To launch or not to launch?


With beta MVP#1 ready, our attention has recently swung towards how we tell people about the service; how we get our message out - that it exists and is there to be used.

Having adopted an iterative approach to designing the service, we chose to follow exactly the same philosophy in telling people about it.

Our idea was to start engaging people with basic ‘vanilla’ messaging – messages about our proposition that we have already tested with users, so we knew would work for the majority whilst not upsetting or alienating any specific groups (who we know would benefit from some tailored messaging in the future).

So we decided not to ‘launch’ but instead softly play these vanilla messages out in a select few places, online and offline across Southwark and Lambeth. Some would call this a pseudo product launch, but we have always shied away from a traditional marketing launch for the following reasons;

  1. Our offer and business model will continue to change and evolve - we’d be foolish to think we have nailed our positioning (we want to avoid spending time, effort and money cleaning up any costly mistakes later)
  2. Money; our budget just isn't big enough to splash out on big ad campaigns or elaborate promotions

Instead we’d like to engage people in what we are doing, how we are doing it and why we are doing it as organically as possible. We would like people to feel part of what we are doing and believe (as 400 users have done so to date) that they have an opportunity to help us improve service; how it works, what it offers and what it looks like.

Our hypothesis is that if we can develop a healthy network of users and supporters (and successfully leverage it) and actively talk to people within it (rather than just following them or liking them) two things will happen; firstly more people we be aware of us and secondly, these same people will help us improve the service for all.

To date we have barely dipped our toe in, choosing to release and test content on a very modest scale, before deciding to commit any significant resource to a specific channel/s;  

  •  In our first ‘live proper’ week we put three A3 posters up in Burrell Street, one our partner clinics
  • In the second week, we set-up Twitter and Facebook… with a trickle of activity, we identified and reached out to a number of influencers in Southwark and Lambeth 
  • In week three, we sent posters to a handful of local GP surgeries and pharmacies

We are reviewing metrics on a weekly basis to gauge reach and impact – once we have data to hand, we will adapt messages and the channels and test again.