How to create a product launch plan?
Introducing a new product is like throwing a grand party for your friends. But without a well-orchestrated launch plan, it’s like hosting the party in the dark when no one can see what you’ve created.
And a product is nothing without its customers.
It may seem overwhelming to begin planning your product launch but don’t worry. We’ve created a step-by-step guide on how to outline the perfect product launch plan.
Let’s dive in.
What is a Product Launch Plan?
A product launch plan is a strategic document that sketches all of the various activities required to be executed by the company to introduce a new product into the market. The plan is geared towards creating excitement and anticipation for the new product among ideal buyers, eventually propelling them to come check it out. It includes the product marketing plan, social media plan, sales goals, sales strategy, timelines and roadmaps for creating collateral, and execution of plans.
Types of Product Launches
Not all product launches require the same effort. Some products may need a major splash, whereas others can be subtle. The key is to determine the difference.
Here’s an excellent framework by Jason Oakley on prioritizing your launches.
The three main types of launches are:
1. Soft launch
A soft launch involves introducing a product or service to a carefully chosen group of customers to assess and refine it before releasing it to the entire audience - like a trial run.
This helps companies evaluate customer reactions, detect potential glitches or problems, and improve the product or service before the broader launch.
Soft launches require a smaller marketing budget and fewer team members. An example of a soft launch strategy is when a company releases a completely new product, especially one significantly different from all its offerings.
2. Minimal Launch
A minimal launch means introducing a new product with only the basic features needed to confirm the product’s concept and collect input from early users. This means debuting the product with only the essential components without additional elements.
The objective of a minimal launch is to evaluate the product concept, measure customer response, and improve the product based on customer feedback.
In today’s highly competitive markets, getting to customers with the most basic product can be advantageous, as you’ll be first to occupy their minds.
3. Full-scale Launch
A full-scale launch is the grand opening of your product - where you’ll showcase your product to your entire target audience. It leverages all necessary resources like marketing and advertising, sales campaigns, technical support, and logistics to ensure an impactful and memorable launch.
The primary objective of a full-scale launch is to achieve the highest form of recognition, generate interest and demand, and boost sales for the product or service.
For example, a company prepping to enter a new, potentially lucrative market could benefit from a full-scale launch.
The Three Phases of a Product Launch
You can roughly divide a product launch into three phases:
- Pre-launch: This is the period before the official launch, and it’s when you’ll be prepping for launch - including setting goals, understanding the target market, developing the messaging, and so on.
- Launch: This phase is when your product is finally announced to the world. You’ll execute all the planned marketing activities and share the collateral you created during the pre-launch stage.
- Post-launch: Like every other marketing endeavor, you must review your launch and measure its performance. Identify what worked and didn’t, gather feedback, and optimize your next launch based on your learnings.
9 Steps to Create the Perfect Product Launch Plan
As all great trips begin with the perfect itinerary, your product launch plan requires a detailed step-by-step checklist.
Let’s dive into the specifics of how to create one:
1. Market Research and Analysis
Sounds generic? Maybe. However, conducting customer and market research is the foundation for a product launch. You can’t sell a product without a need for it. And to identify the need, you need to get into the field and find out.
“The first thing you need to do is research. Customer research and market research."
"For customer research, listen to calls where prospects have come in and asked for this product. Or, get on call and talk to the personas you are targeting. Talk to internal subject experts to understand what their day looks like, how big of a pain this is, if the product will solve it, how their lives will change for the better, what they would do with the time they get back, and questions like this."
"Coming to market research, find out other layers in the space, the segments they’re targeting - SMBs, mid-market, or enterprise, those kinds of things. This will help you determine where you stand in the market. Also, you’ll know what differentiates you in the market, and you can start leaning into that strength.”
2. Set Clear Objectives
Next, you have to determine the purpose of the launch. Think about what you want to achieve with this launch. Some goals that companies usually want to achieve with product launches are:
- Generating new customers
- Building brand awareness
- Increasing sales
- Finding a product-market fit
Once you’re clear on the goal, define your key performance indicators (KPIs) - the metrics you’ll track to measure the launch's success. It’s essential to have clarity while setting goals, which means you must factor in the time frame, owners, and activities taken to achieve said goal.
