When To Start Marketing

So let’s take a little break from coding today and read an excellent article about when to start marketing the products of that coding; and exactly when is set out straightforwardly in the title,

Why You Should Start Marketing the Day You Start Coding

Indeed. Time and again … and again … and again … we’ve finished up massive projects that everyone agrees were executed with magnificent skill and aplomb, and they go on to pretty much disappear without a trace because nobody involved has clue one about marketing. And there’s a pretty strong correlation between that and people who want to keep the development secret. As the article says,

Let me address the fear of someone stealing your idea with the following: Wake the hell up! No one cares about your idea…

And if someone does steal it before you launch, consider it a favor.

Having your idea stolen sooner saves you the hassle of building it, only to have someone steal it then. If it’s that easy to steal it’s going to happen one way or the other…

Why yes, yes that is true. Next time somebody insists on an NDA before they describe their project, we’ll just point them at this article. Actually, given how much of a waste of time those people generally turn out to be, we’ll probably tell them to wire us $2500 along with the NDA text to pay for our lawyer to review it. That should weed out the unserious ones right nicely.

As far as practical advice goes, the only real takeaway is that you should put a landing page up soon as you decide to move forward. Most importantly, for concept validation:

In 2-4 hours you can setup a landing page and begin collecting emails. This simple act (coupled with a small amount of marketing) can make the difference between having the confidence that you’re building something people want, and having no clue if you’re pouring several person-months of effort down the drain…

Imagine yourself three months into building your product. You have three months left. You’re tired because you work every night until 1am. Your wife tolerates it, but she’s not happy about all the time you spend sitting in front of your computer with no money to show for it. And you haven’t seen your friends in months…

… assume you have 650 targeted email addresses you’ve compiled through some small marketing efforts and a landing page. Suddenly things don’t look so bleak. You have some sales waiting for you once you push the bits to your server.

And vice versa, if you’re three months in and you’ve received several thousand uniques to your landing page but only 6 sign-ups, you have a problem. Either your landing page stinks or your idea is a lead balloon.

Either way, you need to put coding on hold and figure out the problem.

Yep, yep, yep, yeppers. We’ve also noticed a very striking correlation of success with clients who believe in the release early release often mantra, and an equally striking correlation of failure with clients who believe in perfecting their vision, as opposed to incorporating any customer feedback, down to the virtually unnoticeable detail before they spring it upon the world, as Athena from the brow of Zeus … except to pretty much complete indifference.

Not that perfectionism is bad in and of itself mind you, you can make a decent argument it’s necessary for sustainable success in fact, but you can’t allow it to impact release schedule so you have to trade features off for it, even features that most people would deem necessary if you asked them. Exhibit A: How long was it before the iPhone had copy and paste again? How much sneering was there among the technorati over that? How much difference did that make to the iPhone’s success? Yep, that’s about right. We could call that the Copy & Paste Principle perhaps, and apply it to every feature request that would involve a release date slip.

But in the meantime, we recommend you read the whole article. Hopefully nothing in it you find shocking, or even particularly surprising, but it does lay out its prescriptions quite clearly and compellingly.

Alex | November 26, 2010

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