I could've kept the newsletter limited to the title and sub-title. Really, it's a simple idea that scarcely needs further elaboration. If your product isn't any good but you've got excellent distribution, more consumers will experience a bad product, post which you won't be left with a brand to sell any more products.
Common sense, right?
And yet, popular motivational speak tells you to “take that shot” or “not care about your reputation before you have one” or to simply “ship fast and break stuff early.”
Now, in the right context, all this advice is super. It works in the sense that it gets the ball rolling and helps you build some momentum. But a major caveat here that newbies who are trained to take everything at face value miss is that you only do this when decisions are small and reversible.
Reputation, I'm afraid, isn't very flexible or reversible once cemented with someone.
And you don't want to waste that first impression with someone by introducing yourself with a bad product.
I'm not talking about just bad products here. I'm talking about bad intros, bad cold emails, silly questions that you could've Googled yourself...
All of these may very well contribute to the “ship fast” school of thought, but it doesn't do you any good because you only have one or two chances before someone ignores you once and for all. And bad impressions are almost impossible to undo today, especially when your only mode of interaction is online channels, where people can easily ignore you if they choose to — which they will — unless you have built a reputation for at least deserving their time.
Don't believe me?
Well, you only have to pay attention to revealed behaviour from founders and other influential personalities who preach the gospel of “taking your shot.”
But if you were to ever go through their inboxes or DMs, you would find a large graveyard of messages that got ignored and left at “seen” simply because they weren't interesting or tasteful enough.
I'm no different in this regard. And that is why I'm writing this. So that you don't waste your shots on goal.I know distribution is all the rage these days, but don't be hasty and use the opportunity to reach out to an audience of a million by shipping something mediocre.
Take your time. Cultivate taste for what good work looks like. Make your shots count. Or you're simply wasting opportunities that you may never get again.
Hastily focusing on distribution when you haven't even focused on building a good product* first will mean that you're putting off more people together at once. It will do nothing but kill your brand faster, because now, more people will be talking about how to not trust you or how you're just all-show-no-go.
I recently read somewhere that your marketing should always be 10% worse than your product. And it's true. You always want to outperform expectations, and never underwhelm someone with the delivered goods.
It's all common sense. But if you let buzzwordy catchphrases poison you, you will deserve what you get.
Think for yourself. Use common sense. Cultivate taste so you have a high bar for what good work looks like and you try to match that bar with anything you build. Build a good product* first, guarantee value-delivery first, and then focus on distribution.
*Product here could mean anything, right from a simple cold email to a resume to a full-fledged product or service. Essentially, anything you put out in the world to an audience is your product. Even a simple LinkedIn post is a product that signals a lot about you.