Cloud software is developed in short sprints and it is often ready for deployment before you are ready to launch. Even if a new feature or full capability is fully deployed, you should still launch it to market if it will contribute to your company’s reputation, generate demand, enable your sales force, or increase adoption. Often your first priority will be to prepare and educate your existing users (a subject for another post), but just because your feature has shipped, doesn’t mean you can’t still launch it. It won’t go away.
Product marketing for cloud platforms often requires launching after deployment. You still need to tell the market what you built and why it is important, even if your tactics are not aligned with the deployment date. Some key tactics to consider for your major features and capabilities include:
- Press releases: while many buyers don’t read press releases, they are often picked up by industry publications that will use your exact text as the body of the article. Your PR firm or division should ensure you get pickups of all your press releases. They are a good way to increase your concentration of media ownership over your competition and to increase awareness about your company’s innovation. That’s building reputation. And while you shouldn’t issue a press release on every new feature, you should consider one whenever you can create an angle, such as an innovative feature that your competitors don’t offer or where you have an advantage over how they offer a similar capability. If you can get picked up by an industry publication, you have external content to link to in your other tactics.
- Blog posts: your blog is the agile version of your website. It’s where you can publish frequently without rethinking the larger structure of how you represent the entirety of the platform. A short blog post on the benefits of a new feature, especially with a short explainer video, offers quality reusable content that you can promote through other channels and use as an enablement tool that your sales force can email to prospects. The downside of blog posts is that they are less discoverable by search engines or by prospects reviewing your website, but if you write and promote them correctly, you can increase their effectiveness. The most effective blog post is one that highlights a client’s adoption of your new feature if you can get one.
- Social media: It is all too common to just tweet out new features, but your tweet or post will be far more effective if you have content to link to. That’s why the press release and blog are more important early tactics. You should also know which hashtags to apply to your posts. If your feature solves a known problem, see if there is a hashtag associated with it. Don’t limit yourself to your industry and company hashtags. You should also know if your company has social influencers among its ranks and have them post from personal accounts so that all your social influence is not posted under the company’s main account.
Product marketers are often caught off guard by short sprint cycles and early deployments, but don’t be. You haven’t missed your opportunity to tell the market about what you’ve built and why it is important. In a future post I’ll discuss ways to align your agile roadmap with your marketing plan so that you can better align your launch with deployment and avoid surprises.
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