Product Marketing Rule #14: Create Successful Launch Teams
Product Marketing Rule #14 from the best-selling book, 42 Rules of Product Marketing, was written by Jeff Drescher, Founder of JCT Communications, previously Vice President of Marketing, Pancetera and BakBone Software
Properly launching a product involves ensuring that each department within your own company knows about the forthcoming product launch and is prepared for it.
Once upon a time I was hired by a software manufacturer to implement the Product Marketing function. This was not a huge company, about $40 million in revenues and approximately 150 people; however, they were an established company with offices across the world and a product that was in its fifth generation. On my third day in the office, I received an email from the Director of Public Relations that was sent out to the entire company, with a copy of a press release that just hit the wire announcing a major new product version that had just gone GA that morning. Upon questioning, I found out this was the normal course of action with respect to how employees were notified of new product releases. I was completely floored that a company of this size and having a mature product had absolutely zero process in place with respect to launching new products.
One of Product Marketing’s key roles within most organizations is the ownership of the product launch process.
Properly launching a product not only involves creating the marketing collateral and messages that tell the world about the product—and creating a press release—but it also involves ensuring that each department within your own company knows about the forthcoming product launch and is prepared for it. A solid product launch involves the creation of a product launch plan, complete with a task list of deliverables, along with a launch team consisting of at least one member of each functional department across the company. The members of the launch team are responsible for their deliverables and for making sure that information about the product launch is disseminated throughout their departments—whether dealing with pricing, part numbers, internal systems, sales training, etc. PMM (or Project Management in larger organizations) is responsible for monitoring due dates to ensure the launch is staying on track.
I like to use the analogy of a product launch being like a “bow and arrow.”
You spend weeks preparing for the GA of your new product or version in launch meetings (pulling back the bow). And then just as you release the bow and the arrow flies toward the target, you reach your GA date and all of the hard work preparing for launch pays off with maximum exposure for your product or company. The key to a successful launch is having everyone across the company on the same page with the launch and having all of the deliverables ready by the time the product goes GA and is announced to the market.
This means having the PR person sending out the press release that is set to hit the wire tomorrow morning, sales already trained on the product, analysts briefed, your channel partners up to speed, part numbers already in place through your distributors and internally, your website ready with the new content, etc. After all, your company spends hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars creating this product. Doesn’t it deserve the best chance possible to be successful?