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March 18, 2009
There Is No Such Thing as a Free Launch!
 
It’s time all service people ceased their self-important chatting about “The Launch.” In the brave new technologically driven world, we should know better.
 
Everyone realizes the Beta no longer exists — it’s now nothing more or less than an old-hat marketing ploy. To get something done, and seen, you must show it to folks and make people feel a part of the process. So with no further pre-rambling, here is a list of ways to — with apologies to the folks in Beaverton — just do it.
 
1.      It’s just a launch. Gosh. You know by now that no one really wants to hear that you have something new. Once the value sets in, by all means, shout out. But until then, assume everyone understands the value.
 
2.      If it’s still buggy, tell folks – subtly - you are testing something (Alpha is your friend!). Let them in on it. Remember, this is an insanely open-source world.
 
3.      Don’t worry about the competitors. Everyone talks about competitive advantage and losing market share; in this case you are the first mover. Let them try and copy you; no one will be better. It’s up to you to be resolute. Stand behind your evolving, beautiful service!
 
4.      Yours are one of 10 million ideas being released; don’t forget: you cannot invent the wheel, sliced wheat bread, or the next Google. Focus on the tangible value you’re giving your customers.
 
5.      The date is not important. The world does not care about your date. They just want to know it’s ready for them. We had a client in 2008, of all years, who said no way could we even tell a blogger until the day it launched, as if on that day the stars and moon and sun would collide or part in some kind of honor of the big day.
 
6.      Share. Then share some more. When people feel they are evolving with a property, they inevitably want more of it.
 
7.      Two words: "Tell me." Ask folks what they think; do surveys, start chats. Get input. Give away prizes. Whatever it takes to make folks spread positive WOM.
 
8.      Stop pretending it will be ready and “then we’ll market it.” You are marketing it the second you talk about it to the strato/twitter/Face/blogo/Plurkisphere.
 
9.      Once you have people who love it, then brag about what you’ve done. Above, I said be subtle; but like Sondheim said, “Don’t put yourself down — let others do that, they usually do.” If you don’t brag no one else will.
 
10. Remember that everyone today is averse to perceived hype. They will roll their eyes and laugh out loud. And that laughter will reverberate. So above all, be honest.
 
This fake Beta concept is something I’ve been anti- for a while. Google Alerts (BETA)? Come on! That’s been around since you were in short pants.
 
Don’t use beta cause we all know it’s just a slogan for new and improved. Introduce things as something new, how totally innovative.
 
It’s true: "The Launch" is The Past. Don’t attach dates like kids do with star rockets at midnight on New Year’s—the fireworks are in your head—just make sure what you have out there is making you proud, even if it’s not perfect. Especially if it’s not perfect.
 
Realigning is all you are doing. Making something better than anyone has ever had it before! Just be honest about it. If you need help explaining why this is not a Launch to your boss, call me.
 
Twitter @laermer
 
 
 
This column, you guessed it, launched today.

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Richard Laermer is CEO of New York's RLM pr, representing, among others, e-Miles, Epic Advertising, Yodlee, Revolution Money, Group Commerce, Smith & Nephew, and HotChalk. He was host of TLC's cult program Taking Care of Business and speaks on trends and marketing for corporate groups. You can read Laermer on The Huffington Post and on the mischievous but all-too-necessary Bad Pitch Blog. For more like this, follow him on @laermer.

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