How to Plan a Product Launch to Increase Adoption
To sell, to make your product the talk of the town, there needs to be more than just having a good product. We need to tell people about it.
This act of telling people is basically a product launch. It helps us show our product, get people interested, and make it a hit.
With a good plan, launches can be a big event. Whether you're new or experienced, there's always a way to do it better. Let’s dive into how to do that.
What is a product launch?
A product launch is when a company introduces a new product to the public. It aims to get people excited and aware of the product.
It takes cross-functional teamwork to launch a product. Salespeople, customer service, marketing teams, project management teams, and other stakeholders participate in the process. The product manager handles the delivery aspect while the product marketer creates a go-to-market plan to launch.
They also create sales enablement content to support sales teams while training them on taking the product to the market.
A good launch can boost sales and even help other products. But a bad one can hurt the company's image and waste money.
What are the different types of product launches?
Soft, minimal, and full-scale launches are the three most common types.
You let only a limited group of people experience your product. In software as a service industry, this is a tried and tested approach. These launches are done mainly to get feedback about the product from early users.
Doing this will help you optimize messaging and other aspects of the product before going for a full-scale launch.
You can get the word out to a limited number of users through word of mouth or simple email marketing campaigns. Or, you can contact industry people to try your product and share feedback.
Pro Tip: Use email marketing software to capture the interest of people willing to try out your product. Leverage tools like MailChimp to create the subscriber list.
Define the target market and leverage high-reaching events or advertising to initiate a subtle but targeted product launch plan. Make sure you can execute this plan with the resources you have. Ensure it’s a lean and more streamlined way to launch a product.
For example, you might have to add a new functionality a user requests but keep changes in the fundamental product workflow for later when you have more resources. This helps convey improvements in the product in a limited time and resources.
This is where you decide on key metrics you want to hit in your campaigns and execute the strategy accordingly.
A full-scale product launch uses the resources and time to develop an effective go-to-market plan. This strategy attracts a broader audience and helps the product gain market share.
Companies like Apple announce their product in live events, or several brands create a launch video and a landing page. Often, organizations use everything at their disposal to hype their product and promote adoption.
You can hold an open webinar on the launch day and create a massive social media campaign. Advertise widely on digital and traditional channels to get the maximum reach.
How Do You Plan a Product Launch?
A successful product launch needs strategic ideation and execution. It’s an ultra cross-functional event where you work with marketers, sales, support, finance, IT, and several other departments.
Here is the 7-step product launch plan you must have:
1. Define The Product’s Goal and Market Problems
Ideate the product’s positioning and what problem it solves for the users. Start with a one-pager to gain clarity of thought. This will help you pen down market needs and position the product accordingly.
Write down your value proposition. Make sure it’s crystal clear and aligns with your vision and mission. Take WebFlow's value proposition, for instance. “We’re bringing development superpowers to everyone.”
WebFlow’s vision is to create the world's most potent no-code development platform. The company’s value proposition aligns with its vision. Similarly, write down your vision and value propositions so you’re always aligned with the overarching goal.
Get to the casual root behind your target customers’ purchasing decisions. Bob Moseta, the developer of the jobs-to-be-done theory, says, “People don’t buy products, they hire them to make progress in life.” Simply put, people purchase a product to get a job done. Get to the base of what jobs they need to fulfill and position your product as a potent solution.
2. Perform Audience and Market Research
Your messaging should be firmly based on the ideal customer’s pain points and excitement centers. Get to know your target audience through interviews and understand their needs. This research will help you create an ideal customer profile and a strategy to help attract them into your sales funnel.
Social listening is a great way to understand what your target market talks about. You can establish filters on X (formerly Twitter) to get an update whenever someone mentions a phrase or keywords related to your product. Tools like Sprout Social and Hootsuite help you track such conversations.
These tools help you hear how target customers express their pains, challenges, and things for which they would need a better way. Once you have established a process to constantly monitor target customers, start assessing competitors trying to sell to the same audience.
Find their unique selling points (USPs) and write your narratives to compete with them. Understand why your product is unique and use it to frame these narratives. These will later shape battle cards from your sales teams to use in their scripts.
