I don’t even know if that’s what you call it – “Soft Launch”? But yeah, the idea is simply that rather than doing a huge countdown before you launch a website or a product, you do it quietly. I used to believe in the “Hard Launch” especially when I was releasing new music with my band – but I’ve changed my mind for several reasons – at least for small businesses.
There are some advantages to doing a “Hard Launch”, like gathering excitement and getting your product out to a large number of people right away. The idea is that you start to drop hints about what is coming, whether on Twitter or Facebook or whatever, and then let everybody know EXACTLY when it will be released: EG “Thursday at Midnight!!”. You might even do a countdown clock on your website.
Movies do this a lot. You’ll see the trailers and movie posters all over the place for months ahead of it’s release. And then on the first night of the movie release, tons of people go and watch it because the excitement has been built up so much.
But there’s a couple differences between movies and most small businesses.
- Most small businesses do not have the budget, manpower, or resources to properly execute a “Hard Launch”, where movies do.
- Movies are here and then gone. They are only in the theatre for a few weeks (maybe months) and thats it. Small businesses need staying power.
Like I said before, I’ve done the hard launch – and failed miserably at it. With my band we released an album with a TON of build up. Months in fact! There were a lot of people waiting for us to release it at the exact moment we said we would (12:00 midnight). But the problem was that there was SO much to get ready that we just didn’t have the manpower to finish every little detail. And so midnight came and midnight went – by 6am the next morning we had released it but everyone had since gone to bed.
The people eventually came back and listened to our music and many loved it. But we didn’t deliver on the promise we made to release it when we said we would – and that wrecked the magic a little bit.
That brings me to my main point about why I am a fan of the “Soft Launch”. Less Stress.
It is pretty stressful to arrive at the eleventh hour and find out there is a bug in your system, or your server has gone down, or any number of other things that could go wrong. And even though you might have prepared, and bug tested, and planned everything to the nines, Murphy’s Law always kicks in and you’re gonna get stressed out.
Not only that, but there are some major advantages to doing a “Soft Launch”.
- If your product does have a problem, only a small number of your users will have received it, found it, and will likely have reported it back to you. This allows you to fix it before thousands of people come to you reporting the problem – and the chaos that ensues.
- It allows a grassroots movement to spread your product – which is the best form of advertising. Nothing beats word-of-mouth. And allowing your product to be used/heard/experienced and spread by your small base of users gives it that staying power and lays a better foundation than sensationalism would.
- Your stress levels will be much lower – which really is a nice thing. 🙂
So that’s my advice to you if you are a small business/company/band. Work within your means and be awesome at what you do. Realize what will and won’t work for you and your company. 9 times out of 10 I would say that a “Soft Launch” makes more sense.