Start Strong: Tips for Tech Product Managers for Product Positioning and Launch

26 Apr 2024

Throughout my decade-long career as a Technical Product Manager, I have had the pleasure of launching multiple high-impact products in the Enterprise technology space. My experience spans the entire technology stack, from launching x86 servers to delivering Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud platforms and launching Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions. And across these different products, one consistent factor for product success has been a solid product positioning and launch strategy.

In this article, I will share my learning and tips for an impactful product launch providing actionable insights that technical product leaders can leverage to succeed in bringing new products to market.

How and when to start: The Pregame

The groundwork for positioning and launch starts way before product development. A product manager’s starting point should always be their customer’s pain point. The first step is conducting in-depth research including customer surveys, 1x1 customer interviews, and usability studies to observe what the customer actually needs. This will help define a very clear value proposition for the product you aim to bring to market, which is foundational to differentiating your product from competitors and making sure it resonates with the target customer. This value proposition will be the cornerstone of all marketing and product collateral you or your marketing team will create down the road including pricing strategy, customer enablement material, etc.

In parallel, you have to ensure the product aligns with a strategic business goal ensuring the launch will support company-wide objectives and drive the desired outcomes. This will help you tap into various events and marketing moments at the wider company level where you can help elevate the message around your product. Early engagement with key cross-functional teams such as engineering, marketing, pricing, sales, and support ensures that everyone is on the same page when it comes to product market fit.

What are the Input signals you can rely on: Dual intent feedback collection

Once the product is defined and teams begin the development work, product managers need to rely on continuous input signals to ensure product success. Keeping an open communication stream to gather customer feedback is invaluable, potential users can provide insights that can quickly help course correct during development. This is especially true for software products where you can make iterative improvements. One truly effective method that worked for me while developing a new product during my time working at the world’s largest cloud provider was establishing a customer advisory board, recruiting potential users who would act as an extended part of my team and would meet with us to provide regular feedback on the user experience during development. These input signals not only helped deliver the most innovative product but also gained us early adopters along the way who provided customer testimonials when we launched the product.

You should also keep tabs on the broader market trends and adjust your approach accordingly. Opting to engage with internal teams during development is another layer of input. Regular reviews and updates with internal teams help you see your blind spots early.

How to write a Go-to-market Strategy: Get the message out

Before I answer that question let’s understand what is a go-to-market (GTM) strategy.  GTM is a plan created by product managers to align various stakeholders across the company on the activities required for a successful product launch in the target market. The first step for a successful GTM strategy is to define the goals of the launch. For example, if you are launching a brand new product/service the main goal for your launch would be growing awareness and adoption about the product. But if you are delivering an iteration or improvement for an existing solution you might want to focus on increasing user engagement and satisfaction.

Once you establish a goal for your launch, the GTM plan becomes easier to define. You can focus on creating collaterals, events,  and campaigns that speak directly to the target customer base. For example, if your goal is to create awareness you may think about media outreach, partner outreach, and customer outreach. Finally, all of the strategizing will be of no use if you don’t define and track the measure of success from day one, so make sure that you have Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) both for the product and your GTM defined in advance and have a way to track them.

Source: Author

I will leave you with this, think about establishing your product’s unique value proposition before a single line of code is written, this will lay the groundwork for a successful market introduction. Remember, a well-defined GTM strategy not only streamlines the path to launch but also ensures your product reaches the target audience.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to reach out to me or drop a question or comment below.

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