Morgan Molnar

Morgan MolnarShare

Director of Product Marketing, Momentive
Morgan leads product marketing for the global insights business at Momentive (maker of SurveyMonkey). She began her career at Nielsen, consulting for Procter & Gamble on marketing insights. After v...more
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Morgan Molnar
Morgan Molnar
Director of Product Marketing, Momentive | Formerly SurveyMonkey, NielsenJuly 12

The fundamental elements of product launches (see my answer in response to what makes a highly effective GTM strategy & plan) don't change for B2C vs B2B launches.

Here are the major differences:

  • Your ideal customer profile, launch campaign targeting, and relevant messages
  • Product distribution channels - online SaaS that requires a strong web and digital marketing presence needs to be treated differently compared to in-store consumer products that require physical packaging and a shelf assortment strategy.
  • The customer acquisition strategy - distribution channels will determine the strategy for marketing channels. Psysical or digital product? In-store or online? Digital or traditional media (or both)? Self-serve or sales-assisted purchase experience?
  • Funnel measurement - the way you track success will differ depending on whether you're working with a sales funnel, web conversion funnel, mobile app conversion funnel, etc. Regardless of the type of launch, top-of-funnel metrics like brand awareness & consideration will be important to track.

Morgan Molnar
Morgan Molnar
Director of Product Marketing, Momentive | Formerly SurveyMonkey, NielsenJuly 12

When launching a new feature of an EXISTING product, it can be difficult to attribute financial metrics to a single feature launch. Here are some things to consider as KPIs for your feature launches.

  • Package upgrade rates or package mix. This is helpful when a new feature is launched only in certain packages you offer.
  • Average deal size. Great if the feature is a paid value-add to a solution you currently offer.
  • Win rates. If a feature was highly requested or cited as a reason for previously losing deals, the launch may help your sales team close at a better rate.
  • Feature adoption. The percentage of customers that engage with your new feature.
  • Feature usage frequency. If customers keep returning to the feature, it's a good sign that the feature is increasing overall customer engagement / product satisfaction.
  • Net customer retention (NRR). If the feature is highly requested by customers, the launch may help reduce churn & aid renewals.

Curious if folks have additional ideas!

Morgan Molnar
Morgan Molnar
Director of Product Marketing, Momentive | Formerly SurveyMonkey, NielsenJuly 12

As part of our GTM launch framework & process roll out, we created a GTM strategy & execution plan templates that correspond with different market launch & customer impact tiers. If you nail the GTM strategy, the plan will fall into place if you have the foundational framework.

Here are some of the things that make up a highly effective GTM strategy & plan. You can pretty much tackle each of these in order, starting with aligning on the process goals & timeline, then working on the GTM strategy, which will then inform the launch execution plan.

1) Align on the launch process

  • Clear launch goals (and accountability)
  • Launch timeline
  • Roles & responsibilities (we use a DACI model)
  • Success measurement & tracking

2) Develop a focused strategy

  • Market & competitive intelligence
  • Ideal customer profile & target personas
  • Product messaging & differentiation (incl. message testing)
  • Product/feature naming
  • Pricing & packaging

3) Collaborate on an effective execution plan

  • Product readiness (both in terms of product releases, but also ensuring product-market-fit)
  • Acquisition strategy
  • Campaigns & demand gen programs
  • Sales & success enablement
  • Effective content/collateral
  • Customer advocacy
Morgan Molnar
Morgan Molnar
Director of Product Marketing, Momentive | Formerly SurveyMonkey, NielsenJuly 12

Product/feature launches are SO cross-functional and require SO much coordination, that I'd say that anything that helps you with project management and coordinating everything in one place is the most indepsensible "tool". 

This could be in the form of frameworks like a DACI/RACI model that helps you get clarity & buy-in for launch roles & responsibilities, a Gantt chart to help you see the launch timeline birds-eye view, or project management software (we've used Asana, Jira, Wrike, ClickUp) to help you keep track of tasks, drivers & deadlines. If you have ways to keep yourself organized and transparent with your team, you can ensure a smooth launch with few dropped balls.

