How to Launch a Product Like a Pro
The days before product launch are often filled with tension and anxiety. For experienced Product Managers, this feeling has probably become routine in nature. However, for those who are new to the position, the stress of a product unveiling can be exceptionally crippling towards productivity.
Luckily, there are specific strategies that can be used to ensure that launches go smoothly and stress-free. Product Managers who are able to implement these pre-launch methods increase the likelihood of success for new products as well as future ones. These strategies can be the key to shaping the customer expectation and satisfaction.
If you are aspiring to separate yourself as a competent leader in moments of high pressure, then learning the following methods will be paramount in doing so.
Create Department Checklists
As a Product Manager, you are responsible for bringing together all the components from each team. This includes consolidating information from neighboring departments, which can be time-consuming and difficult to coordinate (especially for larger companies with a high headcount). Not being able to organize all this information from other teams can be especially problematic during launches. This is where interdepartmental checklists can play a huge role.
Each team has specific tasks that need to be checked off to ensure a smooth launch, and Product Managers who systematically ensure that these are carried out are priming themselves for success. Here are some of the examples of departmental duties that need to be accomplished prior to launch:
- Ensure that user analysis is up-to-date and complete.
- Know content strategy and channel distribution (including social media and email scheduling).
- Familiarize yourself with press distribution and media coverage.
- Clarify sales strategies for B2C and B2B (if applicable).
- Cover all FAQs and responses.
- Know all partnerships that will be centered around launch.
- Cover FAQs (again) and responses.
- Understand protocol for problematic cases.
- Ensure that product tutorials are in place and understandable.
Of course, each Product Manager should have their own checklist in addition to this. Most importantly, the end result of each any checklist should encompass all company factors that are necessary for ensuring customer happiness. However the end result of the checklist is structured, all team members should be aware of it, and be prepared to follow through with their end of the tasks.
The way you as a Product Manager should familiarize yourself with these pre-launch jobs should be approached like a final exam: be over-prepared. Knowing each and every component — as well as outcomes linked to these components — is the surest way to know that you are ready to handle all potential scenarios.
While communicating with customers may seem obvious (at least it should be) some of the most veteran PMs will fail to do so in the most critical of moments. This is often because digging for customer insight happens during earlier stages of product development, which can be weeks , or even months, before the launch date. However, this way of thinking can be detrimental to the release of a new feature or product.
Amending when and how you communicate with customers can drastically lower the chances of a disastrous product unveiling. As a PM, you should be searching for every detail that will enhance the customer experience. This process should be completed at numerous points along the product roadmap including in the critical moments before launch.
By doing multiple reviews on what the new product or feature does for customer satisfaction, you continue to solidify the value and impact of the product, while also potentially unveiling unseen problems. Additionally, this practice can benefit the following stage of product development and even the proceeding product launch.
In the long run, customers will notice when they are set as the priority. Taking extra steps in the critical time before launch will help set customers as the centerpiece of the project.
Prep For Failure
It should not come as a surprise that launches don’t always go as planned. However, unveiling a new product or feature that is not well received should not be something that sends you into a panic. While clearly not an ideal situation, failed product launches can be planned for, and even may be useful for moving forward.
Creating a plan will revolve around predicting all potential outcomes associated with the launch. This plan, in essence, is your roadmap for problematic scenarios, and will include creating a strategy for negative feedback, underwhelming metrics that fall short of the goal, and addressing market fit. Having an actions ready and in place for what to do if one or multiple areas fail will help soften the blow of a poor initial response.
Taking extra steps in the critical time before launch will help set customers as the centerpiece of the project.
This age-old adage of “hope for the best, plan for the worst” will also be useful for optimizing productivity. Having a strategy in place will eliminate the awkward limbo that often accompanies teams shellshocked from bad results. Instead, your team will be prepped and motivated to tackle the issue head-on, which in the end will place the product in a situation for greater future success.
The end result of any new product or feature is to improve the lives of customers. PMs who take the time to master the launch phase of a product are the PMs who have the customers at the top of mind. It is precisely this PM who will distinguish themselves as top-tier in their fields.
Do you utilize different methods to launch products? let us know! We want to hear from you. Drop us a message on our Slack Channel.
This article was originally published on The Product School blog. We teach product management, data analytics, coding, digital marketing, UX design and product leadership courses in 17 campuses across the US, UK and Canada and the world. To learn more about our upcoming courses and how to apply, visit our course page. Have any comments? Tweet us @ProductSchool!