How to plan a marketing launch
It is exciting to launch something new. You might be delivering product enhancements, unveiling a redesigned website, introducing a customer loyalty program, or implementing a new lead scoring system. Whatever it is that you are introducing, you will want to build a plan that makes it clear exactly what needs to be done and when.
It can be stressful because of the many moving parts and people involved. How do you know if you are on track? Your marketing launch plan captures how you will introduce a new offering, feature, or program to customers.
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Of course, every marketing launch is unique. Your approach will depend on what you are launching and your company or organization. For example, the launch of a new product will look different for a consumer product than it will for a B2B software company. The scope of work for a launch will also vary based on company size. The activities required will be different for a smaller startup and an established company.
What is the purpose of a marketing launch?
It helps to first think about the purpose behind the launch itself. Any launch is usually an important part of your overall marketing plan — part of how you will meet your business objectives. So you want to build a goal-first plan that reflects how your marketing launch is connected to your company’s strategy and goals.
Launches are also great opportunities to engage with prospective customers and provide even more value to your existing users. Marketing launches are typically external-facing and may involve product changes, so the work is inherently cross-functional and will impact many teams in your organization.
The volume of work and resources to coordinate will depend on the complexity of what you are introducing. But there will always be a lot of activities to track and manage. That is why you need a clearly defined marketing launch plan to ensure the team stays in sync and delivers on time.
Common types of marketing launches
Marketing teams may launch new brands, products, service offerings, programs, campaigns, and more. Each one will require different promotional assets and activities, as well as internal communication and training.
The list below features some of the most common types of marketing launches:
A brand launch may introduce a completely new brand or a new identity for an existing brand. Brand launches typically involve longer-term planning because you are defining and committing to a new business strategy, with new goals and values. This might include a new look and feel for your company — with new logos, brand colors, content tone, and sometimes even a new name.
Launching a new brand affects your internal team as well as your external audience, so it is important to create both an internal and external launch plan. Introduce the new brand to your company first to ensure the brand values and goals are clear and everyone is on the same page.
A go-to-market launch is the delivery of a new or updated experience. The experience itself could be a new product or feature or an enhancement to an existing product or service. It could also be when your company wants to introduce a product to a new audience or user base.
Launching a new mobile app is a good example of a go-to-market launch. Product and product marketing teams work closely on go-to-market launches like this to communicate the value of the new customer experience and gain competitive advantage.
A program launch is a coordinated effort aimed at achieving a higher-level company goal from your overall marketing strategy. A program could include a number of campaigns or a series of smaller marketing activities. Many teams organize their program plans by customer segment or how they work internally — breaking items out by vertical or function.
A customer referral program or a webinar program are program launches, for example.
A campaign launch is how a marketing team achieves the goals of a broader marketing program. It is used to complete a specific marketing goal, such as raising awareness of a new product, increasing interest in existing products, or capturing customer feedback.
Components of a marketing launch plan
Your plan will help you communicate deadlines and progress with teammates and stakeholders. You can also share any schedule changes as the work gets underway. Include all the details of the work you will do — including the “who,” “what,” and “when” for each task. Here are the key components to include:
Dates provide a timeline to work towards. Choose your time frame based on the duration of your marketing launch. Are you launching in quarters, months, weeks, or days? Determine the level of detail you want to include.
Tasks represent the activities or pieces of work to be done. Common marketing launch activities include website updates, ads, announcement emails, and blog posts. You should denote the start date, end date, and duration of each task. Show who each task is assigned to and include a progress bar if possible.
Phases are a way to group tasks together. Typically phases are sequential, though there can be overlap. You can use phases to group related work, such as planning, design, tracking, and launch day activities.
Milestones are key points in time on your schedule. You will want to include a milestone for the launch day you are working towards. You can also include markers for other significant dates, deadlines, and decisions.
Dependencies help you visualize which tasks must be completed before another can begin or end. Because of the cross-functional nature of marketing launches, you will want to show the interrelated work between teams to make it easy for them to coordinate.
Success metrics are the specific goals you define for your launch. Set numerical targets and connect your launch goals to your overall business goals to help align expectations from the start.
How to create a marketing launch plan
Now that you know the components of a marketing launch plan, you can start creating yours. The steps below will help you establish a solid plan.
As you work on your marketing launch, it is important to keep track of every detail. Utilize visual plans like a Gantt chart to show dependencies between different launch activities and phases. This is a great way to organize date-driven work and show a full picture of all the activities that need to be completed for a successful launch.
Here for a template? Try our free Gantt chart templates.
Determine what you want to achieve in your launch. Set specific launch metrics and connect those to your broader marketing and company goals.
Set the direction
You can write a creative brief to set the direction for the launch. Include key information about your target audience, creative assets, and promotional channels. A product marketing manager or creative director will typically write this to help guide the work of the creative team or agency.
Because your marketing launch relates to something new, you will likely have a pre-established launch date and your timeline will be fixed. You use the phases and milestones we defined in the marketing launch plan components above to highlight exactly what needs to happen and when.
Build the plan
Identify all of the tasks and cross-functional dependencies to help everyone stay aligned leading up to the launch.
Share the plan with your team members so they can complete their work, collaborate on activities, and provide status updates.
Many teams find a Gantt chart useful for visualizing and showing dependencies between different launch activities and phases. Below is a free Gantt chart template you can use for planning your next marketing launch.
What to do after the launch
Your work does not end on the day the launch happens. You will want to debrief with your team so you can apply the learnings of what went well (and what did not) to your next launch. Finally, be sure to share the launch results with the different teams that contributed towards making it a success — show how the team’s work impacted your organization’s overall goals.
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