Below are the steps you should follow to research competitors.
- Write down the topmost competitors in your space and divide them into three categories: direct, indirect, and aspirational competitors. Direct competitors offer a similar product as you do. Indirect competitors don’t offer a similar product but provide an alternative to solve users’ pain, and aspirational competitors are big enterprises with whom you would want to compete.
- Analyze their product, brand, and strategies to lay down the building blocks of competitor strategy.
- Find gaps that your product can bridge and use them in your battle cards as a counter to competitors' narrative.
- Get competitors' data from channel partners who interact with them, evaluator interviews, or trade shows and events.
3. Build The Product’s Focus Areas
Key focus area #1: Ensure your target customer segment is big enough to pursue the current and future growth of the business. Defining this segment will help you put your budgets, focus, and efforts in the right areas.
Key focus area #2: Your distribution strategy. Think about what channels your buyers prefer. Choose whether to use direct or indirect distribution. Direct distribution is where people buy directly from your sales team or website. In indirect distribution, you rely on partners like value-added resellers and channel partners to sell.
For example, Oracle uses direct distribution to sell to enterprises. But for marketing to small and medium-sized businesses, they rely on channel partners. This lowers their cost burden for smaller deal sizes.
Key focus area #2: Build a product portfolio. Integrate the tangible and intangible aspects of the product and wrap it up as a package when you take it to the market. For example, a premium software subscription will come with 24/7 customer support and a dedicated account manager. This is the best time to strategize your product’s roadmap. Remember, a roadmap is just a plan and not something set in stone. You can modify it as per changes in the market and the needs of your ideal customer base. This roadmap should illustrate the deliverables phases for the product.
4. Draw Blueprints for The Product’s Business
Start ideating about the pricing aspect of the product in this step. Your pricing should be competitive but, at the same time, reasonably high to pull in profits. A business needs profits to sustain. Price the product according to the packages you created in the earlier step.
Three major groups of products and customers influence profitability in a company. These are profit markers, profit neutrals, and profit takers. The first group increases your peak internal profitability, the second matches it, and the third group reduces the peak internal profitability. Most product managers need to recognize these groups and minimize peak profit takers in the business.
However, profitability isn’t a relevant metric at a pre-revenue stage. Focusing on pricing and profitability depends on the product’s lifecycle and current stage.
5. Create separate buyer and user personas
This is where product management and marketing come together to strategize the launch. You look at buyers' journeys that represent key segments and create personas.
Remember, the buyer persona will be different from the user persona. A buyer who purchases your product may or may not be the one to use it. For example, a senior content marketing manager who buys Grammarly for her team may never use it for writing articles.
Creating separate user personas helps to generate documentation to answer the critical questions relevant to users. Start writing down use scenarios and look at problems any user might face while navigating the product.
You can collaborate with support to co-create user guides that allow easy adoption.
6. Create Enablement Content
Before you go to market, equip sales with the right content to help them say and show per strategy. This content includes a sales deck, an interactive demo of the minimal viable product (MVP), battle cards, scripts, and any material to help them sell better.
Storylane can help you create an interactive demo of your MVP with flows customized to use cases, segments, and industries. These interactive demos can help you engage the target audience at scale.
You can use these demos to capture leads or create micro versions of the same demo as user onboarding content on the customer success side.
Creating this content won’t be sufficient. Make them accessible and searchable for teams like sales, support, customer success, and others who would use them.
Launches can be chaotic. Ensure you have a well-documented process to cover who’ll look after different moving elements of the launch. Set clear expectations and goals for the launch. Track them through as you progress toward them. The goal can be to increase the revenue by X percentage or drive product adoption.
You’re the first seller of your product. With tight budgets, you can do a bit of organic marketing and targeted advertising. Here, you should get buy-ins from employees, partners, investors, and others who care deeply about the product.
Start building excitement around the product. Make sure you launch at a perfect time. Think of big trade shows, media events, or software conferences where you can give an initial boost to your product.
After the launch, go back to goals and measure your progress toward milestones and stages. Go to your launch team for feedback on what went well and what needs improvement in the next launch.
