Why Startups Should Launch Quietly

Save the big announcements for big deals

Joe Procopio

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If you want to give your new business a decent shot at success, you need to build traction — clear, measurable evidence that people are interested in what your company is offering. And that won’t happen on Day One.

So why do startups make big, splashy announcements the day they launch? Because that’s the way it’s been done for ages. But that strategy can actually do more harm than good.

When no one knows who you are or what you do, you need to buck conventional wisdom and launch quietly, without fanfare. It took me almost 20 years and a dozen startups to figure out that my launch problem wasn’t that I was doing publicity wrong; my launch problem was I shouldn’t have been doing publicity at all. Not yet anyway.

Now that I see all the issues that come with a big, splashy Day One Launch — whether it’s a new company, a new product, a new project, or a new feature — I can’t unsee them.

Here’s what those issues are and how to avoid them.

The misguided notion of pre-release publicity

Here’s the truth about how pre-release publicity works:

  • Startup writes a press release announcing their formation or product launch and what they’re going to accomplish.
  • Startup posts that press release to their website and to social media, maybe uses a landing page with a beta signup or email list signup.
  • A bunch of folks close to that startup congratulate the startup for existing.

And then — that’s it. The expected outcome is that the press blast will generate enough of a groundswell to begin a rocket of viral interest in the startup’s offering, and that interest can be captured in a beta program or email updates to interested parties.

But I can’t count the number of times founders have come to me asking what they did wrong — because no one joined their beta program or their email list.

They didn’t get press, because no decent press outlet with reach will write a story about a company or product launch unless there’s a secondary human-interest story attached. Or maybe they did get press, but…

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Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com