5 – Is a B-Minus Launch Good Enough?

Posted March 18, 2020 | Laura Christianson
The Professional Writer
The Professional Writer
5 - Is a B-Minus Launch Good Enough?
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Have you seen the commercial where the nervous man who’s about to go in to surgery is told by the nurse that the surgeon is “just okay”?

A second later the surgeon strolls through the door and announces, “Guess who just got reinstated? Then he says, under his breath, “Well, not officially.”

The surgeon then asks the patient, “Nervous?”

“Yeah.”

The doctor chimes in, “Yeah, me, too. Don’t worry about it. We’ll figure it out.”

The AT&T voiceover talent then announces, “Just okay is not okay.”

That’s my question for you. As you’re preparing to launch your book or blog or podcast or course or business, is “just okay” good enough?

During episode #5, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of what’s commonly referred to as a “B-minus” launch. We’ll talk about:

  • How we allow perfectionism to get in the way of production
  • How we use “just okay is good enough” as an excuse for doing sloppy work

Frankly, I have major issues with the B-minus mindset, and I’ll tell you why. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this, too. After listening to Episode #5, email me or join the discussion in The Professional Writer Podcast Community.

Word Nerd Moment

The musical memory portion of our brains is huge. Our brains can recognize familiar tunes in 100 milliseconds.

Resources Mentioned

Castos podcast hosting – 14 day free trial (aff link)

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Thank you!

Laura

Read the Transcript

Episode #5 - Is a B-Minus Launch Good Enough?

Have you seen the commercial where the nervous man who’s about to go in to surgery is told by the nurse that the surgeon is “just okay”?

A second later the surgeon strolls through the door and announces, “Guess who just got reinstated? Then he says, under his breath, “Well, not officially.”

The surgeon then asks the patient, “Nervous?”

“Yeah.”

The doctor chimes in, “Yeah, me, too. Don’t worry about it. We’ll figure it out.”

The AT&T voiceover talent then announces, “Just okay is not okay.”

That’s my question for you today. As you’re preparing to launch your book or blog or podcast or course or business, is “just okay” good enough?

I keep hearing from marketing people who urge us to be satisfied with what they call a B- launch. In other words, if our launch was being graded, it would receive a grade of B-.

The reasoning behind this advice is that many of us NEVER launch because we allow our fears to overcome us and paralyze us. And if you NEVER launch your product, service, or program, you’ll never know the impact that you can potentially have on people.

The B- launch advice is intended to help us realize that done is better than perfect.

“Everything doesn’t have to be perfect when I launch. It’s going to be good. But it won’t be A+ quality.”

I confess that this advice is very, very hard for me to hear and respond to positively. Every time I hear a marketer advise me to be satisfied with a B-, I protest internally.  Nooooo. I can’t do that! I’m an A+ kind of girl. A- on my worst day.

I thought back to the worst grade I ever got in school.

It was a C, in college chemistry.

I had taken chemistry as a senior in high school and had an amazing teacher who helped me understand what was, to me, a very mysterious subject. I ended up getting a B out of the class, with help from my patient teacher and my then-boyfriend, who sat right in front of me, loved chemistry and was brilliant at it. Fortunately, he was my lab partner and I survived the class intact because of his tutoring.

So foolishly, as a college freshmen, I thought, “Hey, I just took high school chemistry and did pretty well. I’ll take chemistry 101 in college and it’ll be a repeat of what I just did in high school. I’ll sail through; no problem.”

Remember I told you that I had an amazing chemistry teacher in high school and a boyfriend who tutored me? Well, in college, that wasn’t the case. The professor was someone who should have retired 20 years earlier. When he lectured or maybe I should say, droned on endlessly in a monotone, it was not only sleep-inducing, it was like he was speaking a foreign language.

I ended up squeaking through with a C and frankly, I have no idea how I even passed the class.

But, I’ll tell you, that C was a hard pill to swallow for a student who’d had a 3.9 GPA in high school.

I’ve never considered myself the most brilliant brainiac among my classmates. While I could easily ace any essay test, my standardized test scores were sub-par. My good grades were mostly the result of conscientious studying, drive, and determination.

Fast forward several decades, and I’m still a hard-working, conscientious person who has a very strong perfectionist streak. In other words, I’m still an A+ person.

So, when I hear, B- is good enough, that grates on me.

To put things in perspective, I thought about some of the launches I’ve done in the past and asked myself what grade I’d give myself on those launches.

I told you in Episode #3 that I started blogging back in 2003. I had an idea for a book that I wanted to pitch to publishers, and was told by a friend who was a marketing professional that a great way to build my author platform would be to start a blog.

I had no idea what a blog was – no one did back in 2003 because blogs were brand new on the scene then. But the thought of getting to write and publish articles as often as I wanted struck a chord with me.

I didn’t waste any time; I started my blog the very next day.

Thinking back on my first blog, I really had no idea what I was doing. If I’d been graded, my blog probably would have gotten a C-.

But somehow, that didn’t matter. Because I knew that blogging was going to be my thing. And it has been, for going on two decades.

Fast forward to 2016. Facebook Live had just launched. When that happened, people instantly abandoned Periscope. At the same time, podcasting began picking up steam.

Whereas I was an early adopter of blogging, I thought seriously about starting a podcast for four full years. You could call me a “late adopter” of podcasting.

