How To Create a Product Launch Communications Plan
Product launches are tricky to pull off. You need to have a great product, awesome marketing collateral, and most importantly, a well-crafted communications plan.
The communication plan is key to making sure that everyone involved with a launch knows what’s going on. Unfortunately, communications planning often gets pushed to the side in favor of the product and marketing materials.
Don’t let that happen! A great product launch communications plan will help ensure that your launch is a success, and in this article, Beamer will be showing you how to create one.
Let’s get started!
Create your product launch communications plan!
The fundamentals of a product launch communications plan.
A great product launch communications plan is made up of four key elements that anyone familiar with the “five W’s and one H” project management framework:
- the “Who”: This is a list of people and groups who are involved with the product launch (e.g., customers, team members, partners, etc.).
- the “What”: This is the information that needs to be communicated to different people or groups on the “Who” list (e.g., product details, messaging, key dates, etc.).
- the “When”: This is when the information will be communicated (e.g., timing for announcements, media relations, etc.).
- the “How”: This is how the information from the “What” list will be communicated to people on the “Who” list (e.g., email, phone calls, in-person meetings, etc.).
Now that we’ve gone over the basics, let’s look into each element in more detail.
As we mentioned before, this is a list of people and groups (i.e., stakeholders) involved with the product launch. There are two kinds of stakeholders that need to be represented in your communications plan:
- Targets: Stakeholders to who a communication plan is directed.
- Sources (or Owners): Stakeholders who are responsible for delivering a communication plan to a target.
There are also two groups of stakeholders you need to consider:
- Internal Stakeholders: Stakeholders directly involved with executing the product launch (e.g., employees, executives, etc.).
- External Stakeholders: Stakeholders who are not directly involved with executing the product launch, but need to be kept in the loop (e.g., customers, media outlets, etc.).
Sources are almost always internal stakeholders. However, targets can either be internal or external stakeholders.
To make sure you don’t forget anyone, it’s helpful to create a stakeholder map that covers all the different groups that need to be kept in the loop and their respective roles in the launch.
To create one, open up a diagramming tool like Miro and create a central block to represent your product launch. Then, add blocks around it to represent different groups of stakeholders (e.g., employees). Finally, break those groups down into specific stakeholders (e.g., product team, sales team, etc.).
Now it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of what information needs to be communicated. This is where things can start to get overwhelming, so it’s important to take things one step at a time.
To make things easier, let’s break down the “what” list into two subcategories:
Goals are the high-level objectives you want to achieve with your product launch communications. For example, a goal could be to “Increase awareness of the product launch among target audiences.”
Messages are the specific information you need to communicate to achieve your goals. Some examples of messages that might need to be communicated during a product launch:
- The product solves XYZ
- A market research report showed XYZ
- We are excited to announce XYZ
When crafting goals and messages, it’s important to keep your target audience in mind, as different groups will respond to the same content in different ways. Internal stakeholders like employees will be able to grasp more technical information than external stakeholders like customers.
It’s also helpful to create a message map that visually outlines the relationships between your goals and messages. This will come in handy later when you start mapping out your communications strategy.
Remember, you don’t have to have everything figured out from the get-go—that’s why it’s called a communications plan! The point is to have a general framework in place, so you can adapt and change as needed.
Once you’ve determined who needs to be kept in the loop and what information needs to be shared, it’s time to determine when that information should be communicated.
Here, it helps to break your product launch communications plan down into five key stages:
- Initial Planning: This is when you start to put together your product launch plans (e.g., communications plan, marketing materials, product development, etc.).
- Pre-Launch: This is the period leading up to your product launch—when you start to ramp up your communications and marketing efforts.
- Marketing Partner Launch Day: This is the day when you launch your product to marketing partners (e.g., affiliates, influencers, reviewers, etc.).
- Launch Day: The big day itself! This is when your product is officially released to the public.
- Post-Launch: This is the period after your product launch—when you assess results and feedback to plan your next steps.
Each of these stages will take up a certain amount of time. When one stage ends and another begins, the content and direction of your communications will need to change.
In addition, there are a few different kinds of time-based pieces of information you should be thinking about:
Most projects have communications timelines—or at least estimated timelines. These are communications with set start and/or end dates that impact your communications.
For example, you may have chosen a date to announce your product to the public prior to release. Likewise, you may also have an estimated time for when different marketing materials will be completed (e.g., social media posts, website updates, etc.).
These are things that should be stated clearly in your plan.
In addition, some product launch communications are released at a set frequency (e.g., daily, weekly, monthly, etc.).
