Announce It and They Will Come
“What makes up your company’s heartbeat?”
According to Matt, it’s when you’re constantly shipping ( or launching) changes to the product. Shipping brings life to your team, product, and customers. Continuous shipping touches all parts of your company as do the benefits it brings, and the behaviours that it enables and encourages, like team morale, motivation, and momentum.
A great lesson to keep in mind is that, although you know the company’s heartbeat, if you build it some might not actually come.
You need a great product first, and then marketing to amplify the message. Everything that is shipped should be looked at as a marketing opportunity.
With numerous opportunities, then comes more challenges.
How has Saas redefined the way marketing needs to approach product announcements?
You need to be really vocal about the stories that you want to tell, how to tell them, and what not to do when you tell them.
When Intercom thinks about marketing the newest updates to their products and web pages, The Intercom Hub has been a great publicly accessible destination for that kind of information. It is the place to find what’s new and how it adds value to Intercom without being too intrusive.
“The reality is that some things deserve more attention than others, and if we try to treat these things equally and try to shout about each and every single of of them, people would just stop listening to us.”- Matt Hodges
Matt’s Intercom Product Marketing Plan: The “P” system
Marketing at Intercom follows this 4 path system to help determine how new features, services, and updates should be announced. This system considers the value of the product, and the innovation itself.
When looking at the value of a product, they ask how they are adding more value to their existing customers, or if it has the potential to attract new customers and grow the business.
With innovation, Matt considers if this feature has been done before by their competitors, or if it is an entirely new invention- an entirely new solution to a problem people have.
Breaking down each quadrant of the “P” system
P1: Big Announcements
Big announcements are made for new features that solve problems in entirely new and hopefully better ways. They are the things that you really want to shout about. These updates present your biggest opportunity to attract new customers and grow your business.
When you’re considering who to send this announcement to, imagine that you’re conducting a smart campaign and will be a message to a prospective. This announcement will address to the people who had downloaded a piece of content, which signalled that they would be interested in this new feature.
With existing customers, your message could simply be, here’s something new for you to try.
P2: Updates for your existing customers
News in this category represents news that will be mostly valuable to existing customers. It could be a feature that you’ve just launched that is really powerful, but on it’s own unlikely to convince someone to switch to another product in Intercom. These announcements are not really newsworthy.
P3: New features and improvements that can compete
This kind of news provides current users with updates that other competing products already have. Like the update that enabled users to schedule messages for a future point in time, this feature was requested by their users, and their competitors already had it.
P4: New Updates that will help attract new customers
Announcements made in the P4 quadrant are dedicated to marketing the products that their competitors also have to prospects. Prospects are familiar with that feature because they have used it with someone else, and you want to tell them that your product also has that feature and why it’s better.
With existing messaging already out there, this helps you understand how you should announce the thing that you’ve just shipped.
Benefits of the “P” method
By implementing a plan like this, you will be able to understand how you should announce new products, features, and updates.
For example, everything that they launch has an entry on their status page, but only P1 and P2 announcements get the added perk of their own landing pages. Going even further, only P1s will get pitched to the media.
But first get your story straight
Before implementing this system, Matt recommends to have a fully fleshed out story.
Start with Intermission. This is your product brief, where the goal is to educate everyone into understanding what you’re building, and why you’re building it.
Marketing your product. Using your product brief, you can now look at the competitive landscape, and conduct an in-depth competitive analysis. By answering the following the questions, you will be able to develop unique selling points:
- Who else has it?
- How do they position it?
- How do they message it?
- How does it actually work?
- Where do we win?
- Where do we lose?
The Interstory. Find out which publication publishes articles which suit the product that was just launched, like TechCrunch and Venturebeat. Who you seek to write that ideal article will depend on what you’re announcing and who you want to reach.
What’s important to remember for the interstory is that your product manager, product marketing, and communications team all need to be aligned with your strategy. The interstory will be the strategy you revisit to make sure that you’re making the right decisions around what’s in our out of the scope. It helps you stay focused on the story you want to tell.
The look of your product
Remember the times you’ve walked down the software isle in your local office store? Usually you’ll find the product you’re looking for amongst similar competing products. This real life situation can be applied to how you market your own products online.
You need to consider what the front of the box will look like, which means knowing what’s going to compel someone to pick up your product over the others and learn about it?
With the back of the box, you will share more information on how it works, and the features that it contains.
The Activity: Each person involved with this product, being your product manager, product marketer, and other stakeholders, need to build their own boxes and be able to present them within 30-60 minutes.
You will want to keep it simple and concise. The goal is to find the best overall goal, marketing message, and story that you want to tell. By crowdsourcing the goal of this product, you will end up with the a ton of ideas, messaging and marketing copy that you can use for your announcement assets.
Pro tip: Remember to focus on the value your product is going to deliver rather than the features that it contains. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
Ensuring that your story is heard and understood
When considering who you want to reach, ideally it’ll be prospective customers and existing customers. For this, each channel will be different.
Prospective customers will be coming to you from press coverage, articles, ads, and social media- those who would want to share your story. Meanwhile existing users can be contacted through in-app messages, and email. This is an attempt to pull them back to your product and entice them with a new opportunity.
Always remember to consider the recipient of the message you’re delivering. Defining and refining your target audience from the start is essential to a successful announcement.
Remember to broadcast your message at the right time. Holidays, days with major events, and the beginning of the week will not get you the most engagement. That being said, when you pitch and brief the media, ensure that you have enough time to prep your site and platform for that jump in traffic and usage.
Use the right channels to help extend this announcement for the long-term. Writing blog posts that speak more to the problem that you’re helping to solve is just one of the best ways to do it.
The Landing Page
Once you’ve gotten the attention of current and prospective customers, helping them understand how you can personally fix their problems for the job that they need to get done is achieved through a landing page.
This is the destination where you’ll strive for prospects to go on trial. Here, they will be able to clearly and succinctly learn:
- About what your product is
- Why it’s different and better than other products
- How it works and its features
If marketing this product has been done successfully, additional content will be very helpful in learning about how they can really take advantage of the platform. Some examples could be a step-by-step guide on how to get started, and guides on best practices that will help people get the maximum value out of a product.
Feedback foreshadows the future
Throughout any launch announcement, consistently seek for feedback to understand how you can make improvements to what you’ve just launched. You are showing consideration for your user, who might turn into a promoter that will then reach more people.
Ask the right people at the right times, and put this feedback back into the development process.
Don’t launch an unfinished product.
Matt relates to this concept by telling us to recall the story of the boy who cried wolf. Lying about an event, for it to finally happen will dramatically reduce your audience’s response.
In product marketing, Matt knows that there’s always going to be that temptation to launch a product before it’s ready. And says don’t do it. Chances are that people will never give you another chance.
Matt’s final tips:
- Make sure your product works, and that the experience you’re giving to your customers matches the marketing expectations.
- Treat Press Releases as MVP’s
- Make sure that your product actually exists
- Don’t become the app that cried wolf
Rounding it up
Matt Hodges’ keynote struck a chord with us, especially the marketing team. Intercom’s P marketing strategy has slowly made its way into our own, and his speech helped bring organization to how we wanted to broadcast Atomic Reach’s newest updates.
We definitely found a ton of takeaways, but what about you? If you learned something from our story, tell us in the comments and share this article with your readers!