The B2B Product Launch Checklist for Technology and Software
What is a product launch checklist, and why is it important?
A product launch checklist is a comprehensive list of tasks and activities that must be completed before, during, and after a product launch. It helps ensure that all necessary steps are taken to successfully launch a product, minimizing the risk of being rejected by the market and maximizing the chances of new product success.
Launching a new product, especially in the B2B technology and software industry, requires careful planning and execution. A product launch checklist is crucial for several reasons:
- It ensures that the product positioning resonates with the pain points of your target audience.
- Guides the product marketing or launch team in understanding what must be done for a successful product launch.
- Helps identify success factors to ensure market support upon launch.
- Plays a vital role in defining the marketing activities to promote your new product with the help of your market ecosystem to gain momentum and awareness.
A product launch is NOT a press release. It is an organized process to strategically build and communicate with your market ecosystem to get their support and gain credbility.
And it can take from months to years, depending on whether you're creating an emerging market or launching in a mature category.
Why a well-structured new product launch checklist is crucial for B2B technology
In the B2B technology industry, a well-structured product launch checklist is paramount. It helps define the product positioning and new features, aiding market research, ensuring customer support teams are well-prepared for the launch day, guiding the team in developing effective social channels and promotional content, positioning the product for successful launch by considering buyer persona, and drafting the product launch strategy, incorporating best practices.
Preparation steps for tech and software product launch checklist
Let's dive into the detailed steps of our B2B product launch checklist proven for technology and software launches.
Conducting thorough market research and competitor analysis
One of the key steps in preparing for a successful product launch is conducting thorough market research, customer research, and competitor analysis. This step helps in understanding customer pain points, informing product positioning, identifying distribution channels best suited for the product launch, deeply understanding the target audience and market trends, gathering insights for creating successful marketing campaigns, identifying support team requirements based on market research insights, and ensuring effective product marketing.
Gather feedback and testimonials from your early adopters
Gathering feedback and testimonials from beta users or early adopters is another crucial step in the product launch checklist. Feedback from beta users provides insights for enhancing customer experience, serves as social proof, contributes to successful marketing, ensures the product manager actively collects insights, helps in addressing product design and user experience challenges, and plays a key role in refining the product positioning based on user feedback and insights.
If you still don't have a case study from an early customer that proves your product's value, it's still not time to launch your product at scale. Instead, create a beta program to onboard early customers, gather their feedback, complete the product, learn more about their pains, test their willingness to pay, and complete the checklist as you learn from them. This is a validation step that we call technology introduction. Read more about when to do a technology introduction vs. a product launch below.
Build a robust go-to-market strategy
We differentiate between the go-to-market strategy and product launch, but they work together as they reinforce each other through market feedback loops.
The go-to-market strategy will define the direction of your product launch. In contrast, the product launch process is about building product awareness, educating the market, and communicating its differentiators and availability to drive customers. It is about building your market.
As you learn from the market, and before a general availability product launch, work on crafting your go-to-market strategy:
- Discover a winning target market
- Understand your target customer
- Design a low-risk offering
- Build ecosystem partners and allies
- Select the most familiar distribution channels for your customers
- Validate the willingness to pay and create a pricing and incentives strategy
- Craft a positioning statement differentiated from existing alternatives
- Communicate the right positioning messages
For in-depth details on each step of this go-to-market strategy, check our 10-step framework.
Launching a product is about learning from the market in feedback loops. As you learn from the market, you'll narrow down and focus your go-to-market strategy. This process can take months to years, depending on the type of innovation you're launching.
Technology introduction vs. product launch: when do you need each?
The technology introduction is a soft launch or market validation period that will prepare your product and market for a general availability launch by completing all the steps of your product marketing launch checklist. The last thing you want to do is to introduce a technology into the mainstream when neither your technology nor the market is ready to buy it. That will for sure harm your brand and credibility.
When do you need a technology introduction or validation loop rather than a product launch? Check the following checklist to understand if you are in a technology introduction phase rather than in a general availability product launch phase:
- You don't have proof of value (unsupported/unproven)
- Your technology is horizontal rather than industry-focused or solving a very specific use case/pain. It is a technology rather than a product.
- Your product is incomplete (buggy, without support, no integrations...). Check the 12 elements that make a technology solution complete.
- Uneducated market. Your target customer is unaware of the problem you solve.
- You're creating a new market category with a discontinuous innovation
- You're in an early market (before the early majority)
- The definition of the product features is a big question mark
- You don't have enough market ecosystem partners and allies to launch a product with their full support.
On the other side, here's when to apply a product launch approach:
- You have proof of value w/ cases and reviews
- Your technology is vertical or uses case-specific. It is a product rather than a technology.
