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5 ways marketing and product can work together better on product launches

By Aileen Horgan
Rocket spot illustration

A rocket launch isn't easy to pull off. According to Jonathan Chan of Foundr, studies estimate as many as 70 percent of product launches fail. 

In my 5 years as a product marketer at Atlassian, I've overseen tons of product launches, and to ensure a launch's success it's crucial to make sure all teams involved are working together effectively -- especially product and marketing teams. When there's tension, miscommunication, or misalignment between these two teams (and there often is), things fall apart very quickly. Here are five tips I've picked up over the years on how product and marketing teams can work together to plan stellar product launches.

Tip #1

Include Marketing in the product launch plans from day one

Too often, product teams regard marketing as an afterthought, as something to be dealt with once the product is developed and ready to go out to customers. 

But good marketing strategy starts on day one of product development, so being involved in planning meetings is key. Because we spend so much time talking to and surveying the people who use our products, we can bring their perspective to the table, giving ideas on how to make new products more customer-focused. Being involved from the very beginning also gives us a head start on developing the right way to talk about the product externally. 

Great marketing projects begin and end with Confluence

Great marketing projects begin and end with Confluence

Tip #2

Work toward the same goals and metrics

Not everyone working on a launch defines success in the same way, which can create conflicting ideas about the best way to move forward. While marketers may want to get a certain number of signups on your website, product developers are more likely to focus on something like customer satisfaction.

Choose one or two high-level metrics to be the final determinant of whether or not the product launch was a hit and establish a common goal. Are you looking to earn revenue? Draw first-time visitors to your website?

Any smaller goals (i.e. social media engagement, press mentions, etc.) should exist solely as a way to serve the end goal that both teams share.

Bar chart illustration

Try a "goals, signals, and measures" exercise to help your team determine the launch's high-level goal and how you'll know if you're on the right track.

Tip #3

Get feedback on the product launch

It's the week of your launch. You have all your announcement emails ready to go. Your social media posts are already scheduled. Then, at the very last minute, your product team tells you that the release needs to be pushed back.

One of the most common sources of tension between product and marketing teams is misalignment on the roadmap. 

Your work during a launch is so interdependent that neither of you can afford to set plans and deadlines without the other team's input. Get ahold of the product team's roadmap and product requirements, and build the tasks and timelines for your marketing team around it. Then, share with each other and poke holes in the plan and suggest improvements. Are you solving the right problems in the preferred order? Is the roadmap realistic? Do you have the right team?

Alert illustration

Try running a premortem exercise with both teams to imagine everything that could go wrong throughout the course of a product launch and how to prevent it.

Even after you've translated the roadmap into action items, adding a weekly or bi-weekly cadence of meetings will address blockers or other issues that may affect your launch date.

Tip #4

Stay on the same page with a product launch template

Just because you did the hard planning work up front doesn't mean that everyone can just retreat back to solitude once it's time to execute. Launching a new product involves people across several departments so in order to be successful, consistent communication every step of the way is key.

One easy way to make sure everyone stays up-to-date is by posting all pertinent information in a central location (*cough* not email). 

At Atlassian we use templates in Confluence to eliminate all the disconnected documents and keep team members on the same page (literally) throughout the project. You end up with planning pages that present your launch strategy effectively and a launch lead who didn't have to reinvent the wheel. 

Product launch template

A solid template includes space to specify roles and responsibilities, map launch activities, and includes a summary so stakeholders have a big-picture view of the launch's status. 

Tip #5

Get informed before starting on product positioning and messaging

Just because messaging and positioning falls under the marketing team's responsibilities, doesn't mean it shouldn't involve anyone else. Your product team's technical expertise and in-depth knowledge about the product can be extremely useful as you start to think about how to describe and market it. 

Sit your product team down and ask a lot of questions. What does the product or service do? What problems is it solving for customers? Any research that went into its creation? Even if you already know the answers, hearing what another team has to say helps you gain a different perspective. 

Don't pretend you get all of the technical jargon they're using. Your product team already knows that you're not an expert in their field, so speak up when you don't understand something. Once you have all of the information, do your thing as a marketer and start crafting a compelling narrative.

 

Get started with the Confluence product launch plan

Whatever the final list of strategies you use to launch your product, it all starts with the customer-focused planning and the right preparatory steps. Those are not only the keys to a smooth launch, they mean fewer meetings and closer partnerships with your product team.


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