Far more complex than a typical project, feature and product launches require a purpose-built Go-to-Market Ops platform. Learn why stitching together docs, project management tools, and research tools just doesn't cut it in 2023.
As any seasoned product professional knows, at some point in the launch process everything is going to go south on you.
More specifically, the go-to-market (GTM) phase of your product launch process is the most vulnerable to points of failure because it’s so incredibly cross-functional and dependent on a series of fragmented tools that affect alignment and efficiency across teams.
You’re probably painfully aware of the stats around product launches– 10%+ of all revenue is left on the table due to poor GTM, or how poor communication costs $12k per employee per year. Not only do failed launches cost companies, but with the number of launches increasing 27% annually, there’s even more money being left on the table.
That’s why Ignition is building the future of the product launch process. Here’s why you need a dedicated platform for Go-to-Market, and why relying on your mess of docs and/ore overly generalized project management tools won’t cut it for getting your products over the finish line in a way that drives maximum adoption.
Let’s get into it.
The place your brain probably goes to when you think of the go-to-market process is your launch checklist, which is why it often gets treated like just any other project an organization has to tackle. A series of tasks. Launching new products and features is much more than that though. It’s far more complex, and one of the most vital pieces of business your team is responsible for. It’s not just another campaign, or email blast; you’re introducing your customers and the market to something new with the potential to radically alter your company’s perception and trajectory.
Internally and externally, a launch is the period of creation for 90% of the core positioning, documentation, and assets around your new product. If you get it right, you’ve laid a strong foundation – for customers, and for your team. Getting it wrong means everyone talking about your product wrong forever (or not talking about it at all) – and spreading that incorrect interpretation externally, potentially impacting sales and customers.
Product launches are more complex than most projects, too. They require a higher degree of coordination across teams, pulling in key stakeholders from teams across an entire organization, codifying extremely critical decisions, and requiring significant information sharing, at scale, so all of those teams can be as effective as possible. You’re not just managing tasks, you’re juggling assets, strategic information, data, and research – all while attempting to dance across information silos between teams, and avoiding that one timeline shift which can have massive cascading impacts across the whole plan.
It also helps to reframe product launches and the GTM process around them not just as a single event, but as a continuous process. Ideally you and your team are collectively building the bones for something that becomes a repeatable, integrated cycle with a single source of truth– including the data you need to learn from and improve the next launch.
Overall, a campaign and product launch checklist might be part of your GTM strategy around a launch, but they aren’t the same thing.
Most teams are quick to blame any problems around a launch with a lack of “strategy”, but strategy is rarely the problem. The problem is whether an organization is equipped to put the strategy into action.
The issue is actually with alignment.
For example, PR teams can’t get press around a launch if they don’t know it’s coming, or don’t have enough information to pitch something fresh and newsworthy to relevant outlets. If customer-facing teams like sales and support don’t know how to talk about something, they can’t sell or upsell customers. The same language,strategy, and assets need to be available to demand gen and social teams, so they can target appropriately and on-message to promote it when it’s GTM time.
If any of these pieces aren’t in place, messages at the top of the funnel get out of sync from the bottom of the funnel, and customers are liable to get confused, frustrated, and churn.
Most importantly, nobody working on a launch is motivated to do any of the key work required if they don’t understand why it’s important in the first place. Everyone has competing priorities, so creating effective support for the launch requires significant internal marketing. How does it relate back to your company goals, to your mission? What problems is it going to solve for customers and even for the team internally?
Everyone needs to be on the same page around why you’re launching, why they should care, what the story is, where that story needs to be heard, and how you as a team are going to accomplish it.
How? Build your launch process as if it’s a product, not a project; a continuous, integrated, always-improving cycle with a single source of truth and repeatable automation. Think of it not as a checklist, but a methodology designed to inform, create, and route context to the right people at the right time.
So you want to fix the process – the first place your mind probably goes is “build a template in a doc, and set up a project management tool, right? This is a step in the right direction, but you’ll eventually discover that while project management tools’ infinite flexibility makes it easy to build a “process” around launches, they do little to solve the problems outlined above. They’re so generalized that they just can’t account for all the problems inherent to GTM.
They’re also just one of the many tools you’ll be pidgeon-holing while trying to manage a GTM process through. Project management tools will help with tasks, but your strategy will be scattered across dozens of docs, your assets floating around a bunch of folders, and your research getting done and housed in various research tools. Youvery quickly find yourself using an entire suite of tools in your tech stack that can’t talk to each other very well, or at all. And all that critical info suddenly gets very easily lost.
If you want your product launch process to really hum, you need something more purpose-built.
