Eight Ideas for Successful Product/Feature Launches

Product launches, whether you are doing frequent SaaS updates or more significant launches, always add stress to an organization. The regular cadence of new features can put marketing in a forever scramble mode. Unrealistic expectations about a new feature’s buzz can further pressure the marketing team. Here are some ideas for a product launch strategy to reduce the stress of product launches and improve results from the launch.

#1 – Set Aspirational Goals

The amount of buzz your product will generate rarely rises to the expected level from the people who built it. The key is to set aspirational goals and train the organization to keep launches in perspective. At a minimum, for a new product launch, you should be able to:

  • Get a percentage of your customers on a webinar to update and explain to them
  • Get your top influencers to retweet and endorse the new features/products
  • Use the launch to get in front of your favorite analysts for feedback
  • With a customer willing to speak, get high-quality press
  • Drive modest website traffic unless you hit a significant article or referral site
  • Get a percentage of your prospects into a webinar to hear a customer talk
  • Use the launch as a reason to get in front of your partner and direct sales teams with new training
  • Update the new hire training deck

For new products, you can also set a goal for a gradual ramp of new traffic and conversions. The launch is less like a big bang and more like the starting gun for a marathon.

Set realistic goals and use your prior launch success as a baseline to build and refine the objectives.

#2 – Separate the Bits from the Product Launch

There are always exceptions to the rule, but linking the availability of software bits (the product launch) to the announcement (the go-to-market launch), while ideal and clean, might cause more issues than it is worth. By splitting the announcement of a new product or feature from the availability of the bits, marketing can deliver critical elements of the launch in a high-quality fashion. For example, a product that is only stable enough to demo the day before it is released is tough to launch in a high-quality manner. Allowing marketing time to build demo videos, a solid story, and update analysts will pay buzz dividends that would only be available if the marketing launch has sufficient time. With the product launch split from the go-to-market launch, the product team might still decide to release the bits and notify customers without a public announcement.

Regardless of which comes first, this product launch strategy of separating the GTM launch from the product launch provides significant flexibility for the marketing and product team.

#3- Build the Product Launch Plan Around Key Launch Milestones, Not Dates

Building product launch strategy around dates causes friction. Why? The product ship dates almost always slip, but worse, the key deliverables required to launch a product, like screenshots and demos, also slip as the product isn’t ready early enough to build these assets. A milestone approach gates the launch process, giving time for each group of tasks to complete. This approach is more straightforward than attempting to Gantt Chart out the release. There are six milestones for a product launch you can read about here.

#4 – The Buzziest Features May Be the Ones with the Least Amount of Engineering Development

“Big” features that take lots of engineering work to accomplish aren’t necessarily the ones that generate the most buzz. Some of the minor features can unlock buzz. The key is to be open to each feature or new product and work hard to determine what makes it exciting.

#5- Marketers Need to Be the Biggest Cheerleaders for the Product Launch

Marketing needs to drive excitement for a launch. Prospects, customers, analysts, and the sales team won’t get excited if the marketing team isn’t. Tapping into genuine enthusiasm for the product and communicating that is infectious. If marketers don’t feel it, no one else will.

#6 – Use Cases Age Like Fine Wine

The product team builds features and products based on assumed use cases. The more you can preview new features with sales reps, SEs, and customers, the more you will learn about the real story that excites people. Previewing also allows features and use cases initially deemed insignificant to gain value as customers see them and comment favorably.

The period between demo availability and public announcement lets the story age like a fine wine.

#7 – Expect the Payload of the Release To Change Close to Launch

Marketing teams need to remain flexible to changing payloads in product launches. The key is to start working on the launch once the payload is stable, which might occur at feature freeze. Stability is more likely to happen when a product can be demonstrated. Even then, some engineering teams might slip in new features from the side at the last minute. New features are a good thing; it is disruptive, but it also has the chance to transform a launch from interesting to super exciting. If a new feature is significant enough, reset the milestone timeline and start again.

#8 – Build Messaging from the Core Sources

For a product launch, all content is derived from three sources:

  • A demo – provides screenshots, videos, and a way to bring to life the story.
  • The press release – long-form, whether issued or not, provides the basis for the written story, the critical details of availability, pricing, and a listing of additional features.
  • The release notes – provide the required material for customer communication and allow sales engineers to dive into the story further and create feature decks.

You can produce all the key deliverables from these core documents for launch.

Product launch materials are derived from core content.


Product launches are great opportunities to flex the marketing muscles, engage customers and prospects, and refresh sales training. Done correctly, separated from the launch of the product bits, they can drive significant value for an organization. Done incorrectly, based on dates that shift, they cause considerable angst for marketing teams without a corresponding boost in ROI.

Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

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