Plan pre-launch marketing for a product

Based on New Product Launch Marketing Plan With Examples - CXL by Tom Whatley.

Business benefits

Pave the way for a successful product launch.

Make sure your product marketing team knows what the product does, why it exists, who it serves, how it helps them, and why it’s their best option.

Work closely with other departments. Learn from marketing, sales, and customer success what customers are raving and ranting about. Interview product managers and engineers to gain a technical understanding of the product. Better yet, use the product yourself. Tie challenges back to your product benefits.

Learn all you can from market research and by interacting with other teams. Then tie your customers’ challenges to benefits in the clearest way possible.

Example

Slite, a digital workplace for async teams, connects their customers’ challenges to their product benefits on their ”Discussions” feature landing page.

Slite found that a common frustration around a competitor’s tool is communication getting lost in Slack threads. Instead of dancing around the topic, they called it out on the landing page:

  • “A place for more focused discussions.”
  • “Tired of endless Slack threads?”
  • “Slack isn’t cutting it, and it’s about time for a better alternative.”

Write and put out an internal press release to communicate your positioning with your entire team.

Having a single source of truth document ensures clarity and consistency across marketing, sales, product, and customer success teams. It also builds internal excitement for the new product launch.

Amazon’s former director, Ian McAllister, describes a framework he uses for internal press releases:

Heading: Name the product in a way the reader (i.e. your target customers) will understand.

Subheading: Describe who the market for the product is and what benefit they get. One sentence only underneath the title.

Summary: Give a summary of the product and the benefit. Assume the reader will not read anything else so make this paragraph good.

Problem: Describe the problem your product solves.

Solution: Describe how your product elegantly solves the problem.

Quote from You: A quote from a spokesperson in your company.

How to Get Started: Describe how easy it is to get started.

Customer Quote: Provide a quote from a hypothetical customer that describes how they experienced the benefit.

Closing and Call to Action: Wrap it up and give pointers where the reader should go next.

Keep it short and simple (under a page and a half), and avoid overly corporate or technical language. McAllister revealed his trick for communicating the product’s unique positioning and messaging is to pretend you’re talking to Oprah:

Imagine you’re sitting on Oprah’s couch and have just explained the product to her, and then you listen as she explains it to her audience.

Build marketing personas that are genuinely useful and based on substantial research.

Fishkin recommends this approach:

  • List out the applications your personas are solving for: Who’s doing what with your product? What information might they require to do that work effectively?
  • Audit and cull: Identify realistic elements that can be tested and proved through data-gathering exercises.
  • Substantiate with data. Leverage internal customer data from social accounts, web analytics, email subscribers, and current product usage data. Scrape insights from market research, industry statistics, and competitor press releases.
  • Segment your personas: Use the data you’ve gathered to establish the characteristics that separate one group from another. If two or more sets of your market share overlapping behaviors and characters, group them under one persona.
  • Settle on a presentation format: Present your personas in a way that makes sense for your team to digest. That might be a Google Doc with a few bullet points, an infographic-style design, or a short video.
Example

HubSpot offers a free tool that creates personas like this:

Build a list of your marketing channels and consider what you’ll share in which location, when you’ll share it, and who is responsible for executing and monitoring each task.

Common channels to build hype and reach are:

  • Paid media: For example, Google Ads or a publisher network. Ensure messaging and creative tie back to your product marketing strategy.
  • Organic: For example, search and social media. Identify the topics most relevant to your new product users, and consider any new content needed.
  • Digital PR: Develop a strategy for media outreach. Develop easy-access content that journalists, PR, and other media professionals can use. If you have existing relationships with media (newspapers, magazines, radio, online publications), use them to broadcast your launch.
  • Influencers: Think about how you’ll leverage third parties, like thought leaders and other brands, to promote your product and spread your message. Consider using a partner channel, any communities that you might engage, online forums like Reddit you might be able to leverage, and more formal influencer relationships.

Write high-value, intent-focused long-form content on both product-driven and problem-driven topics to attract top-of-funnel prospects. Publish it before launch.

This allows time for pages to be indexed, spark conversation, and rank.

Example

Take sales CRM Pipedrive. One of their target markets is real estate agents.

Pipedrive uses concise, informative, search-optimized descriptions to win top positions, like this featured snippet for the keyword “real estate CRM.”

Pipedrive also focuses on developing top-of-funnel, problem-driven content to attract real estate agents struggling with cold-calling and lead generation.

Use a tool like Airtable to build out a content calendar.

For each piece, list out:

  • Topic.
  • Headline.
  • Keyword.
  • Project status.
  • Due date.
  • Writers and editors responsible.
  • Distribution channels.

Debug website issues and improve user experience. Make sure your site is prepared to handle traffic spikes.

Ensure that your site:

  • Has a healthy load speed.
  • Is not bogged down by excessive code.
  • Doesn’t have any 404 warnings or dead links.
  • Is easily navigable.
  • Is mobile-responsive.
  • Doesn’t host any duplicate content.
  • Is secure and uses HTTPS.
  • Has an XML sitemap to help search engines crawl and index pages.
Example

OrangeValley found that if their site was just one second slower, their conversion rate dropped by 25%.

Share your product messaging with other teams across marketing, sales, product development, and customer success to gather important feedback.

For example, sales representatives may be able to identify common phrases or language your target audience uses to describe their pain points.

Use message testing products like Wynter to understand how your customers see your product and messaging before bringing the product to market.

Build your target audience using Wynter’s proprietary B2B panel, set up the test creative - like your new landing page - and customize your test questions. Use this feedback to amend your product messaging where appropriate, and run a second test to validate changes.

Leading up to your new product launch, create highly-shareable content to build awareness and stimulate conversation.

The more people you have sharing and interacting with your product, the more likely it is to land in front of people who need it and want to buy it.

Example

Marker.io launched in public, transparently narrating the entire process along the way. Hotjar describes Marker.io’s launch in their case study:

Gary Gaspar and his team launched Marker.io, a visual communication tool, back in 2015. Being featured on Product Hunt within a month made them think they had ‘arrived’, but they were far from it: they attracted about 20 upvotes and 2 comments (…one of which was Gary’s).

For the second Product Hunt launch, the team worked relentlessly. They made a very detailed action plan, sharpened their product visuals and copy, built shareable documentation that included a demo video—and only then did the hard work pay off: Marker received 600 upvotes and around 3,000 new signups over the course of one month.

Marker.io even made their Product Hunt launch plan publicly available in a Trello board.

Maker 2.0 Product Hunt launch plan