04/09/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

No Such Thing as a Free Launch!

It's time business people stopped babbling about "the launch." This is the definition of self-importance. The cavemen didn't even talk about something new as though it were the end-all and the only celebratory aspect of their bleak lives. We should know better.


Enough, please! Everyone realizes the Beta does not exist -- it's an old-hat marketing ploy. To get something done, and seen, you must show it to folks along the way and make people feel a part of the process. So with no further pre-rambling, here is a list of ways to launch in what is now late '00s.

1. It's just a launch. You got to know by now that no one really wants to hear that you have something new. Once the value sets in, please, by all means, shout out. But until then act like it's already available and you just want it known to the world as the piece you're proudest of.

2. Tell folks -- subtly -- you are testing something (Alpha, anyone!) Let them in on it. Remember, this is a severely open source world.

3. Don't worry about the competitors -- anyone and everyone should know you did a good job. Scare the crap out of them too. Everyone talks about competitive advantage and losing market share; in this case you are the first mover and I hope the best one. Let them try and copy you; no one will be better. It's up to you to be resolute. Pump your chest out and stand behind your evolving, beautiful thing!

4. You are one of 10 million ideas being released into the stratosphere; don't forget: you cannot invent the wheel, sliced wheat bread, or the next Google. (Or, aha, even the next HuffPo!)

5. The date is so not important. Not ever. Never. No. Nyet! Dates are a man-made phenomenon. It's just a date. Maybe your investors need to know by when will I be able to see this new contraption...but, alas, the world does not care about your date. They just want to know it's ready for consumption. We had a client in '08, of all years, who said no way could we even tell a blogger until the day it launched, as if on that day the stars and moon would collide in honor of the big day. Gees. So just remember to...

6. Share. (See #2.) Do it some more. When people feel involved with a property they want more of it. I once met a Broadway producer, he who raises lots of money every day, and he said: "If you want people involved, never tell them it's done. 'The show is still being worked on.' They'll want to share the process."

7. Two words: "Tell me." Ask folks what they think; get surveys, start chats. Get input. Give away prizes. Whatever it takes to make folks get all WOM-y here.

8. Stop pretending it will be "ready and then we'll market it" -- no one believes that theory we used to use all the time: You are marketing it the second you talk about it to the strato/twitter/Face/blogosphere.

9. Once you do have people who love it, then brag about what you've done. There's nothing wrong with it. I said be subtle above; but like Sondheim said, "Don't put yourself down -- let others do that, they usually do." Anyway, if you don't brag no one else will. Give folks the adjectives to use. People only say what they heard someone else say, eh? Keep in mind it'll get better; give away some ideas of what fabulous features are coming.

10. Repeat, rinse, repeat. You did something new -- well guess what? "Here: 2.0" is something you care about. No one else can see the diff. So don't, please don't, make a big deal out of every little nook and cranny you change. Remember that the people you are talking to, the consumers, are the ones who invented hype. They roll their eyes and laugh out loud. And laughter reverberates.

The fake Beta is something I've been against for a while. Think about it clearly: Google Alerts (BETA)? Come on! That's been around since we were in short pants.

Everything is in test mode and it's time people stopped using that term for every "new idea." Just don't use beta cause we all know it's just a slogan for new and improved. Introduce things as something new, how totally innovative.

Peeps, it's true: "The launch" is the past. Some fabulous Web destination, your new gizmo, a tremendously colorful cover of a book -- they all go up one day and are here tomorrow! And the next day. And the next. Don't attach dates like kids do with midnight on New Years Eve -- the fireworks and all -- just make sure what you have out there is what you want to show, even if it's not perfect. Correction: especially if it's not perfect.

I know distributors want to hear you have a date, so make one up. But tell everyone it's here -- that's it -- and you're happy and clapping your hands. And most of all, you want their advice on making the neo-launched idea the best that it can be.

Happy Realigning! And call me if you need help explaining why to your boss.

Twitter @laermer


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