Use this expert-led product launch checklist to keep everyone aligned and get your product into the market successfully.
Humans are suckers for a good list.
Whether writing up your weekly grocery run, a casual plan for world domination, or your company’s next key product launch, checklists are often the first place we like to start.
A well-thought-out product launch checklist can certainly help keep your Go-to-Market strategy on track and keep stakeholders aligned.
But is a checklist the end-all, be-all of effective product launch strategy?
Yes — and no.
A product launch checklist is a set of key tasks that must be accomplished. It’s a highly actionable tool. But without effective strategic launch planning, focusing on a checklist can feel like spinning your wheels.
You can think of a product launch checklist as an executional plan that supports the strategic plan. The “how” to your “why”, if you will.
This article will do two key things:
- Provide you with a detailed and actionable product launch checklist template that you can use (because yes, launch checklists are definitely helpful and important).
- Deliver vital food-for-thought on why teams should focus first on developing a comprehensive strategic plan for each launch, before getting caught up in to-dos.
Let’s get started.
What is a product launch checklist?
A product launch checklist is an actionable list of clearly defined steps that must be taken for a specific product launch (which could be a new product, or a new feature rollout). It’s a project plan for how you’re going to execute your GTM strategy — the executional plan that supports (not replaces) your strategic plan.
A quality product launch checklist will cover all the processes, steps, and assets that must be prepared or handled by your team. It should also include potential roadblocks to keep an eye on.
Ultimately, product launch checklists should include at least the following elements:
Strategic planning: GTM planning, competitive analysis, positioning, messaging, pricing.
Asset production: Development of core assets, enablement documentation, website/landing page copy, promotional copy.
Team coordination: Internal comms, internal and partner training, bizdev, marketing ops, sales, external comms.
This free product launch checklist template from Ignition is a great place to start.
Teams looking for a comprehensive AI-enabled Go-to-Market platform can sign up for Ignition, the GTM ops platform with end-to-end planning, execution, and monitoring tools.
“Launch checklists for products help teams plan for and anticipate everything from the launch itself to any potential hiccups that may arise. Adhering to a well-thought-out product rollout strategy is crucial for client retention, product sales, and company expansion.”
– David Farkas, Founder & CEO of the Upper Ranks
What a product launch checklist is not
A product launch checklist is not your Go-to-Market strategy. Your GTM strategy, is a higher-level view of the positioning, pricing, and method you’re going to use to enter your new market.
A checklist is an actionable list of tasks that must be completed. A GTM strategy is a higher-level, continuously evolving protocol that is even more important than a launch checklist.
Think about it like this: Say you’re setting out to lose weight. So, you create a detailed grocery list (product launch checklist). But without an understanding of nutrition, a list of recipes, and perhaps a meal plan (GTM strategy), you’re unlikely to lose much weight.
Buying a bunch of cauliflower won’t help you lose weight without an actionable strategy for your weight loss journey. Likewise, following a product launch checklist won’t necessarily help you find success in your next launch without having a well thought-out Go-to-Market strategy.
Both are important for a successful launch — but strategy is paramount.
Strategy first: Why a clear strategic launch plan should be your top priority
When it comes to launching a product, don’t miss the forest for the trees.
Yes, you need to make sure to fine-tune your messaging, map out your promotion strategy, perfect your landing page copy, and make sure your team is trained and prepared for the launch.
But if you focus too much on the details, without a clear strategic plan in place, you’ll be leaving substantial value on the table.
Any team can follow a set of tasks, checking them off as they go. Exceptional teams will understand the why behind the how, and implement strategic insights into every step of the product launch process.
A successful launch plan starts with robust research: Customer persona and segmentation, competitive intelligence analysis, pricing, etc. Teams should focus on a research > strategic planning > enablement workflow for best results.
“Thorough research is one of the most important aspects of a successful product launch. Gather all necessary information, and pare it down to the most important details — removing the unnecessary data will make the next steps, such as marketing and prospecting, much easier.”
– Sinoun Chea, CEO ShiftWeb
Strategic planning can be part of your product launch checklist (indeed, it’s part of our launch checklist template). But effective strategic planning will also draw in insights gained from previous launches and continual strategy work on an enterprise and departmental level. In other words, strategy should be prioritized before, during, and after a launch.
Strategic planning can be repeatable. Much of the work teams do now to compile strategic and competitive insights can be utilized again in future launches, and throughout product life cycles. It’s all integral to your company-level Go-to-Market and business strategies, so the effort you’re putting in now will pay dividends for years to come.
In today’s competitive marketplace, teams can gain a leg up with Ignition, the Go-to-Market ops platform. Ignition’s AI-enabled workflows help align product, marketing, and sales teams to work more effectively together. The entire GTM process is managed in one central system, complete with end-to-end planning, task management, and analytics. Try Ignition for free today.
