Product School

The Ultimate Product Launch Checklist for Product Marketers

PS logo with padding.png

Author: Product School

October 24, 2023 - 13 min read

Updated: January 24, 2024 - 13 min read

For Product Marketing Managers, no two words stir up a whirlwind of emotions like “Product Launch”.  Between moments of heart-pounding excitement and nail-biting doubt, launching a new product or feature is a make-or-break moment. To ensure you leave nothing to chance, Product School’s compiled the ultimate product launch checklist for Product Marketing Managers (PMMs).

So read on to make sure you’ve got all bases covered for a successful product launch and pick up some fantastic resources along the way for both seasoned and aspiring PMMs. 

Let’s dive straight in with a high-level overview of the factors you need to consider when launching a new product or feature:

Product launch checklist

product launch checklist leading image

Product positioning, the messaging approach you decide to take, product pricing and packaging, and what competitive intelligence you fold in are all crucial steps to maximize the chances of a successful product launch.

Once you’ve laid that groundwork, it’s time to actually introduce your product to the world, and build an actual go-to-market (GTM) plan. Let’s take a deeper look at how to do this.

Become a Product Marketing Pro

Gain the skills you need to land a role in Product Marketing and excel at it with our Product Marketing Manager Certification (PMMC)™.

Find Out More
PMMC

Components of exceptional go-to-market plans

1. Determine the importance and type of launch

Having an incredible idea for a product launch means nothing if there is no budget, time, or team to support it and bring it to life. That’s why it’s important to use a prioritization framework to help determine the tier of the product launch.

One way to determine the level of investment required to launch your product is with product launch tiers. Launch tiers help prioritize both the effort and budget that should be allocated to a particular launch by evaluating a number of factors and attributes. 

E.g., Tier 1 (high) - Full Scale Launch > Tier 2 (medium) - Moderate Launch > Tier 3 (low) - Minimum Viable Launch

product launch checklist image 1

Tiered product launch framework:

Important factors to consider when thinking about tiering are:

  1. Reach: How many customers will be affected by this new feature or launch? Usually, more customers = more visibility.

  2. Impact: What is the potential impact on overall business goals? Will it drive growth and revenue? Is it worth being proactive to help us achieve more ambitious goals more quickly?

  3. Risk: What risk is there if it is not communicated with users? Will there be kickback? Will it lead to cancelations or confusion if not messaged properly?

(Sometimes, the risk factor alone can be enough to dictate what level of investment is needed.)

Types of launches:

Once you’ve determined the importance of your product launch, you’ll need to decide the type of launch best suited to your product or feature.

  1. ‘Big Bang’ launches, which are considered the largest-scale and are reserved for the most important products with the highest importance for a company. These are huge PR moments, often with live events and demos to build additional hype and product exposure. Example: Apple’s iPhone ‘Special Events’

  2. ‘Business As Usual’ launches, which are notable, but not game-changing. They still create awareness and buzz, but perhaps don’t require all the bells and whistles of a Big Bang launch. This is for things like exciting features for existing products, or otherwise notable updates that aren’t earth-shattering, but worthy of attention. Example: New Music Sharing Stickers on Instagram

  3. ‘Closed Beta’ launches, which are controlled and limited releases to a selected group of users or testers before it becomes available to the general public. It can still be a powerful way to generate demand, so don’t count it out! Example: Google’s early approach to Gmail

And remember: Launch and release aren’t synonymous and don’t need to coincide, and not every product even needs a “launch”.

You don’t want the timing of a formal launch to delay your product management and engineering teams from shipping new capabilities or customers getting access to valuable capabilities.  In fact, some capabilities that would be considered a lower tier don’t need a launch and can simply be released to your user base. 

product launch checklist image 2

This “release” approach still requires internal communications to key stakeholders like customer support, PR, and other customer-facing channels… but means that you aren’t necessarily going to build out a “fully fledged multi-channel GTM” plan for the particular product.

2. Determine your target audience

Before preparing for product launch, you should have already figured out your product positioning and know who the product is for… but there’s additional granularity and nuance when building GTM plans. 

  • Your primary question should be “Who are we aiming to connect with and market our product to?” - Be specific! You can’t target everyone.

Once you have identified your target, add more depth from positioning. The aim is to develop specific positioning for this group that will solve a problem or user need.

  • You should ask yourself “Who are we tailoring our GTM plan for?” and “How can we develop a more rigorous set of audiences for this GTM plan and which channel plans will each use?”

Building smaller, defined audiences and tailoring your GTM to their needs allows for even fine granularity.

