“If everything’s under control, you’re going too slow.”
– Mario Andretti
For someone like myself, it’s a somewhat terrifying experience to be out of control. Airplanes freak me out a bit, and only half the reason is because I know a lot about engineering. The other half is that I don’t feel like my destiny is in my hands.
It’s a difficult feeling to put into words, but I think the best way that I could relate it is to describe it in terms of a video game, since that’s probably where most people would encounter it. The other place people experience it is during a high speed chase on “Cops” and that never turns out well.
Imagine, if you will, a racing game. Doesn’t matter which one. I always liked “Pole Position” as a kid. On the straightaways, you’re barreling down the track at 180+ mph with the pedal to the metal. “The brake is for amateurs” you say in your best German accent. Then a car nudges the side of your rear end. Just like on “Cops”, the rear wheels are nudged, you now have no control and head straight into the guardrail, exploding into a giant fireball. A dozen cars whip by you, and your car reappears on the track, ready to rock and roll again.
Other encounters where you can feel a bit out of control include downhill skiing, snowboarding, sledding to some degree, ice hockey, and the luge. Notice the winter theme. It’s cold in New England this time of year. The basics are the same though. When you exceed a safe speed, you start to get out of control. Your mistakes are magnified, and your successes are generally not. While taking a risk may net you a 1% overall time difference, one mistake can set you back by 10% or more. Is it worth the risk?
In short, yes. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do additional planning and take additional precautions. This week marks the first advertising campaign for Moon River Milestones and I’m feeling a bit like Mario(driver, not plumber). Things are happening fast and the only thing I even have time to do is follow my plan. I think that without that plan, I’d probably be in trouble.
And lets not forget that you need to plan for failure the same as you plan for success. What if my sales don’t come through? What if I lose sight of my goal? What if I put my underwear on backwards because I’m too busy looking at the target to realize what I’m doing? I’ll tell you what. Insta-wedgie. It won’t be comfortable, but it’s not going to kill you either. And the easiest way to cure that discomfort is to slow down enough to put your underwear back on straight so you can keep going. Not so bad, was it?
If you feel like you’re in complete control during the entire product launch, then chances are that you could be wildly more successful and you aren’t being aggressive enough. Don’t mistake this as an invitation to throw caution to the wind. Personally, I think it’s a very bad idea to take an initial product launch and try hyping it to everyone on the planet at the same time because version 1.0 generally sucks. What will happen is that you tell everyone about your product, it ends up posted on slashdot, and your website grinds to a halt while it struggles to keep up.
You must scale your product launches at a measured rate. Being in control and growing at a measured rate are not quite the same thing. Trains in the old west, for example, ran on coal. The more coal the conductor pumped into the furnace, the hotter it burned and the faster the train travelled. But in Colorado, where the mountains are very steep, it was easy for trains to go out of control. Many areas had alternative tracks for trains which were deemed to be moving too fast. These alternative tracks had inclines which helped to slow the train down to prevent it from going off the tracks.
Ideally, you should strike a balance where your product launch is progressing just slightly faster than you are comfortable with. If things are going too slow, you’re probably not meeting your payroll or your sales objectives because most people overstate their projected income and understate their costs. If your’re going too fast, your customers are going to suffer from poor service because the additional load wasn’t properly planned for. This happens more often with established companies whose products are very well liked, and the customer base is already there. When you don’t yet have a customer base. Well, you’re probably not going to create much of a splash.
The advertising plan I’ve put together for Moon River Milestones is fairly simple. I have some advertisements running through Google AdWords right now, and I’ve paid for some advertising on a couple of key websites that I think have the right audience of people who could use my software. I’ll monitor the traffic all week to see how things are going, and adjust my advertising next week to either increase, or decrease traffic, depending on where I am in relation to where I want to be. Chances are that I’ll be making adjustments to increase traffic, rather than decrease it. I’ve never been particularly adept at getting huge amounts of publicity. Tune in about a week from now to see how things are going.