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One of the biggest problems with launching your product is making sure you launch on time. This is such a big problem in fact, that many people shy away from setting a launch date entirely!
But not having a launch date is going to work against you. Why? Because people don’t notice announcements they notice consistency.
If you don’t have a launch date, people will not know when to buy. As we’ll be talking about later on in Part 7 of this series, you’re going to be creating a launch window with incentives to buy.
If people don’t know when that launch is, your launch window isn’t going to fix that problem. Your launch will be a failure.
You have to tell people about the launch date ahead of time and you have to tell them a lot because they’re not going to notice if you only tell them once. They’re especially not going to notice if you only tell them days or weeks before the event.
Set a Launch Date
You’re going to need to set a launch date ahead of time. I like to do it at least six months in advance. This gives people time to notice and time to get excited.
If that seems like a long time, which sounds worse: waiting a bit longer to have a great launch where tons of people buy, or launching sooner and getting nothing but crickets?
You have to build buzz ahead of time and you need to be telling people for months exactly when this thing is going to be available.
If you don’t do this, people will not show up and I guarantee your launch will be a failure. In the very best case scenario, it would have been many times as big.
How To Determine a Launch Date
If you don’t set a deadline, the project will not get completed. It will go on indefinitely. Setting a deadline with a launch date ensures you complete things on time.
I mentioned earlier that six months is a good minimum to start with. The primary reason for this is to build buzz. Even if you can complete it sooner, I don’t recommend it because you’re not giving people enough time to notice, care, and get excited.
If you find yourself with extra time, you can simply use it to open your beta group like we talked about in the last episode to refine the product.
Generally, six months is enough time to complete most simple products, but in some cases you may need more time. This also depends on your availability and how much time you have to dedicate to the creation.
Reverse-Engineer the Product
This is where you’ll need to reverse-engineer the product. What does the final version look like? What’s required? What will you need? Are there certain things that need to be completed before others?
Lay out all of these pieces on a table or in a text document and rearrange them as needed. You want to come up with an outline of the creation process. Assign time frames to each task and create milestones.
Setting a Creation Schedule
Once you have the tasks broken down with time frames assigned to each of them, you can begin to get a better idea of how long things will take.
To make sure you stay on track, set milestones for yourself at the completion of each major stage. This way, you have numerous checkpoints where you can evaluate whether or not you’re on time.
This is much better than getting to the very end of your deadline and realizing you only have the product 40% completed. With milestones you can calibrate as you go.
What if You Can’t Meet the Deadline?
What do you do if the launch date is here but you haven’t finished your product?
Assuming you’ve completed most of it, I recommend still launching on time. If you don’t, your reputation will take a hit. It doesn’t matter how much explanation or reasons you give, the fact of the matter is you made a public promise six months ago and you set expectations.
If you do not deliver when you said you would, your word means less than it did before.
Your reputation takes a hit and there is no avoiding this fact. You are less trustworthy than you were before in the mind of the prospect.
This is why I recommend you launch on time no matter what with whatever you have. Ideally if you followed this process intentionally, your product should be at least 80% or 90% completed and what you can do is roll out the remaining pieces post launch.
So you launch the product and then inform the customer of exactly when the final pieces will be delivered. This is obviously still not 100% ideal, but it’s better than canceling or rescheduling the launch.
Some people will tell you that you should just keep postponing your launch until the product is complete and perfect. I disagree. Your reputation is the most important thing and delivering on your word is critical.
People will place much more weight on you breaking your promise. If you’re iterating in public and telling people that you’re constantly improving, it can actually be a fantastic opportunity to build even more trust that you would have otherwise.
It’s not unlike an app update. You know how when you buy an app and then you see the developer release an update and continue to improve your experience with the product even after you’ve given them money? That’s a great feeling. We all love that.
By launching something slightly imperfect and then improving it right before your customer’s eyes, they see that you really care and are invested in the refinement of the product they bought.