How to Crush Your First Product Launch
The greatest part about being a product manager is getting the opportunity to build products. It’s innovating, creating and releasing something that people will use and enjoy using. After months of working in your first product management role, sprint after sprint, it’s time.
“The last 10% it takes to launch something takes as much energy as the first 90%.” – Rob Kalin, Co-Founder, Etsy
That final moment in a product development sprint is the moment you’ve been waiting for since before you landed your first PM job. When you realized your passion is to build awesome products for people who will love them. Now you are about to hit send on your first release. Here are some pointers on how to launch your first product like a pro.
Understand your segment
The most important part of a good product launch is the customers. Who is going to use your product once you release it out into the world? If you did your homework in the early stages of development, you have all your user personas segmented; you know who your audience is, and you know who will be first in line to use your product.
Once you identify who they are, focus on the top 2 for the first launch, keep it simple and concentrate on the most impacted segments.
Define your goals
In order to stay on track, it’s important to have the end goal clearly in mind. As product manager, it’s your job to define this piece, and be able to relay that information to your team effectively. This will allow them to better handle their day-to-day tasks, finalize each sprint, and launch with minimal issues.
When in doubt, go back to your roadmap, review your tools, go over your notes, and remember the “why” in what you are doing. We focus on the end, but it’s also important to understand the steps to get there. Know your KPI’s for post-launch and the metrics you plan to use when measuring results.
Map it out
Put together a timeline to outline what needs to happen, when it need to happen and who will be there to make sure it happens. Include weeks leading up to launch, during launch and post-launch, and make sure this is sent out to all your stakeholders. Everyone needs to be on the same page, and this will help to avoid future miscommunication and delays.
This is also a good time to develop a contingency plan. It’s your job and the job of your team to plan ahead for any potential issues or setbacks prior to and during launch.
Have a solid plan B
What happens if there’s a glitch? What happens if a log-in crashes the app? Get your tech support prepped, whether it’s one person in-house, or an external team you hired for third-party reinforcement. Test contact options, and make sure all this information is easily accessible for your customers, in the app, on your website. The contact information should be as readily available as your Tech support.
By now you QA has completed about 95% of test cases and you need others to check it out.
This could be considered your “soft-launch.” Give out access to yours and your team’s friends and families and ask for feedback. Go over their feedback, and see what changes need to be made to fix any current or potential issues. At this point in the game, it’s not about adding new features based on their feedback, unless there is a huge glitch and you need to delay the launch. It’s more about foreseeing and reducing user pain points that may come up in the first launch.
This is the time to make those two-minute changes to your product that tweak it into perfection. For example, slow login, password glitches, and other small tasks that you know will have a huge impact on initial users.
Have your marketing strategies in place
Synchronize your channels. If you’re launching on two platforms the same day, make sure both are prepared, and you’re building buzz around the two simultaneously. Your marketing team should have all the content and copy put together; any press releases, media posts, product guides and print media. Check with them on the publishing schedule, and work with your marketers to make sure everything set and ready to go.
Pay attention to the details. Your marketing content is going to tell the story about your product, have that story ready to share with the world.
Gather your team
Your product team is the fuel behind your product launch. It’s your job to inspire product ownership, and make them feel empowered and respected as powerful contributors to your launch. Talk to your engineers, your designers, marketers, and your sales team. They will be able to tell you what’s going on in each of their areas. Once you gather feedback from your team, such as new features, bug fixes and general comments, make sure what your building aligns with those as much as possible.
“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” – Vince Lombardi
A great product manager is also able to maintain strong communication throughout the entire project scope from the very beginning, in doing so, things will go smoother when times get rough.
Hit send, publish, launch and every other button you need to get your product out there. Then take your team out for some drinks to celebrate.
“Just ship, baby” – Kent Beck
The most exciting part is not only launching your first product, but seeing where you can innovate from there. With a successful version 1.0, there is almost certainly bound to be a 2.0. Hold a post-meeting with your team to recap, talk to customers and keep the innovation moving forward.
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Also check out our article on how to Create Actionable User Stories Facebook Developers will Like