10 Ways to Nail Your Next Product Launch
New product launches have to move the needle for a number of objectives—they need to add value for current customers, entice interested leads to learn more about your brand, and make a positive impact on high-level company goals. The ability to nail these objectives with a single product launch is what sets successful businesses apart from the competition.
That’s why product launches require a ton of planning and strategic direction. You need to identify a need on the market, then position your new product as a unique solution, and communicate that value clearly. Any missteps along the way can create bottlenecks and delays that damage the customer experience. But there are strategies you can use throughout the product development process to reduce the risk of these issues.
Understanding all that goes into creating a release experience that’s seamless for your team as well as your customers, you set your product up for increased engagement and long-term success.
1. Get to Know Your Target Audience
Product development is a people-first experience—building something new relies on in-depth knowledge of your target audience to fulfill an existing need in the market. From there, you can connect it with your overall project and business goals.
Getting to know your target audience also makes it easier to refine your product ideas because it grounds them in reality. As product managers, it's easy to be enticed by the next new thing. But while that new and exciting product or feature may be cool and exciting, it doesn't necessarily solve a problem for your target audience.
When you understand your audience on a deeper level, it also helps you build customer relationships that support your business long-term. They'll see that you're solving their problems and providing proactive solutions for things they face on a daily basis. And you can rely on these relationships for direct and honest feedback for your team.
2. Refine Your Product Concept
Product teams often have a backlog of ideas, and nailing down which product concept to focus on isn't always easy. Gaining deeper insight into the customer experience helps you connect existing market needs and evolving consumer expectations with your business goals. When you can easily connect each new idea with both your customers' needs and your business goals, it ensures that every product launch services your customers' unique needs.
Refining your product concept with deep customer insight also helps you get a jump start on positioning and planning. Instead of struggling to communicate the type of value your product provides, you’ll be able to speak directly to a known customer and market need.
This understanding helps you refine your value propositions and overall product marketing while also building confidence throughout your team.
Confidence is vital when you're releasing something new to the market. It rallies your team behind a central idea and keeps them motivated throughout the product development lifecycle. This motivation increases productivity and helps you achieve more aggressive business goals.
3. Create Your Release Plan
Product launches are complex. Cross-functional teams throughout your organization need to come together to support code deployment, feature flagging, customer communication, and marketing campaigns. Creating a release plan helps you define stakeholders' responsibilities across these teams and ensures you can move through all the various tasks as efficiently as possible.
Documenting your release plan also helps refine product managers’ thinking around timelines, roadmaps, and positioning. It creates visibility for each team member and acts as a single source of truth for your project. Increased visibility not only cuts down on potential confusion around deadlines and dependencies, it also helps you ground high-level ideas in reality. A Gantt chart will highlight where these dependencies are before they can cause any issues.
Your release plan also acts as a measuring stick for your success. It outlines your target audience, how you intend to solve their problems with your product, and the metrics you’ll use to measure success. These plans also help you identify potential bottlenecks in the process before they can negatively impact the product experience and damage your customer relationships.
4. Communicate Your Plan with the Team
Direct and honest communication is an important part of every product launch. When you share your product development strategy and release plan with the entire team, it ensures that everyone understands how their work impacts the entire team as a whole.
Increasing visibility into your decision-making process encourages direct conversations about your team’s experience and boosts autonomy for each team member. Everyone involved with your product launch needs to understand how their work fits into the bigger picture—which is only possible when you communicate effectively as an organization.
Getting opinions from different teams across your company helps you build a better overall product as well. Everyone has a different experience to share, and that context is beneficial at helping you surface new and exciting ways to add value for your customers.
Open communication also helps each team member stay on top of their various tasks and responsibilities, which makes hitting due dates and milestones simple.
5. Refine Your Product Positioning
Positioning is a tactic for differentiating your product in the market. It brings together your strategic vision, product analytics, and competitor knowledge to define how you communicate your product’s unique value to consumers.
You've spent months working on something you know will solve a problem for your customer, and they need to see that as soon as it's on the market. You don't want to decrease engagement with your product because people aren't 100% sure why they need it.
