Every single launch, even the ones that made me crazy, taught me something valuable. As I’ve gotten more senior, I’ve done less of the launch coordination but I still get deeply involved in our product launches because I believe there’s nothing that encapsulates the feeling, energy, and excitement of being a PMM quite like launching a new product.
If I look at the launches I’ve been a part of, there are two that stand out to me as the most impactful:
The first was very early in my career, in a job I actually didn’t thrive in, but that I learned a ton from. I was lucky enough to be a very early employee at Gusto and was there through the launch of their benefits product and the rebrand from Zenpayroll to Gusto. This stands out to me because I think it taught me the most about running a large launch, building a brand, and having a customer-centric mindset. The product was incredibly complex (as you’d assume health insurance would be), it also was a huge unveiling of a new brand and a new name, and I loved watching and contributing to the process of defining that brand. The thing that stands out most to me was that every employee, probably about 125 of us at the time, blocked the entire launch day out to call every single one of our customers to share the news, reassure them that getting an email from “Gusto” was the same payroll product they knew and loved, and answer any question they had. That launch has stuck with me for over 6 years as a way to go above and beyond for your customers and stand up for your brand values.
The second was the most recent launch I ran at Airtable bringing our Interface Designer product to market. This stands out mostly because I’ve seen enough launches to know when there’s something special happening. On the surface, it looked like a lot was stacked against us. Our team was short-staffed, I actually had to step in and individually manage this launch. Our product was launching in beta because, while we knew we had something powerful to bring to market, it was a very early version of the product. We were juggling over ten other product updates, and our deadline seemed tight. This stands out because it was truly a team effort across the entire company. We were on Zoom at 9 pm ensuring the website deployed, all of us were Slacking our favorite tweets and community posts back and forth, and our customers loved the product. I think part of what stands out about this launch is it highlights the power of mindset and the role PMM plays in fostering a positive launch environment. Huge launches managed remotely can lack the energy that being in person does. But this one had that same buzzy feeling of excitement and accomplishment. As PMMs, our role isn’t just to bring the product to market, it’s to motivate the company and rally us behind that launch. This launch was such a nice reminder that you can do that remotely when you’ve got a great team and a great product.
Love this question! It's funny - the first one that comes to mind was not actually a traditionally successful launch; it was the one where I learned the most, got to spend a ton of time with customers, and really got to flex my creative muscles. What I loved was having the space to conduct deep qualitative and quantative research. I had the chance to go on a few multi-city roadshows to pitch it live, and refined the storyline after every conversation to craft a compelling, customer-centric, validated value proposition. Unfortunately, so often, I feel like this part of the process gets rushed -- which is too bad since it's so fun. At launch, I partnered with the marketing team to execute a really creative integrated campaign. We kicked it off at our customer conference where we unveiled the product with a video, and then brought features of that video into our physical presence at the event and incorporated audience participation. The product and the message were everywhere.
I mentioned a learned a lot in that launch, too. One thing I learned the hard way is just how critical it is to bring everyone along for the ride -- you can have the strongest value prop in the world, but if key stakeholders aren't bought into the product's success, you might not be successful. That's why now when I'm working on launches, I engage with cross-functional team members as early as possible and collaborate with them closely on the GTM strategy.
I don’t know if it’s my ‘favorite’ launch but one launch that someone on my team recently did was around some exciting automations within our product.
What makes a launch exciting for me isn’t the types of activities we do, or how much cross-functional collaboration there is, or whether we came up with something flashy for it. For me, what’s most exciting is when a product or feature is incredibly strategic to the overall vision of our products.
This feature we recently launched was exciting on its own, but when put into the context of how this will change the way a real estate transaction is conducted (in terms of the manual effort involved), it is game changing. Being able to tell *that* narrative (vs. just the more ground level view of how this feature will help an individual) is pretty exciting. Coming up with the messaging for that is fun, and working with cross-functional teams to incorporate the right messaging into our marketing, outreach, sales conversations, etc is challenging and highly impactful.
This is a tough one! We've worked on so many awesome launches at Zendesk - and as the team who's responsible for our quarterly launch programs, we've had no shortage of fun launches to work on.
If I had to pick one, I would honestly say it was my first launch at Zendesk - our analytics product Explore. You could say I was "thrown off the deep-end" with this one.
I was relatively new on the PMM team but found myself in a position where I was the sole PMM working on the launch. It's my favorite because it was an awesome way of ramping up on everything product marketing-related and it ultimately was a very successful launch that had great customer adoption, press coverage, and was ranked #4 for the day on ProductHunt.
I don't have a favorite, but Horizon Workrooms has been pretty cool. I was on the launch team (shout-out to Yuxi Wang who was the PMM on the project), and I left a fantastic job on Gaming to work on this project. The technology is incredible and is helping me realize my personal dream of being to work well with anyone, even if we're miles apart. Check out the trailer too!