Your brand has a new product on the way. Your marketing team has spent months partnering with product management to understand the roadmap and build messaging and positioning. Now it’s time for the fun part: telling the world about this new innovation with a product launch.
Salesforce defines a product launch as announcing a new offering to the public. Launches are an opportunity to tell a compelling story about your product, not just about its functionality but also the impact it will have on people.
A passionate and relevant story builds trust with your core audience. That trust expands to increased awareness and buzz for your new product’s capabilities. And that eventually results in more sales.
So how do you deliver a great launch? It’s a big, coordinated effort with product, sales, marketing, public relations, analyst relations, and events teams. Let’s take a look at the three types of launches that we have at Salesforce and what we’ve learned over the past few years.
How to create a marketing launch
A marketing launch is often called a “soft launch” and is typically used when introducing a new product – typically three to six months before general availability (GA) to the public. We do this because it builds excitement in the lead-up to the product becoming GA, and it allows early adopters to test drive it.
Soft launches give our product team a chance to see how customers will use the product and what can be improved. Marketers can later use these customer stories when the product comes out.
A key to success in this early launch is communicating the value of your new product to the news media. Earned media is some of the best awareness you can get. Marketers and PR teams must deliver a clear, concise, and consistent story that’s interesting, easy to understand, and is a conversation starter. Why is your new product so cool and why should people care? Demo videos, blogs, emails, and small events can all work together to explain the answer.
Start planning your product launch now
Every product launch has nice-to-haves and need-to-haves. We’ve included them all in this checklist.
Planning a successful GA launch
Once your product has finished its pilot program, the product team will be ready to make it generally available to the masses. Preparing for a general availability launch is no small feat.
As a marketer, the sales team is your main audience for a GA launch. Your job is to help them clearly explain the product’s value to customers.
Sales can be a tough audience! They’ll want content that is clear and direct, which means no marketing fluff. At a large company like Salesforce, we believe in keeping it simple and relevant. We focus on use cases: how are customers adopting the product? We also focus on industry-specific cases and always factor how the product ties to the rest of the sales portfolio.
Sales is a priority, but your external audience is also crucial during a GA launch. We’ve found that events are a great way to drum up excitement and show the product in action. Salesforce is an events-driven company, and programs like Dreamforce, TrailblazerDX, Connections, and our traveling World Tours help us scale the launches of the newest versions of the products when they become GA.
There’s another benefit. Having a large audience of customers in one place allows us to answer their questions and have meaningful conversations – not to mention celebrate everyone’s success.
Develop a great strategy for your product launch
Salesforce’s Sanjna Parulekar explains how to think about different kinds of launches.
Support customers with a solution launch
So you launched a new product, and it’s finally available to the public. Your job’s done, right? Wrong.
Solution launches showcase a relevant application of the product for a line of business or an industry.
Products often evolve with customers’ wants and needs. This may happen fast or over a longer period. After a GA launch, you may discover new applications for your product. Or maybe there was a major world event or a shift in the economy that turned everything on its head.
A solution launch is a way to tell customers, ‘here’s why this product is relevant to you,’ by showing them additional innovations and integrations that are coming.
Solution changes also help you branch out your marketing. You can use them to target specific industries or lines of business with your product messaging. They’re a great way to expand into new markets and test which solutions drive the overall sales of your product.
Now that you’re familiar with the different kinds of launches, here are three quick tips to help you plan for your next product launch.
Tip #1: Understand your product launch goal
Are you entering a new market? Are you creating momentum for an existing product? Are you showcasing a new feature or capability? It takes a lot of people across many different teams to make a launch successful, so make sure everyone is clear on what the shared purpose is.
Tip #2: Know the product
Become best buds with your product teams. No one knows the product better than the people building it, so collaborate with them early and often. Roll up your sleeves and get hands-on with product functionality, study the product roadmap, and ask questions when something’s not clear. The more you understand about your product, the easier it will be to lead different teams through a launch.
Tip #3: Be nimble
Things can change fast during a launch, so you have to be flexible while staying focused on your goal. I always say that nothing is precious during a launch. You must be open to feedback and make the right decisions to drive the project forward, even if that means making a pivot.
Product launches are an exciting way to bring people together across product, sales, and marketing. If done right, you’ll not only delight your customers but also bring your team together around a common goal. That will set you up for success both in the short term and over the long haul. Happy launching!
Learn the basics of launching a product
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