The Right Time for Publicity

This is the realm of a Catch 22. In order for a business to grow, people need to know about it. However, if people know about your business before you have solidified your product, you may end up with negative publicity that will haunt you for a while. If you wait too long before making your product public, you may end up losing a significant portion of the market to your competition who went public before you did.

Of course, if you have a business plan (which if you want your business to be successful, you will definitely need one), then you should have thought about this already. The question is, what did you come up with?

Some businesses can be developed in stages, which makes the answer to this question relatively simple: provide public information in stages, as each piece of your product or service becomes available. This way, you can ensure that the components you’re advertising can stand up to public scrutiny, and you don’t talk about the components you are still working on.

Other businesses, however, have an all-or-nothing perspective. They have a single product which cannot be broken into pieces. If these businesses require funding before the product is ready for sale, they will have to decide how much information to broadcast. Tell too little information about your product, and you won’t gain interest. Tell too much, and you may end up promising more than you can deliver, or give your competitors information that can be used by them. The trick is in striking the right balance between the two extremes.

My advice would be to use the following as general guidelines:

  1. Be sure you are ready to talk about your product before going live.
  2. Try to find a way to break up your deliverables into stages so that you can start generating a revenue stream and good publicity while you work on the later stages.
  3. When talking about a work-in-progress, don’t talk about the features you haven’t solved yet, or are not 100% certain will be in the final product.
  4. Make sure that when you start talking about your product, you have an image ready. You will make your first impression at this point in time, so be sure it is the one you want. You’re lucky, you get to control the timing of your first impression.
  5. Don’t talk off-the-cuff. You will be asked questions about your product or service, and if you don’t have a prepared answer, be aware that creating one on the spot may result in revealing more information than you would otherwise want to tell.
  6. Don’t target a bigger market than you are capable of managing. If your product can service millions of people in hundreds of industries, that doesn’t mean you need to target every industry from the start. Pick one or two as your initial market, and build on your success. You can work on expanding while impressing the smaller group you targeted.