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Product Launch Calendar: Planning and Organizing Your Launch

Explore how product launch calendars streamline GTM processes, ensuring alignment across teams with templates, roadmaps, and centralized platforms.

What do GTM checklists, roadmap templates, and product launch calendars all have in common? They all help with organization in theory — and they’re all a big pain in the back for product managers and marketers in practice. 

These assets are spread across multiple versions, shared between several departments, and accessed using a variety of different tools. Keeping track of the latest version is a major challenge: 72% of PMs site standardization is the top reason for consolidating tools.  

Today, we’re going to turn our attention to the product launch calendar in particular. 

This piece will delve into the product launch calendar, an often-overlooked tool amidst the commercialization process's clutter of platforms, point solutions, and patches. Product teams and stakeholders navigate this maze, aiming to transform customer needs into profitable products. 

But is the product launch calendar the beacon in the chaos it promises to be?

What is a product launch calendar? 

A product launch calendar schedules the rollout of a new product or feature. It helps product managers (PMs) and product marketing managers (PMMs) coordinate various launch-related activities over a given period. Ideally, this helps keep all departments synchronized as the company approaches a go-to-market (GTM) launch.

A product launch calendar typically includes items like: 

  • Alpha and beta launches: The release of an in-development product to a small group of users (alpha) or a larger group closer to the full release date (beta).
  • Full commercial releases: The go-to-market launch of a complete product, supported by marketing materials and a sales push.
  • Pricing updates: Increases or decreases in product pricing to incentivize users or bring in more revenue to the company. 

A product marketing launch plan template can exist in a number of different formats depending on internal policies and preferences. You might have it outlined in a sharable doc or spreadsheet, mapped out within your project management platform, or in a calendar app. 

Increasingly, product and product marketing teams opt for a calendar that exists within a centralized GTM platform (but more on that later). Here’s what the Ignition launch calendar looks like:

A screenshot of Ignition's launch calendar, showing which major launch events occur on which day over the course of a month

Now, let’s examine what makes product release calendars so important for PMs and their counterparts in product marketing. 

Why companies need product launch calendars

Aside from the obvious benefit of keeping all stakeholders on schedule, product launch calendars are one of the many assets that can help turn your GTM process into your competitive advantage.  

Here are other ways unified launch calendars improve commercialization:

  • Strategic alignment: Gives all stakeholders a high-level view of how the product launch strategy will unfold over a series of activities.
  • Cross-functional coordination: Reduces departmental silos and knowledge gaps by giving everyone a view of the product launch timelines. 
  • Resource optimization: Assists with resource planning so you’re not scrambling for budget, personnel, or access while others already bring the product vision to life.

So, clearly, launch calendars are an essential tool for stakeholders across product, product marketing, and other departments in sync as they approach the GTM launch. 

But here’s the kicker: while these assets are designed to keep us on track, they also come with their own headaches.

Why teams struggle to meet their product release schedule 

Despite their utility, the benefits of product launch calendars are often overshadowed by the same ailments as other templated assets in the commercialization process. Mainly,  the need for standardized formatting and access to a single central version. 

Here are four of the most common ways product marketing teams struggle with product launches, according to the Go-to-Market Alliance’s 2023 report:

  1. Maintaining alignment with the overall roadmap: Despite over 50% of PMMs using roadmapping tools, 42% need more confidence in the plan. 
  2. Communicating across departmental silos: 42.3% of product marketers struggle to communicate with and align with other stakeholders.
  3. Lack of easy access to documents and information: 21.8% of PMMs have difficulty keeping up with cross-functional work, such as customer research. 
  4. Inadequate or fragmented tooling: 21.8% of product marketers report tool fragmentation as the most common obstacle

So, what’s the throughline between all these factors?  And how can product and product marketing teams right the ship and get back on the path to profitability?

The answer: adopting a singular platform to streamline your entire commercialization process — including launch calendar development. 

How to plan and organize a product launch calendar with Ignition

By now, you know that a spreadsheet or mish-mash of management tools won’t cut it for your product launch calendar needs. 

Here’s a look at the steps to create a calendar using Ignition’s integrated GTM platform.  

Step 1: Define objectives and key results (OKRs)

Start by defining clear, measurable objectives and results for the launch. These should tie the product vision to broader business goals using metrics like user acquisition targets, revenue goals, or specific outcomes such as increasing brand awareness or entering a new market.

You can then tie each objective to a measurable result that indicates whether you successfully achieved it (and quantifies by how much). 

For example, one of the OKRs for a new feature may be unblocking sales deals for a particular client or client type or bringing in leads from a new customer segment.

Screenshot of the Ignition dashboard

Ignition uses integrations with CRM and sales platforms to tie your objectives to measurable results like unblocked sales.