Morgan Molnar
Morgan Molnar
Director of Product Marketing, Momentive | Formerly SurveyMonkey, NielsenJuly 12

We JUST revamped our GTM framework & process at Momentive and you're in luck - I drove this process at the company & am coming off the project pretty fresh.

Ultimately, product marketing should own the go-to-market launch framework and process. So you or someone on your team should be a driver, with several cross-functional partners consulted. We got drafts in front of product leadership, marketing leadership, sales enablement (whole team in our case), sales & success leadership, and any other critical teams involved in product launches. In the roll out, we included a GTM launch framework reference deck that outlines our process, a GTM strategy overview deck that we copy & fill in for each major launch (doubles as a kick off deck + source of truth), as well as a execution plan template that's modular based on launch tier.

At Momentive, we found that a simple Tier 1-3 system didn't account for nuances across the types of features, products, and solutions we launch. We have cases where we may be launching major customer features (e.g. revamping our logged-in home) where we need extensive proactive customer communication but don't need a large market push. We needed a way to account for this.

SO we created a dual tiering structure: market launch tiers and customer impact tiers. Every GTM launch gets a classification for market launch + customer impact.

Market launch tiers account for the activities targeting prospects, analysts, investors, and the press/media. You know you need a market launch when the new product/feature allows you to capture new business, is a differentiated solution, supports a strategic partnership, and would ultimately improve the way the market/investors/analysts view the company.

  • Tier 1 market launches would be reserved for new proucts or solutions (or a VERY significant update to an exiting solution) or a new strategic GTM partnership
  • Tier 2 market launches would be leveraged for new features, integrations, or services with the opportunity to impact the market. Tier 2 launch plans could also be used to soft-launch a Tier 1 solution in a public beta program with additional Tier 1 activities to follow.
  • Releases that would NOT require a market launch could include features where we're playing catch-up with the competition, updates to existing features, UI improvements, or end-of-life (EOL) of a product/feature. Note that this doesn't mean that customer communication isn't needed.

Customer launch tiers account for activities targeting existing customers.

  • High customer impact launches would be reserved for new products/features that immediately and drammatically alter the customer experience for the majority of customers, affects the price they pay, requires admin or customer action, or involves EOL for a product/feature used by a significant number of customers.
  • Medium customer impact launches would be leveraged for new products/features that changes the workflow for a subset of customers, or and EOL for a product/feature with minimal usage.
  • Low customer impact launches would use minimal customer comms about updates/enhancements to existing features that wouldn't dramatically alter the customer workflow.
  • Releases that may not require any customer communication would be things like backend or infrastructure updates that don't impact the customer experience at all.

For each of these market launch & customer impact tiers, we have a recommended set of activities. It's especially helpful for guiding more junior team members who haven't led many launches in their career. But, ultimately, our launch tiers serve as a guideline and starting point. For every launch, we will evaluate the situation, and may add/remove elements of a tiered plan based on what's needed.

Morgan Molnar
Morgan Molnar
Director of Product Marketing, Momentive | Formerly SurveyMonkey, NielsenJuly 12

I loooove this question! A few reasons product launches may fail or underperform come to mind, all of which I've experienced personally and learned from.

Let's assume for a second that you have product-market fit, meaning the product features, pricing, and messaging all resonate with target buyers. Yay! But a quarter goes by and you miss your pipeline/adoption/bookings targets, and aren't on pace to meet longer term goals. Uh oh... Here are a few things to look into:

1. Your goals were unrealistic.

You may be like: LOL yes blame the goals! But I'm serious. It's not uncommon for tops-down goals to get handed to you during product launches. Before you agree to targets, you'll want to do a bottoms-up build towards those targets and gut-check the feasibility. 

In reality, pipeline ultimately come down to the # of opportunitities each rep can create in-quarter * the average deal size. If you divide your target by the average deal size & it amounts to way too many opportunities per rep to be realistic, then you probably have a problem. 

The same goes for self-service adoption. If you back out from targets to what would need to be true at the top of the funnel and it's astronomical, then you may be working towards unrealistic goals.