3. Develop Product Positioning and Messaging
This is the most crucial step in your product launch plan. Without a strong positioning statement, creating a standing for yourself in the market is impossible. Positioning and messaging are essentially your marketing communication strategy - they’re a way for you to resonate with your target audience while delivering the value of your product.
Let’s understand how to define your positioning.
- Identify your Unique Selling Points (USPs): Determine the distinct features, benefits, or qualities that set your product apart from others in the market. This will give you an edge over them.
- Craft a value proposition: Develop a clear and concise value proposition to showcase the primary benefit of your product. Essentially, it should answer the question, “Why should I choose your product?”
- Develop your messaging framework: This document contains all the key messages you want your audience to remember. These messages should be concise and crisp while aligning with your value proposition. Most importantly, they must guide all other collateral - from website content to support documents.
4. Choose Your Marketing Channels
You wouldn’t be shopping for food at a clothing store. Similarly, you must pick the right marketing channel to launch your product. Otherwise, your target audience is never going to notice. Consider the following questions while choosing your marketing channels:
- Where are my prospects spending most of their time?
- What social media platforms do they use?
- Do they attend events regularly?
Pick a channel that will best reach your target audience.
Additionally, different platforms have different capabilities for delivering your message. For instance, social media is best for delivering visually pleasing content, whereas email is an excellent medium for detailed information. Plan your product launch strategy, keeping this in mind.
If you’re choosing paid advertising as one of your channels, you’ll have to discuss the budget to get buy-in from superiors.
5. Create a Product Launch Roadmap
To keep everyone on track, you need to map out the timelines. Start with the launch date and work backward.
For example, you could create a content calendar outlining all the necessary collaterals, their due date, owners, stages, and status.
Harini doubles down on what needs to be included in the document and why it is important: “Include details like activities, channels involved, influencer opportunities, if any, owner of respective activities, collaborators, deadlines, status, progress, subtasks, blockers hindering the process, etc. Create a database ideally and have all these columns so that there's fluid communication around the launch activities. Fluid communication across the company is crucial - between product and marketing, product and sales, product and customer success, and so on. All of them need to be on the exact same page for the launch to be successful. This doc will help a lot with this.”
6. Prepare Content
It’s time to get down and start creating the necessary marketing collateral. Promotional content is a medium through which you can communicate with your prospect. This can include email marketing, social media posts, website landing pages, creative videos, blogs, one-pagers, decks, and other assets - they may vary based on your preferred channels.
Different collateral a typical launch would need are:
- Landing Pages - to let your prospects know what you’re offering and to convert visitors. Make your landing pages even more conversion-friendly by adding interactive product demos.
- Social Media Posts - a series of teasers to build up the hype and attract new visitors, and a final launch post to debut your new product/feature.
- Blogs or Articles - to give users deeper insights about your product and its benefits.
Your goal for the marketing materials should be to stand out. You need to create content that catches the eye of the prospect and sticks in their mind - not just the initial touch but throughout their time with your product.
One way you can ensure this is by creating interactive demos. Interactive demos provide prospects with a hands-on approach to experience your product without signing up. This puts them in the driver's seat and delivers the value of your product in real-time.
Platforms like Storylane help you create interactive demos in an instant.
The grand big reveal. It’s launch day, and you’re gearing up to announce your new product to the world.
Using platforms like Product Hunt will help reach many new prospects and make a splash - driving website traffic. Loom leveraged Product Hunt to expand and grow its user base and has over 14 million customers.
During the launch, present live demos to your audience. Coordinate with sales to set up meetings with prospects to increase the momentum of the launch.
Santhoshi Natarajan explains what the post-launch phase meant at Vue.ai, “Post-launch was mostly focused on making sure new sign-ups and customers are taken care of by reaching out to them and finding how we can better the product based on the feedback.”
