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Product Launch Fell A Little Flat ?

How to avoid that sinking feeling

26Feb

The highlight of every product manager's job has to be the launch of a new product. That is the day when all the hard work suddenly becomes worthwhile, as you hopefully launch your product to rave reviews and echoes of 'why didn't we think of that?' from your competitors. So, how do you make sure that this event is the success that you want it to be, rather than a deflating disaster, as weeks/months/years of work descend into anticlimax and unsettling glares from the senior management team?

The first, and clearly fundamental, aspect is to ensure that you had the right product idea in the first place. We recently covered this in more depth in our 'The Boss' article, but in short it is essential to have properly socialized your ideas across the organization and ensured that you have fully documented the evidence that makes up your assumptions that this product will be a success. The best product management tools in the market will not only do this, but will also allow you to capably demonstrate the amount of time spent interacting with clients, consultants, or your own market facing staff. You should also be able to demonstrate that you have done your homework on each market in which you intend to distribute the product, avoiding any last minute surprises such as regulation blocking you off, or claims of client indifference from your local branch.

Once you know that you have got your product right, the next key aspect is to ensure that you have marketed it properly in order to deliver the perfect message, focusing on your target audience. Amazingly, many marketing teams are not properly engaged in this process and, in the absence of effective communication, may even be delivering messages to the market that are contrary to your product strategy. Well, 'the devil makes work...'! So, a critical part of every product management team's armoury is to be included as an integral part of the marketing process. That means knowing exactly when the budget deadlines are that the marketing team need to hit, and understanding how far in advance of this point your marketing strategy needs to be agreed with them. Having these scheduled into your workflow and dashboards ensures that nothing gets missed.

Like the majority of things in product management, your approach to marketing shouldn't be done in an ivory tower and, again, the leading product management tools will allow you to share your planned approach in real time with the marketing team. Enabling them to work on this with you, and also including the business development team, will ensure that you have made full use of their skillsets, taken the best possible opportunity to avoid any local foibles that may derail you, and built the shared view that this product launch is a team exercise.

So, once you have done your homework, recorded all your assumptions, constructed the perfect marketing plan, and created a team approach to the launch, the last hurdle is to have everything approved. This is the stage where allowing the senior management team to make a full and thorough review of your proposal is vital, but oddly enough, often a process that is not done well today. The approval needs to be carried out with a comprehensive insight into the opportunity, the rationale behind why this will be a success, the evidence to support an optimistic outlook, and the financial benefits of moving ahead. If your product management tools aren't doing this for you today, in a way that doesn't bury your seniors under several hundred pages of paper, then the approval process may be flawed and the product manager apparently exposed for not having highlighted critical evidence at the crucial time. However, if you can do this well then everyone is bought in and shares in the success or failure of the product.

If you get all this right it doesn't guarantee you success, but it will give you the best possible chance and ensure that your organization is behind you come rain or shine.

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