Some examples of sub-segments might be:

  1. Existing vs. non-users: Are you trying to reach current customers or attract new ones?

  2. Subscription status: Are you adjusting your GTM based on whether a customer is a subscriber or not?

  3. Active or lapsed: Are you adjusting your GTM to consider lapsed inactive customers? How can you target them?

  4. Tenure: Are you considering your positioning based on how long a user has been using your product?

Free User Persona Template

Get to know your users to build the right solution for the right audience.

Get Yours Now
Card: User Persona template asset icon

3. Define goals & metrics

It’s important that every GTM plan has a clear set of goals and metrics to steer strategy & measure success. These represent your North Star and should be considered along every step of the planning process, including when ticking off your product launch checklist.

Each focuses on a different, key element of your GTM  plan:

  • Goals: These are the strategic priorities that you hope to achieve with the GTM plan.

  • Metrics: The specific components that you will measure to understand whether you are hitting your targets.

Let’s look into each of these in more detail to better understand their value and how to properly implement them into our Go-To-Market plans.

Goals:

Goals aim to build strategic alignment around what you as a PMM are trying to achieve for your launch. Goals are frequently focused on three main outcomes:

  1. Awareness: Introducing your product, positioning it in a certain way in the market, or reaching various segmented audiences for maximum visibility.

  2. Engagement: Stimulating usage (both initial and repeated), gathering feedback for future improvements, or building loyalty through community engagement.

  3. Conversion/Revenue: Converting and acquiring potential customers, retaining customers (by avoiding churn and maximizing lifetime value), or upselling on premium offerings and products.

product launch checklist image 3

Metrics:

Your metrics should highlight and explain what you’re tracking for your launch and how you will evaluate progress toward success, so remember to be specific.

Some examples of frequently used metrics are:

  • Acquisition

  • User Engagement

  • Conversion

  • Churn

Make your target goals clear, specific, measurable, and focused for each audience group. Success can be defined either quantitatively or qualitatively - just make sure that you, as a PMM, have aligned with your team and made sure everyone is on the same page.

Discover The Key Metrics to Measure Product Launch Success

Learn the 5 key metrics all PMMs should know to measure product launch success.

Read Now
square thumbnail product success.jpg

4. Create your GTM timeline 

The right timing can significantly influence the success of a product launch by optimizing market conditions, minimizing competition, and capitalizing on trends and consumer behavior. Choosing the right time is one of the most important decisions you can make as a PMM.

Not only should you consider obvious factors such as market receptivity, what your competitors are doing, seasonal demand and patterns, and current economic conditions, but perhaps less obvious ones as well - like what day of the week or time of day you choose. 

Choose the right day(s): Choosing a day like Tuesday or Wednesday has been proven to be optimal due to midweek engagement - people have settled into their routines, social media engagement is up and there is still time to be added to the news media’s weekly calendar headlines. 

Choose the right time: Not only do you need to choose the right day, but the right time too. Keep time zones at the forefront of your decision-making and focus your launch on a time that will reach the maximum number of targeted audiences. 

Consider larger, market-relevant moments: It can also be an interesting choice to have your launch coincide with larger, market-relevant moments. Remember when Apple chose to launch both the iPhone and the MacBook Air? It was at their annual MacWorld Conference and Expo - the perfect place for a relevant, high-profile, hyped-up release.

But these launches don’t have to be large-scale company events like Apple. Other companies, like SalesForce, host DreamForce as a way to empower their partners and launch new products on their platform, involving other industry representatives.  

5. Enablement plan 

Every launch will require some level of enablement to ensure that internal stakeholders have the information they need prior to the product launch. Key internal stakeholders include at least Sales, Customer Success, and Customer Support.

Revenue Enablement: Work with relevant teams or Sales leadership to develop a plan to share the needed information. This could come in the form of live sales training, a sync / recorded sales training, or written communications (ex. via email or Slack).

Additional Stakeholder Enablement: At a minimum, you’ll need to share the following information.

  1. Product description: Keep the formula clear and concise; e.g., type of product + main benefit.

  2. Key features: Be sure to list them separately, using snappy, action verbs; e.g., ‘enables,’ ‘monitors,’ ‘tracks.’ 

  3. How it works: Include categories that are clearly defined and require little explanation, including helpful adjectives: e.g., ‘easy,’ ‘seamless,’ ‘simple.’ 

6. Channel plan 

Great Go-To-Market plans incorporate a mix of different channels that work together to achieve the GTM’s goals. They should be dictated by other key components we have already seen: goals, metrics and target audiences.

