Have you launched a product lately? You may have had a rude awakening. The so-called launch isn’t as glamorous as it once was and journalists will be the first to tell you – they rarely care about product launches these days. But that’s another story, for another day.
So how do make people care? And why are some product launches the talk of the town?
It’s because they know how to tell a great story.
Release the Kraken!
Tempo AI, founded by mobile industry veteran Raj Singh, launched officially February 13th, 2013.
That same day, it was immediately flooded by demand. It played out how most founders dream their launch will go, a rush of new user sign-ups and a warm and enthusiastic reception. Until the dam broke.
Not long after it went live, the team were quickly forced to temporarily stall new sign-ups as damage control. “We estimated five or 10,000 downloads, but we blew that on the first day,” Singh said in CNET. This of course, led to a slew of bad reviews in the App Store and some potential users turned-off by the app. Another legendary launch story? Mailbox, who dodged a similar bullet by moving sign-ups to a wait-list in lieu of crashing their system when they first launched.
What made Tempo and Mailbox different? Why the flood of users? And how come your startup didn’t experience the same high quality problem? It comes down to the buzz. In the case of Tempo and Mailbox, people want what they can’t have. But nothing really sells a product, like one with great story behind it.
We see it all the time. It’s a week or two until a launch and reception from the journalists you’ve chatted with is lukewarm at best. You’re struggling to think of an interesting angle. Wondering why your founder story and “aha” moment isn’t good enough. The problem is – everyone has an “aha” moment. You’re not special. In that respect at least. But the truth remains – two weeks until your launch isn’t the time to start thinking about your story.
Whether you want to attribute it to pre-meditative planning or serious growth hacking – Tempo began writing their story long before the launch. And they were pretty darn stealth about it. They issued surveys and interviews – both standard and to be expected in the development phase. What made Tempo cool was that they took everything one large step further across the border.
Tempo first launched as “Teempo” right here in Canada. The “alias” was used to test the waters and try out the product on unsuspecting users. Armed with a fake landing page, “Teempo” began testing click through rates on a number of available versions to download. As PandoDaily put it, they went full-blown “Navy SEAL training for 9 months.”
Not only did this lead to a better product – it made a bad-ass story to tell! And it’s one they could have never written overnight.
It’s Never Too Early to Start Thinking About PR
Everyone wants their name in lights. For some, it’s trending on TechCrunch. For others, it’s the cover of Forbes Magazine. Unless Beyonce just invested in your company, chances are that neither TechCrunch nor Forbes are achievable with just a media release. Journalists want something interesting and sadly, product launches alone don’t always cut it.
The moment you start developing your product, is the exact moment you need to start thinking about the story it will become. The story you will eventually tell about its journey. And yes, it’s also a great time to start courting the journalists who will eventually want to hear your story. Build your network before you need it, is after all, the golden rule. But above all, what are you doing now, that will blow people’s minds later?
Top secret testing in niche networks? Launching the ultimate Kickstarter campaign? Whatever you’re doing, make it awesome. Do something people are eventually going to talk about. Recognize the moments that leave you thinking ‘I can’t wait to tell someone about this.’ Those are the moments that build a great product and subsequently, your story.
We’re drowning in calendar apps and that’s not a bad thing. For many of us, our calendar is our lifeline. But the reason Tempo has risen to the top among its competitors in the calendar/productivity space (Sunrise, Cal, and Donna to name a few) is because of the hype surrounding it. Hype that resulted from the journey that got them to the top. As well as $10 million in their first round of funding.
So remember. Just because you’ve just conceived the idea for your next big venture, doesn’t mean it’s too early to start plotting a wicked story.
Build your legend today, so it can be your headline tomorrow.
Does your startup have a great story? Think your ‘aha’ moment has what it takes to be the ultimate headline? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!