Don’t rely on marketing to fix your product launches

Does your company have a Product Marketing department? And any time you launch a new product or feature, the entire process is clear? And there are no headaches? Congratulations, then you’re one of the selected few.

But in reality, even when companies have a successful Product Marketing department – a lot of work on product and feature launches still falls into the hands of Customer Success. So let’s demystify the basic frameworks for a successful launch, and how you communicate it to your customers.

Note: I want to make it practical, so I’ll focus only on communicating the new product or feature to clients. Of course, we might still have work to do when it comes to onboarding and adoption. We’ll cover that another time.

Parts of what we’ll discuss today are usually taken care of by marketing. But often, it’s not. So let’s dive right in.

1. Ruthless prioritization

Not every new feature or bugfix is worth a massive launch! I know that you want to show your customers that you’re active, but you’re just creating noise. Successful organizations ruthlessly prioritize their product or feature launches. I personally favor a 3 tier system, and every tier has a different frequency, communication channel, and effort.

Tier 1: The big launch

A tier 1 launch happens maximum once a quarter. Think of it as a new product, or a really important new feature. You will work closely with marketing, and next to the usual launch email and blog, you probably also want to build up some hype or a partner campaign.

Tier 2: The cool feature

A tier 2 launch is a handy new feature that many customers will be happy about. It’s not a game-changer – but it will make your conversations easier. It’s often the “OMG I’ve been waiting for you guys to fix this” kind of feature, at max once a month. Next to a product update blog and an email, you’ll want to notify the clients that you know have been asking for this feature.

Tier 3: The bugfix

Tier 3 launches will always be mentioned in the changelog, and they’ll probably appear in your monthly product update. But you’ll want to bundle them together and not waste your customer’s time by telling them that “this loading bar now behaves differently”.

Now that we’ve prioritized our launches, let’s talk about how to communicate them.

2. How we tell our customers about a new product or feature

There are 2 rules that I need you to remember here.

Launch Rule Nr. 1: Confirm the success journey you’re on

Nothing is worse than launching a new product or feature and telling your customers that “now, you can finally do XX”!

They bought your solution for a REASON, so confirm it. And then show how the new feature will add to that journey. Example: “Our goal at MoneyBomb is to give you financial freedom by automating your finances. A big part of that is keeping track of your activities. That’s what our new report feature will make even easier for you.”

See how I didn’t insult our old report feature? Instead, I focused on how the new feature will enhance their current path. 

Launch Rule Nr. 2: Turn features into benefits

This is marketing 101. Instead of communicating a feature, turn it into a benefit. The funny part is that your product manager probably has that information, but it usually gets lost along the way. Ask your product manager for the user story of the feature or product that they released, and they will probably share something along the lines of “as a user, I want to do X in order to achieve Y”

In our communication, we want to focus on the Y. What can they achieve with the new feature?

Instead of showing your “amazing new export function”, highlight how it’s now easier to integrate your solution with third parties. Instead of “updated user management”, your solution now enables better oversight and team management. Believe me: talking in benefits makes even the most boring feature sexy.

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