For example, you may want to send out a daily digest of news related to your product launch leading up to the launch date or post updates to your product roadmap.
Again, there’s no right or wrong answer here—it all depends on your product, your audience, and your goals. Just make sure that this information is present in your plan, so everyone is on the same page.
The final piece of the puzzle is figuring out how you’re going to communicate all this information. This is where you’ll need to get creative, and think outside the box.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Communication tools: There are a variety of communication tools available these days, from project management tools like Asana and Trello to instant messaging tools like Slack.
- Face-to-face: Sometimes, the best way to communicate is to do it in person. This could involve anything from impromptu meetings to scheduled video conferences.
- Roadmaps: A product roadmap is a great way to keep everyone updated on your product development plans and timeline. With Beamer Roadmap, product teams can easily share product plans and track progress in real-time—all in one place. Plus, they can field feature requests from users in real time!
- Blog posts: A great way to share timely updates and announcements with your audience. Bonus points if you can get external stakeholders involved—guest blogging is a fantastic way to do this.
- Announcements: A broad term that covers anything from email blasts and social media posts. Alternatively, Beamer Notifications offers a simple way to keep users (and team members) in the loop with beautiful, eye-catching announcements!
There you have it! This should give you a good starting point for crafting your own product launch communications plan. Remember, the goal is to get started—you can always adjust and adapt as needed.
Putting it all together.
Product launch communications plan template
Now that we’ve gone over the basics, let’s look at how all of this comes together to form a complete product launch communications plan.
A communications plan usually uses a fairly simple table format—as demonstrated by our example above. Each of the fundamental elements we covered earlier gets a column, with rows dedicated to targets, and groups of rows dedicated to product launch stages.
Once you’ve created this basic format, you can be as detailed as you’d like when filling in the cells with information. We’ve filled in the “Initial Planning” stage with a bit of information to help give you an idea of what you’re aiming for, but you’re free to mess around with the contents as you see fit.
You can download the fillable template here.
5 tips for creating a great product launch communication plan.
Now that you know the basics of creating a product launch communication plan, here are a few pro tips to help you craft a truly great one:
1. Explore alternatives to emails (especially for communicating with users)
Email is still a great way to communicate with team members, but when it comes to communicating with users, there are often better alternatives.
As we mentioned earlier, announcements are a great way to keep users in the loop—and they’re especially well-suited for product launches. Beamer notifications look great on all devices (including desktop and mobile), and they’re super easy to set up and use.
Best of all, you can segment your users however you want, so you can target different messages to different groups of people. This is perfect for product launches when you might want to share different information with beta testers, core users, and casual visitors.
2. Get external stakeholders involved early on
One of the best ways to ensure a successful product launch is to get external stakeholders involved early on in the process. This could involve anything from beta testing to guest blogging.
The key is to make sure everyone is on the same page, and knows what they need to do (and when they need to do it). A great way to do this is to create a project management tool like Asana or Trello, and add all your stakeholders as members. This way, everyone will have visibility into the launch process, and you can avoid any surprises down the line.
3. Make use of automated communications tools
There are a variety of automated communications tools available these days, from email marketing platforms like MailChimp to push notification services like Beamer.
Automated communications tools can be a great way to save time and energy, especially when you’re dealing with a lot of stakeholders (or a large user base). They also tend to be more reliable than manual methods (like email), so you can be sure your messages are getting through.
4. Keep it simple
When it comes to product launch communications, less is often more. You don’t need to go overboard with your messaging, or try to reach everyone all at once.
The goal is simply to make sure everyone who needs to be in the loop is kept up-to-date on the latest developments. As long as you’re doing that, you’re on the right track.
5. Have a backup plan
Finally, it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan in place, in case something goes wrong. This could involve anything from having a second email list to using a different communications platform.
The key is to make sure you have a way to reach your stakeholders (and users), even if your primary method of communication fails.
With that said, there’s no need to over-complicate things. A simple product launch communications plan can go a long way towards ensuring a successful launch—so long as you’re willing to put in the time and effort required to create one.
Start prioritizing clear communication today.
If you want to ensure a successful product launch, clear and effective communication is key. By following the tips outlined above, you can craft a great product launch communications plan that will keep everyone in the loop—and help you avoid any surprises along the way.
And if you’re looking for a tool that will streamline your communications with users, give Beamer a try! Beamer is a user-friendly announcements platform that makes it easy to share information about updates, tweaks, fixes, and launches with your users—all without bombarding their inboxes.
What are you waiting for? Start communicating clearly today!