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Stephen Baloglu

Stephen Baloglu

Director of Product Marketing, Adobe

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Stephen Baloglu
Stephen Baloglu
Adobe Director of Product MarketingMarch 29
Great question and glad to see people taking a customer-led approach to product launches. There are a few strategies I recommend here and they fall into 4 areas. 1. Review the foundational research and insights that already exist - What you’re launching was built based on deep customer research and …ensure you’re clear on the insights that drove what you’re bringing to market in the first place. If gaps are identified, now is the time to identify and close them. It’s better late than never on the foundational pieces. 2. Dig into early customer feedback - Talk to beta customers - what do they love, what’s missing, are they actually using the product with frequency and intensity? You’re a great product marketer, so you already have some customers on speed dial (OK…does anyone remember speed dial???) But you get the idea. Talk to customers! 3. Qualitative and quantitative research with prospects/target audience - To develop great messaging, positioning and marketing plan, you need to know what work the marketing actually needs to do to convert your target audience. What are the perceptions, motivations, barriers, media sources, and buying process for your audience? All in the context of your new product. The keys to this research are to target a representative group of your audience, do the qual first to guide what you’re measuring in the quant, and leverage product prototypes for stimuli, so feedback is richer. And remember, focus groups and individual interviews are not perfect…I find they can identify big reactions - but are not likely to inform how people will behave in the wild. 4. Market and competitive research - Do your diligence on what’s happening in the market. What else is your target audience exposed to? How will you create a breakthrough message? Big markets with lots of $$$ tend to be crowded and highly competitive, your goal may not be differentiation, but going to market with distinctiveness.
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Stephen Baloglu
Stephen Baloglu
Adobe Director of Product MarketingMarch 30
Organization readiness can be measured at different altitudes…e.g. Super high level and broad: does the business have the right strategy to win? vs. tactical: are we set up for a successful product launch and meet near-term goals? And points in-between. Let’s assume the big strategy pieces are figured out and set up for success and we’re focusing on the more near-term tactical pieces of a successful launch. There are a few areas that I focus on to assess launch readiness. For all of these, the key is to gain partnership and commitment with your x-functional leaders on the priority and measures of success. 1. Product readiness * Customer voice - Talk to your beta customers. What do they think? What is their behavior, look at the data. Don’t have a set of beta customers? Well, you need to find a way to get real-world insights from your target customers to inform the launch. * Launch metrics - is the product meeting established criteria that have been set to signal product-market fit. This can include things like CSAT or NPS, high-intensity use, performance & stability metrics, etc.. * Scalability - are the product and systems ready to handle the volume and scale of the launch…and then some. You are going to crush the launch, right! 2. Customer Experience * Discovery and customer journeys - do you have the right funnels with a cohesive story/message across the journey that drive customers to whatever you’re launching? At Adobe we do end-to-end experience mapping by a partner team (unbiased 3rd party) to uncover risks and gaps to fill prior to launch. * Product led growth engine- Are you delivering value fast enough, with low barriers to entry as a part of a loop to get customers more deeply engaged? Map this all out and figure out what's critical at launch to keep customers engaged and what you can build post-launch as you iterate on the experience. * Customer support - this includes status content as well as live people helping people in whatever channels you have; phones, chat, community forums, social channels, etc…Do these teams have all the right info to help customers when and if they need it? * Globalization and Culturalization - If this is a global launch, are you serving an experience that is not only localized for language but culturalized to connect with your customers in their local context? Partner with your geo teams to get this right and make the right investments where you can have the most impact. 3. Sales & Channel readiness * Sales enablement content - Have you armed the team with great content? Make sure you have some strong relationships with the sales team and be open to iterating on this content to make it work for the field teams. * Awareness and motivation - You can send your 1-sheeter to the sales team…but that doesn’t mean they’ll use it. Find the opportunities to get in front of the team and hit home why this is important for them and their goals. 4. Data * Analytics - I’ve had too many launches where we’re close to launching and haven’t built the dashboards and fully defined what we’re measuring beyond the KPIs. You’ll want diagnostics to come along with the high-level metrics so you can tell what’s working, and what’s not. Data…do it early and often. * Feedback loops - Do you have the right listening posts pre and post-launch to get well-rounded insights from the market. This can be product telemetry data as well as qual feedback and quant customer surveys. Use this to determine success as well as informing the next iteration and roadmap. 5. Team * Big launches need professional biz ops/program management - Don’t ask the pastry chef to make the soup. Leverage what people are best at…A great biz ops partner will ask the tough questions in an unbiased way, shake out the overly optimistic/unrealistic parts of the plan, and get the right people in the room to solve problems. * Don’t be afraid to get real - Let’s talk Status - The launch is either green or red (all product launches are yellow and come down to the wire…the question is, are you going to make it or not? Is the team blocked? Do they need more resources? If you need leaders to unlock something or make a decision, it’s red. If not, it’s green and you’ll figure it out) Debate this with the team…Candor…ask the team what’s not being said that should? * Team health - Along the way, be sure to check-in with the team on the personal and emotional aspects. Big product launches are most successful when a team is collaborating effectively, with clear responsibilities, committed to the vision, and trimming the boat in the same direction.