Step 2: Establish launch tiers

Not all launches require the same level of resources and effort. One secret of an effective go-to-market process is including information about the importance of a given product or feature in your product release calendar. 

A great way to do this is by breaking your launches into tiers based on the expected impact it has on your business and your customers: 

  • Tier 1: major launches with significant impact on customers and business
  • Tier 2: moderate launches with a higher impact on either the customer or your business 
  • Tier 3: minor updates that have little impact on your business or customers

Ignition allows you to include this type of information directly into product release schedules and roadmaps, so all stakeholders can quickly identify the importance of a launch and prepare accordingly. 

Try out our free launch tier calculator and learn how to quickly classify your next GTM project. 

Step 3: Determine key milestones and deadlines

During this stage, you fill in the product launch calendar with critical milestones such as product readiness, completion of marketing materials, and go/no-go decisions. Include internal and external deadlines to keep every team on track.

With Ignition, you can also reverse plan: Starting from the desired launch date and planning backward to set deadlines for each milestone. Reverse planning helps you identify potential bottlenecks early.

Ignition dashboard with product roadmap

Step 4: Identify cross-functional teams and roles

Clearly define which teams and individuals are responsible for each launch aspect, so all teams are aligned. Engineering, product management, marketing, sales, customer support, and other stakeholders play a vital role in the launch’s success and need access to the product launch calendar.  

As a centralized platform with integrations for all major comms tools, Ignition makes it easy to establish regular check-ins and updates across teams to ensure alignment and address any issues proactively.

Step 5: Develop the go-to-market (GTM) strategy

Product and product marketing teams collaborate throughout the development process to confirm and understand the target market, customer segments, and competitors. So, when it's ready to develop the GTM strategy, all parties are prepared with the latest data.

During this stage, you must also decide on the channels and tactics you'll use to reach your target audience. These could include digital advertising, content marketing, events, and sales enablement materials.

The Ignition Copilot AI helps you efficiently navigate all the GTM planning stages — from objectives to timeline and distribution channels to asset creation and delivery. 

Screenshot of Ignition Copilot

Step 6: Create and distribute assets

Now, based on your GTM strategy and product release calendar, your team knows exactly when to create which asset to support the upcoming GTM launch. 

Typically, the assets you create during this stage include product screenshots, promotional videos, blog posts, google ads and press releases.

Ignition makes it easier to create product marketing assets with generative AI. It helps you share these assets efficiently across chosen channels, ensuring each is tailored to a platform and audience segment.

Step 7: Implement tracking and measurement

Using the key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics outlined earlier, you can track progress and see how well it aligns with the milestones outlined on your product launch calendar.  

Ideally, a platform like Ignition connects your calendar directly to critical data sources and has built-in measurement and analysis capabilities. Tracking launch impact is hard enough; why make it more difficult by spreading your processes across multiple platforms?

Ignition dashboard tracking screenshot

Step 8: Execute launch

Soft launches, alphas, or beta releases are a great way to gather feedback and make adjustments before the full commercial launch. Marking these out in your product launch calendar well before your final launch date gives all parties more time to provide feedback. 

When it comes time for the real deal, using a central GTM ops platform ensures everyone is on the same page before you push that big button. Successful launch incoming.

Step 9: Post-launch review and process optimization

It’s important to mark time in your calendar to review the launch's performance against your KPIs and objectives. Identify what worked well and areas for improvement.

Use insights from the launch to refine your product and marketing strategies for future product release schedules.

chart displaying launch impact over time

Step 10: Maintain and update the launch calendar

Even the best-laid plans are subject to change. You must update your product launch calendar as dates shift regularly, new products emerge, and objectives evolve.

Sure, plenty of project management tools or product platforms support calendar sharing, task assignments, and real-time updates. However, Ignition is the only one designed with the needs of product managers and marketers in mind. 

Ditch the calendars, checklists, and templates for a complete Go-to-Market Platform

To recap, product launch calendars, like GTM checklists or roadmap templates, are an essential part of the commercialization process. They work well at a smaller scale, but the problems quickly emerge as the number of launches and releases increase. 

Here are a few takeaways to keep in mind when looking to scale your product launch schedule process: 

  • Product launch calendars aim to efficiently transform customer needs into profitable products amidst organizational challenges.
  • Calendars ensure department synchronization for GTM, emphasizing strategic alignment, coordination, and resource optimization.
  • Challenges include misalignment, communication barriers, document access, and tool fragmentation in commercialization processes.
  • Ignition offers a comprehensive, step-by-step approach for efficient GTM planning and execution, advocating for centralized platform use.

Considering the rate of change is only increasing, it’s time to replace these standalone documents with a comprehensive solution. 

The Ignition GTM Ops platform contains everything PMs, PMMs, and other stakeholders need to maintain alignment on the journey to product profitability. Get started today and see how powerful it is for yourself — in the meantime, check out the full product demonstration below!