We’ve established that strategic planning is vital to a successful launch process. But a product launch checklist is a great help. Here’s why.
3 reasons to use a product launch checklist
Product launch checklists serve several important functions, from aligning teams and strategies to clearly defining the steps necessary to launch successfully. Here are the 3 main advantages of using a checklist:
1. A product launch checklist reduces oversights and missed opportunities
A product launch checklist can help you and your team identify problems, like crucial tasks that are missing, helping you foresee possible delays.
For example, press, web publisher, and journalist outreach is a common strategy when preparing a launch — and certainly something that should be on your checklist. But are you allowing adequate time for the process?
Many outlets plan production schedules weeks or months in advance. That means you need to get ahead of the game — don’t expect to be able to make last-minute changes, or sneak in outside of an outlet’s regular scheduling procedure.
A well planned launch checklist would incorporate not only your own planned schedule, but those of any partners and outlets you wish to work with. And it can prevent you from missing opportunities like a key PR blitz.
“Too many product launches fail. And in my opinion, it’s because of the old adage ‘fail to plan, plan to fail."
– Derek Osgood, CEO of Ignition
2. A product launch checklist keeps teams focused
Product launch checklists are helpful for dividing larger responsibilities into more manageable tasks. This makes it easier to distribute responsibilities within a group.
If you don’t have a guideline for teams and their responsibilities, everyone may try to work independently, potentially causing misalignment, duplicate efforts, and confusion. Communication of common goals and individual responsibilities is essential to success.
“One of the most essential elements of a product launch is defining and setting your SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound) product launch goals.”
– Vartika Kashyap, Chief Marketing Officer ProofHub
Collaboration is key for a product launch. Three out of four employees say collaboration and teamwork are very important, yet 39% believe that there is a lack of communication among teams in an organization.
As well as team collaboration, cross-departmental collaboration is essential in successful product launches. Stakeholders from product, marketing, sales, ops and others all need to work together and share their insights.
A checklist fosters communication and collaboration. It helps to show clear tasks that need to be completed and gives all team members a sense of shared responsibility towards a common goal: Making the best product possible that the market needs and customers will love.
Without a checklist, there is no accountability when a mistake is made in the launch. That’s why it’s important to assign every task on the checklist to an owner.
3. A checklist is a safety net — use it
In 2022, 61.9% of product marketers in a State of Go-to-Market Report said they always create strategies when bringing products to market, but only 33.3% report using a systematic approach that’s implemented consistently. The checklist can be that systematic approach. It’s your safety net.
Just like a trapeze artist wouldn't swing without a net (because, let’s face it, we’re not all daredevils), a product marketer shouldn't dive into a launch without a trusty checklist by their side. Think of it as the superhero cape in a marketer's wardrobe — not just for style but for safety, too! It gives you that nudge and wink saying, "Go ahead, ace this launch; I've got your back."
For an even greater tech-enabled boost to your GTM plans, try Ignition. Ignition is a GTM and launch enablement platform that brings greater efficiency, effectiveness, and data-driven insights to the launch process.
Now let’s take a look at what your checklist should look like.
Your 11-step product launch checklist
Here’s a detailed product launch checklist workflow that you can adapt to your own organization.
Prefer an editable version? Download this free product launch checklist template from Ignition.
Keep in mind that this is a high-level checklist that’s not intended to be comprehensive. Launches must be tailored to your specific needs and market — this list provides the overarching framework, but you’ll need to fill in the details for your own needs.
□ Establish objectives and KPIs
Define what success looks like first, and you’re more likely to find it.
Work with product, marketing, and even finance teams to establish clear goals for revenue, customer engagement, signups, media coverage, and other metrics important to your launch. Then start planning out how to hit those KPIs.
This will help you better reach your goals and help you pivot more quickly should you fall off track.
□ Conduct market research (competitive + customer)
Know deeply who you’re selling to, what their needs and wants are, and who else is trying to sell to them.
Identify customer pain points and how competitors are (or aren’t) addressing them. Create customer personas, conduct consumer research panels, and do all you can to understand your potential customers.
Dig into your competition. What are they doing well? What do they suck at — and how can you exploit that to siphon off their customer base? How are their products priced, and how should your pricing strategy differ?
Without customer and competitor research, you’re flying blind. Take your time in this process, and use competitive research tools to gain an edge.
□ Segment and define a target audience
Dig deeper into your “target audience” in two respects.
- Who are your customers, and how can they be broken up into segments? You’ll need these insights to inform your positioning and marketing strategy. Product managers, product marketing managers, and marketing teams should work together in this process.
