You are the master of the uncannily obvious! (smile)
The CEO was hung up on how much polish we could put on the stone. It cost the company almost a year.
Agreed - get it out there and iterate using feedback. A vision is just a vision. Users tend to be better at reality.
Re: # 6 - reporting, maybe it's because I'm a CFO and a data junkie, but I believe you can and should dig deep into your usage data.
There's a high signal to noise ratio on usage metrics. Especially early on, when you have a mix of true believers who use your stuff all the time + a bunch of people who sign up and try once or not at all.
If you dig in and find out who your best users are you know what to look for if you want more great users.
I actually posted on this recently:
Mark: I agree on the importance of analyzing the data (we're data junkies too). I'm just saying that in the early, early days after a product release there are other things that are higher priority. Store the data so you can analyze it later.
Hi, it seems the overview video is no longer available on youtube.
Congrats on the launch! :)
Great post. A couple points I will reiterate:
1. Simple is always good, I think when we are close to things we sometimes tend to overcomplicate them so I appreciate your brevity and simplicity.
2. In a lot of cases "perfection is the enemy of good". I believe it is better to get something out that is 75%-85% there and have some consistent product development velocity.
I will go tonight and tryout Press Release Grader and see how if we can use it as an organization.
Great post Dharmesh!
As you wanted it to be, you've got really down to the basics of what works in this new marketing world.
Good luck with the new product!
I liked much of # 2 and # 5, I will try to tranform in reality there.
Well done. When do we get to try it?
My favorite lesson? Simplify based on customer's needs. If they don't value it, dump it (until you are strong enough to prove them wrong.. usually they aren't)
Great post Dharmesh. One more thing that you might want to add to the list is the timing of marketing your startup. Very lately I've learned that it is an effort of itself and never should be ignored. Make sure you plan and time on how and when to market your startup.
I'd like to comment on #1. If you release too early, maybe with bugs, with some functionality only patly working - a work in progress product - you are making those many people grumpy. And in the initial release when you promote and get a surge of traffic, that means a lot of people. And generally, people won't bother to write about the good things, but they will make it a point to write about things that won't work, so in a way it is negative publicity.
We can release more often, but we gain the 1st impression only once, isn't it? :)
I agree with you Sonal. Some of the users and bloggers are likely to understand that it is a 'work in progress product', as you said, and tend not to be so critical about it. However, specially with the traditional media people (magazines, newspapers, etc.), you might not get another chance to make a good impression.
One thing we've done is to divide the launch in two different milestones: first, a 'private' launch with few formal invitations (and no publicity at all), and a second one, after a couple of more iteractions, with more intentional viral loops and PR effort.
I'd have to say the greatest lesson I learned was to promote early. Promoting early is much like releasing early. Promoting early gives you a level of instant feedback (are you promoting effectively enough to get your product noticed). Promoting early also allows you to iterate early (if your not promoting effectively iterate).
Point .5 Start with something someone wants to pay for. Something that solves a problem. Something that adds value. Anyone can launch a product. The number of me too products in the marketplace tells me there are a lot of people out there playing the business lottery. Its not a PR game - ask the Bloggers.
Dharmesh: Good luck with your new product. Your idea that one should release early (and often) flies in the face of what some would say is common sense, but in your case, this method seems to be working just fine. Thanks for your insights, and as always, I'm looking forward to your next post.
ONE VERY IMPORTANT POINT IS MISSING.
It's a great list that would improve the Web if more people took it to hard.
To maximize the impact of the list, you really should plan the launch in advance and create anticipation for the first release.
Stumbled this for you:
@Eric & Sonal I completely agree. The cliche of first impressions is no different on the web, in fact it's worse because the reviews last in perpetuity.
This can be managed by segmenting who you promote to and when i.e. don't provide general updates to the same channel multiple times. Instead get the word out early to segments supportive of your situation, then expand to more general channels as the service matures.
Breaking away from the now overused "beta" to something more helpful that communicates your actual status, progress etc will manage the expectations of visitors and generally make you more interesting.
I am all over the instrumentation - knowing what is going on is CRITICAL. It doesn't need to be fancy but it must be in place and monitored constantly. You will be amazed what you learn and react to.
Ahh. I should of read this post last month..i put foot in mouth, I called a bunch of educators "self important bloogers" and asked "what world are you all from"
THough we have some of indsutry greats on Board at the gaming krib, it hurt us...http://www.dangerouslyirrelevant.org/2008/04/the-gaming-krib.html
Though a podcast followed, and actally we changed our scope a bit, they still give us a hard time- i didnt releize the blog was so big. ;( I still feel like they self important bloggers though ;)