Lose, Falter & Fail at Launch

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There are millions of websites and businesses that show you (or try to show you) how to succeed. But few detail how companies and websites might lose, falter and fail at the launch of their product or service. Website Magazine has been fortunate in the past five years to watch thousands of companies go through the launch process – some with great success and others suffering epic failures. That experience has honed our ability to separate the future winners from the losers. The following is a list of reasons and corporate traits that will be most detrimental to your website or product launch. Ignore them at your own peril.

Customer Development: Whether building software, creating a Web destination or selling products on the Internet, customers (clients and users) are always the engine drives revenue growth and your ultimate success. Often, those seeking press coverage from Website Magazine do not have customer stories about the usage of their products – an immediate indication they don’t take customers seriously. Having a stable of users and early adopters prior to launch will offer input on your product or service and a head-start on new customers and brand awareness.

Street Credibility: Even if your launch is months or years away it will be well served if your reputation is already established in certain circles. For example, say you are in the product development phase of a new and innovative electronic gadget. If you’ve spent time building up some followers (see the viral component section below) your opinions and beliefs are going to be respected and trusted. When you are ready to launch, the job of building trust in your new product or service will be far easier with established credibility. To earn some street credibility, create your own weblog and promote it anywhere that is relevant, offer up advice and expertise, and find a following.

Viral Components: In the age of sharing and social media there is no excuse for Web businesses not to have a “presence” and account for users’ willingness to spread something they like or appreciate. The benefit of doing so is that it dramatically increases the potential of message frequency (how often messages will be seen by others) – something that proves very valuable during a launch. It’s not uncommon for users (and those of us in the media) to simply ignore something until it can no longer be ignored; becoming too “big” not to consider. Adding in viral social and sharing components (Facebook Pages, share buttons on blog posts, etc.) pre-launch will ensure an optimal response.

Viral components don’t just stop at sharing and social, however. Affiliate and partner programs can provide a much needed boost and the savviest among them (should you make the effort to recruit them) will be excited to get in on the virtual land rush – scooping up all those early adopters. Build a second- or third-tier into your partner offering and you’ll get street credibility of which your competitors will envy.

Product and service launches are tense and tough times. Being customer-focused (supporting an environment where customers are valued and trusted), having a cache of credibility that you can leverage in the future, and giving the Web as a whole an opportunity to share and extend your brand message are basic but key steps in launch success. Otherwise, welcome to the dead pool.

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Backlink Booster 07-30-2010 2:46 PM

If I'm launching a new product and don't have a lot of social networking "followers" or a large email list, what can I do to build both?

Thank you.

Pam Hunter 07-30-2010 3:57 PM

Hi TomP, Sign up for facebook, create a business page, start gathering friends for your facebook account and ask them to "like" your business page. Never post personal info on the business page. and keep your postings on the main page lighthearted. Share about the benefits of your product or service. And add friends who you believe will be interested in your product. Start with collegues, business associates, even friends. Most people will accept a friend request even if they don't know you.

Trent Jessee 07-30-2010 7:50 PM

Wonderful article you've shared! Creating Trust and Value online is far more feasible now using social media I'm experiencing. It can be quite challenging creating the type of trust you need online since the physical interaction isn't so immediate as in person, but it's possible. It really is all about the people.

Sherryl Perry 07-31-2010 4:13 PM

Tom, If you’re not already a member of LinkedIn, join it and establish a presence there. Search for groups where there are active discussions in areas that you are interested in. There’s a wonderful supportive community of people there to help you. Before you join any groups, go to http://en.gravatar.com/ and establish a globally recognized avatar. Be conscious of your brand as you build awareness of yourself and your new business. Choose one user ID for a name and use that when you build your avatar (at Gravatar.com) and for every social networking site that you join. Be consistent. It’s part of your brand. For example, on Avatar, Twitter, Digg etc., I’m "KeepUpWeb". As you build a name for yourself online, people will recognize you. If you can add value to the conversation, you’ll build trust and respect which will eventually help you to build traffic to your site. Some social networking sites such as LinkedIn have the “do-follow” tag which helps provide valuable backlinks.

StevenH 08-01-2010 4:31 PM

Great Article:

Listening to our customers has built our site from 6 pages in 1995 to thousands today.  Too many start-ups seem to think they can't be bothered to have a real phone conversation with a customer. After thousands of these calls, we have added hundreds of new products, quickly fixed procedures and developed about a dozen completely new product lines specifically from conversations, comments and even complaints. And it didn't cost us $100K in focus groups.

You would be surprised how many people get a kick out of talking with the Founders of a company (New of not). Even if they are calling to complain, the majority of customers have a lot more respect for your company knowing that they got heard at the top. Not by some low-level customer service person that doesn't have the authority to even move the suggestion up the ladder.

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