•4 months ago
To drive the best results for your company, it’s not enough to just develop an amazing product. How you plan to launch the product and get it out to your audience matters just as much.
A product release plan is what could make or break the success of your product. It’s what helps you better understand your customers, deliver a better product experience, and position yourself as a company that people can trust.
However, what drives companies back from launching successful product launches is a lack of preparation. A successful product release must consist of the right mix of research, testing, scheduling, and more to stand out in a competitive market.
How Successful Product Release Planning Impacts Your Company
A product release plan has more influence on your company’s success than you might think. Here’s why a product release are crucial to helping your company stay on top of its game.
Communicates the Value of Your Product More Effectively
It doesn’t matter if you have the best product on the market. Without the right strategy to communicate your product’s value in the customer's eyes, your product will go unnoticed.
Part of each product release consists of developing a product launch marketing plan. It’s a step-by-step strategy you follow to ensure as many people see your product release as possible.
A crucial aspect of your launch marketing plan will be defining your unique value proposition (UVP)—the benefits of your product along with what makes you stand out from the competition. For example, that could be your competitive pricing or a special feature in your product that others in the industry don’t have.
By structuring your product release correctly, it will be easier to sell your product to customers and showcase its value.
Aligns With Customer Needs and Expectations
Customer expectations are constantly changing, and businesses must learn how to adapt.
If you don’t meet your audience’s ever-changing needs, you won’t be able to retain them, and you’ll be left behind. Even worse, they could decide to go to the competition instead.
Researching your customers’ expectations is a crucial aspect of a product release plan, enabling you to come up with ways to better satisfy them and improve your product. By keeping your customers happy, you’ll boost user engagement, deliver a better product experience, and improve your brand reputation.
Improves Cross-Team Collaboration
A product release requires that you align with stakeholders in your company to agree on a shared vision. All teams will have to learn how to collaborate effectively to achieve your launch goals and create the best product experience.
For example, the engineering team will have to collaborate with marketing and explain how each feature improves the user experience. The marketing team can then use the information in their campaigns to prove your product’s value to customers.
Opens Doors to New Business Leads
Networking plays an essential role in growing your company’s impact. By connecting with some of the top players in your industry, you’ll have the opportunity to boost your reach and expose your product to a whole new audience.
A successful launch will drive more interest toward your product, which includes the attention of investors. You can use the new money coming in to improve your offering and grow your business.
On top of networking with investors, you’ll also attract potential partnerships from other companies. It will help grow your circle and put your name in front of a new group of customers.
8 Best Practices for Creating an Effective Release Plan
A product release can make a difference for your company—but only if you do it right. According to studies, over 80% of product launches fail.
The reason why many releases fail is that product managers don’t have the right strategy in mind. When it comes to launching the perfect release for your audience, there are a few steps you can’t afford to miss during product development.
1. Define Your Positioning and Messaging
Brand positioning is all about the image of your product and how it improves your customers’ lives. It’s what makes your company unique and stand out from competitors.
To define your positioning, you’ll need to think deeply about your product’s vision and company mission. Next, think about how you’ll be incorporating it into your product launch’s messaging.
For example, Noko is an online tracking platform whose mission is to make time-tracking as efficient as possible. It’s a position they showcase not only across their website with direct quotes from their customers but in every new product release that comes out.
2. Develop Your Go-to-Market Plan
Once you’ve defined your product positioning, you’ll need to develop your go-to-market plan. It’ll consist of a set of factors to consider, so that you’ll take to succeed in your market:
- Target audience: What type of customer profile are you targeting? What are their specific pain points and challenges that they frequently face?
- Product-market fit: How does the new product or feature you’re launching solve the problems that your audience experiences?
- Competition: Who are your competitors, and what differentiates their product from yours? Is there space in the market for you to stand out?
- Distribution strategy: Which channels do you plan on using to spread the word and promote your upcoming product launch? What will your marketing strategy be?
- Budget model: What do customers expect when it comes to pricing? How can your pricing model become a competitive advantage?
By considering these five components, you’ll have a quality go-to-market plan that’s ready for action. Make sure to consult with your marketing and sales teams as you’re setting it up.
3. Identify Potential Roadblocks
Things can be unpredictable at times. The market changes fast, new trends come and go, and you never know what could happen within your company in the future. That’s why you’ll want to identify any obstacles ahead of time that could get in the way of your product release.
For example, do you have enough people on your engineering team to build your upcoming product? If not, start focusing on hiring more people to support your needs for your product release.
Another potential obstacle to your product release plan is your budget. You’ll need to effectively manage your budget ahead of time so you have the money to invest in your new product launch.
4. Back Up Your Assumptions With Data
One of the worst things you can do is to create a product that customers don’t really want. As you work on a new product launch, make sure that data drives every decision you make and that there’s an actual need in the market for it.
It’s not enough to go with your gut feeling and assume that customers want your new product’s features. If that’s your approach, you’re just someone with an opinion—not someone who truly understands the market.
5. Run Testing
Along with data, make sure to run testing before your product launch to ensure the release will succeed with your audience.
One way to test out your product is to launch a beta version. It offers customers the opportunity to try out your product in real time so that they can get a feel for the product experience.
Another testing tactic for your product release is to run customer surveys. In exchange for a free gift (such as a discount or valuable gated content), customers can answer questions about their needs to give you a clue about what features would work best for them.
6. Create Your Release Schedule
Once you identify the launch date for your product, outline all the tasks that different departments need to complete before the release. It’s going to help keep everyone aligned and effectively plan out your product launch.
For example, you can focus the first month on market research: You can talk to your customers and research industry trends. The goal is to identify product ideas that have the potential to resonate with your audience.
The next stage in your schedule could be to run a beta test of your product for your target audience. As you collect customer feedback, it’s also an excellent time to start building your go-to-market strategy plan.
When that’s said and done, the marketing team will be in charge of launching your content and social media marketing strategy and running email campaigns. They’ll be showcasing the value of your product to customers and driving the most leads possible.
Make sure to set aside time in your product release schedule for weekly check-ins. This will give you an idea of how your team is progressing toward its goals.
7. Train Your Customer Support Team for Requests
Before the product release date, make sure to train the customer service team on how to respond to customer requests and questions after the launch. This will ensure that if customers have any questions about the new updates, the support team will resolve their issues efficiently. For example, based on the questions you get from beta testing, you can provide customer service with ready-made answers for some of the most common inquiries.
Also, provide your customer team with the buyer personas of your target audience. Make sure to explain how the new product features those customer profiles and how they help solve the pain points of your ideal buyer.
8. Gather Feedback From Your Product Release
Once the product release is finished, sit down with your team to discuss what you learned from it. After diving deep into the lessons learned, find ways that you can improve for your future releases.
For example, what channels seemed to reach the most customers? By identifying the best mediums to promote your launch, you can invest all your future efforts into those channels for the best results.
Create the Product Experience That Customers Want
A release plan makes a huge difference in your product’s success. Without it, your company has no clear understanding of its audience and how to deliver a product customers trust—even if you’re a big company that everyone knows.
In 2013, Google launched its “Google Glass” product, a head-mounted display that functioned as a hands-free smartphone. However, two years after its launch, the tech giant had to pull out the product since customers didn’t actually need it and sales were performing poorly.
It all comes down to taking the proper steps. Back up everything you do with data, run testing with your audience to identify opportunities, and always find ways to improve with every product release.