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Launch Big Or Go Home

I haven't posted for a little over a week.  In between family, coaching my son's tball team, and everything else in life, we (Mpire) are launching a revolutionary new product.  "Revolutionary" does sound somewhat self-serving but I believe that its the right adjective to use.  It (the product) is launching really soon.  I mean really soon.  In fact, many aspects of this product development and subsequent launch planning reminded me of how wonderful startups are. You have an idea, you respond to the market, and you huddle on an action plan, and you get it out the door faster than you ever would have been able to do at a big company.   Also, the technology is extremely disruptive and there is an element of anxiety around launching this type of product.  I wont leak what it is but is a different type of online analytics service designed for advertisers–its a different application of some technology that we built for our publisher network, WidgetBucks.

There are specific aspects of this launch that took me back to my days of being a product manager.  Its been awhile since I've been driving so much of the product management tasks.  Our team is quite busy so like in all startups, you do what is necessary to get the job done.  Some tips from my past helped me squeeze a tremendous amount of work into a short timeframe, like:

  • Startup-style positioning – especially when you are either short-handed at a startup or you don't have the luxury of time, getting your best thinking into a proper positioning structure is incredibly valuable.  Here is a previous post on some hints on how to do that.  In addition, use potential partners, analysts, advisors, etc that have applicable experience around your product or service as sounding boards.  You most likely don't have time to collect mounds of primary research so allow yourself to collect market feedback "breadcrumbs."  You will often get close enough to the positioning that is market ready.
  • Launch as a leader – early in my career, I learned some valuable lessons about creating the perception of momentum by launching products with prominent partners that support your product positioning.  There is a sea of undifferentiated news and building key relationships with public entities or well-known players gives you a better chance to get coverage.
  • Launch with buzz – there is nothing better than having real-life customers using your product.  If you've done the hard work around building your product against your target markets' requirements, then your customers are generally going to want to blog, twitter, and overall sing your praises.  Make sure that you cultivate the relationships of your key customers. 
  • Be a task master – treat all of the launch activities as trackable and measurable tasks just like you would launch a product from a engineering perspective.  The devil is in the details on launches.  There is minutia that you'll want to capture across every launch function, including PR planning, web page build out, marketing promotion, partner planning, distribution planning, etc.  I used to manage all of my launches in a simple Excel format list and drive every conceivable task off of the launch list.  I'll get around to posting an example in the near future.

I'll let you know how it goes.  I must say that its been a little while since I've had launch butterflies.   Disruptive technologies tend to do that.  Launching big can have many different types of objectives.  Building a gameplan that supports that objective reduces the risk of having an undifferentiated launch.  Stay tuned.


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