Many moons ago, I had the opportunity to hear a pair of geniuses — Terry Storch and Bobby Gruenewald — discuss momentum at LifeChurch.tv. After some experimentation, the LC.tv leadership formulated a best practice when it came to announcing the launch of a new campus. From what they could tell, it worked best to announce the launch of a new campus three months out … at the most. The idea was that three months was an ideal window in which to generate a growing amount of buzz and recruit/train the necessary personnel. Both of those factors fit nicely into their 12-week timeframe, too little time and too much time negatively impacted the momentum of the launch.
In the tech sector, timing and momentum are incredibly important, and we see some different philosophies at work. It’s not uncommon to read about a startup that aims to have a public beta up and running in 9-12 months, or to hear about what HP is working on for 2012. These announcements tend to generate a lot of buzz at the time, but because the launches are still a long way off, the momentum dies on the vine. The interested public has no outlet for their interest, and so they forget it and move on. Apple, on the other hand, has established a policy of refusing to comment on products that are still in development. As rumors swirl, Apple stays mum until such a time as they’re ready to present The Next Big Thing to the world. But here’s the thing about these presentations: Steve Jobs likes to conclude them with the phrase, “… and it’s available today.” Even if The Next Big Thing is only available for pre-order, there’s still a consumer action step that accompanies the massive amount of buzz.
Every time Steve Jobs takes the stage, the official Apple Store goes offline while new products and ads are put in place. Every time a new LifeChurch.tv campus is announced, the first weekend of services is just around the corner. Both organizations understand that timing is everything — buzz is only meaningful if it can be translated to a desired outcome. Momentum is meaningless if it fizzles before your launch.
In your organization, I hope that most people agree that what and how you communicate matter. Now, it’s time to become an advocate for when you communicate.