If you need somewhere to start, check out Pragmatic Institute’s 30-day product launch plan and prepare for launch.
Top 5 Most-Memorable Product Launch Examples
Below are a few notable and memorable product launches from the past.
HootSuite helps businesses manage their social media. Seeing the excitement around the new "Game of Thrones" season, HootSuite made a marketing plan. They released a video and infographic linking their services to the show's theme.
They sent a strong message about bringing all social media together, just like uniting kingdoms in the show. Their infographic encouraged users to choose their favorite social media "champion."
When you make a new version of your product, it's as essential as the first time you launch it. For instance, a reputation management software company called Feefo updated its app. But, when people are used to an app, changing it can surprise them. They might even stop using it if it feels too different.
Feefo didn't want to shock their users. So, they told them about the new design before releasing it. They shared news about the new features and even let some users try it early. This helped Feefo learn from users and make the app better. Because of their plan, 30% of users tried the new design early. The best part? They made sure their customers were happy and not upset by the change.
Amplitude, a product analytics platform, had a new design for their app called Amplitude 2.0. Instead of sending emails about the changes, they showed users the new features directly in the app.
As users used the app, little messages showed them what's new. It looked like a tour of the new design. This way, Amplitude could tell users about the changes while using the app. It also helped users start using the new design quickly.
If users still felt unsure or wanted more details, Amplitude gave them extra resources. They also let users return to the old design for a while if they need time to get used to the new one.
Robinhood, a free stock-trading service, was introduced in 2013. To attract people, they offered benefits for getting others to join. Those who signed up were put on a waiting list for a year.
However, if they got their friends and family to join, they could use the service earlier. This approach was so successful that almost 1 million people were ready to use Robinhood on the day it started.
Dropbox, a billion-dollar company now, did a few things differently when it launched its product back in 2008. The company acquired 100,000 users on its platform and reached 4 million by late 2009.
Dropbox designed a concise and clear landing page with a product teaser video in the initial phases of its launch. The landing page had a CTA that encouraged people to sign up for the product. When people clicked on the CTA, they underwent a 6-step registration process before they became users. The company leverages simplicity and clarity to convey what it does for its users.
The main differentiator here was its referral marketing program. The company started incentivizing its users with free space on the cloud for every person they referred to. The referral was two-way. Simply put, both the parties benefited as it was a 2-side referral.
This launch strategy helped Dropbox to increase its brand awareness among users. Its subsequent growth phases were fueled by intensive user feedback and continuous improvements in the product.
Top 3 Metrics to Measure The Product Launch Success
Below are three metrics to measure a successful launch of a product.
- Effectiveness of content. Measure how content assets are used internally and externally. Look at sales team usage of sales enablement content, referral traffic, reconversions, new contacts, and conversion assists.
- Lead to customer conversion rate. This rate explains how many potential customers converted to paying customers. Whenever you close a deal, look at the assets that helped you do it.
- Product adoption. Track product usage within 30, 60, 90, and 120 days of a new customer’s lifecycle.
Launch It Like a Pro
To sum it up, making a good product launch plan is important. It's not just about selling something new, but also about getting people excited. Each part, from giving hints to checking how it went after the launch, matters. Plan well, talk to your customers, and make changes if needed.
With a strong plan, your next product will do great! And when it does, you'll be proud of your hard work.
Q1. What are the 4 Ps of product launch?
The 4 Ps of product launch are product, price, place, and promotion. They represent the key elements to consider when introducing a new product.
Q2. How do you announce a product launch?
Share sneak peeks on social media, email your followers, have an event or online talk, work with popular people for support, and send news to the media to announce a product launch. Ensure your message and look stay the same everywhere for the best effect.
Q3. How do you write a launch plan?
To write a launch plan, follow these steps:
- Decide what you're launching and its main features.
- Set clear goals for the launch.
- Choose a launch date.
- Plan how you'll tell people (like using social media or email).
- List the things you need (like ads or events).
- Check everything before the launch date.
- After launching, see how it went and make any needed changes.
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