The 6 Crucial Steps for Any Product Launch
Marketing is a crucial component of any successful product launch. It helps to build buzz, generate leads, and ultimately drive sales. But how much time does marketing really need to go to market?
The answer isn't a one-size-fits-all solution, as it depends on a variety of factors.
We're going to explore 6 of the key considerations that go into determining the amount of time marketing needs to go to market after product management scopes a product. But first, it's important to understand that product management and marketing are closely intertwined during the product development process.
The Difference Between Product Management and Product Marketing
Product management is responsible for defining the features and functionality of a product—this process is often referred to as "product scoping"—while marketing is responsible for crafting the messaging and positioning of the product. This means that marketing will typically be involved in the product development process from the beginning, helping to shape the direction of the product and identifying key target markets.
Once the product management team has completed the scoping process, they'll pass the torch to the marketing team. The marketing team then needs to develop a comprehensive marketing plan that outlines how they'll promote the product to potential customers. This process involves a variety of tasks, including creating marketing materials, developing a paid/earned/owned media and identifying target audiences to name a few.
How Much Time Does Marketing Need to Effectively Go To Market?
So, how much time does marketing need to go to market after product management scopes a product? It's difficult to give a blanket answer to this question, as it can vary significantly based on the complexity of the product, the size of the target market and the resources available to the marketing team. However, here are a few guidelines to consider:
For simple products with a small target market, marketing may be able to go to market relatively quickly after product management scopes the product. This might mean launching a product within a few weeks or months of the initial product development process.
For more complex products with a larger target market, marketing may need more time to go to market. This might involve conducting market research, building out a comprehensive marketing plan, and developing targeted campaigns to reach the target audience. In these cases, it might take several months or even a year or more for marketing to go to market.
If the marketing team is working with limited resources, it may take even longer to go to market. This might involve working with smaller budgets, fewer team members or limited access to technology or tools. In these cases, it will likely take more time to develop marketing materials, create campaigns and reach the target audience.
There are also a number of external factors that can impact the timeline for marketing to go to market. These might include:
Competition: If there are already established players in the market, it may take longer for marketing to go to market as they need to differentiate the product and convince consumers to switch from the competition.
Regulations: Depending on the industry, there may be strict regulations in place that need to be followed before marketing can go to market. This might involve obtaining certifications, approvals, or licenses, which can take time to obtain.
Market conditions: If the market is saturated or experiencing economic downturns, it may be more difficult for marketing to go to market. This might involve adapting marketing strategies to meet changing consumer needs or preferences.
Ultimately, the amount of time that the marketing team needs to go to market will depend on a variety of factors, and it's important for the product management and marketing teams to work closely together to ensure a successful launch. However, as a general rule, it is advisable to start planning a product launch at least three to six months in advance. This allows enough time to ensure that all the necessary preparations are in place and that the launch goes off without a hitch.
The 6 Steps Process
There are several key steps that go into planning a product launch, and each step requires a certain amount of time.
Here is a breakdown of the key steps and the amount of time needed for each step:
Define the product and target market Before you can start marketing a new product, you need to clearly define what the product is and who it’s for. This involves understanding the product’s features and benefits, determining the needs and wants of your target audience and developing a marketing message that resonates with the target audience. This step typically takes one to two months to complete.
Develop a marketing plan Once the product and target market have been defined, the next step is to develop a marketing plan. This includes identifying the marketing channels to be used, developing a budget and creating a timeline for the launch. This step typically takes one to two months to complete.
Your marketing plan should include (at a minimum):
A clear value proposition: This is a statement that clearly communicates the value of your product and how it meets the needs of your target audience.
A target audience: This is a specific group of people that you’re trying to reach with your marketing efforts.
Marketing channels: These are the platforms or channels you’ll use to reach your target audience, such as social media, email marketing, or paid advertising.
Key performance indicators (KPIs): These are metrics that you’ll use to measure the success of your marketing efforts, such as website traffic or sales conversions.
Create marketing materials After the marketing plan has been developed, the next step is to create marketing materials such as brochures, website content and social media posts. This step typically takes one to two months to complete.
Plan and coordinate logistics The next step is to plan and coordinate the logistics of the launch. This includes the distribution of marketing materials, finalizing user events and attributes (if applicable), working with third parties, coordinating PR, etc. It's also important that you schedule product launch update meetings during this time. This step typically takes one month to complete.
Test and refine Before the launch, it is essential to test and refine the product and marketing materials to ensure that everything is working as intended. This step typically takes two to four weeks to complete.
Launch Finally, it's time to launch the product. This includes executing the marketing plan, holding the launch event and releasing the product to the market. This step typically takes one month to complete (initially). On launch day, it's important to make sure everything goes smoothly. This includes ensuring that the product is discoverable, handling any customer inquiries or complaints and monitoring sales and feedback.
Remember the "6 Ps"... Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance
In my experience, it can easily take six to nine months or longer to effectively plan a product launch. While this may seem like a long time, it is essential to ensure that all the necessary preparations are in place and that the launch goes off without a hitch. By taking the time to carefully plan and execute the launch, the chances of success and the impact of the launch increase substantially.
In the weeks and months following the launch, it's important to continue marketing efforts and track the performance of the product. This will help identify any areas for improvement and allow for adjustments to be made to the marketing strategy as needed. I also schedule a 2-week post-launch retro with the launch team as well as a 4-week retro.
Ready to Grow?
Product marketing planning can require a lot—or a little—amount of time, depending on the complexity of the product and the market. It's not a task that can be completed in a few days or weeks nor should that ever be attempted. It requires careful research, analysis and a lot of time to come up with effective strategies that can deliver results.
So, if you're planning to launch a new product in the market, make sure you set aside enough time for product marketing planning (and include the marketing team from the get-go) to ensure that your product is successful in the market. It's a crucial investment that can pay dividends in the long run.