Assembling Your Armada – Creating Leverage for Your Product Launch

Creating Product Launch Leverage - Assembling the Armada

Leverage

You have access to invisible leverage that could improve product launch success, but few tap into this valuable resource. They’re ‘invisible’ because we often overlook them yet they can have an important positive impact.

In the flurry of getting the deliverables ready and activities completed for launch, I’d like for you to stop for a moment. Think about all the points of leverage that you could tap into that are beyond the obvious: your customer support team, sales engineers/product specialists, finance, partners, training, customer evangelists; anyone or any group that has regular contact with your target market. How could you take advantage of this to make the next product launch better? By assembling your armada for the big invasion.

Your customer support team has daily contact with customers. You could leverage this daily contact to plant seeds of interest for new offerings. So if your launch goal includes getting your customer base to upgrade to a new version or to consider a new offering, the customer support team could be a great avenue to generate some excitement. How might we do that?

When the timing is appropriate we could brief the customer support team on the new offering. You don’t want to do this too early but at the same time if you wait too long you lose the leverage. You will be amazed at the creativity the customer support team will offer. You may have a specialized newsletter that is managed by customer support, there may be a special list for high-priority communication, or they may offer regular educational webinars.

Sales engineers have contact with customers and prospects. They regularly see, from the field, rough spots and pushback the new version may address. As the time approaches to launch we could cultivate a handful of evangelists within the sales engineering team to be internal resources. We could also leverage this group of evangelists to organize and deliver technically-oriented education about the new offering to the customer base.

Finance is often overlooked as an ally in launching products, but there are times when leveraging the Finance team makes a lot of sense. What if your new offering includes important changes to the way your product is licensed, which may impact what customers pay? We certainly want to educate the sales team/channel partners on this change but we also don’t want to overlook the people who are responsible for billing and collections. It may be beneficial to equip Finance with frequently asked questions (with responses) and ways to have a conversation with customers so they will better understand the implication of the change from a financial point of view.

What points of ‘invisible’ leverage do you have available to you today? Build a list of internal and external resources that have routine interaction with your target markets. Don’t hold back; think outside the box. After building the list go back through it and consider how each of these resources could be leveraged to improve launch effectiveness. If you run into a block and can’t figure out how they could possible help, reach out to them and get their insights. You will be pleasantly surprised.

Jim Semick

Jim Semick

Jim Semick is co-founder of ProductPlan, a leading provider of cloud-based roadmap software for product and marketing teams. For more than 15 years he has helped launch new products now generating hundreds of millions in revenue. He was part of the founding team at AppFolio, a vertical SaaS company. Prior to AppFolio, Jim validated and created version 1.0 product requirements for GoToMyPC and GoToMeeting (acquired by Citrix). Jim is a frequent speaker on product management and the process of discovering successful business models. He contributes at www.productplan.com/blog. Follow Jim on Twitter at @JimSemick.


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