All related (51)
Harish Peri
Head of Product Marketing - Security, Integrations, Mobile, SalesforceApril 4

This was a product I helped launch more than a year ago. It was a product that had high market demand and was long overdue for the target buyers. If you reference the question I answered on 'GTM blueprint', this launch had everything in reverse.

  1. Unclear Target Segment - we didnt have alignment on who the exact segment was based on launch-day product capabilities, use cases, company size, etc. The broad feeling was the target was 'everyone', which is always a recipe for failure.
  2. Misalignment on strategic intent - there were mixed messages around the strategic goal of the launch. Some thought it was capturing broad market share, some thought it was playing catch up on competitive features. This also led to conflicts around pricing, which led to pricing too high and competitive
  3. Mismatch of positioning and buyer - we ended up going after the wrong buyer/decision maker in an attempt to 'look cool'. Our target persona was actually more of an influencer/user that the buyer would have looked to with trust during the sales process. By not targeting them, we ended up in competitive bakeoffs that didn't let us shine to our fullest
  4.  Stakeholder alignment - we ended up in a place where product and commercial stakeholders were misaligned quite a bit leading to delays and conflict

All in all, launches are hard. Launches make you question your strategy, your values, your approach to marketing - everything. So best to spend more time upfront aligning than rushing to launch.

Jeffrey Vocell
Head of Product Marketing, Narvar | Formerly Iterable, HubSpot, IBMSeptember 1

Oof, I’m not sure I want to relive those memories! I think every product launch is an opportunity, there are new challenges that arise and problems to solve. I’ve led and managed a ton of launches - and in pretty much every single case there has always been some last minute changes. For me though, that’s the most exciting time - it’s when product marketers thrive through bringing everyone together in the build-up to the launch.

One launch in particular comes to mind though…

We were launching an all new service offering (at a SaaS company) and it was the first-time product marketing was working very closely with the services team on a launch they were driving. So all of the standard processes that had become common with launching software needed to suddenly be revised and figured out for launching a services offering. The team structure was different (there was no PM, for example) and as a result as a PMM we had to play a slightly different role within the launch and shepherding it to the market. Ultimately the primary set of challenges here came from a lack of process or structure - which has since been addressed, but it’s like the first-time riding a bike. You may end up with some scrapes on your knees, but you’ll learn a lot about what to do, and what not to do and improve for the next time.

Stephanie Zou
Senior Director, Marketing, FigmaDecember 3

We recently launched the Figma Community. Some quick context: Figma Community is a space where individuals and brands can create a public profile and publish design files to the world, so anyone in the world can inspect, remix, and learn from their work. 

A couple things made it hard...

  • It’s a novel concept. No design software has built something quite like this before within their product. Designers can now share a design file on the Web. Anyone in the world can go to inspect that file, learn how it’s created, and duplicate a version of the file to start riffing off of it. Designers are used to online communities where work was displayed as static images, not interactive files. So customers definitely had lots of questions around what they should publish as public files and how it all works. 
  • We knew we needed tons of customer examples. It was kind of a chicken and egg problem. We needed customers publishing stuff for launch, but we needed to also give them inspiration first so they can inspire others. We had to do lots of pitching and meetings with customers. We pitched Slack, Dropbox, VMware, Unsplash, City of Chicago, and many others on our vision, brainstormed with them on what they could publish to the community, and worked with them to create their profile. And as we all marketers know, getting customer approvals in order to talk about them publicly is yet another fun hurdle :) 
  • And this is just the beginning...we have a lot more hard work ahead. We are still in beta and we need to amass enough individuals and brands publishing and using resources regularly in order for this to be a true community. 
Susan "Spark" Park
Head of Product Marketing, VR Work Experiences, Oculus, MetaFebruary 3

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Why: I had a new boss that did not trust me yet, nor hired me and didn't understand my Google background and I needed to gain their trust as well as the XFN team

Thinking back I grew significanlty during this because I had to earn the trust of a new manager AND my XFN team to get this done. It was exhausting and trained me for the future, but I would not put anyone else through what I went through.  

