Posted by Jon Schubin on Fri, Mar 03 2017

All Posts by Jon Schubin

Five Rules for a Better Launch

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A big idea can spring up from just about any context, whether it is during a long walk in the mountains, or hours deep into a corporate retreat, or in the midst of an inane and irrelevant conversation.

The best ideas become the foundation of a business, but that idea needs a strong infrastructure constructed around it to form a company, a process that can take months, or even years.

And then, of course, the company needs customers. Enter the launch. Company launches come in a variety of forms these days – the grand opening, the quiet launch, the pre-public period, the beta phase, etc. All are designed to bring in and develop a customer base while executing and improving upon the idea.

A great launch lays the foundation for a company that lasts for decades. A scuttled launch can mean a business closing down before rolling out the first phase of a product roadmap.

The key to a successful liftoff is a proper communications strategy. The organization needs to illustrate why people need their product and why they need it now. This especially true for financial technology companies, which run on tight resources and compete against hundreds of other companies working on similar products. There isn’t always time to fix things in version 2.0.

Here are five rules to get that launch off right:

1. Research the competition – We know you think that no one is doing what you are doing. That’s why this is a multi-million dollar idea. But somehow society was functioning before this product arrived on the market. Read your competitors’ websites, try to get a hold of their marketing emails or brochures. Figure out how they are describing themselves and make sure you clearly answer the question about why this new solution is better.

2. Bring someone in early – Who writes intelligently about your part of the industry? Who wrote something that is prescient or even just interesting about related technologies and trends? While you are still developing the process, reach out. If you have a communications who can help, all the better. Say you are a fan, let them know what you are building and say you want to have a conversation. Have an off-the-record discussion. Don’t just have them ask questions, make it a dialogue. By bringing someone in early, they will have feel a sense of ownership or even pride when it launches.

3. Figure out who cares – Beyond this initial sherpa, you need a core group of people who will write about the product. Don’t just look at the stars here – consider the trade journalists that will drill into the specifics of your technology. Figure out what constitutes success, and how your target media writes their stories. Be ready to provide them the material they need.

4. Separate the needs of the press from the needs of your customers – Many people out there imagine every launch akin to the launch of the iPod. Months or years of hard research culminate in a grand reveal, preferably on a stage while wearing a black turtleneck. Many journalists have stresses that prevent them from getting out the office. And they typically aren’t interested in speaking to someone in a public forum. Do what you need to do for your customers (although again, a lecture and grand reveal isn’t always right the option) but make things as easy as possible for journalists.

5. Plant the seeds for the next story – This is a tricky one. You aren’t creating an expanded universe of endless stories that must tease the next installment. At the same time, reporters should understand that there’s more to come from your company. Explain your next audience, or where you want to be in six to nine months. Stick to measureable and achievable results – there’s no need to aim for the skies. Promise to get back in touch with a journalist down the line with these results.

More than anything, it helps to start planning for a launch early. Don’t wait until the product is finished to start planning how to bring it out into the world. By then it may already be too late.

Financial Communications, Fintech, Launch,
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