All related (53)
Harish Peri
Head of Product Marketing - Security, Integrations, Mobile, SalesforceApril 4
  1. I always come back to the fact that each segment in your GTM plan needs its own launch approach. This is why there's no one-size fits all
  2. E.g. if you have a target segment of self-serve customers, the best launch tactics would involve in-product marketing, guided help, short videos, blog posts, social engagement, really using tools like Intercom to push information contextually to where your users are
  3. E.g. if your target is large enterprises, the launch tactic would be more of enabling the account teams, creating FAQs to help customers with migration, pricing questions, technical enablement etc. Its more about alleviating risks than trumpeting what's super new
  4. For highly regulated customers, the best launch tactic would be to showcase other customers who have adopted successfully with no additional risk

It all depends.

Caroline Walthall
Director of Product Marketing, Quizlet | Formerly UdemyJanuary 14

I don’t have a framework, per se, but here’s a list of actions I tend to go through when creating the plan.

Strategy steps (Pre-tactics)

  • Give the thing a name and decide how important it is. Obviously this should be a given, and it’s not really a tactic, but I find it can be a difficult step, depending on how established your guidelines are here. Is it a whole new product? A feature? What else is it like amongst your portfolio? Start thinking through some basic name usage guidelines. Then, don’t forget to come back and edit these once you’ve gone further through the process. Once they are locked in: share, share, share. You can avoid future blunders across teams with well-written cheat-sheets. 
  • This is the step where you also define what kind of launch you’re doing (minimal, beta, soft, full) and whether it’s going to be a slow roll out or designed to reach most eligible users at once.
  • Target audience, core positioning, and messaging always come first. Again, not a tactic, but don’t skip this step. It informs what tactics could be a good fit.
  • Figure out how and when to build a “moment.” Now that you have your key message and audience defined, plan a date that you can think of as a real “event.” Brainstorm with colleagues about how to infuse the moment with inspiration and connect it to your brand story. Make sure to include creative folks at this stage as they can help you think big about a number of options for “big ideas” that effectively communicate the “so what” of your launch. For example, do you want to create a sense of suspense and exclusivity? Do you want it to feel like a big party? Do you want to come off as authoritative and highly trusted thought leaders? Think through the right kind of emotion and atmosphere for your message, audience, and timing.

Getting more tactical

  • Do a quick channel audit. What channels have you used in the past? Was the ROI on time and money there? Are there channels that you’ve kept using, despite mediocre performance? Also, what channels work best for different stages of the marketing funnel? Make sure you have a good mix of awareness-building and conversion-supporting channels.
  • Pick a few experimental bets. Talk to folks in your growth marketing and channel org (if you have them). These could be new social or ads channels, events, or even high visibility partnerships. Note: I recommend doing this for bigger launches or those with niche audiences that are new for your company and harder to reach. It probably doesn’t make sense for smaller launches.
  • Discuss the right PR strategy. If you have an expert comms person, talk to them about whether your launch could be considered newsworthy if contextualized in a broader story the company or the industry are trying to tell.
  • Establish a sense of timing that fits with your message(s), your moment and your audience.
  • Don’t forget the guts of your existing customer experience. What about your existing experience needs to be redone? With a big change you may have to audit all your evergreen lifecycle comms and help center content. If you’re in B2B, rework all your sales collateral. Beyond basic updates, consider picking some key comms and pieces of content to use to really feature this new product or feature. 
  • Creative strategy and campaign building. Imagination counts! Don’t be like everyone else, stretch yourself with out of the box ideas. Think about attention-grabbing and entertaining tactics. This is where there are no rules -- which is the fun part, just ensure you have some budget (and exec buy-in) on any bigger swings.
Stephanie Zou
Senior Director, Marketing, FigmaDecember 3

Here are a few questions I would ask...

1. What’s the goal for your launch? Is it a new product/feature that’s going to bring in more revenue or new signups? Is it a catch-up feature to nix competitive objections? Or is the goal about product usage? Your tactics should serve that goal.

Example: Let’s say you’re launching a new feature that’s on your Enterprise plan, like Figma’s recent analytics launch. The goal was two-fold—to make sure we see a certain % of regular feature usage among our Enterprise users and drive upgrades to our highest plan. The tactics should serve one of these goals if not both.

