Improving Internal Communication in Product Launch: 5 Tips for Product Managers

Posted by Michele Nichols on Wed, Apr 13, 2016

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The product manager’s role has changed a lot in recent years for many tech companies. While many managers take the path of engineering into a business role, they are often charged with running the product line like its own business.

In some companies we work with, this role includes:

  • Coordination with R&D, engineering, manufacturing, marketing and sales
  • Budget oversight
  • Market research and forecasting
  • Go-to-market strategy

With so many moving pieces, internal communications can be the one thing that hampers time to market.

Here are some common challenges, and 5 specific opportunities to improve your team’s internal communications.

 

Product Launch Marketing Challenges

  • Unclear expectations: Market sizing is difficult in niche markets, and a surprising number of businesses are run without quantified targets.
  • Physical location: Separate work areas for sales, marketing, engineering, and R&D mean they collaborate easily and often with their colleagues, but not with the product launch team.
  • Language: Each of these areas of expertise has its own jargon. Lack of common language can cause a disconnect. Changes in product terminology are also common as the product moves from R&D to production and into marketing outreach, causing confusion.
  • Distrust: In many engineering-driven companies, there’s often a fair degree of skepticism of marketing. Maybe it’s due to prior failures, or maybe it’s due to an inability to quantify results. Whatever the reason, it can create a tendency to involve the marketing team early enough to set an effective product launch plan.
  • Lack of alignment in sales and marketing: These are often separate departments and conversations. Marketing serves sales and should be measured in qualified leads, and ultimately, revenue growth. That requires proper alignment between sales and marketing, and an ability to measure conversion at each step of the sales and marketing process.
  • Changing specs: It’s unavoidable, and without clear feedback loops, it can be a significant cost driver to your product launch.

5 Opportunities to Improve Internal Communications

There are many opportunities to create a cohesive product launch team and to improve internal communication:

  1. Customer interviews: Early interviews with customers or potential customers can ensure that there is demand for the product as that it’s anticipated to perform. Customer needs and language are a great way to get teams moving toward the same goal.
  2. Product positioning: Involving all key stakeholders in a workshop at the start helps the team work toward a shared promise. This results in a unique value proposition for your product, who it serves, and where it fits in the market. Download our Positioning Guide.
  3. Content planning: Inbound marketing relies on quality content. A content audit and brainstorm involving R&D, engineering, sales and marketing is a great way to collaborate on ideas while building a successful marketing campaign.
  4. Style guide: Not just for branding purposes, this should include what we can and can’t say—a great way to capture approved specs, key messages, and product naming conventions. The process can identify disconnects in terminology, trademark issues, product performance, etc.
  5. Data-driven approach: All activities can, and should, be measured. Many organizations lack the data needed to make key decisions together without finger-pointing, but the tools and data are available. Delivery turnaround time, sales close rates, marketing conversion rates, lead source data, reject/return rates, and manufacturing cycle time are all metrics that matter.

Download our Product Launch Guide for step-by-step tips for planning your launch. For more on improving internal communications, check out this post by Novatek Communications, a company that provides technical documentation and training for regulated industries.

Topics: Internal Communication, Product Launch