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March 26, 2013

3 Important Lessons I Learned Launching a Software Product


On March 15, my team and I officially launched ORBTR — the first marketing automation suite built for WordPress sites — and we learned a lot of good firsthand lessons along the way. Here are three of them:

1. Feedback is important, get it early and prioritize effectively.

We got a lot of feedback early on, especially as a few of our clients began using early versions of our software. Their feedback, as was our own team’s experience in using ORBTR 1.0 on behalf of our clients, was critical in crafting the first public release. Almost all the feedback was constructive and helpful but there were also a lot of feature requests. Some of these made sense to incorporate prior to launch but there was absolutely no way we could do everything. Our goal was to launch a relatively simple suite of tools and services and unless we stayed focussed, it would be easy to overshoot that goal. This talk that Ben Deda gave at Ignite Denver 12 also stayed top of mind for me:

2. Talk to your developer community. 

Our team has been developing for WordPress for more than five years and marketing is what you’d call a “core competency” around here. So we thought we already had all the knowledge we needed to build and launch this product even though, with all our experience in consulting and building for clients, we had never launched a commercial product for WordPress. It wasn’t until we started talking to business owners who had sold commercial software for WordPress that we realized everything that we didn’t know. There were issues regarding licensing and overall business practices that we were unaware of, having never participated in this aspect of the community. There are best practices and hot-button issues in every marketplace — no matter what your experience, don’t assume you already know everything.

3. The launch is the beginning, not the end.

 The weeks and months before you’re ready to ship feel like an ultramarathon. Hard work, long nights, testing, nerves, borderline exhaustion. When we finally arrived at WordCamp Atlanta for our launch, we felt like we’d achieved something great. But as one race ended, another began. Now that we had launched our product, the task of actively selling and marketing began in earnest. It’s easy to lose sight of the race after the race. The work isn’t over when you get there but the race after launch is more fun in a lot of ways :)


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