Crossing The Chasm Leader on Product Launch Planning
Michael Eckhardt from the Chasm Institute leads workshops on leadership and performance training for the world's leading tech companies. When planning your next product launch, the first step is to ask the right questions. Michael outlines the first of three questions every product manager should ask when preparing for launch. And remember, you should start asking 6-9 months out - not 2 days before you press play...
Product Launch Question 1: Where Are We Today?
Any well-planned product launch doesn’t happen overnight. From roadmapping to A/B testing, there are plenty of steps to take before the next big thing becomes a reality. Most importantly, it’s vital for product teams to ask the right questions when proceeding from one phase to the next. This approach ensures that you’re not leaving anything to chance. Furthermore, the order in which you ask these vital questions will keep you on the right path and not skip any steps along the way.
With this, I will share three questions that you need to ask before your next product launch. Now, it’s important to keep in mind that you should be asking these questions six to nine months before your launch. If these questions are being addressed 48 hours before launch, then you’re in trouble! To get things started, let’s start with a question of “where.”
Where are we competing today?
This first question is all about mapping. Said differently, you need to evaluate where your product fits into its marketplace. Furthermore, you need to understand the maturity of your product category. When thinking through this question, product teams must avoid thinking in broad terms. For example, if you are planning your product launch to compete in “the cloud” or “VR,” you need to narrow your scope and target audience.
One way to think about where your product fits in is the tech market model. This is an adoption curve that maps the entire product lifecycle. In earlier days, this curve only focused on a product’s initial acceleration and deceleration for adoption. Today, the model extends further out to include a product’s journey from early market adoption to Main Street adoption. In looking at the big picture, this model shows how a product’s features/messaging/pricing/etc. must change from its initial product launch to its mature form.
The most critical aspect of using this model to understand where your product fits is to avoid looking inward. Said differently, this exercise should not involve your product team or CEO determining your product position. Instead, the correct approach is to let the market tell you where your product fits in. Ultimately, teams who plan a product launch by assuming where they fit in will not succeed. In the end, you can leverage market factors and your perceived place within it to guide your decisionmaking in producing an effective product launch.