What is Product Launch Management?
Product launch management is the process of coordinating all strategic efforts needed for a successful market release. Product launch strategies differ by company and industry, but some of the common components include:
- Building the marketing, advertising, and PR campaigns to support the launch.
- Creating sales collateral for the product.
- Training sales reps and customer success agents.
- Timing the release to capitalize on external factors that might bolster attention and interest in the product launch. (For example, industry events, the holiday season, etc.).
Who’s Responsible for Product Launch Management?
In most larger organizations, product marketing will lead the product launch effort.
So, the product marketing team needs to work closely with the product manager to coordinate the details. Since many of the supporting tasks in a product launch typically falls under product marketing. Often, the product marketing manager plays a key role in product launch management.
In many smaller companies, the product team will own responsibility for product launch management.
However, many teams across the company also share responsibility for making a product launch successful. In this sense, the product launch management team can consist of a wide range of players, including:
- Marketing and sales enablement
- Public relations
- Customer success
- Executive sponsors
As the launch nears, the stakeholder overseeing the launch’s checklist meets with representatives from these teams. The product launch leader keeps everyone on schedule, and each member knows their role in supporting a successful market release.
Is Product Launch Management Necessary?
The short answer is yes, product launch management is necessary. Here’s why.
Executing a successful product release depends on many factors. However, building a great product is only one of them.
To pull off a successful launch also requires coordinating several strategic initiatives at the same time. For example:
- The right marketing messages, reaching the right buyer or user personas at the right time.
- The buying (or free trial) experience works and is as frictionless as possible.
- The timing of the launch is as strategically advantageous to the company as possible.
- The product and marketing teams have established success metrics to know what a successful launch will look like.
What Does a Successful Product Launch Management Plan Look Like in reality?
As the German consulting company Kearney explains, creating a process for product launch management is critical. In addition, Kearney argues that the launch is the best opportunity the company has to create an impact.
Businesses can develop a repeatable process for launch management. However, you can’t leave anything to chance. Coordinating all the strategic projects to support an on-schedule launch is too important.
Here are the four steps Kearney suggests businesses use to build their product launch management process.
Step 1: Define launch success.
The first step is for the company to agree on goals and objectives for the launch. For example, how will we define success? What KPIs (new users, trial downloads, revenue) will we monitor during the period following the product’s release?
Answering these questions will help the team plan the key components that will drive success, including:
- Resource allocation and budget
- Marketing enabling planning
- Channel enablement
- Commercial readiness
- Demand generation efforts
Step 2: Assign a launch leader.
Secondly, many organizations assign a product manager or product marketing manager to oversee launch management. Consequently, you can assign this responsibility to anyone that has the ability and experience to manage a cross-functional team.
Step 3: Build a cross-functional team.
Thirdly, your company can establish a cross-functional team to support the product launch.
As Kearney’s consultants explain, you can think of this as your Serial Launch Engine. With this engine teams from many departments work together to ensure a successful product launch.
Step 4: Establish accountability for everyone.
Lastly, an effective product launch management process will also include accountability for each team involved.
For example, the marketing and advertising teams will have deadlines and budgetary constraints for their work. However, you might want your sales reps to complete training by a specific date. And the expectation is that they are able to deliver compelling demos or presentations.
So, if you’re launching a SaaS solution, you will also want to set metrics for your web team. For example, ensure the product’s sales forms and download pages are working properly by a specified pre-launch date.
Above all, Kearney argues that implementing steps like these benefits your organization. Finally, your company will enjoy lower launch costs, faster time-to-market, and increased product adoption and impact.