Launching a Product
Tim Ferriss — "When you are thinking about a new product launch, the fist thing I would ask is ‘Is it the right time to do a product launch?’. If your product isn’t figured out, if you can’t fill the orders, now is not the right time to be on tech crunch (in my opinion) or in any other major media outlet. Once you are on a major media outlet they are not going to cover you again for some period of time, or ever. If you are in the business section of the New York Times they are not going to cover you four weeks later when your product is better and you are ready, so make sure that you pick your timing.
So there is paid exposure and unpaid exposure. I like to focus in unpaid because it forces you to make better decisions in the beginning. I would read (as I always say) ‘The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing’; ‘One Thousand True Fans’ written by Kevin Kelly; I would also read bestselling book ‘PR and Publicity‘ by Rick Frishman - all of the techniques apply to more than books. Learn to tell the story. What are you focusing on? Are you using yourself to tell the story, and then the product is associated? Is it a trend piece? Are you trying to tie what you are doing into a greater trend (which is a very effective way of getting media) - in which case you’re going to need other examples. You are going to need to get comfortable with bringing in cooperative competitors to create that trend base.
Learn the art of the pitch and of messaging. Only once you have figured that out would I say that you go out to acquire people, because now if your messaging is off it’s costing you money. I think Kickstarter is amazing, I think it’s an incredible company. If you can use it as a point of leverage - fantastic. You will learn very quickly if your product has any appeal, you will learn very quickly if you have the ability to sell the company and fundraise, and if you don’t have any of those things you probably should either change direction (choose a different product), or not go head-first into being an entrepreneur. You need to be able to sell, whether it’s Kickstarter, whether it’s New York Times, whether it’s your local newspaper, you need to be able to communicate effectively and sell, which is why when entrepreneurs ask me for books to read outside of business books I say ‘On Writing Well’, ‘Bird By Bird’, all books on writing, improving communication. David Ogilvy - ‘Ogilvy On Advertising‘, study print ads where you have very little space. I think those are all very, very effective.
The best entrepreneurs I’ve ever met are all good communicators, it is perhaps one of the very few unifying factors. They are very exceptional communicators. Practice is the only way to get better at communicating, and practicing speaking does not provide you (generally) with something to review later, which is why the written word is so powerful. Writing is thought crystalized on a piece of paper which can then be reviewed. It is very difficult to do that with speech, which is why I recommend people focus on honing their skills in writing. Take time to study good direct-response ads. Take time to (for instance) maybe develop a swipe file. One of the things I did for years was: whenever I bought something I would identify the ad, the phone call, the print ad, the offer, whatever it was that made me decide to buy it. I would cut it out, record it, put it into Evernote, whatever it might be, and save it. I had a record of everything I bought and why I bought it. I could go back and review and go ‘Huh? Looks like I fell for this, this and this.‘ (Not in a bad way). It looks like this tipped me from ‘not interested’ to ‘yeah, I’ll spend $5, $50, $500, $5000 dollars on that’. I save all that.
Everything that works in sales has been done already. You do not need to reinvent the wheel. Just keep track of the crap that you buy (or the awesome stuff that you buy!) and decide: what was the trigger? What pushed me over the edge? And then just sell to people like you. That’s what I do, it’s really easy! People are like ‘Who is your market?’. I am like ‘Well...’. I am a 30-something, SF based, tech-savvy, male, so why don’t I just sell to those people? That makes it a lot easier than trying to guess. What first-time entrepreneurs tend to miscalculate is everything. What I mean by that is: optimism has a place, but I think even more so for the first-time entrepreneur you need to be pragmatically pessimistic. What I mean by that is: you need to define all the worst case scenarios in terms of financial loss, time loss, etc. Look at what you will learn if that happens, and accept and come to terms with that before you ever start. If you don’t do that and you go straight into battling the world, trying to conquer the world with rose-colored glasses on the first time you hit a major hiccup you will become really demoralized and you will quit. Optimism - all that ‘Rah rah rah!’ - that’s awesome. But you need to hope for the best and prepare for the worst before you even get started. I always recommend that."