As we’ve already touched on– and you’ve most likely experienced– most teams are working in fragmented groups, where content gets disconnected from context or lost entirely because there’s no single source of truth available. Customer research lives in a research tool, launch status lives in a project management tool (or two of them, because Marketing has one and Product has another one), assets live in asset management tools, overall strategy lives in a dozen different docs that may or may not be the updated version.
That means everyone is manually jumping between tools to get updates in order to do their work– or interrupting each other constantly to ask for updates because they can’t find what they need. Key team members spend hours manually copy/pasting content from one tool into another, while jumping back and forth between Product’s roadmapping tool to see where overall launch status is and Marketing’s project management tool to understand where the GTM process is and whether they match up.
Worse, none of these tools integrate or share data, so key information is siloed inside several different tools, making getting a clear picture of the launch almost impossible for everyone but the person driving it. How then are teams supposed to do a meaningful post-mortem on a launch, with real lessons learned to apply to the next one?
If you use a GTM platform like Ignition alongside your project management tool (it integrates!) or in place of it, you get that single source of truth that gives everyone the entire plan in an easily accessible way. Tasks, strategic documentation, assets, and research all live in one place. It talks to all of the other systems your teams are using, so you can easily aggregate information and have the full context needed to make decisions– or to share the necessary data with key stakeholders to make decisions more efficiently.
You can tell your team a hundred times that key information needed for a GTM process is “in the doc/project management tool” and without fail the response will be “which one” or “which part of the tool/I don’t have access”.
This kind of communication across teams is reactive rather than proactive, requiring people to seek information out rather than providing it as needed to key stakeholders. While some will be too busy to undertake an information search, others just won’t want to mess with it. Either way you either end up manually fielding information requests throughout your day (adding countless interruptions to your workflow), or spending hours sending status update emails or hosting (expensive) launch meetings.
There’s also the problem of access, since organizations often don’t want to pay for “non-critical” seats in a tool, like for those passively consuming information. It’s very likely your Sales and Success folks couldn’t access your project management tools if they wanted to. That can leave customer-facing teams without key insights they need to inform customers and craft GTM training, for example.
Trying to communicate in a project management tool also means strategic information is often “buried” in tasks or an information hierarchy that nobody but power-users understand, once again making it necessary to share that information manually, multiple times.
Using a dedicated GTM platform alongside or in place of your project management tool can solve these communication limitations. Ignition, for example, gives you proactive, automated communications that push relevant information to teams via Slack, Teams, and email rather than relying on them to seek it out. It also gives teams a structured, easily accessible information hierarchy, and it does it all at scale, allowing you to communicate with key stakeholders at all levels of an organization easily.
Ignition also has a per-editor billing model, eliminating the access hurdle many tools present by charging per-user.
Project management tools are great for tracking the work you’re doing, but not for doing any of the actual work. Your team’s customer research, communication strategy, design assets and more all have to live in different tools that might all get linked back to properly in the project management tool, if the person building out the project isn’t too busy to miss that step.
Have a change in dates for the GTM process? You’ll have to update everything manually because changing one date doesn’t cascade changes across the project. Want templates that account for different shapes, sizes, and budgets for launches? Good luck spending a year building that workflow and then needing to adjust 5-10 different templates when you decide to make a change.
These tools are so flexible that they ultimately create brittle processes– one person is capable of breaking the whole thing by introducing their personal methodology. That often happens when teams are reorganized or new leadership comes in. It also introduces an additional hurdle: repeatability suffers when you’re constantly rebuilding your process in a place not designed specifically for it.
Using a dedicated GTM platform like Ignition gives you the ability to do the actual work of launch planning in the same place you’re tracking status. Automated research tools help you track competitive intelligence, customer research tools help you gather and summarize insights from across your org, AI copywriting tools help generate assets, and dynamic workflows help you create flexible, adaptable launch plans in seconds. Post-launch you can even conduct retrospectives and measure impact, to help debrief and iterate on your process for the next launch.
You no longer have to jump from tool to tool in order to have all of the information you need, which means both context and strategic data are retained and available for reference as needed.
If you’re interested in Ignition but hesitate to completely abandon your project management tools, don’t worry because we integrate with them nicely! You can bidirectionally sync tasks from Product’s roadmapping tools, Design’s project management tools, and even sync to and from various docs.
We’ll also reclaim hours of the time you’ve been spending on manual tasks;
Ignition automates a lot of the plan creation and project management through workflows. We also have tools that help teams collect competitive intel, do customer research, write copy, and more. It’s all baked directly in.
That makes Ignition the place where you both track the work and do it– solving the issue of alignment for teams across your organization.
If you want to set your team up for success in the best way possible, you need a dedicated go-to-market platform.