I have now been that new manager coming into a launch and I've learned how to listen, and be supportive from the beginning. I believe trust is lost vs earned to empower people as much as possible, and I've been delightfully happy in the results. 

Dave Steer
Vice President of Product Marketing, GitLabJuly 28

I’ve had my fair share of challenging product launches in my career. The Tier 2s that you desperately want to become a Tier 1. The launches that you, as a product marketer, learn about 48 hours before the launch. Those are painful.

But the most difficult have been in the areas of Trust & Safety, which I believe is one of the most critical and sensitive parts of any business. Get them wrong, and corporate reputation goes down the drain. Get them right, and your product can be a significant boon to your company’s brand. Two product launches stick out the most.

The first was early in my career when I was the product and brand marketer for trust at eBay. My job was to build trust and confidence in the eBay brand and between buyers and sellers -- it was a lofty challenge.

One of our new products was the introduction of the Resolution Center, a platform that enabled buyers and sellers to manage their disputes. The marketing challenge was that the community, at the time, expected eBay to manage disputes for them (like a traditional retailer would) and, if we sided with either the buyer or the seller, the other party would take their frustration out on eBay. We were the referee and, as one of the PMs told me, no one goes to a sports game to see the referee. The Resolution Center launch was aimed at solving that reputational challenge, but launching it was akin to kicking a hornet’s nest -- drawing the ire of both buyers and sellers.

This launch taught me an invaluable marketing lesson: always lean into community engagement. We managed the launch in a way similar to how an aspiring political candidate would engage with communities, spending countless hours answering questions on community chat boards and making ourselves -- the eBay employees responsible for this product -- available to our most loyal customers. In many ways, the Resolution Center launch was painful as we were hearing critique from all sides; but, the way we approached the product introduction demonstrated our passion and commitment to trust on the platform and the long-range success of our community of buyers and sellers. It was marketing that mattered.

The second launch was more recent. I was the product marketer at Twitter responsible for the launch of the Mute button, an important feature that enabled people to not have to see Tweets in their timeline. This launch came at a time when Twitter was dealing with an enormous amount of bullying and abuse on the platform. Similar to the eBay experience, Twitter was caught between two countervailing pressures -- the need for freedom of expression and the need for protection from abuse.

This launch taught me another invaluable product marketing lesson: always be transparent and listen to your customers. One of the ways we approached this (and many other) launches was to put together a Safety Advisory Board, a group of experts and Twitter customers with whom we shared and gathered feedback on our safety roadmap. This type of feedback made our safety products better and, when it came time to launch, created advocates for us.

Product launches are hard - some harder than others. But all product launches represent important opportunities to tell a story and advance a narrative that is important to your company and, more importantly, your customers. Approaching product launches with this truth in mind will help you make the most out of these moments.

Esther Yoon
AVP of Product Marketing, RingCentralOctober 13

Hands-down, Zoom Hardware as a Service. The messaging and positioning were quite simple, definitely the easiest part... the hard part was steering a purely SaaS company to launch hardware solutions in just over a quarter. I come from a hardware background, so it wasn't necessarily attributed to lack of experience. It was the new operations, sales infrastructure, accounting framework, and things of that nature that made it the hardest product launch I've done to date. 

Calculating how you account for software vs hardware is extremely different. There are so many vendors involved from manufacture to product in hand. International shipping and regulations are complex. Returns are expensive and resource intensive. Training a SaaS sales force how to sell hardware (in this case, also much more expensive and with many new sales dependencies and limitations). And that's just to name a few.

Honestly, it was so fun though. There was absolutely no fat on the tiger team. Everyone who represented their function, whether they were from the C-suite or a manager all played critical strategic and tactical roles.

Ah-ha moment: Every meeting I forced multiple micro next-steps for all the key players in the tiger team. Not a regular 'next-step' but an immediate one right after this meeting. (e.g. "Mike: Send Mel an email and ask her when she needs pricing by for the next pricing committee meeting.). Micro next steps helped create a sense of progress (and actual progress).

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