There are 3 common kinds of channels to consider when completing your product launch checklist :

  • Owned 

  • Paid

  • Earned

product launch checklist owned channels

Owned Media refers to the digital assets, channels and content that a company or organization owns and controls. These channels typically include the company's website, blog, social media profiles, email newsletters, and other digital properties where they can publish and share information, such as push notifications or in-app messages. 

The benefits of using owned media include:

  1. Control: With owned media, your team has full control over the content, design, and messaging

  2. Cost-effective: It can be more cost-effective in the long run compared to paid media because once the infrastructure is in place, the cost of publishing and sharing content is relatively low.

  3. Brand building: Owned media provides a platform for building and reinforcing the brand's identity, values, and messaging directly with the audience.

  4. Audience engagement: It offers opportunities to engage with the target audience, gather feedback, and foster a community around the product.

  5. Data ownership: Your PMM team retains ownership of user data and analytics, which can inform future marketing strategies.

product launch checklist paid channels

Paid Media refers to promotional efforts and marketing tactics for a product, service, or brand that a company pays for, by spending money on advertising through various channels to reach a specific audience. Paid media can take many forms, including online or print ads, sponsored content through paid searches or paid social, the use of influencers, and even promotions that target app installations.

Benefits of paid media include:

  1. Audience reach: Paid media allows you to reach a larger and often more targeted audience than you might reach through organic (non-paid) methods alone.

  2. Control: Gives control over the placement, timing, and content of paid ads, enabling you to tailor messages to specific demographics or market segments.

  3. Quick results: Paid media can generate immediate results and help boost visibility, especially for time-sensitive campaigns or product launches.

  4. Measurable ROI: It offers the ability to track and measure the return on investment (ROI) of advertising campaigns, allowing you to optimize future strategies based on real data.

  5. Scale: Paid media can be scaled up or down to align with current goals and budgets, providing flexibility in reaching a wide or niche audience.

  6. Competitive advantage: It helps you to stand out in a crowded marketplace by ensuring your product is visible to potential customers.

While Paid Media isn’t always a feasible choice depending on the budget of a project or product, it’s nevertheless a useful tool that allows you to reach audiences that would not organically interact with your product or service and provides more control.

product launch checklist earned media and channels

Earned media, in simple terms, is the publicity and attention that a brand or company gets through word-of-mouth, online sharing, reviews, and other organic means rather than through paid advertising. It's essentially the free or "earned" exposure a brand receives from customers, fans, or the media. 

Earned media often comes in the form of press coverage, reviews, social mentions and word-of-mouth. As such, it is among the most powerful kind of channels because it comes from outside perspectives, but it can also be risky since you can’t always control what is said.

The benefits of earned media include:

  1. Credibility: Earned media is often seen as more credible and trustworthy by consumers because it comes from independent sources like satisfied customers or reputable publications.

  2. Cost-effective: It can be highly cost-effective compared to paid media because it doesn't involve direct spending on media assets and channels.

  3. Word-of-mouth: Earned media relies on word-of-mouth and recommendations, which can lead to organic growth as satisfied customers share their positive experiences with others.

  4. Brand advocacy: It encourages brand advocates and loyal customers to become brand ambassadors, promoting the product voluntarily.

  5. Influence: Earned media can be more influential than paid media because it's driven by genuine enthusiasm and interest in the product.

  6. SEO and online presence: Positive mentions and reviews in earned media can improve online presence and search engine rankings.

So, while owned media is cheaper and paid media reaches wider audiences, earned media is valuable because it enhances credibility, often at a lower cost, and relies on the genuine enthusiasm and advocacy of customers and stakeholders, which can have a significant impact on a product’s reputation and success.

7. Launch assets 

Finally, after choosing how you want to mix your channels and set out a plan, you must develop a list of launch assets for each. There are many different types of assets, including:

  • Sales slides

  • One-pagers

  • Website

  • Customer stories

  • Blog posts

  • Launch videos

  • Interactive product tours

  • Landing pages

  • Email templates

  • Social posts

  • Webinars

  • Demos

Whichever assets you choose, be sure that your vision and message is understood with the help of a creative brief. This document should outline the essential information and instructions for a creative project and serve as a guide for creative teams, such as designers, writers, or ad agencies, by providing them with a clear understanding of the project's goals, target audience, key messaging, and other relevant details while providing context to the messaging, tone, deliverables, timelines, and any specific requirements or constraints.

We hope you’ve found this product launch checklist useful. For more information on this topic, please reach out to us on the Product School Slack Community where we’d be happy to answer your questions.

Updated: January 24, 2024

Subscribe to The Product Blog

Discover Where Product is Heading Next

Share this post

By sharing your email, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service