Product Launches in a SaaS World: 4 Common Pitfalls to Avoid

By Kyle Christensen, VP Marketing at Invoca.  Join him at our upcoming Subscribed conference April 12-13, 2016 in San Francisco to discuss Monetizing Subscription Services. Christensen will discuss unique subscription business models and pricing and packaging strategy with Mac Kern, Vice President of Commercial Planning at Surf Air and Monika Saha, VP Product Marketing at Zuora. It’s a great opportunity to learn how to align market demands, organizational goals, and customer experience requirements to drive your pricing and packaging strategy!
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From the annual unveiling of the new iPhone to the roll-out of a new Gmail feature – or even the introduction of a new menu item at Chipotle – it all falls into one of the most important, and hardest to master, marketing skill sets out there – product marketing. I love watching and learning from the masters at this, companies like Apple and Salesforce, who have built their empires around creating excitement for new products. But, I hate to say it, for every great product launch out there, there are thousands that fall completely flat – especially in B2B marketing.

Marketers for consumer products have it much harder – they don’t have the benefit of an army of sales executives who can create excitement, explain value, and drive purchases. And so they’ve had to evolve to strip out complexity from their messaging. To get in touch with the core rational and emotional values that their products bring, and to sell those values directly to the buyer.

B2B marketers, in contrast, come from a legacy of selling complex technology solutions to sophisticated IT buyers (think 1990’s Oracle marketing – which hasn’t actually changed that much in 30 years.) But today’s B2B buyers – in a SaaS world – are totally different. They’re business buyers. They don’t care about the tech – they care about solving their business problems. There’s no reason why we can’t inspire the business buyer – especially in the current environment where SaaS solutions are solving some incredibly complex and compelling problems for the world’s biggest companies.
And the SaaS product launch can be the foundation for this inspiration.

I would stress that for SaaS companies, not every launch is a big bang launch. With monthly software releases, it’s often about re-communicating your vision or thinking about fresh ways to package your story to the market. So, as you prepare for your next launch – whether big or small – I would encourage you to take a step back and make sure that you’re avoiding the following common pitfalls when it comes to product marketing:
1) Stop talking about product features. Communicate your vision instead.
2) Stop making plans in a vacuum. Loop sales in early.
3) Stop cutting corners on video. Do it right or don’t do it.
4) Stop thinking that it will all pan out. The devil is in the details and clear project ownership matters.

Read the entire guide on the Zuora Academy!

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What issues have you run into with your product launches? Tell us about it in comments below.

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