On Pivoting

A month ago I released Story.AM, a new media publishing platform built for storytellers. Six months of work, and the launch was less than successful.

I ignored who our audience is comprised of, and tried to market to them anyways. Like throwing shit at the wall until it sticks, I was sure (as shit) it would. Until it started to slide slowly off the wall, right along with my hopes for Story.AM. Less than 20 people signed up.

The problem, is multi-faceted. The first, as I touched on briefly above, was flat out ignoring my audience. Would you try and sell a cat collar at a dog show? Same difference. The second, was the message. I didn’t spend enough time on the copy, not as much as we should have. Third, it’s likely ahead of it’s time by a bit. The few WordPress users that I did have test it were so taken back by how different things were. But that’s the point; it’s not supposed to be like WordPress.

So there I sat, feeling pretty shitty about the entire situation. No news coverage, no big talks on any blogs, which in hindsight, I think was for the better. Because just as I was feeling that hope was sort of lost on the project, something peculiar happened.

The thought of pivoting came up, and instead of just trashing what was there, we decided to just set a new course. The new course, is a result of actually listening to who are users are, thus able to provide something that’s needed. Not something that’s just pretty cool to have.

So as I prepare to release Lasso on Monday (the same editor driving Story.AM), I reflect back on the launch of Story.AM, and the lessons learned along the way. In the end, building products is easy; but marketing them is something completely different. And ignoring who your customers are, is a recipe for failure.