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  • Writer's pictureDiane Pierson

Leading the "Right Now" Product Launch

Every product marketing manager faces the "right now" product launch at some point. You know - when the super-excited product manager Slacks you on a Thursday, "Great news! The product is ready!" and you reply, "WHAT product?" Then you realize this new thing isn't just a surprise, but a surprise that needs to be launched - Monday.

product marketing leading the "Right Now" launch to innovate on purpose

What NOT To Do in the "Right Now" Product Launch Scenario

It's tempting to share your perspective on what a waste it is to build innovative, elegant products and then throw them out into the market like a candy wrapper. Or how uncool it is to surprise you when it was avoidable. Don't. Last-minute launches are a result of chronic, systemic issues - some of them perhaps even yours - that you should work on over time. They're not going to get fixed before Monday.

So how DO you lead the right-now launch? Here are a couple ideas to get it out the door while laying the groundwork to avoid this particular type of insanity in the future.

Buy Time with a Staged Launch

First things first - you have to launch fast, but you don't have to launch to EVERYBODY fast. Which part of the market, which aspect of the new offering, are fastest and easiest to get into the market? Often, that would be existing users and buyers in a market you dominate. Start with this "Stage 1" launch where you already have communication streams in place and know what type of positioning resonates. This buys you time to pull together a broader set of launch assets and enable sales to enter newer, unfamiliar markets later.

Have a Launch Triage Discussion with Sales

I'm sure you have launch capabilities that are as elegant and innovative as the new product; don't use them here. Instead, meet with sales and ask them what MUST be ready for them to talk about this product in Stage 1. This tip often has the benefit of showing you which assets you could stop building forever.

Now that Stage 1 is out the door, it's time for you to initiate process improvements to stop this craziness - and, most importantly, deliver better launches to the market. The first step is to document the good, the bad and the ugly about each product launch by performing retrospectives.

Perform a Launch Retrospective

"Launch" retrospectives are often done by the dev team and product management to review the product build, but not the launch itself. Product marketing should take the initiative to either add to the existing retrospective metrics (my recommendation), or perform a separate, launch-focused review. Focus on improving time-to-awareness for the product marketing team, but also on your own opportunities for efficiency, against market results achieved. The more data you collect in retrospectives, the likelier it is that others will modify their behavior to improve it.

This won't be your last right-now launch, but if you play your retrospectives right, you can experience fewer of them.

About the Author

Diane Pierson is the Founder and Chief Market Strategist of Innovate on Purpose, a consultancy enabling successful product commercialization for B2B tech companies. Order her book, How to Innovate on Purpose or contact Diane at


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