With the launch, you’ll reach many prospects, but booking a meeting takes up to 8 touches. You must consistently nurture them with blogs, customer stories, videos, and emails to turn them into customers.
Now would be the perfect time to customize their experience based on the use case and persona. Use platforms like Storylane to build interactive demos tailored to specific personas, dedicated features, or particular use cases to attach to your email campaigns. This way, your prospects will get a glimpse into the product without the commitment of signing up.
9. Measure Success
Finally, track the success of your product launch and evaluate the good and the bad. Analyze what went well, what could have been better, how many leads came in, the impact, and if customers liked the product. Document your learnings so you can return to it for the next launch.
Sanjana Murali, Product Marketing Manager at Dealfront, tells us how they measure success, “Once we finish executing on the launch, we give it a month, and then we prepare a report on how the launch goes, did we achieve the desired results, and our learnings from the launch, etc. We present this report to the leadership team.”
2 Product Launch Plan Examples
We spoke to a few companies to understand their product launch planning. Here are some examples:
Sanjana Murali’s Blueprint for Product Launch Planning:
“I usually classify product launch into 5 phases, which has worked well for me.
Phase 1: Discovery & MVP - The product team works on the high-level strategy and implementation of the product to be launched and creates an MVP version for a beta release.
Phase 2: Private beta - Then we pick some beta customers from our database, launch the MVP version to them, and see if everything is working well and iterating.
Phase 3: Internal soft launch - Launch internally to company employees so we can all use the product, test it, and give feedback from the customer's point of view.
Phase 4: Launch to existing customers - Then we launch to our existing customer base before we open it to the public, get feedback, and improve upon the product.
Phase 5: Public launch - By this stage, the product is perfectly developed and ready to be launched confidently to the broader market, so we do that.”
Santhoshi Natarajan’s Blueprint:
“1. Determined the launch type - it was going to be a product launch aimed at non-customers and prospects (a GA launch).
2. The goal was to bring in new signups and generally inform the prospects there about the new brand and what we are doing.
3. Determine our launch audience (in this case, it was GTM folks - anyone belonging to marketing, sales, and customer success - predominantly only founders from series A funded companies, with an average revenue greater than $100,000 ARR, at least with 50+ employees)
4. Defined the positioning of the product - it is going to be a single dashboard that can consolidate metrics from different martech software in one place and also provide insights to a certain extent)
5. Develop product messaging - product pages on websites, one-pagers, sales deck, social media marketing materials, short demo video, knowledge base docs, emails for newly onboarded users, and cold outreach email sequences; since we were doing an event - we had the decks, give away coupons and stuff ready for that event as well)
6. Develop a pricing strategy that is flexible for early-stage startups.
7. Decided it will be a self-serve product, making product onboarding tours and nurturing emails ready to transition users who sign up seamlessly.
8. The launch timeline was three months, including the pre and post-launch activities.
9. We hit the market by actively listing on marketplaces, cold email outreach, social media outreach, and the event and website.”
If you’re looking for an easy template to follow, HubSpot’s product Launch Plan is a perfect place to start.
Successful marketing teams know the importance of a good product launch. Every launch plan requires extensive planning, collaboration, and attention to detail, whether soft or full-scale.
With new products being introduced daily, setting yourself apart is essential. To do so, you need to put your prospects first.
With interactive demos, user onboarding workflows, and self-guided tours, Storylane gives your prospects the best customer experience.
Q1. What is product launch cycle?
Product launch cycle is the time period when a new product is formally released, including the launch day and the continued marketing efforts. It typically lasts 4-7 days.
Q2. What is a product roadmap?
A product roadmap is a strategic visual document that outlines the product’s vision, goals, planned features, and development timeline. It provides a clear plan for how a product or project will evolve, aligning the team and stakeholders with its objectives and direction.
Q3. What are the 4 Ps of product launch?
The 4 Ps of a product launch are product, price, place, and promotion. Its components include the product you're launching, pricing strategy, distribution channels, and promotion strategy.
What’s a Rich Text element?
The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.