The four curves of want and get

Fourcurves_1When you launch a product or service, you want A. A is a steep launch curve followed, after the dotted line, by a steep acceptance curve.

A is the curve of the hot knife through butter. A is the curve of big buzz. A is the curve of the unserved audience and the perfect product.

That’s what you want.

Usually, though, you get B.

B looks the same as A for a while. But then it stops.

B stops because your product isn’t for everybody. B stops because many products and services have a small but eager audience of early adopters, just itching to try something new. And then, once reality sets in, your idea stops spreading.

When I launched my ebook, I thought for a minute I had A. I sold a bazillion of them in one night. And then, bam, I had B. Sales slowed really fast. Why? Was it lousy? I don’t think it was. I think the audience of people who were standing by to buy an ebook from me was very connected to me and to each other, they heard about it right away, they bought it right away and then, there you go, the entire market was saturated.

Curve C is the most likely curve of success, not A. Curve C is the remarkable product that takes a while to find its footing. Then, the idea starts moving through communities and slowly builds, until, yes, this product is remarkable and you’ve got a hit.

Alas, soon after launch, there’s no way to tell C from D, is there? D is the curve of the dud. Most launches are duds. Not a lot you can do about it.

The challenges are pretty obvious. First, how do you decide where to put the dotted line? Second, how do you avoid killing something too early, or celebrating too early. And last, how do you know when to kill a dud? The odds are with those smart enough to launch something new tomorrow.