2. What tactics have worked in the past? Don’t discredit what’s working or something you’ve always done as “boring”.

Example: Contrary to popular belief, long-form product announcement blog posts perform really well for us in terms of both signups and sustained engagement 30 days post publication. We take a more journalistic approach to uncover the “angle” so the article more than just a feature announcement. Even someone who knows nothing about Figma can still learn something from it, like this very in-depth piece about type line height. In today’s world where everything seems to be about short, scannable content, perhaps our approach helps differentiate us.

3. Where are your customers? Where do they get your news? Where do they get industry news?

Example: At Figma, our customers are designers. They’re very active on Twitter. They often go to industry meetups and events. They’re savvy with online research—searching for YouTube tutorials or relevant blog articles. They also frequently connect with their peers to exchange ideas. Where designers live is often where we focus our efforts.

4. Don’t forget about your customer-facing teams! They are the best “marketing channel”. We arm support teams with “saved replies” that they add to their support tool. We also often times send out personalized campaigns on behalf of our sales teams and give them a “hit list” of customers to reach out to.

Susan "Spark" Park
Head of Product Marketing, VR Work Experiences, Oculus, MetaFebruary 3

Absolutely.  

  1. Audience: Understand your target(s)
  2. Angle: Tell your audience(s) how you solve a problem
  3. Accomplishments: Have goals and milestones
  4. Activate: How to execute your plan
  5. Assess: Evaluate and adjust

Most of all empower your XFN team to ensure you have the tactics spelled out, especially in the Angle and Activate sections. (Naming, positioning, core messaging etc). Bring in experts for each A and they will help ensure you have your tactics covered for the launch you would like to complete. 

You can find more detail here: Spark's 5A Framework for GTM: 

Amey Kanade
Product Marketing at Fire TV (Smart TVs), AmazonApril 21

I don't use a specific framework. I work at an eCommerce company now and we launch several products on our platform (300+ hardware SKUs each year). It was impossible to come up with GTM plans for each and every product, so we came up with our own framework for product launches. Tactically speaking, our framework categorized product launches in three tiers A - highest revenue forecast, B, C- lowest revenue forecast. And for every tier, we defined specific launch tasks/tactics, budget, etc. I think the framework worked for us really well for us, mainly because it bought discipline around our product launches. At some other companies, where we had 1-2 flagship launches year, I tend to spend a lot more time defining the launch plan, but never really followed a specific framework. I have seen many launches in my lifetime but no 2 launces have been the same. That said I would love to know if anybody here has a favorite framework for product launches.

Priyanka Srinivasan
Head of Product & Partner Marketing, QualiaMarch 28

Yes - we definitely have a framework! It is based off of our launch tiers (which I touched upon above). Essentially, we have 4 launch tiers, and each tier has a corresponding set of activities that we’d “light up” if a feature / product is determined to fall into that tier. You can think of the total list of activities like a menu, and a certain set gets lit up depending on the tier. It’s not a hard playbook - sometimes for a Tier 1, for example, we might not do a specific activity that we would normally do, or sometimes for Tier 2s we might include what would normally be a Tier 1-only activity, but it gives us a general sense for level of effort for each launch and the teams that need to be involved.

Now comes the natural question of how we determine *what* activities (e.g., press release, emails, in-app, partner marketing, ads, etc) we’d do for each launch tier. This is something I sat down and determined initially with leaders of various cross-functional teams (namely, Demand Gen, Sales, Customer Success) based off of historic level of effort and productivity of these activities / channels. It also can be very specific to your industry / audience in terms of what channels they are active on. One thing to note is that it’s not something that is completely fixed - we’re actually in the process right now of doing a post-mortem on several of our launches over the last 6 months to see if the activities we conducted for them were the ‘right’ ones given their tiering, whether we want change recommendations on activities by tier, etc.

Dave Steer
Vice President of Product Marketing, GitLabJuly 12

This is such an important question since, especially for product marketers, we can find ourselves adopting a tactical cookie-cutter approach, making our marketing bland. Blech. Yes, checklists aligned with tiered products are important in creating a consistent, repeatable workflow (imagine the chaos without them). Still, while checklists provide order, they can also drain the creativity out of marketing and hamper our ability to tell compelling stories.

With all of that aside, I do think there are some foundational elements that all good product launches should incorporate, such as awareness building and education activities. The best launches I’ve been a part of also create a sense of anticipation and excitement. When we launched 1.1.1.1 at Cloudflare, we announced the product and created a waitlist for people to get early access. The effect was heightened interest, a sense of FOMO, and excitement (which translated into word of mouth) when people got access.

