How do you identify and prioritize the channels for a launch campaign?
I start by developing a Go-To-Market strategy that identifies the business objective of the launch campaign and articulates the in-focus audience. Once I know what I need to accomplish and who I'm talking to, then I can think about the best channels to land that message. The channels should be tailored to the behavior of your users, so that you can meet them in the right place, at the right moment, with the right message. If you are unsure of which channels are most appropriate, Journey Mapping can be a helpful tool to identify those key moments and media. Once you have a proposed strategy, it is helpful to vet it with channel owners to make sure they are aligned and to get any additional insights they have to offer around how to most effectively leverage their channel.
Identifying and prioritizing channels to reach your target audience is key to any product launch. Typically, my channel goal is to surround the audience with a repeated, salient, and consistent message.
Depending on the business objective (note to product marketers: clarify the business objective of your product launch first), the goal of a launch can be different from product to product. At times, the business needs to build awareness of your product in order to drive consideration and usage -- this is the most frequent objective. At other times, however, the business wants a product launch to drive a different corporate-level objective, such as positive sentiment or consideration for a broader solution.
The first step of any product launch channel strategy is to identify your target audience(s) and, based on a deep understanding of them, identify the best ways to reach them. From this starting point, you can begin stitching together a channel strategy.
People’s social and professional networks and media behaviors are complex, so we try our best to develop a comprehensive understanding of our target audience. Beyond their title, who is this person? What keeps them up at night? Where do they learn, get, and share information? What terms do they use when they search for a product similar to yours? How do they engage with channels such as email? Be sure to have a truthful answer for each of these questions -- as a cautionary tale, an IT executive recently told my team that he deletes ALL marketing emails at the beginning and end of his day. Ouch.
For product launches, my team typically weaves together a mixture of ‘owned & operated’ (e.g. email, website), earned (e.g. press, analysts), social media, and paid channels with core content that can be integrated into each channel. We prioritize the channels that have the greatest likelihood of reaching our audience and motivating them to make the purchase consideration and decision journey.
Laying all of these considerations out is part of the fun of creating a cohesive channel strategy.
In my answer to the “not all launches are created equal” question, I laid out some options for communications channels to pursue based on the tier that you assign a given launch. (This best applies to B2B SaaS organizations, since that’s the sector in which I’ve spent my entire career.)
As far as demand generation or running paid campaigns goes, I don’t have personal expertise in those areas, so I can’t provide insight into how to choose advertising channels. But, the best thing you can do as a PMM if you don’t own that function is to give the people who do own it as much information as possible so they can make some decisions: all your persona research, your SWOT analysis, ideas for keywords to research, your competitor list, etc.
One question to start with is – is the goal to target existing customers or attract new ones (or both)? Then figure out where that audience is and how you can most effectively reach them.
Another is resourcing and scope - what can you pull off in the timeframe you have, and prioritize from there.
Another would be, do you want to experiment with new channels (and do you have the resources/risk appetite/budget)? For example, we have an upcoming launch and we're looking into new social channels: Instagram and TikTok. But we've made it a P1-2 priority. We're focused on the channels we know are effective for us and will make a game-time decision on TikTok if we have the bandwidth.
Audience. Know your audience. It's cliche. I'm still going to say it again - KNOW your audience. What/who influences them? Where do they get their information? What does the buying journey look like?
Prioritization comes down to your goals and any testing you've already done. This is more of an integrated marketing / campaign question, but an awareness play is very different from a mid to bottom funnel play.
Ah-ha moment: Sometimes, the reality is, the budget dictates the channels. That's okay too. Shoot for shareability!
Try applying elements of the “t-shirt sizing” product methodology within your tiering process.
For background, t-shirt sizing helps you map effort to impact. Typically, a team assigns points or t-shirt sizes ( i.e., XS to XXL) to represent a task’s relative effort/market impact. This helps illuminate team capacity, scope, impact, and ownership around projects.
To parallelize this practice for product marketing, start by consulting your product manager with these standard questions (or tweak to your heart's desire):
Does this feature/product…
1. Provide something our competitors don’t?
2. Solve a new buyer pain point?
3. Solve a new use case for an existing customer?
4. Introduce new functionality that changes customer workflows?
5. Improves functionality or performance of an existing customer workflow?
6. Change the User Interface (UI)?
7. Add new internal tasks/support requirements?
For each question, apply a 0 (False) or 1 (True), then calculate the total to automate your corresponding launch tier:
Tier 1: 6-7 points.
- These are typically big launches that involve innovative, net new functionality that increases market share, domain authority and acquisition. Communication channels should include but are not limited to: internal - slack announcement with positioning brief, external - email announcement, in-app post, social promotion, website update, sales/cs outreach template, blog post, explainer video/tour, pr/ar, newsletter, and co-marketing campaign if relevant, website update.
Tier 2: 4-5 points.
- These are typically medium launches with functionality that improves product market fit/net promoter score, retention and expansion. Communication channels should include but are not limited to: internal - slack announcement with positioning brief, external - email announcement, cs/sales outreach template, in-app post, social, embedded tour, newsletter update, slide update, website update, help doc update.
Tier 3: 2-3 points.
- These are typically small launches with functionality that maintains market position, parity, and performance.
Tier 4: 0-1 points. Communication channels should include but are not limited to: internal - slack announcement with positioning brief, external - cs/sales outreach template, targeted email announcement, newsletter, help docs update.
- These are typically your soft/quiet launches that don’t require broad messaging/awareness. (Pixel changes). Communicaiton channels should include but are not limited to: internal - slack announcement with positioning brief, cs outreach comm if relevant, help doc update.
Channels will also change per targeted launch outcome: awareness, activation, adoption, advocacy.
Successfully launching a product these days is an undertaking that requires careful consideration and planning. A lot of factors go into deciding which channels to use for your launch campaign, but there are some key questions you need to ask yourself first:
- What are the goals of my campaign?
- Who do I want to reach with this campaign?
- Where can I find them?
- How much time and money do I have available for my marketing efforts?
These are just a few of the many considerations you'll need to make before diving in.
I start by thinking about the goal of the campaign and who I'm talking to. Then I think about which channels to use to reach them.
You should make sure that you are using the right channels for your customers. This will help you meet them with a compelling message in a place they’ll actually see it. If you're not sure which channels are most appropriate, talk to some customers to find out what they need in different moments.
Finally, discuss your plan with other people. They can tell you if they agree or have more advice on how to do it.