Tag Archives: communication
This is the final installment in our blog series “what does it take to launch a product?” If you are interested in the previous posts, we covered Product Definition, Pricing, Sales Enablement and Making Hard Choices. This blog will highlight the communication plan that is required with a product launch. Like many elements of Product Management, it requires more thought and care than might initially be expected.
Here are some tips and tricks regarding communication:
If you have a Marketing department that is separate from Product Management, include them in a discussion about launch communication. We all have our skill sets and you want the best players in the right positions. Many product managers are excellent marketers and writers, but they may not have the depth of expertise and relationships that your Marketing team does. This is an opportunity for close collaboration.
Identify your audiences
You may have several “masters” to serve and they may need to be communicated to very differently. Internally, you have to think about your sales force, executive team, customer service representatives and other company employees. Externally, you have to consider existing customers, prospects, the media, Analyst firms and possibly investors or shareholders. Each audience may need a slightly different message so it is prudent to think through this ahead of time so you aren’t left scrambling right before launch. Also, some audiences can promote your message so you want to get to them early in the process.
Determine appropriate amount of communication
How much is too much or not enough? Communication can be tricky because you don’t want to over-message something that is small, thus diluting your Marketing credibility. Nor do you want to under-message something big and miss a potential opportunity.
We solved this, like many other companies by creating Launch Levels. An “A” launch is a big deal – Press Release, videos, micro-site, sales training, etc. In order to qualify as an “A” launch, it has to be a brand new product or a significant enhancement that will drive revenue. Depending on your innovation cycle, you may only have one or two “A” launches per year.
A “B” launch is less impactful; it might be only available to existing customers, or it might be an inexpensive add-on that won’t drive significant revenue, or it might be a version 1 product that you are testing on a smaller target market before making a big splash. “B” launches will have fewer marketing assets and activities than an “A” launch but still require thoughtful consideration of content, audience and timing.
“C” launches are more like product enhancements. You definitely want to get the word out but it isn’t worthy of an Analyst Briefing or new website.
The way we manage the different launch levels is to have a Launch checklist and whether a task is required, optional or ‘as needed’ varies by the launch level. For example, in our company, a social media campaign plan is required for an “A” launch, ‘as needed’ for a “B” launch and not applicable for a “C” launch.
Have a plan
Even if your organization isn’t mature enough or big enough to have a Marketing department or need the sophistication of launches levels, take the time to craft a communication plan. It is important to let the world – or at least your sales people and prospects – know about this great new offering. If you aren’t purposeful about it, or you slap something together at the last minute, it can devalue the product and no one benefits from that!
Launching a product is a highly orchestrated effort that requires thought, planning and follow-through to be successful, but when it is successful, it is a great feeling to see your “baby” hit the market and start generating sales. There is such a sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from it. I hope every reader gets to experience that feeling. Happy launching!
Originally posted on a now defunct site on 4/16/13
Image source: http://www.powerelectronicsworld.net/article/0/79963-gigoptix-producing-gaas-e-band-pa-chipsets-in-volume.html
We became an “Agile Family” in 2013 and I first blogged about it in August. Since then, we have had a number of family meetings and we have learned some very interesting things along the way. Here is a recap of our findings.
1. Face-to-face collaboration matters.
Those of you who are familiar with Agile and its principles know that face-to-face communication and frequent opportunities to collaborate are essential to Agile. Turns out, the same is true with the family. When we asked the retrospective-type question “What do you want to do more of?” our tween daughters (ages 11 and 12) said more family activities. What?!? Our kids are at the age of boyfriends and texting and thinking parents are uncool and yet — they want to spend more time with us. And when we inquired about the types of activities, it wasn’t watching TV or playing video games. It was electronics-free hiking and bowling and ice skating. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I heard that, but since then, we have become closer as a family – as a team.
If you are considering sunsetting a product or platform, you need to proceed with caution, as all good Product Managers will do. Our previous blog addressed the data that you need to make an informed decision. Once you have that in hand, you need to think about a well-organized and well-executed communication plan.
Create a communication plan
If you are going to alter the customer’s experience, you need to think through how that will be communicated and you will likely need to over-communicate to make sure the message is received and no customer is surprised. There are a number of factors that will influence your communication plan. How many customers are impacted? Do they have active account managers involved (more on this below)? How do the customer receive information today? Through Bill Inserts? From the Website? E-mail alerts? Make sure that you know all communication vehicles so you carefully consider how to handle each one. The messaging is also critical and must be very action oriented and clear. This is not a marketing campaign or a sales slick. The verbiage needs to be simple to understand and clearly articulate the steps that need to be taken. You also need to consider the repetition. Sunsetting a product is a big event and you will need to tell customers over and over again to ensure that the message is received and digested. The easiest way to create a plan is to grab a calendar, pinpoint the desired date of the decommissioning and work backwards. For example, if you are relying on bill inserts as your primary mode of communication, then you will need to factor the billing cycle into the calendar. You will also need to ensure that your systems have the ability to differentiate the customers with the product targeted for sunsetting. Otherwise, you may have to inform the entire customer base and that may have larger implications.
In our previous blogs, we have outlined two key steps to take before you dive into that new project or idea that you are so excited about. Those were: Step 1 – Set your Goals and Step 2 – Define your target audience, or personas. Now it is time for the final step – decide what success looks like and the best way to do that is to write a scene. I wish I could say this was my idea, but it’s not. The smart people at Wharton wrote a great article on this concept called Visionary Leadership: Creating Scenes that Change the Future. The idea is to define success for your project/challenge/opportunity by creating a scene – like in a movie – of what success would look like in the future. We did this at a company that we are consulting with and it was a great exercise.
Write the Scene
Our effort was an Agile implementation at a company with lots of legacy software and its fair share of legacy processes and ideas. We sat down and pretended that we were through the Agile adoption and the core tenets of Agile were alive and well. Our scene involved speedy response to a changing market condition, reprioritization of work, team execution of a new deliverable, finding out that deliverable was not the correct response, immediately incorporating that feedback, course-correcting and quickly deploying a more suitable solution. This scene included management and stakeholders playing a supportive role without judgment, finger-pointing or unnecessary meetings. Sounds like a dream world, right? This was a great exercise because it forced us to think about all of the attitudes and practices that would need to change to make this scene a reality and that was eye-opening.
Product Management roles are challenging and fun and I am a self-professed Product Management geek. One of the critical responsibilities for a product manager is to successfully launch new products that are built in concert with the IT and Operations teams. In my experience, there are several key steps in the launch process that must be considered. Here are five posts that walk through these steps.
What does it take to launch a product?
Making Hard Choices
Developing a Communication Plan
I hope you find this information helpful and interesting. If there is anything that was missed, please let me know. Happy Launching!