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How do you balance launch communications with an ever-changing roadmap?

i.e. managing how to re-allocate the product marketing calendar when shifts happen...say a P0 gets bumped and is now running up on another P0 OR say a P0 gets bumped and now runs up on a P2 bundle release (of which X features have been ready to go live for a few weeks and so bumping would cause even further delay)
4 Answers
Priya Patel
Priya Patel
TripActions Vice President, Product MarketingMarch 17

At fast-moving startups, the product roadmap is often fluid. When you're facing a decision about whether to push out a launch or even deprioritize a launch, let the customer be your guide. Think about what features and capabilities they care about most, and prioritize your launches based on this. Not every feature will need a marketing launch - tiering your launches will be really important here (and establishing a tier for the launch in collaboration with your product counterpart), so you understand how different launches stack against eachother and can communicate this broadly across the org.

If you're constantly feeling like you're shifting launch dates and every launch is becoming a firedrill, definitely invest in aligning with your product stakeholders to define launch dates that make sense from a GTM standpoint. Your PM counterpart will not always know or be thinking of GTM considerations such as spacing launches out for media coverage, as one example...but they want their products to be adopted and launched successfully. So having conversations with your PM counterparts to align on launch dates that give your launches the time needed to coordinate across the org and make a market impact is important. 

Lastly - you have 2 P0 launches right next to eachother, think about spacing them out artificially. You don't always need to align the marketing push around a launch with when exactly the feature actually goes live. 

756 Views
Victoria J. Chin
Victoria J. Chin
Asana Chief of Staff, ProductApril 29

This is always challenging your target audience and press have limited attention spans - so over-communication is never the answer. I would ask questions like: 

  • What is going to be most impactful in furthering your broader company objectives?
  • Is there an opportunity to bundle multiple features/releases in order to tell a more compelling story, based on what you know about customers, competitors, and market trends?
  • Are there scaled channels, e.g. monthly newsletter or blog, where bundling launch announcements makes sense?
  • If there are different target audiences, can you target them with tailored and relevant launch comms, or pursue a different channel mix for each? 

I would err on the side of over-communicating internally though, to bring cross-functional partners and leadership along in your decision-making. Frequent and proactive internal communication are critical for change management. 

1031 Views
Candice Sparks
Candice Sparks
Attentive Director of Product MarketingJuly 7

That is something I think every PMM team struggles with! From an internal perspective, one thing that has really helped with this is having a tiger team of cross-functional leaders (PMM, PM, PMO, Eng, Sales) that meets bi-weekly to discuss roadmap items and any GTM launch dependencies. We use Jira to track any date changes and can see how often we're missing dates. I always want to make sure that PMM is not the cause of missing a launch date so I will work to ensure our content and comms are ready to align with when PM is comfortable to launch so even if the product launch date gets pushed back we're ready to go.

From an external perspective, its really important to not provide concrete dates to your customers if your organization has a tendency to move launch dates. Providing your customers a sneak peak into your roadmap and providing quarterly dates is a good way to hedge against any roadmap changes. If theres a specific launch a customer is really looking forward to, encourage your customers to participate in your betas as a way to get early access.

481 Views
Katie Gerard
Katie Gerard
Workhuman Head of Product MarketingAugust 10

Staying on top of the Product team can be really challenging. Project management tools like productboard can help, but there will always be last minute changes. A few ways to handle this:

  • At Klaviyo, we actually have smaller launches every month and a big launch once a quarter. The bill of materials for these launches is largely similar, allowing us to have a highly replicable process. That way, if a feature is slotted for the May launch but it slips to July, no worries, it can go in the July launch.

  • For smaller features, have a release notes page where you can post things as they ship. This will allow you to get the word out in real time, even if you can't do a bigger launch until later.

  • It's labor intensive, but you can plan your communications materials with some wiggle room in them. A kind of rainy day contingency. So you could have the option of shifting a date or writing a product out of an announcement script.

  • Announce things as in "limited availability" or "coming soon" and then collect a waitlist. I don't love this option as it's a frustrating user experience but it can work in a pinch.

  • Be super close with product. Assign a PMM to each PM who can help keep track of what's happening.

  • Don't be afraid to put some of the responsibility back on Product. We eventually decided at Klaviyo that once a feature was selected for a launch moment, it was on the PM to inform us of any change in schedule.

557 Views
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