The Microsoft mistake

Why would a company full of talented people like Microsoft, take a popular product (Wunderlist) that appears to be working just fine and discontinue it?

Why would that same company, not only discontinue it but replace it with a whole new program that essentially does the same but doesn’t even come close to delivering the same features yet? Microsoft recently announced that they are going to stop featuring and updating the popular to-do list Wunderlist.

Why? Well, of course, they want to replace it with a new to-do program called…wait for it…”Microsoft To-Do.”

Now I won’t go over all the features it has or better yet doesn’t have — you can read the article for that. What I want to go over is the mistakes they made here:

  • Creating a new program – Reinventing the wheel when they could just build off what they already had. If it ain’t, broke don’t fix it.
  • Announcing too soon – first off, you never want to make an announcement before you’re ready… especially when replacing something your customers already have and love.

What does that look like? It’s different for everyone but let’s talk about it in the context of this example.

Microsoft has big plans for a new to-do program, awesome! Now keep it to yourself. Since Microsoft has a to-do list program that works and meets people’s needs they should be keeping this new one under wraps.

A top secret mission such as replacing a widely used to-do list program with a new to-do list program that lacks many of the features people love is the whole reason why it should be under wraps.

Until Microsoft can bring the new to-do list program up to par with Wunderlist it should have never mentioned the new Microsoft To-Do.

Now Microsoft is going to have a ton of pissed off customers who are freaking out (hence alarm bells up top) trying to figure out what to do. People love Wunderlist and are invested in the product that helps manage their lives. It’s almost like Apple saying, we are replacing the current iPhone with a Razor flip phone (yeah, remember those?). Microsoft, you are playing with people’s lives here. Tread lightly.

Launching Lean

Now let’s take a look at the other side, the launching part because there is an important message here too!

When it comes to launching (and we will pretend Microsoft doesn’t have any other programs besides their new Microsoft To-Do) you do want to take the “launch lean” approach.

What that means is, you want to take your product, with the bare minimum features, and launch it. But Ed, it’s not ready yet. It doesn’t have all the features I want. My point exactly!

When you are launching a new product, you don’t want to spend all this time and money building out something you’re not even sure your customers want or need. Sure you did your research but that only gets you so far.

You have to put your product out to the world — with just enough function to get people to engage with it — so that you can get feedback from the people who are actually going to use it. You find out quickly once you launch that what you thought people wanted and needed is in fact totally different.

When you launch lean you not only save yourself time and money you also build a solid product that your customers will actually use. That’s a win-win right there.

Launching lean is exactly what I’m doing with my other business Stupid Easy®. Right now when you go to chances are you will find a landing page.

On that page is a hint of what’s to come, an email opt-in for people to be notified when it goes live (bonus they get a freebie too) and a form to fill out for those interested in being a guest speaker or blogger.

All of this is going on while my team builds out the website. For those who don’t know, this will be an online course marketplace where users can pay a low monthly fee to house and sell your online courses without having a cut of your sales taken out.

What I’ve done is talked about the site and encouraged people to sign up building that hype, right? Doing just enough to get the name out there without setting an actual launch date. Why?

When you set an actual launch date you are promising to people that you are going to deliver on that day. When you are building a new product, especially one from scratch like mine, you are going to have bumps in the road. That launch date will be pushed back and your audience only has so much patience before they are just over it.

That being said, have a launch date in your head and one that your team follows so that you stay on task.

Point is, don’t make promises you can’t keep and don’t reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to. And if you do, don’t mention anything until it’s up to par with whatever it is you are replacing (The Wunderlist and Microsoft To-Do list programs).

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