What You Can Learn From Apple About Launching Products
Launching a new product can induce a lot of anxiety. If you have been working on your product for some time, it is easy to let the fear of uncertainty about public reaction take over. You might decide to push the launch the back until you can one feature a bit better, a part of the design a bit cleaner, or to fix one more outstanding bug. You end up pushing your launch back to next week, next month, or in the worst case, “one day”.
Apple just finished their 2015 WWDC, and there are some valuable lessons startups can learn from Apple’s marketing strategy.
A Launch is NOT A One-Time Event
Apple hosts big events a couple of times a year for their line of products. They didn’t just launch the iPhone and iOS; they have launches every year for new apps and features. Instead of pushing a launch back so you can finish a new feature, you can instead see that as an opportunity to have a second marketing event in the future.
A Launch is NOT Perfect
OS X had a lot of issues when it first released, but that didn’t stop Apple from releasing it to the public. While you don’t want to move forward with a broken app, it’s important to realize that no piece of software is ever going to be perfect. This fact becomes more and truer the more complex a product becomes.
You Don’t Have to Launch to Everyone All At Once
Apple’s WWDC aims at building interest among developers so that they can populate the app store. They don’t announce all of their features to their whole audience; They launch once to people invested in the platform who tend to be early adopters. If you have an audience, you can launch to a small subset of people. This strategy gives you a chance to gather important customer feedback before planning your next launch.
You Can Always Launch Again
The iPhone didn’t gain traction until its third iteration. However, Apple could not have made it to that successful third version without the failed first two. By launching early, they were able to see what kind of issues people would run into in the wild, and make improvements based on real-world use of their product instead of making guesses in a lab. That kind of information is incredibly valuable.
So… Just Do It
In my experience, There is one main determining factor between my clients that have a lot of success and those that don’t: successful clients ship early and launch often, less successful clients don’t. They spend too long waiting for “perfect” launch conditions.
Whenever you are anxious about launching, consider the alternative. The alternative is letting your product sit quietly on a shelf, not getting customers and bringing in revenue. A bad launch that nets you one client is better than not launching at all.
After all, if the launch doesn’t go well, you can always launch again.