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Launch and Learn

May 27 2011

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Guest Contributor Chris Brogan says:

When we launched Kitchen Table Companies, we didn’t do any market research. We started with the understanding that what we’d accomplished on Third Tribe Marketing could probably be offered to a small business crowd, and we found Joe Sorge to lead the community, and we launched.We made mistakes. We fixed lots of them, and we’re constantly on the prowl for ways to improve it more.


Launch and Learn

Have you ever heard of “lunch and learn?” It’s something big companies tend to hold for groups of employees, where you agree to get together, eat a bag lunch (or maybe order in some pizza) and someone will give some teaching from their experiences that will help the group. The idea is that people will learn something new that they can carry forward into their business.

What I’m doing with my business efforts all the time is “launch and learn.” The idea is similar. How am I going to gain the experiences to know what I want to do or not if I don’t test it in the real environment? Sure, there has to be some planning, but thinking about something is really different than doing something and seeing how it really works.

What do you do differently? Here are a few thoughts about how to launch and learn:

Launch And Learn Checklist

  • Live by execution; die by overplanning.
  • Write no more than a one-page plan.
  • Shop the plan around to no more than 3 people for improvements.
  • Plan a test version of the offering, and plan to reassess after X amount of days.
  • What does success look like? (You might not know, but put a metric to this.)
  • Revise a few things. Launch again.
  • Give yourself no more than 2 smaller launches before you go real and go big.
  • Have real metrics in place to measure your success or failure.
  • Revise and tinker constantly.

Your Mileage Will Vary

Testing things is different to different environments. If you’re testing out new french fries for your burger joint, it’s easy to risk a few complaints, but you wouldn’t want to do it over a week. Testing things while flying a plane might not be a great idea. But testing things in your small business or even in your marketing isn’t a huge deal, if you keep your eyes on what you intend to do.

The big point is to keep iterating, keep working on it in the “live” environment as best as you can, and keep your eye on actual metrics that let you know whether you succeeded or not.

Have you tried this? Talk us through one of your own launch and learn experiences.