At Momentive, we typically have softer goals the first quarter of a launch (e.g. close X paying customers) so we can establish baselines for pipeline, average deal size, and sales cycles.

2. Sales wasn't confident in selling the new product.

You may have a great product, great content, all the messaging in place, etc. But if your sales team leaves a launch readiness training feeling confused or unenthused, that puts you in danger of underperforming. If you work on an extremely technical or nuanced product, you'll want to watch out for this.

At Momentive, we've run into this with market research solutions that are based on a complicated methodology. We split up enablement into multiple sessions: a methodology 101, product overview (ICP, pitch, demo, etc), and sales strategy (discovery, scoping, pricing, etc.). And we leverage training feedback & sales confidence surveys to make sure the team is excited, engaged, and confident in pitching our solutions.

3. There are other more attractive products in your portfolio.

As you scale from a single solution company to a portfolio of offerings, your sales team inevitably leans on selling a) what they know, b) what they're good at, and c) what makes them the most money (read: helps them hit their quota & get to accelerators fastest).

Whenever we launch a solution now, we think about how it can help increase deal sizes, get bundled with other existing offerings, or helps the sales team work with more departments in an organization.

At Momentive, we launched a solution that averages $75k per deal, then 6 months later we launched a solution that gets ~$8k per deal. Guess which one the sales team spent their time selling? The $75k solution, of course! Ultimately we ended up focusing more on the self-service entry to that $8k solution + worked in ways to bundle the solution with other offerings.

Morgan Molnar
Morgan Molnar
Director of Product Marketing, Momentive | Formerly SurveyMonkey, NielsenJuly 12

For almost every feature launch, you have to evaluate the amount of market- and customer-facing activities it makes sense to do. For features that don't warrant a market launch (i.e. they aren't a differentiator, don't support a strategic partnership, or open up opportunities for new business) but DO warrant customer communication and customer-facing team readiness, it's still important to have launch tiers. Is this something that adds value & could enable up-sell or upgrades? Is it a major UI change that would impact their day-to-day usage of the product? Have customers been asking for this? Or is this just an intuitive update to an existing feature?

You can think about activities in several buckets, listed below. Note that these are pretty comprehensive, and you'd want to trim this down based on what you're launching. You may, for example, opt for fewer proactive comms touchpoints & more reactive comms preparedness.

Launch planning & readiness:

Customer segmentation

     Pull any necessary data/lists

     Define customer launch segments

Document customer comms strategy

     Channels (email, in-product, 1:1, etc)

     Comms schedule/phases timing

     Messaging framework

     Legal approval of messaging

Internal readiness

     Product/Initiative FAQ

     Sales & Success training

     CustOps training

     Marketing/Comms training

Customer communication:

In-Product Comms

     In-product targeting

     In-product UX copy/design

     In-product entry points

     Update transactional emails

     Error message (for outage)

     Help Center customer facing FAQ

Marketing Comms

     Upload/create customer send lists

     Email copy/creative

     Email localization

     Contnet updates (website, sales collateral)

Sales/Success Comms

     1:1 Customer email templates

     Customer-facing FAQ

CustOps Comms

     Publish page in CustOps wiki

     CustOps email signature

     CustOps customer case category

     CustOps case quick-text responses

     Social Care team preparedness

Day-Of Activation

     Cut-over plan (e.g. re-directs)

     Slack channel announcements

     Customer-facing team reminders

     Monitor customer case volume

Customer onboarding and expansion:

Customer onboarding

     New customer onboarding strategy

     Update onboarding email sequence

     Update getting started guide

     Customer-facing how-to videos

     Customer training / best practices

Customer Engagement

     QBR template updates

     Customer touchpoints (email, etc)

Customer Expansion

     Expansion playbook updates

     Renewal process & playbook

     Gainsight CTAs

It's also important to note that a small feature on its own may not warrant a market splash, but if you bundle multiple similarly-themed feature into one announcement (e.g. multiple analytics features or multiple integrations), then you may be able to swing a market/press moment. At Momentive, we ladder up feature releases into thematic launches to get more market "bang for our buck" and to reduce the number of individual launch workstreams.

