Our clients ask this question all the time.
You have a new product in development. Sales is chomping at the bit…marketing is preparing for the launch…and the executive team wants to talk about the product to anyone and everyone.
When is the right time to begin publicly talk about a new product?
The answer is….it depends.
As a rule, we recommend that you do not talk about a new product until the actual product launch. When should you launch? At the earliest, 60 prior to general availability (GA), also known as production release.
General availability means that your product has completed beta and as well as limited availability. Betas are initial releases of potential future products or features. Customers who participate in beta programs have the opportunity to test, validate, and provide feedback on future functionality, which helps development teams focus efforts on what provides the most value to customers. Limited availability is like limbo between beta and general availability. In terms of software, it means the functionality may be there but it may not be ready to scale or handle a production workload. For physical products, it means manufacturing is still working out the kinks.
The problem with talking about products while they are still in beta or limited availability is that a lot could go sideways. Features could be dropped from first release. Product could be delayed due to development or support issues. If products are manufactured outside the U.S. there could be transportation delays or pricing changes due to increased tariffs. The market could suddenly change and you may have to rethink your positioning. There are so many variables that it could affect your final offering.
Customers Buy From Companies They Trust
Trust develops with a consistent customer experience. Consistency of your message, the quality of your offerings, and the ongoing support that you offer builds trust with your customers.
The biggest destroyer of trust is to over-promise and under-deliver. Once you have a track record of announcing products and not delivering in the specified time, it is hard to win that trust back.
Inbound and Content Marketing are Key to Preparing Your Market
Content marketing is one way you can pre-market before your product is ready. By hyping up what you already have and educating prospects about a problem your solving, you are preparing the market for your launch.
For example, we have a number of clients that have artificial intelligence (AI) technologies on their product road map. It may be several years before they have a fully baked AI-based product however, we have been using content marketing to educate vertical markets on how new technology is going to eventually change the way they operate. We are not talking about specific product features and benefits however we are talking about what AI is, how it will be used in their market to solve a business challenge, etc.
There are business reasons that may warrant launching your product early. You may be trying to secure a round of funding that requires you to demonstrate that you have a product in beta and has pent-up demand. A new market entrant could be poaching your existing customers and you want to slow down that process by letting everyone know that your new product is on the horizon.
Each situation is different but don't pull the trigger on your product launch too early. It could severely impact your trust with customers and prospects.