The SaaS industry market is estimated at $152 billion, and it is expected to reach $208 billion by 2023. This means that making your product stand out amongst others would need you to drive innovation across the board, especially before launching your product.
Gaining a competitive advantage in the market is a huge challenge for relatively new SaaS businesses. But, with the right planning and competitive intelligence, your SaaS company can effectively release a new product in the market to gain momentum.
Before you make any product-driven decision prior to the launching, consider…
The need for competitive intelligence prior to product launch
As a project manager, simply knowing what your rivals are doing with their marketing tactics and product offerings (to match feature-to-feature) is not enough. Rather, you need to derive strong inferences about what your business can do differently to improve your product’s value proposition. It means using competitive intelligence tools that offer data that help your marketing, sales, product, and development team create a better product positioning.
The marketing team may use these tools to learn about competitors’ marketing strategies, including social media, content, digital advertising, etc. A sales team can use them to learn about price adjustments, market shifts, and corporate acquisitions made by their competitors.
You can uncover untapped opportunities by adopting competitive intelligence before launching the product. This includes identifying opportunities to expand business operations by targeting more geographical locations, exploring possibilities for vertical SaaS, innovating new product features, and providing add-on services that outperform your competitors’ offerings. It can also help your sales team identify acquisition targets when you are looking to penetrate further after the product launch.
For example, competitive intelligence enables your sales team to make use of battle cards for your SaaS sales process that helps you accurately understand:
- Competing Products
- Product Pricing
- Company Facts
- Market Presence/Company Reputation
- Sales Tactics
- Target Markets
- SWOT Analysis
This helps you solidify your product positioning prior to launching. One of the key questions to ask in the pre-launch phase is…
What, and how many, similar products exist?
A successful SaaS product development and launching phase would need you to know the answer to plenty of questions. For instance, which are the few (similar) products in your market space, how many of such products exist, the average price, and many others. But, you need not worry if your product has features that clash with other products. It may also mean that you are making something that people want, giving you the chance to stand out with enhanced product capabilities.
Another approach involves analyzing the present landscape extensively so that you can meaningfully convey your product’s unique selling points (USP).
You can have a team conduct research in the market when you are launching your product. While doing so, ensure comprehending your competition and thereby gauging your market position.
Ask questions like:
- What distinguishes your product from that of your competitors?
- What customer pain points are you trying to address that other competitors do not?
- Are those pain points similar? If so, identify how your product can add value by driving efficiency in doing so.
- Is there any current demand (expectations from customers) and supply (product offerings in the market) gap that you can fill?
Getting precise answers to these questions will help you plan the subsequent phases of your product launch.
Pre-working on such aspects before the product launch will simplify your product and maintenance team to maintain track of your product life cycle (PLC) once it has been launched, as competitive intelligence goes beyond the product launch.
Chances are, the market may change post the product launch. Your competitors would react to your launch and make some adjustments to their products. This also includes changing their sales approach, issuing new updates, and/or modifying their marketing materials.
Competitive intelligence enables using different tactics to monitor your competitors’ changes and analyze patterns that help keep your story fresh and begin planning for any necessary future product upgrades.
Identify and communicate consumer problems your product solves
The primary goal for any data-driven product manager is to work on the research results and features that cater to their target market. Once it is done, you know exactly how successful your product can tackle user problems and how quickly and simply it does so. But, it can be a challenging task to convey the same in your marketing materials.
Explain to customers how your product will make their life simpler in a certain way. This is possible by creating how-to videos, conducting webinars, and also holding live sessions on social sites with your technical experts. Emphasize the advantages of using your product and leaving no room for confusion. If needed, you can implement some of the key social media tactics for customer acquisition during the product launch phase.
Your product development team has a working knowledge of your product’s underlying technologies and tools. But communicating the same won’t impress your audiences. Instead, show them how your product’s features can work wonders. For this, you should know how to deliver winning product demos that help address common issues, and pivot to your product’s USP that can add value and ensure better ROI.
Key things to do during the pre-launch phase
We’re living in the aftermath of a global pandemic, and everyone now knows what is a digital workplace. Therefore, even if your teams work remotely, it needs better cohesion during the pre-launch phase. As a project manager, you need to empower remote teams with the right tools to drive collaboration as you hold a unique position at the junction of strategy and execution.
It is not enough for product managers to develop the correct concept or feature and convince their stakeholders and team to implement it; they must also explain the user demand behind it.
Surveys: Have enough data before launching your product by gathering key information from your target audience. You can follow this step-by-step guide to making a SaaS survey that provides enough data to analyze trends, uncover customer pain areas, and provide precise use cases and requirements. Your product iteration, customer satisfaction, and messaging can benefit from this data, enabling you to reach out to customers in a way that drives more conversions.
Interviews: While a survey is a good way to gain a general sense of your customers’ needs, one-on-one interviews may provide more specific information. Your pre-launch should include intimate interviews that help leverage information to help fine-tune your product launch and create more detailed buyer profiles for effective product positioning. If you are new to this, here’s a starters guide to conducting interviews for your SaaS products
With customer feedback collected, here’s what your team needs to do next:
Define marketing message
Communicate to your target audience in a terminology that they can associate with better and accordingly flesh out your launch statement.
Talk to your current and potential customers or look for key terms and phrases representing your product and market on the internet. This way, you will be guiding your marketing team to craft a brilliant launch message that resonates, stays, and thrusts sales.
Analyze market dynamics
This is a necessary phase in your launch phase as it helps track the evolution of both — your competitors’ offerings and your customers’ demands. As market conditions change, your communications should also evolve with your offerings.
Keep hold of the necessary data and change your messaging by conducting market research for SaaS business prior to launching the product. The results and working on those research findings will help you address customer demands successfully over time.
Refer to competitors’ product launches
A cohesive implementation of competitive intelligence includes determining how your competitors previously launched their products. When you adopt competitive monitoring tactics, you also navigate the right (and also the wrong) ways to launch your product.
You can know what worked for them, what didn’t, how they handled content and public relations, and how the audience reacted. Accordingly, you can design your product launch, especially considering their mistakes in the launch and ensuring to avoid those.
Also, while your product is designed keeping the end-users in mind, there are bound to be unanticipated bugs and hiccups faced by your customers post-launch. Thus, it’s a good idea to have customer service software in place so your team is ready to provide quick support and resolution to any upcoming customer queries about the newly launched product.
Launch-phase: empowering sales and marketing teams
As a product manager, you will need to look beyond the nitty-gritty of product functions, features, and technical data and get under the skin of your target audience. When you finally get the product ready to be launched, the marketing and sales team needs to work synergistically to create an impactful launch. You can also refer to this SaaS product launch essentials that help define the roles of different teams during this phase.
Also, effectively deliver your SaaS product launch email to your target audience or do an extensive PR through industry-specific trade journals. Here, you can establish ties with the editors of the leading magazines by providing them with information pertinent to your sector.
Over to you
A product manager would need to have a 360-degree overview of everything going around before the product launch. Employing competitive intelligence as a part of the pre-launch, launch, and post-launch operations can improve your sales and provide the cutting-edge you need to thrive in a cluttered SaaS market.
Moving ahead with such an approach can be more likely to be successful during your product launch if you use competitive intelligence at each step of the process. Keep gathering necessary information about your competition for continuous product discovery and evaluate your product against your rivals with competitive intelligence. This will help review your success even after implementing your product launch plan.
There’s more where that came from! Access more insights on Saas
- An introduction to OODA loops and SaaS scaling – Kausambi Manjita on The Product Experience
- SaaSifying an on-prem offering: a case study
- Metrics and KPIs every SaaS product manager should track
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