Do you have the right product launch goals?

Do you know your product launch goals?

You’re working hard toward launching your next product. Your project plan is glorious. The deliverables are well defined. The activities are noted. The interdependencies are evident in the Gantt chart. You have the best people on your cross-functional product launch team. You are set. Or are you?

Do you and your team know what a successful product launch looks like? How will the success of the product launch be measured by the executive team?

If you can’t answers those questions you’re not alone. Many companies get so fixated on getting “stuff” done in support of a product launch, they lose sight of what’s really important: achieving business goals.

To start to nail your product launch goals you have to backtrack to what the business is trying to accomplish. Then you can identify metrics that are in support of those goals.

Maybe you’re introducing a new product. It’s a product that – naturally – the executive team expects to add to the top/bottom line of the business. Chances are they have a specific set of numbers in mind… add $3.2 million in incremental revenue… increase margin by 17%… increase the customer renewal rate from 78% to 85%… establish a beachhead in a new market segment by landing three bluechip customers.

What we have to do is get a clear understanding of the expectation of the product launch and then translate that into metrics that can be used to track product launch progress.

Let’s say you are introducing a new product to gain entry into a new market segment. The executive team is expecting $3.2 million in incremental revenue plus establish credibility in the market segment. What metrics could we use to track product launch progress? The obvious is revenue, but what if there is a long sales cycle? What if this is a risk-averse market segment that needs customer references?

In support of the revenue goal you could focus on growth in the pipeline. That is, are we driving interest in our new product to a level that gets participants in the market segment to engage and consider it as an answer to their problems. But you would also try to focus your energy on finding buyers that are representative of the new market segment that could also be good candidates for becoming customer references, which drive additional revenue in a risk-averse market segment AND provides evidence of a beachhead.

To avoid wasting product launch budget, you might consider keeping the initial product launch activities relatively low key until the early adopters become references. At a later time you could make a bigger marketing splash and tout your initial success with “launch customers”, providing an element of safety for the majority of buyers in the new market segment.

What are your launch goals?

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 Follow Jim on Twitter at @JimSemick.

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