How To Ace Product Launches Using Agile Marketing

When there’s a product launch on the horizon, Marketers get pulled in multiple directions. We’re thrown into being creative with new product marketing ideas while using creative thinking to re-prioritise existing team tasks. I managed product launches in a previous role and it became more challenging as the product and the marketing team grew. Having previously adopted agile marketing, I’m glad I had a trusted project management tool to help battle the product marketing communication problems within a large multi-site team. If you’re now wondering what agile marketing is all about, first read why your marketing team needs agile now!  If you want to know how agile marketing  helps you ace product launches, read on.

Product marketing is most successful when you have a strong team spirit and good internal communication – yes, that’s something that agile can help with! Marketing is that crucial connection between product development and sales which makes product marketing pretty exciting – doesn’t it? It’s a chance to be creative with new marketing materials and a great opportunity to grow revenues for your business. But, when you hear “upcoming product launch” are you really excited?

I was just happy that it wasn’t another company rebrand! But, joking aside, it can be hard to think about planning a new product launch if you and your team are already busy marketing existing products. Like every area of marketing, a launch needs a plan and the fortnightly planning cycle within the scrum method of agile marketing gives you the capability to plan more easily and combat the challenges that Marketing Managers face during product launches:

1. Project management –  how to tick everything off that product launch checklist
2. Keeping focused – how to stop being distracted by other marketing things
3. Internal communications – defining responsibilities and achieving consistency in deliverables
4. Team stress – how to meet that looming deadline
5. Launch done! But that’s just the beginning of the product lifecycle

The good news is that these 5 challenges are easily addressable with agile marketing!

1. Project management – how to tick everything off that product launch checklist

When I started a previous role I had to initiate a product launch process. My colleagues loved Excel so it seemed a natural place for my checklist and before I knew it, I had yet another spreadsheet to maintain and share.  And, with the variety of product launches ranging from minor feature upgrades to full new products, I had to re-adapt the list every time there was a launch.

However, as part of our switch to agile marketing and having adopted an online collaboration tool, I was then able to create template tasks for product launches. It was a much faster process for planning all web content, videos, customer marketing, PR, social media, content marketing, and PPC. It also helped team members to see the full extent of product marketing and have their own clearly defined expectations.  

If you face a series of launches across a product range then I found it useful to use a couple of online tools.  Something like ProductPlan to create a master product marketing roadmap works well alongside the allthings task management tool.  With this process in place, as soon as you receive notice of a launch you can start placing tasks in your backlog, assigning owners, estimating time and scheduling tasks into sprints accordingly.  Working tasks into sprint after sprint is a logical way to see the timeline and dependencies leading up to a product launch – and you can clearly report on stage progress as you work towards ticking off all of those tasks.  

2. Keeping focused – how to stop being distracted by other marketing things

Marketing is a busy department! We find ourselves involved in many tasks – not only our own team projects but often advising the HR team about marketing for recruitment, updating finance on budget updates or fielding daily requests from global Sales teams.  All of these distractions cause trouble and delays when it comes to launch tasks.  Speaking of Sales teams, if you missed the second blog in this series read how to ensure Marketing and Sales remain best friends and you’ll find out how to handle those distractions from Sales. Quite simply, when there’s a product launch, you need to focus on the launch.  Agile helps you avoid working on too many things at once because you have a locked down sprint of priority tasks for the team. Any other non-urgent tasks are placed in the backlog. Your team are protected from distractions and are free to focus on what’s important.

3. Internal communications – defining responsibilities and achieving consistency in deliverables

Even with a detailed product launch process, when you have a big marketing team, there’s bound to be someone out of step with the plan.  It only takes one assumption and suddenly the draft website text has a whole different concept to the customer marketing email – and then this confuses the video team and delays the video production.  Before you know it, re-writing content delays the video which delays translations and then everyone’s pretty stressed out!  When you have a fast-paced launch process, it’s so important that everyone is up-to-speed on specific launch details, team progress and upcoming next steps. Adopting an online collaboration tool gets everyone aligned and those consistent daily stand-ups and fortnightly sprint meetings ensure everyone is informed and adhering to launch plans. You’ll eliminate any confusion and most importantly you’ll motivate your team.

4. Team stress – how to meet that looming deadline

Often with a deadline, people get stretched – almost to breaking point – but having adopted agile marketing you will plan tasks better and improve communication while nurturing a sense of team spirit. When it comes to a product launch you have to move fast. You have to meet your deadlines and the full transparency of agile ensures that nothing falls between the cracks and if one area is struggling, you can switch resources to that task and help ensure it’s completed.

5. Launch done! But that’s just the beginning of the product lifecycle

Launching a new product to market is a serious task.  If you think about a product launch as a one-off event you might want to celebrate on launch day. Yes! Go celebrate with a team dinner – then get back to work! If you only view the product launch as a set of deliverables from your product marketing checklist then think again.  

How do you plan to keep the product moving through the marketing funnel? The actual launch is just the start of the product lifecycle. You need the structure of an agile marketing backlog to put in the ongoing demand generation tasks that are part of your marketing plan e.g. blog content, whitepapers, case study production, further foreign language translations and the list goes on.

So, in today’s busy product development cycles, if you want to ace that next product launch, adopt agile marketing for your team and you’ll soon be ticking off that product launch checklist more efficiently. You’ll have a focused team producing great deliverables – on time.  Most importantly, you’ll have a strong team spirit, less stress and a marketing team who are experts in product marketing. In the end, your business will benefit from increased revenue and profit.

If you’re thinking about adopting agile marketing, it’s important that you get the right tool which allows you to collaborate with your team and product development – something like allthings is perfect. And if you still think of a product launch as an event, or you arrange customer events – then stay tuned for the next blog which talks about event management and agile marketing.