Growth July 27, 2020

What's your pre-launch strategy?

Cat McGee @catmcgee

I'm building a resource for preparing for the coding interview right now, called The Coding Interview. It's my first money-making idea (hopefully!) and I'm planning to launch the beta at the end of the year, with official release not long after it.

I'm wondering what you guys do before your launch. At the moment I'm doing this:

  • Allowing people to sign up for the beta, which will also sign them up for a newsletter with coding interview tips & updates on the product
    --> A few people on Twitter are telling me I should release each 'module' of the product on beta, rather than waiting until it's all complete to release. What do you think of that?

  • Growing my own Twitter profile & tweeting about the progress of The Coding Interview

  • Making some other fun free apps with wider appeal to attract people to me & my other products

  • Guest blogs

This is my first real product and I'm really excited about it, but I have no real clue about marketing and launch strategies. I'd love to hear what your plans are and what works for you!

  1. 3

    I learnt a lot from this talk:
    Especially as a coder, it's very easy to have long forward visions (>3 months) of building cool things and then shipping them at the end and I sed to do this all the time. Now I'm far more focussed on building something and getting it into people hands, like every week. I don't consider my current project "launched" yet cos its still in the "embarassing MVP" phase, but really there's not going to be any difference when it does "launch" except it will look nicer and have a few more features.
    For coding interview, I'm sure there is lot's of content you can put up. There are a lot of people looking for engineering jobs since COVID and companies are starting to hire again from what I can see. Now would be a great time to get content out there - i've not seen the market so lop-sided in all my time hiring.

    1. 1

      Second this - probably the most important resource I've come across on this topic

  2. 3

    You'll probably have read this in many different places, but when I see 'launch beta at the end of the year' I'm wondering if you're not taking too long. Unless you feel you've validated your product, why not launch sooner in smaller chunks (like your followers suggested)? You really want to avoid spending months to build something only to find that people don't want it, or that it's not going to be the commercial success that you want it to be.

    Second, a tip might be to not to require people to sign up for the beta to be on the email list. I would add a 'Keep me posted' email signup, as that requires much less buy in from people you'll likely grow your list much faster!

    1. 2

      I second this, I think it would be a pity to spend so long building something only to have no market demand once you launch. You are already doing so many amazing things by growing your audience across social channels and sharing blog posts. All these people can serve as your initial feedback loop for releasing your smaller chunks and help you to iterate as you build. Keep up the great work!

    2. 1

      Yeah, I will probably launch the beta in small chunks. I haven't heard of this strategy before, which is why I was a bit hesitant - but you're definitely right about the end of the year being a little long!

      Great idea about a 'keep me posted' signup. Thanks for the tip.

  3. 2

    Hello @catmcgee, I think you would have got a fair bit of idea from all the feedback you have received so far. You should definitely release each module of the product on beta. There are two benefits of that; either you figure out that there is not much demand in the market and it saves you time from working on something that would not have been the financial success that you hoped to have, or, if you are successful in validating your idea, you could also use the feedback from beta testers to review and make changes to the product.
    Everything you are doing in terms of growing your audience on Twitter and through blog posts is really good, but you should add to that before your launch. The user persona for your product is clear so you should identify the communities/forums where they could be found. Slack, Reddit, and LinkedIn are some of the channels you should try. Knowing your potential users could be vital for a successful launch, so try to engage with them and understand their requirements so that you could position your product in a way that addresses their requirements.
    One of the other things to consider pre-launch of the product is getting press coverage. It is not easy to get journalists to publish about your product, but good press coverage could help you get a lot of traction and increase traffic. Reach out to journalists who cover stories about the product such as yours and send them emails or messages pitching your idea. You should ideally prepare a press kit to make this easy for yourself, and you should check out Press Kite by @ChrisFrantz, which will complete the work of preparing an excellent press kit. However, if you feel doing this part of the job is not for you, then you could opt for HOWLER 2.0 by @matthenderson, which is a brilliant tool for press outreach as a service.
    Pre-launch phase is all about putting your product out in the public domain, and there are a few other pre-launch campaigns that you could target. Your product is clearly there to serve a purpose so record small videos about the problems faced during coding interviews and how you can help to solve them. You can also do this by reaching out to influencers who can put the problems that your product is solving to a wider audience. By doing this, you will be able to get more information about your product and its features to your targeted audience.

  4. 2

    I wrote up a something about our experience and timeline if it's helpful.

    The key takeaways :

    • From that Kat Manalac video @krishan711 mentioned - never stop launching - you'll get many cracks at it. Try stuff out early on, get feedback, recalibrate, launch again.
    • Post to Betalist - was a low effort effective way to get subscribers - would recommend but not necessarily pay for the expedited service.
    • Most people will forget who you are or why they signed up for your launch. Make sure you remind them when you invite them to the demo, especially if they pre-registered weeks or months ago.
    • It's great to have pre-registered users, but don't expect all of them to take you up on signing up.
    • The best way we found to get early adopters was after the product was live, and then spending time in communities and Slack groups where our target users lived. If they were at all interested in what we were working on, we'd try and book an onboard directly.
    • Be targetted in whom you reach out to join. If you are doing a closed beta, focus on people whom you think need your product. Otherwise, you'll spend lots of time talking to, or trying to please, people who don't need your product. Respect their time and yours.

    Good luck 🎉

  5. 1

    One thing I really want to add to this conversation is that I initially read the title as pre-lunch rather than pre-launch.

    Pre-lunch 😭
    Pre-launch ✨

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