There’s a huge difference between shipping a product, soft launching, and launching. And there’s no rule that says you can only launch once.
It took a fair amount of effort for me to divorce these ideas in my own mind. The novice mindset of “if you build it, they will come” is still one of those pervasive attitudes that prevents us from being successful. And yet as developers it’s so natural to labor over our project and then, upon shipping it, think to ourselves “I’m finally done!”
I love the soft launch. It’s like a waypoint between shipping and launching. It helps me get out of my engineering mindset. Soft launching reminds me: “your code still has a ton of undiscovered bugs”. Soft launching shows me code paths I didn’t anticipate.
Showing my project to an audience for the first time is that precious moment when your labor of love meets the ruthlessness of the market. It is a glorious thing to behold.
And then, days or weeks later, the launch. Whether you’re posting on Product Hunt or you’re unleashing a press embargo, launching is an event. It’s an investment, it usually takes planning and coordination, and it is often a chance to rally the team’s morale around the fact that “we did it!”.
And what happens when the launch doesn’t go as expected? Will your brand be forever tarnished? Will your audience conclude that you’re a clown and not want to buy your products?
Unless you’re a Fortune 500, probably not. And in fact, you should just launch again.
Sometimes it feels strange to launch a product more than once. We think our audience will get tired of hearing about us. We anticipate that they’ll be confused: “wait, didn’t this already launch?” We worry that we’ll seem desperate. And so on.
But we need to remember that the world is absolutely gargantuan. There are so many people that still haven’t even heard about you. So even though your message is new to some people, for the vast majority of prospective customers, you are brand new.
Every time you launch, even the same messaging and feature set, there are people who are hearing about you for the first time. That first impression.