- Your solution is complete
- Your target market is educated
- The market category you're willing to enter is past the 15% penetration rate.
- Your innovation is continuous. This means that it does not require behavioral change, workflow change, and a steep learning curve in end-users to make the most of your product as it is now.
- You're at the end of an early market, willing to cross the chasm, or at the beginning of the early majority.
- Your solution is well-defined and specific.
- You have well-known market ecosystem partners and allies that will help you generate market momentum and influence buying decisions by supporting your launch process.
Setting clear objectives for the launch
Setting clear objectives for the launch is crucial. It ensures a focused and successful product launch strategy, guides the development of marketing materials, aligns with product positioning, identifies success metrics, focuses on customer satisfaction, and contributes to a successful marketing plan, aligning with buyer persona.
Creating effective educational content
Creating effective educational content is key to capturing the attention of your target audience and driving new customers to your product. Educating your market ecosystem is the key cornerstone to building your market as you validate your technology and get all those ecosystem players ready to support you when you are ready to launch.
Tips for creating educational content
When creating educational content for your market, it's important to tailor the content to align with the user experience throughout the customer journey, incorporate actionable insights from successful product launches, utilize best practices for content marketing, create content that addresses buyer persona pain points and challenges, and align content with the product positioning statement and marketing plan. As you create the strategy, also start considering which type of content you‘ll use to attract a prospective customer’s attention during the awareness, consideration, and purchase decision stage. You'll need to produce this content in the next step.
The role of customer testimonials and case studies
Customer testimonials and case studies play a crucial role in marketing your product. They prove that your product is worth buying with case studies, customer success stories, social proof and highlight customer satisfaction and success metrics. They illustrate the impact of the product on key stakeholders and must be incorporated across various marketing materials, including your press releases.
Preparing your team for a new product launch
Preparing your team for the launch is essential to ensure a smooth and successful product release.
Training your sales team and developing sales enablement materials
Equipping your sales team with product positioning and key details for a successful product launch is crucial. Developing sales enablement materials that support the sales team in positioning the new product, aligning the sales team with marketing materials, and providing support to address customer pain points and buyer persona insights are key aspects of this step. Additionally, it is important to present the new product to key stakeholders within your company, such as executives, managers, or even your product development team, who are responsible for creating the product you want to offer customers. This ensures everyone involved in the product launch is aligned and understands the goals and objectives.
Developing documentation and FAQs for your support team
Creating comprehensive support materials, developing FAQs that anticipate and address customer inquiries, training the support team on product positioning, support materials, and customer experience strategy, collaborating with the support team to ensure alignment with marketing materials and product positioning, and providing support team insights from market research and user experience feedback are key elements of preparing your support team for the launch.
Communicating your launch date and goals internally
The importance of internal communication before the launch
Internal communication before the launch is of utmost importance. It ensures the successful alignment and understanding of key stakeholders and team members. Establishing success metrics for upcoming product launches and next steps for marketing strategy are key elements of this step.
The B2B product launch checklist
Our checklist has been designed explicitly for B2B high-tech and software products:
- Validate technology or product possibilities with a go-to-market strategy.
- Have proof of business value to support a solution launch — case studies with outcomes and testimonials by your early adopters.
- Create a messaging platform that includes technology, product, market, and company messages.
- Complete your solution by assembling tangibles (core features) and intangibles offering attributes (risk reduction attributes).
- Establish a set of market ecosystem partners and allies to support your launch communications.
- Conduct a pre-briefing of analysts so they reflect the positioning you want and learn from them.
- Create a press release and a list of target publications.
- Set up pricing and incentives that reward salesforce and selected partners.
- Create a market-education strategy and leverage your ecosystem allies.
- Designate and enable a company spokesperson that is available to educate the market.
- Create a plan of activities for the spokesperson to become an ecosystem thought leader — events, posts, videos, podcasts, webinars...
- Select and enable your distribution channels with marketing assets that follow the positioning platform.
- A plan of marketing programs and activities to promote your product across channels.
- Aligned team with clear objectives and success metrics. Adjust your launch goals to the stage of your product and the market.
If you have missing pieces of this checklist, you should continue your technology introduction or validation loops: refining your product, and go-to-market strategy, and completing this checklist to get ready for a market-wide launch.
In conclusion, a well-structured and comprehensive new product launch checklist is crucial for the success of B2B technology and software launches. It ensures that all necessary steps are taken to effectively position the product, create promotional content, prepare you team, and build your market ecosystem. By conducting thorough market research, gathering feedback from early customers, and developing a powerful positioning statement, you can create a strong foundation for your launch.
Additionally, delivering your positioning messages to the ecosystem, getting their support and endorsements, leveraging early customer testimonials, and training your sales team will help drive awareness and adoption.
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