I try to leverage the bigger launches to reinforce a broader story and strengthen our position in the market. An effective way to do this is to pull together all of your tactics into what a lot of people call a 'lightning strike', which can grab the attention of all of your stakeholders -- this is the complete opposite of a peanut butter-like approach where you spread your marketing over a longer span of time (and, fingers crossed, something sticks). Check out these books for more inspiration: Made to Stick and Play Bigger.

Another important element, especially in B2B, is to have a set of tactics that prepare your external and internal stakeholders before the launch so they can be supporters and amplifiers during and after your launch. For example, I try to give industry analysts enough of a heads up before launch to provide feedback on the GTM plan, as well as to serve as references for press and bloggers who want an analyst's take on how the new product fits into a broader context. The same lesson is true for internal audiences. If sales is a key part of your GTM motions, then you need to make sure your sales team is well enabled to effectively sell the product once you generate demand. 

Beyond these examples, the most important thing is to root your tactics in the GTM plan (see answer above) and strategy, and to be creative as you do so. I keep a running inspiration journal for good marketing I see in the wild.

Iman Bayatra
Head of Product Marketing & Strategy, Coachendo | Formerly Google, MicrosoftJuly 25

Absolutely yes! We do have a framework that we use as a reference but first, there's a list of actions that we take in order to decide what tactics / activities to include for each launch:

  • Determine if it's a launch of new product or a new feature.
  • Categorizing launch tiers based on revenue forecasts and based on Launch Level Matrix.
  • Decide the launch level / tier:
  1. ­ Beta launch
  2. ­ Extra small launch
  3. ­ Small launch
  4. ­ Medium launch
  5. ­ Large launch

As a next step we decide what internal and external tactics / relevant activities to include in each one of the following categories:

  • Internal communication and enablement [ex: sales, customer success and partner training]
  • Demand generation [ex: prospect email]
  • Partner marketing [ex: newsletter]
  • Customer marketing [ex: testimonials]
  • Content marketing [ex: whitepapers]
  • Video & podcasts [ex: product video]
  • Website & SEO [ex: product page]
  • Events [ex: thought leadership events]

Categories and activities in each category are selected together with relevant stakeholders involved in the launch planning taking into consideration what are the best targeting methods to reach our target audience, historic performance of each activity and the needed cost/ effort to create it.

Jodi Innerfield
Senior Director, Product Marketing, Salesforce
Tiering and t-shirt sizing a launch should be based on "how impactful is this to my customer and the company?" If it's a brand new product suite, a new offering in the market either for the company or the space, or a material investment/improvement from what exists today--that's a Tier 1, full-court press (whatever that means for your company!)  Moderate improvements, new SKUs, bigger features that are exciting but not totally new and different for the company are the market are more medium-Tier launches. Smaller features and incremental updates can be covered in release marketing only, m...
Sherry Wu
Director, Product Marketing, MaintainX | Formerly Samsara, Comfy, Cisco
The tactics behind a product launch all boil down to three strategic questions:  1. Why does this matter for the business? 2. - 3. Why does this matter for your customers? 4. Why now? These are deceptively simple, but think about all of the answers that you need to have.  Having the answers to these two questions will determine This will determine the resources that you put into a launch, how you promote it, and who you promote it
Mary (Shirley) Sheehan
Group Manager, Engagement & Retention Campaigns, Adobe
Ideally, it's a combination of the GM, product management and product marketing. The GM would set the overall business goals for the year or quarter including revenue. The PM often drives the product launch adoption and revenue goals for that product. PMM often builds the plan with the metrics to help back into those goals.  The important thing is that if you see a gap, make sure that someone is owning all of these goals, otherwise, it will be meaningless to have launch metrics. 
Manav Khurana
GM & SVP Product Growth, New Relic
First the failure mode (for contrast): PMM does a kick ass job with product decks and slicks. There is a training session where some people seem to be paying attention, but most people are distracted by their day-to-day job of sales. Then when a sales person gets an opportunity, they ask the PMM or PM to come in and help. Or worse, the sales lead complains at the company QBR that her team is not enabled properly.    What I think is better: Start with what's in it for the sales person... Is it higher deal value to satisfy quota? Higher win rate? Then, think through how your sales people...