Positioning also helps you create a cohesive messaging strategy for sales, marketing, and support teams. It helps them communicate product value more effectively and centers customer conversations around important themes.
When you position your product well, it also helps you know when and where to launch it. You'll be able to launch at the right time and show customers everything they need to do to get value from your product.
6. Create Your Marketing Campaigns Early
No product launch is complete without its corresponding marketing and advertising materials. Whether it's blog articles, landing pages, ads, or social media copy, creating these materials ensures that you're communicating your product positioning effectively.
When you get a head start on building these campaigns, it helps you refine your messaging prior to release. Having everything ready-to-go on release day also frees up a lot of resources to focus on replying to incoming messages faster. Instead of worrying about whether or not you're getting emails out to the right people or publishing the announcement post at the right time, you'll be able to focus on tracking the overall impact of your content on the product launch.
When you start this process early, it also helps you build excitement for your product. You’ll be able to publish teaser content to hype up the upcoming release and prepare your target audience for launch day. This keeps the product top-of-mind for those customers who want to learn more right away.
7. Ask for Feedback Often
Product launches bring together people from throughout your organization. It’s important to collect feedback from stakeholders on every team before every product launch. This feedback not only helps you refine your product messaging and marketing campaigns, it also helps boost engagement with the launch in all areas of your company.
Feedback provides visibility into all the various processes that go into making your product launch a success:
- engineers and developers will have a clear sense of how their work impacts the customer
- product managers will be able to share how it affects your business goals, and
- marketers will understand how to communicate all this information to the customer.
Make sure you get feedback from your leadership team as well. When company leadership can actively engage with the product development process and find value in it, that increases buy-in and makes getting resources for subsequent releases a lot less difficult.
8. Document Your Launch Day Plan
Launch day is a big day, and lots of things need to happen. That's why you need a single document that outlines all of the various tasks and responsibilities each member of the team needs to accomplish for the launch to go off without a hitch. This plan is a bit different from your release plan—it narrows your focus to the single day of your product launch.
Make sure your launch day plan includes timelines for the release and marketing announcements, social media posts, and ad campaigns. Documenting this information ensures that every team member has a clear sense of their responsibilities and your launch's progress in real-time. Consider a productivity tool like Trello or Asana to visualize this plan.
You should also include the metrics you're using to track success. These product metrics help you see how things change over time and provide a baseline to measure your results.
9. Consider a Phased Roll out
Phased rollouts using feature flags are a great way to mitigate risk for your company and reduce strain on your team. Launching new products or features this way provides more control to your team to bypass potential issues. And in the event that you do run into problems, you'll be able to roll back any updates just as quickly.
Controlled releases cut down on the potential for a bad experience on launch day by making it easier to manage the strain on your technology stack and infrastructure. You’ll be able to stress-test your system to make sure it doesn’t fail under the increased engagement—before that can negatively impact the user experience.
Ensuring a seamless release experience also helps your sales and support teams by slowly introducing targeted groups of users to your new product. Instead of a massive influx of requests, they’ll be able to focus on helping individual groups as they gain access.
10. Analyze Your Results
With all that goes into launching a new product, it's essential to track your results throughout the entire process. Analyzing these results ensures you're on course to hit overarching business goals and helps you understand the release experience for your team. Use previous planning documentation and your goals to identify wins and areas of opportunity.
Analyzing these results also surfaces wins for the team, validates all the hard work and time they invested into the project, boosts engagement, and helps everyone involved in the process learn how to level up their next release. These feelings of goodwill and effective collaboration are also great ways to connect as a team.
On the other hand, analyzing each product launch helps you identify areas of opportunity to refine the product development experience in the future. This insight makes subsequent releases more efficient and less stressful for your team.
You can also use these metrics to validate new ideas, prioritize your next release, and generally tweak your product roadmap for the future.
Ensure Your Next Product Launch Takes Off Without a Hitch
Launches are the first impression people have of your product—that’s why they’re so important. When you seamlessly release a new product, communicate its value, and help customers use it, you set yourself up for increased engagement and strong relationships down the line. And it’s these relationships that help you scale your business alongside evolving customer and market needs.