Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Continuing Case Against Hype

I got a call recently from a friend who wanted to understand why I had counseled his partner to be very careful about doing lots of pre-launch press releases about a service they are launching. This company is representative of a lot of young companies we see these days: it is launching something very interesting, and important, into a market that has been inundated with promises but little delivery. Moreover, as with other start-ups we have seen, it is launching into a category where market trust is critical.

Our point about this company was not "do nothing". Rather, it was: be very careful that you don't do things to meet short term goals that compromise your long term leadership. Make announcements with substance behind them, rather than fluff.

This is one more example of our continuing case about hype. In addition to having your communications architecture in mind, make sure you have the key foundation elements of your business in place before you start getting people all spun up about what you can deliver. We have said before "hype kills." So once again, I will underscore that our experience is that when companies over-promise before they have a foundation in place -- they usually live to regret it.

The advice I gave my friend was simple and generalizable to most companies launching in today's transparent communications environment:

(1) First, be clear about what image you want to create in the long term. In this case, trust is such a critical component of this image that it must be at the heart of all communications from the beginning; and
(2)Make sure there is meat behind what you are saying before you say it.

If you can follow those two guidelines, then there are undoubtedly some communications you can do effectively to accomplish your near term goals and position you well for the long term.

And all without hype!