By Hanah Cho
The Dallas Morning News.
Marketing expert Brian Tanis talked to the Dallas Morning News about timing a business launch.
Tanis is vice president of marketing at Dallas startup CarryOn, a site for crowd-sourced travel deals. He has more than 16 years of experience in Internet marketing and product management, including relaunching American Airlines’ AA.com website and forming the project management group at Hotels.com.
-Listen to your customers: Define whom you plan to serve, then find your audience to start a dialogue. Get feedback from online surveys such as Google Insights and tap into any of the affordable online usability tools. Finally, listen to what people are saying around you. Remember, it is almost impossible to ask people to validate an idea if they’ve never encountered it before. So spend your time validating that the problem you are trying to solve is actually a problem.
-Don’t rush to launch: Set your targets and be prepared for a minimal level of traffic. Take some time to make sure you can handle basic customer service requests. And make sure your computer systems are optimized for the best possible performance. Nobody likes waiting for a page to load.
-Don’t wait for perfection: Don’t get stuck in a never-ending cycle of building the perfect solution before going live. The business world is ever-changing, and perfection only lasts a day. The saying that applies here is, “Don’t let perfect be an enemy of good.” It really is a difficult concept for most of us in startup land. You’ll burn through too much cash if you continue to fiddle and fail to move forward.
-Be ready to adjust: As you prepare to launch, users’ tastes change and the competition continues to improve. If you thought your idea was best shared through an auction model, but your customers think that is too complicated and confusing, get ready to adjust your execution. Being prepared for change upfront will help you shift more rapidly when that inevitable need to adjust eventually arrives.
-Measure results: If you are counting on rapid growth and viral sharing, make sure you can measure how often your soon-to-be new members share with their friends. If you can only count how many times the cash register rings but you can’t measure if your business model is working, you are not ready for a full-blown launch. Analytics and reports that help you discover if you are hitting the mark will help you learn and fuel your post-launch updates, adjustments and new features.