increase conversions, educate buyers, or retain customers. The term market asset is often used to refer to tangible things like website pages, articles, podcast episodes, recorded webinars, white papers, ebooks, analyst reports, and sales tools. 

 

Marketing Plan

A strategy document that documents the go-to-market objectives, strategy, tactics, and performance metrics.

 

Market Position

A place in the minds of potential customers to occupy. It allows potential customers to compare your product and other products.

 

Market Segment

A group of people who share common needs, common behaviors, common preferences, and reference each other. Market segments refine the focus of development, marketing, and sales efforts to optimize resources for a higher return. Also referred to as a Customer Segment.

 

Messaging

The practice of developing a message potential customers understand and will respond to in a positive way. Also referred to a Primary Message. It is developed as an output of a positioning process.

MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead)

An abbreviation for Marketing Qualified Lead. An MQL is a sales lead that meets a set of qualification criteria before handing it off to a sales team.

 

Positioning

Positioning is a form of communication. It's practice of developing a 'position' in the minds of buyers that leverages perceptions a buyer already has. More commonly positioning refers to the process of connecting a potential customer's needs and preferences with the strengths of an organization (people and product) to get them to take action.

Positioning also includes re-positioning of competitors, which is to cast competitors in a less than desirable light. 

 

Pricing

The practice of defining and evaluating pricing models.

 

Product Launch

A coordinated effort to bring a product to market that accelerates business objectives. Not to be confused with a product release.

 

Product Management

The discipline of moving successful products through a life cycle from idea to creation to growth. Titles in this discipline include product manager, offer manager, product marketing manager, and many other clever derivatives.

 

Product Marketing

The discipline of bringing a product or service to market and driving it to its potential. Product marketing includes developing a go-to-market (GTM) strategy, positioning, making the market aware of a product offering, pricing, packaging, preparing the sales team, and launching a product. 

 

Product Release

A version of a product completed by the Development team. In the software world releases don't always require a launch. For hard goods, a release is associated with a new model of product and the frequency is far less than software. 

Release Candidate (RC)

A development milestone when testing is nearing completion and the product could be made generally available to customers. It’s common to have multiple Release Candidates (RCs) before reaching Golden Master.

Release to Marketing (RTM)

RTM is formerly referred to as release to manufacturing. The term has been changed to reflect today’s reality. RTM means that the product marketing team can begin promoting a product as the product development is complete.

 

Roadmap

A strategy document that results from a roadmapping exercise. Often erroneously considered a commitment document by everyone outside the product team.

 

Roadmapping

The planning practice for identifying and sequencing product capabilities, market opportunities, and events (more on roadmapping from Product Growth Leaders)

 

Sales Enablement

The practice of preparing and verifying a sales team is capable of guiding a qualified sales prospect through a decision to buy a product. This includes infrastructure, methods, processes, knowledge, and tools. 

 

Sales Engineer

A role that provides technical pre-sales support. Often abbreviated to SE. A sales engineer has a deeper knowledge of a product than a salesperson and is a technical expert in the field. Activities a sales engineer performs include giving product demos, working with a sales prospect's technical team, and assisting with the technical aspects of a sales proposal. 

 

Sales Funnel

A common representation, the graphic of a funnel, of a sales process from a lead to the close of a sale. 

Sales Opportunity

AKA "Opportunity". It's a potential customer that has expressed interest in your product or service. 

Scrum

"Scrum is a framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value." Go to the SCRUM website for details. 

 

Show Up and Throw Up

A term used to describe a presentation or a demonstration of a product where the prospect's problems are not known or taken into consideration.

Spray and Pray

A marketing practice that employs unfocused methods in an attempt to find a qualified lead. Companies employing 'Spray and Pray' spend a lot of money and have a low return on investment (ROI). 

Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)

An SQL is a sales lead that has been accepted by a sales team and appears as a Sales Opportunity. (not to be confused with Structured Query Language). 

Unique Value Proposition (UVP)

AKA Unique Selling Proposition. The unique, differentiated thing you offer your customers. It's what sets your company or product apart from the competition. A UVP is only unique if customers believe it's unique. 

Value Proposition

A value proposition is a promise to a customer to deliver a set of benefits.

GA
LA
Buyer Persona
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