Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lean Coffee: How to launch a product

This morning we chatted about how to launch a product the lean way. A few key observations:
  • What's the definition of "launch" for Lean?
    • Multiple "launches" during customer development
  • You need to refocus you team from development to sales and support
  • Infrastructure: As you move from beta, backup and failover systems become more important
  • Looking for early adopters
    • Do beta/soft launches first to smaller groups
  • Don't see a lot of "big bang" launches anymore -- more "constant" betas
  • However, "hard" launches are still common in enterprise (CDs, media, etc.)
    • Slowly going away and moving to SAAS (software as a service)
  • Product Lifecycle Curve (from Crossing the Chasm)
  • Techniques:
    • Target influential bloggers in the field
    • LaunchRock (a bit spammy, but works)
  • Need organic growth -- make it easy for people to do the marketing for you
  • It's a different story launching something that people need to actually spend money on
  • Difficult to cut through the noise and get people to pay attention
  • The personal approach:
    • "Bribe" early adopters and influencers and give a personal touch (example: Hashable)
    • An email from the founder makes people feel important
    • Personal connections can't be faked
    • As you grow, build the personal connections into the culture ("customer development team")
    • Big launch with press release, etc. less personal -- not as approachable
  • Your current users are more valuable than new ones
  • Are you launching a product, or launching a company (with a business model)?
  • Don't assume it's going to "go viral" -- Design for if it doesn't
  • Categories of influencers: How well do you know your customers?
  • If you want to get coverage, have something truly interesting, novel to say (example Gmail "goggles")
    • Key influencers (especially well-known ones) can make all the difference
    • Frequent, iterative launches: Find "excuses" to get heard, and stay consistent
    • It takes many times of people hearing something before they actually remember
This is great advice as I personally iterate towards progressively larger "launches" of our project management software, PMRobot.

These Lean Coffee sessions are always a great way to start the day and get thinking about "big picture" stuff that you might not otherwise.

Thanks to Jeremy for hosting, and everyone else for attending and contributing!

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