February 5, 2023

Sales and Marketing Advice

The Goldilocks principle in launching a new business or product: Getting it 'just right'

Ron Stein | 2/25/2019

Here’s the situation; you’re in the early stages of planning the launch of a new business and product. Here’s the quandary: do you stay in stealth mode until it’s fully baked and ready to roll out or open your kimono now?

The answer is sort of in-between. Or as Goldilocks said, "Not too hot and not too cold.”

The argument for extreme secrecy and holding off disclosing what your company is up to is based on a simple premise — don’t signal the competition. The wisdom of this seems to make sense. Catching competitors by surprise and unprepared to effectively challenge you in a timely way is a sweet thought. 

Plus, there's the idea that a sudden and unexpected launch announcement will create the maximum buzz in the market.

Keeping your rivals in the dark, preventing them from copying and launching a similar product just before your big launch, and a big media splash — what can possibly go wrong?

This is a nifty strategy for entering the market. No press releases and news coverage, no public product demos. No nothing. Just the big bang of the launch announcement. 

Ah, not so fast. Are you seeing a possible crack in the dam here? 

Unless you have built an audience who cares, it’s like a tree that falls in the forest. If no one is listing, no one will hear what you’re saying. 

Here’s the thing, a little stealth goes a long way — but not too much. 

Talk about your company without talking about your solution. Curiosity plays a major role in getting the attention of people. If your market, press, and influencers are aware of your company and like what you have to say, yet aren’t sure what you do, they’re a bit intrigued. However, when a business is in pre-launch ultra secret stealth mode, nobody knows they exist and it’s impossible to be curious. Instead, your activities should scream value related to your core competency — without talking directly about your unnamed secret product. 

To build pre-buzz, bluntly tell the world you have a secret. So, how do you talk about your company without talking about your solution? Develop your company’s voice around your core competency as a theme and become thought leaders in that subject matter. Then get the word out, but not about your eventual offering. Nibble at the edges. You can even say that you’re working on something exciting that the world will soon know about. Then get to work. There’s no one way to do this, but it’s important to be seen and heard. From speaking engagements, to guest blogs, or an authoritative email newsletter pick targets that will benefit from your product, when announced, and build an audience with focus and intent. Don’t forget to drop vague hints of what you’re doing along the way. 

There are dangers of going all-in stealth, so crank up early interest. In the excessive secrecy approach you lose the ability to get valuable feedback from potential users and line up early pre-launch customers. It’s okay to talk about your stealth mode and if you need to, have select people sign a non-disclosure or press embargo agreement. Otherwise, get going in a way that creates curiosity and builds suspense. For instance, let’s say your secret product in development is a robot with hyper intelligence that will conquer the difficulties of cooking complex recipes in a commercial kitchen; tell it what pie you’d like and the robot will call the food distributor to have the proper ingredients delivered just in time, then it’ll figure out the puzzle of mixing and timing, bake it and even taste then pie to make sure it’s perfect — then sell it for a profit. Get involved in industry organizations and writing for relevant publications that focus on on artificial intelligence. The same goes for the restaurant industry and the dry-baking ingredients manufacturers and their trade associations. Use social marketing. The idea is to get your company and it’s people known in the target markets you’ll eventually sell into. And here’s the important part — create key relationships, build followers in social media, and grow an enormous email list along the way. 

Prime your future customers, influencers, and the media for action. When your company is ready to launch, your splash will be big by greasing the path to success.

This is the Goldilocks principle in action. To maximize the effectiveness of your eventual launch, avoid excessive disclosure on the "too much" side and avoid incomplete or inaccurate communication on the "too little" side.

It’s the best of both worlds!

Ron Stein is founder of More Customers Academy, helping business leaders build strategic messaging and positioning that cuts through the competitive noise to grow revenue. Ron has developed his own highly successful 5-step Stand Out & Sell More approach to winning new customers as a result of his twenty-five years of business development, marketing, and selling experiences. He works with a range of businesses, from startups to large corporations across industries including technology and healthcare, manufacturing, and financial services and banking. Ron conducts workshops, leads company meetings, offers keynote talks, and consults. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or by email.

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