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Stephen Baloglu
Stephen Baloglu
Adobe Director of Product MarketingMarch 29
Success…you know it when you see it. Well, we all may see it a different way. So, for me, it’s all about establishing what success looks like with stakeholders and leadership (early and often), ensuring reliable measurements of success metrics are in place before launch, and taking an honest and candid approach to evaluating the launch. We use the Go-to-Market strategy document to align the team on objectives, measures of success and goals/targets. As we prep for the launch, we ensure dashboards and data measures are in place to read out the measures/KPIs and diagnostics and that we all have access. Finally, we create a recap of the launch to share the outcomes. In the recap, one key is to embrace the good and the bad! Don’t be afraid of surfacing the things that didn’t work…otherwise, your launch playbook can get overloaded with ineffective tactics. So, do your future self and team members a favor and take the learnings forward.
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Stephen Baloglu
Stephen Baloglu
Adobe Director of Product MarketingMarch 30
Developing your team and how x-functional teams work together may seem “less pressing”, but while these things do not typically have urgent deadlines, they are extremely important. Here are a few strategies I use to effectively develop the team as well as meeting business goals. * OKRs for personal development. We use OKRs to set and measure goals. Whatever goal setting/tracking model you use, make room for you and your team to add individual career goals. We typically all have a learning goal each quarter which can range from doing a LinkedIn learning program all the way to starting an exec MBA program. * Make it a part of high-priority projects. I’m sure you’ve had a team member trying to improve a skill or learn something new. Can you give them that opportunity while also delivering on a business initiative? I had someone on my team who was developing presentation skills and gaining confidence speaking with large teams. We identified a need to have a business review on a new product we had launched. This would kick off our next round of strategic planning and roadmap discussion with x-functional teams…super important. My team member developed the content, did a dry run with peers, and then presented it to the leadership team, which kicked off a great discussion. * Prioritize it for yourself. As a leader, if you prioritize and make time to develop yourself, build x-functional relationships, etc… your team is more likely to do the same. Definitely lead by example on this one.
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Stephen Baloglu
Stephen Baloglu
Adobe Director of Product MarketingMarch 29
“No, don’t do it! Don’t create a massive spike in traffic and run-up in sales that blows through your numbers.” said no one, ever. But really, I get it, you’re not looking for empty calories, you're building a business. Here are a few thoughts. 1. Understand what might drive a short-term spike that doesn’t carry through. Is your media spend too front-loaded? Do you not have the right product-led growth motions to create sustainable growth? Are you taking pricing action along with a product launch? If you are worried about this, list out assumptions of what might cause the spike, assess the potential size and how likely it is to happen. Look at your large scale+high likelihood assumptions and evaluate the impact and how you might change your go-to-market to address it? 2. Don’t prevent a spike if you can get it, just plan for it. Is your conversion funnel fully developed? Are you engaging non-converting traffic with customer journeys that convert deeper in the funnel? Leverage traffic spikes with additional conversion downstream. Oh, and is the tech ready? Don’t let the site go down on the big day. 3. Don’t pull all the levers at the same time. I know, we all get focused on the launch date and it’s exciting. In your go-to-market, play the timeline out beyond the launch moment…you can use a “rolling thunder” strategy for the message or if you have a massive email list, phase the size of audience you’re targeting. You can also use this approach to create more focus and do fewer things bigger, over time. 4. If you get an unexpected spike, something really worked…take those learnings forward to the next campaign.
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Stephen Baloglu
Stephen Baloglu
Adobe Director of Product Marketing
Modernizing Illustrator for iPad with Stephen Baloglu, Director of Product Marketing at Adobe
Modernizing Illustrator for iPad with Stephen Baloglu, Director of Product Marketing at Adobe
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Credentials & Highlights
Director of Product Marketing at Adobe
Product Marketing AMA Contributor
Lives In San Rafael, California
Knows About Release Marketing, Product Launches, Market Research, Competitive Positioning
Work At Adobe
Senior Director Product Marketing Corporate Segment
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