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You Build It. They Come. Now What? Part 1

December 20, 2011

In our own projects as well as those of our clients, it is easy to become uni-dimensional– getting caught up in a single initiative and losing sight of the importance of other critical elements to the success of the new market venture.  Take, for instance, the the preparation of a web-based product launch.  The following seven basic elements are critical to the venture’s success in roughly this order:

  1. getting the product right,
  2. letting the world know the product exists,
  3. getting tire-kickers to register,
  4. onboarding (successful conversion of a registrant into regular user),
  5. regular users inviting additional users (especially if there is a viral or social element to the product/service… and if there’s not, you should be asking yourself why!)
  6. Repeating steps 3-5 for new invites
  7. Continuous improvement / refinement of the product and perhaps the business model as you read and react in the early stages of steps 1-6.

(BTW, there’s a great acronym “AARRR” that captures most of the above in “Startup Metrics for Pirates, a 5-step model for creating a metrics framework for your business & customers, and how to apply it to your product & marketing efforts”.)

Most New Market Entrepreneurs do not have the resources (time, money, people) to focus on more than one thing at a time and item #1 takes 100% of their energies.  As hard as it might be, carefully considering and having a plan in advance for each of the above 7 items will increase the probability of your success.  Rather than work in serial going through steps 1-7, we’d advise multiplexing across all 7 at once– at least in terms of having a well thought out and documented plan in advance for how and when each step will be be executed, as well as how you can leverage possible inter-dependencies across steps.

Most launch plans will deeply explore, define and execute upon the steps required to 1) get the product right, 2) communicate that the product is available– that’s the launch!– and 3) maximize registrations yielded from initial visits brought about by the efforts in #2.  But many stop there.  They break their budgets getting people to come to the site while leaving little in terms of cash resources (luckily you don’t need much) or mindshare for how to convert registrants into active users.

Let’s face it.  If you do your targeting and messaging right and then invest wisely to communicate your offering, you can get people to visit your new site. If you do a good job in those first-impression moments, you can be successful in yielding a respectable percent who register.

It’s what comes next that gets both tricky and dicey at the same time.  It is where the magic happens and you get traction– or where you fall flat.  Unless you can truly engage that new registrant– getting him/her to start using and becoming dependent on your offering– they are going to move on with their life and there’s a good chance never think of your newly-launched baby again!

This is where the art and science of step 4, the onboarding process, kicks in.   Furthermore, unless you plan to ‘buy’ your users and your acquisition economics have a proven ROI, you need to design frictionless sharing into your product.  Your engaged, happy, hopefully delighted users become your sales and marketing department.  This is where the art and science of step 5 come in.  And step 6 is simply the automated ‘rinse-repeat’ phase as the cycle starts anew.

In future posts we’ll break this down a bit further and provide concrete examples.

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