Morgan Molnar
Morgan Molnar
Director of Product Marketing, Momentive | Formerly SurveyMonkey, NielsenMarch 21

I wrote a comprehensive guide to doing market research here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/mp/market-research-ultimate-guide/

It walks you through planning & scoping, study design, data collection, analysis, and taking action. Note that it is mostly focused on survey research, but the guide does touch on quantitative and qualitative methods.

Morgan Molnar
Morgan Molnar
Director of Product Marketing, Momentive | Formerly SurveyMonkey, NielsenMarch 21

Here is where market research can and should fit into the GTM life cycle:

Exploration / business case justification:

  • Market sizing; TAM analysis
  • Market trends analysis
  • Usage & Attitudes study (incl identifying use cases)
  • Competitive intelligence

Product development:

  • Shopper insights
  • Persona development
  • Idea screening
  • Feature prioritization
  • Concept testing
  • UX research
  • Price optimization

Launch / introduction:

  • Package testing
  • Name testing
  • Message testing
  • Campaign creative testing

Adoption & growth:

  • Brand & product awareness tracking
  • Ongoing competitive intelligence
  • Market research to inform thought leadership content & proof points
  • VoC & CX research, incl recruiting for case studies
  • Feature prioritization for product improvements

Tips for integrating market research into the stages above:

  1. Make sure it is an agreed-upon part of your GTM process. For example, I just created a GTM launch framework that included things like product name research and validation, message testing, etc. I got input and feedback from cross-functional leaders and now these things will be expected to move forward with any launch at our company.
  2. If your organization is newer to market research, you can start by creating a research plan to get buy-in. This would include things like the business context, research objective, how the research will inform a decsion you will make / action you will take, potential business impact, plus any research you've done on the tools/vendors you may need to onboard to make it happen. 
  3. Create a DACI (Driver, Approver, Contributor, Informed) for who will own each of the research projects you intend to implement. You may find that it will make sense for strategy, product, product design, UX research, PMM, growth, brand, etc. to share the load. PMM should definitely not be responsible for everything listed above!
  4. If you get buy-in for a project, be sure to follow-up with leadership on the results and impact of doing the research. Consistent exposure of the work will start to make it an expected part of the GTM process.
Morgan Molnar
Morgan Molnar
Director of Product Marketing, Momentive | Formerly SurveyMonkey, NielsenMarch 21

There are many ways you could segment your market for your marketing and sales motions: from industries to personas to company size to geographies (and for B2C companies, major demographics like age, gender, etc come into play). The questions you need to ask are "Do these groups of customers have fundamentally different needs for our product?" and "Would we acquire these groups of customers in different ways?". Wherever the differences are greatest, you'll want to start there.

Another key consideration is resourcing: do you have enough people to create focus areas among your marketing/sales/post-sales teams? Do you have enough bandwidth to create personalized messaging and campaigns? Do you have sufficient budget to split paid campaigns into different segments?

Market research data or industry reports may be able to tell you what some of the largest groups are that you should go after, but you'll also inherently start to learn this when you start running marketing campaigns & selling.

For example, it was immediately apparent to our sales team that institutional investors (hedge funds, equity analysts) spoke about research differently and had different objectives than insights and marketing professionals. Then we started to notice that B2B SaaS companies had different research challenges targeting niche groups of professionals than consumer goods companies doing research with the general population. As our teams scaled, this is where we made distinctions and split up our sales and marketing teams into "pods" to focus accordingly. Market research will come into play again when we need to make a strategic decision for which vertical to take on next and how to position ourselves differently.

It's also worth noting that you may use a totally different framework for customer segmentation to structure your post-sales teams. For example we have segments for self-serve vs sales-assisted customers. Self-serve customers are segmented by subscription type, and sales customers are segmented by spend level to determine the level of support/service they can receive so that our team can scale their efforts.

Credentials & Highlights
Director of Product Marketing at Momentive
Formerly SurveyMonkey, Nielsen
Top Product Marketing Mentor List
Product Marketing AMA Contributor
Lives In Redwood City, CA
Knows About Building a Product Marketing Team, Customer Research, Enterprise Product Marketing, E...more