What are the key areas that are important but often overlooked in a product launch/go to market? Why do you think these areas don't get the attention that it warrants?
Making it memorable. One of the most memorable launches that I remember wasn't even one that my team did. It was one of our other awesome PMMs. We were launching our new CLI (Command Line Interface). If you have ever seen a developer coding, to the uninitiated, it looks like a black screen with a bunch of colored text. The PMM got black mugs and printed the date of the launch on the mugs using the same font as in the CLI. She planted the cups all around the office and then people started asking what they were. Then the cascading communications went out about the launch. Then the mic dropped and then folks knew what was happening. This was back when we were in the office, but I thought it was a really fun and creative way to run a launch.
During a product launch, it's common for certain areas to be overlooked. Below are key areas that might be neglected and the reasons for their oversight:
Customer education: It's easy to assume that a good product is intuitive, but providing educational resources like tutorials, webinars, and documentation can ease adoption and reduce churn.
Sales enablement: Product teams might assume that a great product will sell itself, but sales teams need materials, training, and tools to effectively communicate the product's value proposition to potential clients.
Internal alignment: Departments can sometimes operate in silos, but ensuring that all teams are aligned on messaging and objectives is crucial for a coherent market entry.
Feedback mechanisms: Post-launch plans might be focused on scale and expansion, but early adopters provide invaluable feedback. Mechanisms to gather, analyze, and act on this feedback can drive product improvements.
Post-launch support: The emphasis might be heavily placed on acquisition rather than retention, but support, especially post-launch, is vital to resolve issues, enhance user experience, and reduce churn.
Performance analysis: The focus might be overly placed on pre-launch activities vs post-launch measurement, but post-launch performance analysis is vital to critically evaluating the success of a product launch.
Iterative planning: The launch might be viewed as the "end" rather than a phase in the product's lifecycle, but plans for iterating based on real-world feedback can lead to more rapid improvements and adaptations.
Market education: If a product is novel or introduces new concepts, there might be an assumption that the market recognizes its value immediately. In such cases, educating the market about the problem itself before positioning the product as a solution is crucial.
These oversights can be due to resource constraints, historical biases, or underestimating the importance of these areas in the midst of other pressing launch activities. It's essential to approach launches holistically and give crucial yet sometimes overlooked areas due attention.
The biggest gaps I often see are around long term tracking of success.
Many PMM's struggle to set goals for their launch day, which makes it very hard to report on success. This is often tied back to a lack of clear strategy. Why are you doing the launch and who is it for? Maybe you want existing customers to adopt the feature or maybe you want investors to take note of your cool new product. Either way, it's much easier to set the metrics ahead of time and develop the strategy around them. Don't wait until right before or even right after your launch to define what success looks like.
The other big, related gap is forgetting to track how a product or feature is doing in the long term. A launch is exciting and it's also a lot of work, making it easy to get distracted. Fundamentally, a launch is really just a moment in time, a day that will pass one way or another. What's much more important is tracking long term metrics and adjusting your strategy over time. This goes back to the fundamental question of, why did you make the new feature in the first place? What is your company trying to achieve? Keeping these questions top of mind will ensure that your PMM team is seen as a major driver within the business.
I wouldn't say pricing and packaging are overlooked, but monetization and associated growth opportunities are often under-utilized as a means of improving launch/ go-to-market success:
- Can you look at the pricing of a feature or product as a means of driving product-led growth e.g. a freemium version of a feature being leveraged to access top-of-funnel customers
- Does launch timing align with the opportunity to run promotions e.g. promotion annual offerings for stickiness
- Are you considering the creation of upgrade and upsell paths as part of the launch
- Can you position this to current customer at churn risk to make their current package look more enticing with specific positioning and messaging
- Can you continue to test for the optimal pricing and packaging of a feature during the launch, so you can optimize it afterwards