How we launched, failed… and still hit our goals!

Imagine: for weeks you and your entire team pours their collective energy into a single bet that will make or break your revenue goal for the quarter.

At Accord that bet was launching on Product Hunt and getting to #1.

As CEO, I rallied the team around Launch Day. We were going to do it. Nothing was going to stop us.

We rebuilt our website, refined our messaging, tweaked our go-to-market motion to include a free trial, and created assets from product videos, to case studies, to finally shipping a G2 page. We even somehow secured a story in TechCrunch for the big day.

It didn’t end there. We also decided to host our first company-wide offsite (as a fully remote team) so we could be together for the momentous occasion. We planned the day down to the hour with a Plan A, B, and even C. 

Hitting #1 on Product Hunt was inevitable at this point – until it wasn't. 

The truth is we ended the day at #6. I thought I had failed the team in a big way. However, it turns out the number of upvotes & placement didn't really matter… and we managed to knock our goal out of the park anyway!

Read on to learn from our mistakes – and how doing things the right way paid off in the end.

The Approach - Crafting a Moment & Experience

Creating a ‘Moment’ (aka Lightning Strike, inspired by Play Bigger)

  1. Since we didn’t have a traditional PR moment like a big fundraise or acquisition we had to get creative. In place of a single piece of news, we leverage a combination of multiple exciting updates from the past 6 months (customer & team growth, industry updates, etc) to thoughtfully craft an opportunity for us to have an exciting moment within the framing of our “Launch”.
  2. Validation from trusted channels, eg TechCrunch. Although we spoke to 5 PR experts leading up to the launch who unanimously told me not to plan on getting a story based on the market, we still managed to secure an exclusive story with TechCrunch.
  3. The importance of Positioning.

Aligning with your customers ideal buying journey

  1. Changed our main CTA from “Request demo” to “Get started”
  2. Let people book directly on our calendars via a Hubspot integration
  3. Offered a free trial of Accord, so prospects can play around and validate for themselves 
  4. Transparent pricing directly on the website
  5. Customer stories & reviews
  • We asked our customers to review us on G2
  • We interviews our customers for case studies
  • Documentation (integrations, security, etc)

Everybody Has A Plan Until They Get Punched In The Mouth

Ok, so we had our i’s dotted and t’s crossed. Expectations were at an all time high and we were about to kill it. 

We thought from the featured TechCrunch story alone we’d see a bump in inbounds, and planned for exponentially more with the Product Hunt launch & better converting website. However, that’s not how things played out.

  • Initially the goal was to get around 400-500 upvotes for the #1 on a Wednesday (or at least the top 3)
  • We woke up to 100+ votes, putting us ahead of schedule.... But just our luck, it was a hyper competitive launch day on Product Hunt with some strong EU based companies which put us all the way down at #9 
  • It was an uphill battle from there, and very clear that our goal of 400 wouldn’t get us to the #1 spot. Plus we weren’t seeing the lead flow we were hoping for
  • With #1 out of reach, we ‘pivoted’ to having a few drinks and hopping in the pool
  • Which then turned into an epic karaoke evening with the team (manning the lead queue became less and less important at this point)

Then my brother / co-founder Ryan and I woke up early to the unthinkable. In our inboxes was the daily Product Hunt newsletter that goes out to 10’000’s of readers with a feature piece on the #6 product of yesterday – Accord!  Within an hour we had more inquiries and meetings booked than the entire previous day, and by the end of the week, had over 100 trial requests. 

I guess #6 is now Accord’s lucky number?

There's More Juice to Squeeze

Another interesting dynamic from the launch in general was how many previous leads / opps organically reached back out to us. 

To me, this meant that there were likely many others who we’d talked to in the past where timing might have been off or they wanted to work with Accord once we got a bit further as a company (like double-digit employee count at least!). I tested this theory out with a few notes to past deals and quickly booked a handful more conversations to re-explore working together. 

The next time you make some noise in the market and see folks reaching back out - consider a focused reengagement campaign and capture interest when it’s top of mind.

Failing Forward

The whole week was an exhilarating emotional rollercoaster. My biggest takeaway is that the most important part of a company-wide project like an early launch is staying focused on the objective: more leads! Not the key results: #1 on Product Hunt. 

If you do everything right and are aligned to the objective, you set yourself up for success and the chance to get lucky (if you believe in that stuff).