New product launches are exciting and time consuming, with lots of intricate details to manage and monitor. As we move through planning, we’re most often focused on external events: The media coverage, the social posts, the customer emails, the new website content and webinars we’ll hold when we proudly launch the new product to the public.
But there’s an audience that is equally as important as prospects, customers, and press: Your internal teams across the organization.
Here are three elements to think about when planning your next internal product launch:
When we plan internal launches, we usually think about Sales, Marketing and Customer Support. After all, these are the teams that will sell, market and support the product.
Don’t limit your internal launch to these audiences. Think about internal launch meetings with engineering, HR, finance, operations, production, and every other department in the organization. They’re all, in one way or another, stakeholders in the success of your company’s new product.
Why engineering? They built the product, didn’t they? Yes, but often they aren’t privy to how you are positioning the product, how you are empowering the sales team to effectively sell, and how you will market the solution to generate interest and demand. And as the team who built the new solution, engineers will be excited to learn about these specific elements of the product launch strategy.
But HR and Finance? How do new product launches impact them?
HR, for one, “sells” your company to prospective employees. Have you ever talked with a company’s recruiter who couldn’t really explain the company’s products, their target customers or the value their solutions delivered? Imagine how much more impressed candidates would be if their first conversation with the company’s recruiter answered these important questions.
Finance most likely signed off on the resources and costs required to develop the new solution. They’ll be interested in understanding how you plan to make that product a success and eventually hit those customer acquisition and revenue goals.
Production, operations, and people who provide important support functions are stakeholders as well. First, they want to be proud of the company they work for. Second, successful products mean more customers and more revenue – and a healthier company. Healthy companies usually lead to growth and more opportunity. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?
Begin with the “Why”
Don’t start your internal launch presentation with the product; start it with the market and target customers. Tell your teams the “why” behind the product your company has built, and the results your customers will achieve with your solution. When you start with the “why” the story becomes more interesting and the rest of the details fall into place
The “Why” includes:
Your target buyer or user’s challenges, problems, or jobs-to-be done
How your new product meets these needs
The outcomes or results customers will achieve when using your solution
A high level competitive overview and how your new product addresses your customers’ problems better than competitors
Your product positioning and key message points (this is important! You want everyone in the organization aligned on the right message)
Highlights of the external launch plan activities
A demonstration of your product (the level of detail will depend on your audience)
If possible, hold separate meetings for each team or department, and tailor the details to the specific audience. HR and Finance won’t need highly detailed information and will be happy with a high level demonstration. Depending on the specific roles in operations and production, you may want to drill into more technical details (have your product management colleagues team up with you for these). Marketing, of course, will want to understand buyer and user personas as well as key product benefits for marketing campaigns.
The point is, rally everyone in your company around your new product launch, not just the obvious teams, and provide the information most relevant to them.
Keep the updates going post-launch
Everyone likes a success story, especially when it involves the company they work for. Continue the excitement by sharing the results as well as future product plans, such as:
Earned media about your new product
Early product feedback from customers, prospects and partners
Marketing campaign highlights and results
Sales pipeline activity
High level roadmap of new and incremental features planned
Your product launch is just the beginning. Keep the momentum going, both internally and externally. Share the results and direction regularly in forums, like monthly or quarterly All Hands meetings. Or plan brief internal webinars to brief everyone on the progress of your new product and post-launch results.
The benefits you’ll reap for the extra effort
Do these extra internal launch presentations require more of your time? Yes. But in the end, they often deliver exponential benefits. Here’s how:
You’ll get questions you may not have anticipated: People with different professional experience and backgrounds bring new perspectives. They may have questions that are similar or relevant to what your prospects may also be asking.
You may discover potential gaps in your launch plan: Product launches are complex. There are many different tactics to finish, timelines to meet, and dependencies to manage. When you launch internally, someone may discover a gap or even a minor oversight. Better to learn about those before you launch externally.
You’ll enable consistent product communication across the organization: The last thing you want is different (or conflicting) messages about the new product. Everyone should be able to accurately, consistently and confidently answer the question: Tell me about your new product and why I should be interested?
New product launches are both internal and external. Make both a success!