When thinking about my marketing strategy for Enemy Tree, LLC's soon to be launched product, I am forced to pause and deeply consider launches--the good, the bad, and the "there was a launch?".
A few years ago, I was invited to Lyft's Silicon Valley Launch Party. As the charter bus took us from the West Valley College parking lot to the wooded grounds of Villa Montalvo, I felt transported. Lyft offered a party filled with red cups, live bluegrass music, and mingling actors in full Victorian garb. The founders, Logan Green and John Zimmer, moved through the crowd, and my wife and I were even introduced to them by the friend who invited us (who was also a Lyft employee). A few months later, Lyft's growth rate would outpace their competitor, Uber. While there was surely a multifaceted marketing strategy, the regional launches were a part of an overall successful push.
As part of the launch for the iPhone 6, Apple announced that every person with iTunes would receive a free copy of U2's latest album. While U2 fans were probably overjoyed, the rest of the iTunes consumers responded with outrage at Apple and U2. Instead of it feeling like a gift, it felt like an imposition. Some would say that there is no such thing as bad press, but the iPhone 6 was not Apple's most successful phone, nor was this launch strategy.
Do you remember the Gas Cubby app launch? The app to track gas mileage and vehicle maintenance was featured in a few blogs in 2008. While I am sure some people read the articles and decided to try it (I still use it regularly); other people went out to the App Store, looked for a product to solve their problem, and downloaded the app with a good rating. While there is nothing wrong with a well-funded launch, Gas Cubby demonstrates that a modest launch can mean modest success. Sometimes, the court of public opinion can help push a product forward.
Some launches come with fireworks displays, and others with not as much as a sparkler. In the end, I think a launch can have an impact on short-term success--creating a surge of interest in the product, but it isn't necessary for long-term success. It's just a much longer road without direct engagement with consumers and the media. With 100's of tech companies launching products every day, there's a lot of humming in the background. I just hope I'm not the type of hum that gets tuned out.
What do you think? Do launches matter to the success of a product? If they don't, what's needed to be successful? What happens if a launch takes place in the Silicon Forest? Does it make a sound;)?