The Chicken-and-Egg Marketing Dilemma
BY Laura Rich
I know the owner of a small computer animation company who for the last two years has been toiling away, along with his trusty staff of two full-timers and a bevy of freelancers, in pre-launch mode. Very few people know about this company. They've had their heads down creating the pieces to what they aim to make the next "Shrek."
Now, they're at a point where they are thinking of telling people about what they're doing. The product is advanced and ready to make its (partial) debut. The entrepreneur has two goals in this next phase: one, to develop partnerships with other companies where there will be a shared audience and a mutuality of their products; and two, to create demand for his product -- or, at least, to get a better sense of the demand from the anticipated audience. He and his staff are proceeding with caution. They have approached some potential partners where the entrepreneur or his staff already have a relationship, but they haven't begun cold-calling or otherwise spreading the word at random.
This is always a tricky point in a company's evolution. How much of the company or product do you -- or should you -- want known before delivering your product? How fair is it to play coy with consumers or other business partners?