This is part 7 of our 12-part series “This is Product-Led,” inspired by our conference for Gainsight PX users, Pulse for Product.
Ask people whether they like video games and you’ll get answers across the board. One of our interviewees, Lauren Stefano, Director of Customer Marketing at Seismic, loves MarioKart. But Eve Alexander, Sr. Director of Product Marketing at Seismic, didn’t get to play games as a kid and is only discovering them now.
Product and feature launches are a lot like that—you can’t assume everyone saw it when it launched. That’s why Seismic has a three-tiered plan for producing launches that are reliably delightful and spreading the word effectively.
Seismic’s Release Methodology
Rule number one of Seismic’s release methodology is that feature and product releases are a team sport. They require participation from just about everyone in the business.
“Our releases are very cross-functional,” says Lauren. “Every part of the company is involved because we want to ensure what’s going into the market is aligned to what’s being told to prospects by sales teams, success managers, and professional services. What they offer to customers ties directly back to what we’re releasing.”
Seismic launches on a quarterly rhythm, which they switched to so they could bundle many features into cohesive launch stories. When launches are continuous or monthly, the incessant drumroll of announcements is tough for customers to keep up with. Quarterly launches distill the things they need to know into periodic, exciting events.
So how much effort does Seismic put behind its launches? That’s where the tiers come in—it all depends on how big of a change the new product creates.
“It all depends on what it is. For example, how new is it? How much does change what our customers can do? Does it affect the core story we tell?” says Eve. “Tier 1 gets the full treatment. We go big and announce it to the entire market. We certify all our frontline sellers so they can speak to it.”
Whereas Tier 2 and Tier 3 releases get a little less oomf—and that’s good. You don’t want to overload people. In the messaging for each level, Eve, Lauren, and the team aim to educate customers on what’s changing, what’s going away, and why they should be excited. Announcements could include something as big as a new course in their customer learning platform, Seismic University, or as common as a mention in their monthly newsletter. Or, it could be something in-between, like a webinar series.
“At the lowest tier are fixes and tweaks, where we need to keep customers in the loop,” says Eve. “And for that, in-app notifications using Gainsight PX work just great.”
A Tip For Managing Releases in the Real World
What’s important to product teams doesn’t always overlap with what’s important to all customers. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a launch and not realize that to customers, it isn’t exactly need-to-know. For that, Lauren and Eve have a solution.
“Sometimes, somehow, you end up with three Tier 1 announcements in the same release,” says Eve. “It forces you to stop and ask, OK, how are we actually going to message this?”
The answer is simple: Pick the lead story. People won’t remember three big things anyway, so lead with the most important one and demote the others to Tier 2, though keep messaging them for longer than you would normally. Newsworthiness is relative, after all, and there’s only so much you can say and still get your message across.
Curious how you can announce releases in a way that increases delight? Get a free trial of Gainsight PX and see for yourself.