#28: Tiers Over Tears

3 frameworks to tier your next product launch

“Why isn’t my product a Tier 1 launch?” If I got a dollar every time a product manager asked me this question, I’d be rich.

Determining the proper tier for a product launch is both simple and complex all at once. Every PM wants their new product to get as much marketing love and attention as possible, but the reality is that resources (and customer mindshare) is limited.

It’s our responsibility as product marketers to prioritize product launches and allocate resources effectively. To do so, we need to consider a handful of factors including business impact, customer impact, market impact, and more.

Without a proper assessment framework, this can quickly become an emotional decision. That’s why I always recommend PMM teams implement a tiering system, and socialize that system broadly across teams.

What type of system, you ask? Here are three different approaches your product marketing team can consider.

#1: The 2X2 Method

The 2X2 framework is perhaps the simplest, with three potential launch tiers. In this model, there are two axes that intersect to create four boxes that break down as follows:

  • An innovative product to attract customers (T1)

  • An innovative product to retain customers (T2)

  • A “me-too” product to attract customers (T2)

  • A “me-too” product to retain customers (T3)

Place your product into one of these four boxes and it will help you assess if it should be a T1, T2 or T3 launch.

Here’s an example from LaunchNotes:

Pros: Simple to understand and use

Cons: Doesn’t connect back to company metrics, leaves room for bias and opinion

#2: The Scoring Method

I was introduced to the tier scoring method by Jasmine Jaume at Intercom. After learning this approach from Jasmine, I implemented the tiering system with my own team at Kajabi. With this approach, you align on specific criteria that level back up to your company OKRs, and you assign each criteria a score.

For example, you may assess a product across net new revenue, expansion revenue, churn reduction, adoption and brand awareness. Give each category a score out of 3, and then total the score. This will help you define the tier (ie. a product with a score of 12 would be a Tier 2).

Here’s the example from Intercom:

Pros: Removes bias from the tiering, builds alignment on the key metrics for launch

Cons: Relatively complicated, requires a template

#3: The "Go Big" Method

The Go Big framework came my way through an insightful Sharebird thread on how to tier launches. Eve Alexander, the VP of PMM at Seismic, shared her thoughts on the process they use at her company. It’s so good, I might steal it for the situations where the scoring system above is too advanced.

The framework has three categories all centered on the audience that needs to know about the launch: Go Big, Tell Sales, Tell CS. Here’s how Eve explains her approach:

Pros: Easy to explain to stakeholders, simple assessment

Cons: Only appropriate for sales-led organizations, leaves room for bias

How do you tier your product launches? Send me your frameworks and tiering systems.