How product managers combine process and metrics to achieve a successful product launch
Do you participate in launch planning, or what may also be called go-to-market planning? In some organizations, product managers are directly involved, but not always, and that is a waste. You’ll hear why in this discussion, along with six elements addressed by a go-to-market strategy:
- Defining the target market
- Creating a compelling reason for customers to buy
- Determining the pricing strategy
- Crafting the positioning
- Conducting competitive analysis, and
- Preparing to launch.
Discussing go-to-market strategy is repeat guest, Mike Smart. He is a product management practitioner and founder of Egress Solutions, which helps companies implement product management best practices that build and launch successful products. And, I love his name — Mike Smart!
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:25] Where does go-to-market strategy fit into product lifecycle?
The conventional view is that it belongs with sales and marketing and starts post-ideation. It’s often the strategy that gets pushed down the road and not addressed until the product is almost built. We believe it should be part of the product lifecycle as early as possible as you are conducting research and building the persona of your target customer. As you’re meeting with customers, you’re setting the stage for go-to-market strategy.
[05:33] What benefits does a go-to-market strategy provide?
It defines the ultimate success of the product we’re creating. Strong metrics are the result of a strong go-to-market strategy. It includes the target customer, the motivation to buy, and the strength of the value proposition. It also includes the public-facing launch activities to make sure customers know that there’s a new product on the market.
[8:21] Who should be involved in creating a go-to-market strategy?
One school of thought says that it should be top-down from the executive level of the company. If the strategy sits at the executive level, it’s easier to engage multiple teams across the organization. The team should include product managers, marketing, sales, and perhaps things like professional services and customer success. Having role clarity is important as well, including knowing where product management stops and starts. A product manager won’t always be running this strategy. I encourage people to follow Amazon’s model of writing a press release for the product’s launch as part of the development process.
[14:22] What elements make up a go-to-market strategy?
It begins with targeting customers and identifying the problems we’re trying to solve for them. Then, you need to create a compelling reason to buy — why is your product better than everyone else’s? A pricing strategy should be developed at the same time as the prototypes. From there, you should craft the positioning and develop a competitive assessment. The last step is preparing for the actual launch events. This process can change depending on the market and the product sector. It might be different for early adopters vs. late adopters because each group has a different motivation. It might also change for niche markets vs. mass market products or for technology buyers vs. business buyers. The launch theme should drive the competitive strategy in the end.
[23:42] Can you give us an example?
I am a big fan of grilling and cooking outdoors. Last year, I decided I wanted to fry a turkey. I found a fryer that used infrared technology. Its positioning statement was that you could fry a turkey without the mess that typically comes with the process. That was a very specific pain point for this product to address, and one that was clearly needed in the marketplace. Solving that pain point was the central part of the go-to-market strategy and helped convert buyers like me who had tried or seen other products in this niche fail. I liked this product so much that I became one of its advocates.
[27:58] Why should competitive analysis come after ideas are developed?
We see examples all the time of companies who are developing products that simply pivot off of competitors and going after incremental market share. They often find that competitors are right there with them and they end up neck and neck for features. This leads to a pricing war with competitors trying to outdo each other. Meanwhile, there are unmet needs that no one is addressing.
- TEI 148: Win-Loss analysis for product managers – with Mike Smart
- Mike’s group for implementing product management best practices, Egress Solutions
“In business, maintaining status quo is death” – Unknown
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