- Who are the people you want to know about your launch, even if they won’t be customers? Think about journalists, industry experts, bloggers, affiliates, potential partners, etc. etc.
This, too, will inform your strategy moving forward, from more obvious outcomes like journalistic coverage to creative possibilities like bundled product launches or cross-selling with partners.
□ Define positioning strategy and messaging architecture
Who is your product for, and what problem does it solve? Where does it fit in the market, and are the target customers in a position to afford/accept the price point? How will you communicate your product's uniqueness and key selling points?
These aren’t just vague conceptual questions. The answers will form the backbone of your positioning and messaging strategy, and can make or break your launch.
□ Define pricing and packaging strategy
Using data from your competitive analysis, as well as your own financial KPIs, define your pricing strategy in detail.
This isn’t just “it’ll cost $50, cool, what’s next?”
What is your discounting strategy, if any? Are your margins sufficient to support competitive affiliate payouts if you go that route? How do various price points affect projected demand and profitability at different sales volumes? Are your prices sufficiently future-proofed in this inflationary environment?
This is a big step, which will necessitate involvement from sales, marketing, finance, and executive team members.
□ Develop a tactical plan (promotional channels, assets needed, user journey)
Conduct high-level planning across marketing, asset management, and development teams. What tasks need to be accomplished to hit your targets, and how can you break those down into bite-sized chunks?
Think about what assets you’ll need for your launch, considering both internal (product documentation, training docs, blog posts) and external (press releases, promotional materials, etc.). Consider the channels that you’ll utilize to get the word out and what groundwork needs to be laid now to prepare.
□ Execute — prep assets, channels, measurement
Prepare the assets you need to launch, including both internal and external assets. Outsource tasks as needed, or bring in consultants to assist in-house teams.
Form and execute an outreach and setup strategy for the channels that you will use to promote your launch. Follow up with external partners and stakeholders as needed to keep things moving forward.
Finally, set up appropriate measurement workflows so that you can gauge the success of your marketing efforts. This could include monitoring web traffic, social engagement, pre-orders, or any other metric that is relevant to your KPIs. Deploy tech solutions as needed to monitor progress.
□ Communicate plans to stakeholders and train internal teams
Keep everyone informed of your plans, progress, and metrics. Focus first on internal teams — training support and sales staff and aligning goals, and making sure teams are working together effectively.
Touch base with internal stakeholders who are less involved, too. Inform executives of your plans, allowing them to provide feedback (ideally early on). And make sure IT is prepared for a potential surge in traffic, accounting is informed of upcoming shifts in revenue sources, etc. etc.
□ Do a launch readiness check (QA, help center, legal policies)
It’s almost time to launch, but not so fast. What are we forgetting?
Here’s where you double check the many small details to make sure things are truly ready to go. Have your teams conducted rigorous QA protocols? Are your onboarding docs, email sequences, and online help center polished? Have you published the necessary legal documents, declarations, and policies to remain compliant with relevant regulations? Has your website been stress-tested?
□ Launch your product
Press the button. Do the thing. Breathe a sigh of relief. Then get back to work because there’s still more to be done!
Of course, you’re not simply “hitting launch”. You’ll be sending out external comms, promotions, emails, social posts, etc., while monitoring response rates and tweaking as needed.
You may also be putting out fires. Maybe the website crashes (too much of a good thing?), maybe distribution partners delay shipments, maybe [fill in the blank]. Truth be told, it’s wise to plan for the unplanned by allocating employee time and resources to whatever problems might pop up. This may influence your product launch timing, too — launching on a Friday might not be the best idea, for instance.
□ Monitor performance, and learn from mistakes
Monitor engagement, sales, and other metrics relevant to your KPIs. Track actuals vs. projections, and keep an eye on any surprises in the data. This could indicate that something was overlooked or simply that customers are responding in a different way than anticipated (which could open up opportunities for a fast strategy pivot).
Conduct a post-mortem analysis to see what went wrong. Although common in Agile workflows, post-mortems are often forgotten after launch. Put it on the checklist to ensure you’ve carved out time for the teams to discuss what went wrong, what went right, and most importantly, what can be improved for the next launch.
Use product launch checklists (and robust strategy) to drive success
Product launch checklists can help keep teams aligned, delegate tasks, and make sure nothing important is overlooked. But remember, strategy comes first. A good checklist is just that: A checklist. Without a well thought-out GTM strategy in place, over-focusing on a list of to-dos can be a waste of resources — or at the very least, a misalignment of priorities.
Want the most efficient, centralized, and data-driven tool to power your next launch? Try Ignition, the all-in-one Go-to-Market ops platform. Ignition helps firms align teams, plan launches, track performance data, analyze competitors, and much more — all on one centralized, AI-enabled platform.