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AMA: Zendesk Director of Product Marketing, Andrew Forbes on Product Launches and Release Marketing
June 29 @ 10:00am PST

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Product Launches With Andrew Forbes, Director of Product Marketing at Zendesk
Top Questions
Do you have a product launch template that you use to drive product launches?
Director of Product Marketing at Zendesk
Yes, we do! At Zendesk we use a number of frameworks depending on the tier (T1 to T3) of the launch. These have changed throughout the year as we've grown, but at their core they include the information below... * Core PMM Deliverables - Things like a Messaging Source Document (MSD) which ou...more
How do you assess organizational readiness ahead of a product launch?
Too often product marketing is seen as a collateral producing engine. But with substantial new launches, we are sometimes the only ones integrating needs, insights, and potential operational bottlenecks across all stakeholders, internal or external. I’m curious both of how you think of org readiness and how you incorporate this dimension into your launch motion.
Director of Product Marketing at Zendesk
This is an awesome question.  The way we've gotten ahead of it at Zendesk - which has worked well - is by creating an "Operations Council" who is responsible for reviewing the operational components of a launch. This includes reviews of things like billing readiness, pricing & packaging, and m...more
How do you think about the scope or deliverables for various launches? Do you have a tiering system? What factors do you consider?
Director of Product Marketing at Zendesk
Great question! Yes, we have historically used a tiering system that's based on two factors: customer and business impact. These two criterion help us determine if a launch is a T1 to T3 launch.  Depending on the tier, the scope of deliverables changes quite significantly.  Here's how we br...more
What criteria do you use to prioritize releases?
Director of Product Marketing at Zendesk
There are a lot of different ways to prioritize releases - and we're currently updating how we do it at Zendesk right now. If anyone else has any tips, let us know!! For the most part, we consider two things: business impact and customer impact. For instance, if something has a large customer ...more
What are some of the best practices you use to enable sales before a huge launch?
Director of Product Marketing at Zendesk
Ah, Sales Enablement. In my opinion, one of the MOST important pieces of a launch.  I have no shortage of tips, but for the sake of time, I'll keep it to four...  1. Align with sales leadership early on your enablement plans and make sure they're a part of the planning process. This will he...more
What's your favorite launch to date and why?
Director of Product Marketing at Zendesk
This is a tough one! We've worked on so many awesome launches at Zendesk - and as the team who's responsible for our quarterly launch programs, we've had no shortage of fun launches to work on.  If I had to pick one, I would honestly say it was my first launch at Zendesk - our analytics produc...more
What are your creative ideas, tips, or resources that can help to improve storytelling skills?
I'd love to get better at using storytelling in my product launches. I know of the basics e.g. knowing your audience, focusing on the benefit and value over features etc. but I'm looking any creative ideas, examples, or resources that could help me really sharpen things up and hone my skills. I'd love to hear peoples recommendations and experiences of how they developed their skills in this area.
Director of Product Marketing at Zendesk
Hey - Thanks for the question!  In my opinion, the best way of telling a great story is to really have an understanding of everything you're talking about - especially the heroes of your story. And to do that, it comes down to meeting with the people who are going to use the product you're pla...more
How can I make it easier for my team and stakeholders to work with me on the marketing launch timeline when engineering releases are sometimes delayed?
Any tips for setting expectations and not losing team’s trust while ensuring we have a timeline to work towards?
Director of Product Marketing at Zendesk
I think it's safe to say that all product releases come with some sort of delay or scope change, it's to be expected. But, it can oftentimes impact the morale of the team if there are repetitive delays. The biggest thing you can do is be transparent from the beginning. Oftentimes, if you're wo...more
What is the best cadence for gathering stakeholder feedback in preparation for a launch?
Director of Product Marketing at Zendesk
Hey - Thanks for the question!  Short answer - Early. and. often.  Get stakeholders in a room early on and set the cadence with them. We use a RACI model at Zendesk when it comes to ownership and development of launch assets. Set this and then decide when you want folks to review. My take i...more
Ask Andrew About
  • How to time a launch for the greatest impact
  • How to measure your product launch results
  • What people get wrong about product launches