There’s lots of talk about how to launch products in the blogosphere, particularly much conversation around 37Signals book, Getting Real which details how they do it. It’s a damn fine read by the way, but there are definately other ways of doing a product launch.
The Web2.0 Hype Launch
I see several product launches a day, I’m a true technophile, and love to follow all the cool stuff (and all the shit stuff too) that people are trying to get out there into the ‘sphere. The “established” way runs something like this:
- Make a few hints
- Invite a few mavens into the fold
- Suck up to, or buy your way into “web2.0” sites hearts
- Launch invite only
- Pray that someone buys you before the app cripples under the weight of popularity
That’s a very generalistic list, but you get the point right?
The Community First Approach
The way we launched both Performancing Firefox and Performancing Metrics was somewhat of the reverse. We knew who are target audience was, so we decided that rather than risk not being able to buy or slime our way into the right crowd to get coverage of our launches, we’d develop our own crowd, first.
It runs something like this:
- Pinpoint the audience and start writing for them
- Do all the normal things you do to promote a blog, including a little strategic advertising to kick start if you can.
- Develop the community, put them above all else.
- Invite key members of the community into alpha’s, beta’s etc. Develop a sense of ownership before launching
- Launch and let your community be the first evangelists for your product
Again it’s generalistic, and much detail and caveats are missing, but it’s an approach that’s working well for us.
It’s not without it’s downsides. What if you spend all that time and money developing a community only to find that you’ve called it wrong, and they hate your products? How about time frame? It’s certainly slower this way…. One major caveat is that aswell as all of the above, we still send out traditional press releases, and email folks outside of the community we think our stuff will be interesting too.
But for me, and for Performancing in general, the community has always been central to success. And you know what? I don’t want to have to suck up to various folks in the web2.0 crowd to get them to write about our products. Fuck ’em. I’d rather stick my head in a bucket of cold sick.
I’m much more comfortable letting the people that help us shape our products, help us get the word out. Launching to a ready made audience that YOU identified, and that YOU targeted in every blog post that you wrote, is a lot nicer than spinning the wheel and hoping that a few folks like you enough to help you build the buzz you need to gain critical mass.
So far so good…