Part of that has to do with my love for the written word. Writing takes time, and I suspected that I wouldn’t be able to juggle both blogging and podcasting along with the client work I do full-time.

I also had some qualms about the tech pieces. Podcasting requires more equipment and tech tools and tech knowhow than blogging does, and I wanted time to purchase the tools and learn to use them well enough so that I felt comfortable podcasting.

I wasn’t sure what themes or topics I wanted my podcast to cover. So I let the ideas percolate over four years. I collected questions from my blog readers and clients, and some common themes emerged that I felt confident I could build a podcast around.

I heard from a reader the other day who said, “I know there is a theme inside me. I just need to find it.”

That’s so true! Finding our theme or our niche or that one thing we want to become known for often takes a lot of time, patience, prayer, soul-searching, research, and practicing the art of saying “no” to things that are outside of our niche.

As a lover of the written word, I didn’t have much interest in listening to podcasts until around 2016.  But I sensed that I’d eventually launch my own podcast, so I decided to commit to listening to podcasts to get a feel for how they are structured and to figure out what I wanted my own podcast “voice” to be. Listening to podcasts on a wide variety of topics has been a tremendous learning experience for me.

Back in 2016, I also saw the writing on the wall, so to speak, in terms of audio and video taking over the world. In order to stay relevant with my readers, I knew that I needed to add those components to my repertoire.

So, for the past four years, I’ve been listening to lots of podcasts. I’ve enrolled in podcasting courses and subscribed to blogs about podcasting so I could learn the ropes. I have been an A+ STUDENT of podcasting.

As I listened and learned, it still didn’t feel like the right time for me to launch my own podcast. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel ready – the timing just didn’t seem right.

And then, during the past year, I intentionally stopped doing some things that were sucking up many hours of my time. After I bowed out of those commitments, I took a two-month sabbatical during the summer of 2019, which gave me time to rest and recharge.

At the end of my sabbatical, I felt excited about starting a podcast, and my ideas started to gel. I spent the next few months re-branding my Blogging Bistro business and launching my redesigned business website at bloggingbistro.com.

I did a massive amount of file de-cluttering and went through a ton of old notes, ideas, workshops I’d taught and discovered that I have a treasure-trove of great content that I can breathe new life into through a podcast.

So, while you could say my prep work over the last four years would earn an A+, my actual launch work is similar to what I did back in 2003, when I launched my first blog.

I decided to launch a blog. The next day, I did it.

With my podcast, I set a launch date for early 2020. With a goal date to shoot for, I immediately began researching podcast hosts (aff link). I didn’t spend days obsessing over which host would be the best choice. I just chose one that felt like a good fit and went with it.

I hired our graphic designer to create a podcast cover graphic. I sent him a couple of examples of other people’s podcast graphics. He mocked up a couple of samples. I choose one, and we were done. The whole process took both of us less than an hour.

I went on a writing rampage and crafted the outlines for several episodes, recorded them, edited them, and boom, here we are.

You may have noticed that my podcast doesn’t have intro or outro music.

If you’re not familiar with what that means, it’s the short, peppy musical clips that play at the beginning and end of each episode.

You might be thinking, “But Laura. That’s just wrong! Everyone knows you need intro and outro music.”

Yeah, I get it. The music bookends the show and sets the tone and mood for the show. The musical cues get embedded into listener’s memories and the tune lets the listener know that they’re tuned in to your show.

Word Nerd Moment about musical memory:

The musical memory portion of our brains is huge and our brains can recognize familiar tunes in 100 milliseconds, which is probably why, if I say the phrase, “Gilligan’s Island,” you’re going to instantly start humming the theme song about a 3-hour tour.

I understand the importance of intro and outro and transition music in podcasts. But this is one of the areas where I decided that B- would be good enough.

Once I decided to launch my podcast, there was lots of prep work to do in a short amount of time. I listened to a bunch of stock intro and outro music, but nothing jumped out at me.

I listened to the intro and outro music on a bunch of podcasts, and frankly, a lot of it stinks. Big time. It’s either rinky-dink cheesy or it’s loud and obnoxious. Some podcasters even play background music the entire time they’re talking, which raises my heartrate to unhealthy levels and makes me slightly crazy.

Then I started noticing that some of the big-name podcasters were doing away with intro music altogether. Well, if they can do it, so can I!

So I decided that I really don’t care whether my podcast has intro and outro music. If I find some clips I like, I’ll add them. But for now, I’m going with the B- approach to intro and outro music – get the podcast launched, and that’s the main thing.

I’ll finesse the rest as I go along.

Same goes with the podcast page on my website. Because I launched The Professional Writer podcast without giving our programmer advance notice, he didn’t have time to “prettify” the podcast section of my website until yesterday. So I went with a bare bones podcasting section for the first four episodes of my podcast.  It was functional and easy to navigate, but more like a B- than my typical A+ work. I’m happy to announce that, as of today, the design of the podcast section of my website now matches the rest of the site.

Something important to take note of:

My decision to launch my podcast without intro and outro music and without having the podcast web page looking its best was NOT an excuse for me to do sloppy, incomplete work.

I put in many hours of time creating content for my podcast and making sure I knew how to use my equipment – those were my top priorities for launching at a level that I felt confident would deliver A+ quality to my listeners.

I could have put off launching for another month, but I didn’t want perfectionism to stop my production.  Yeah, I worried a bit about how people would react, but I refused to allow my fear to be an excuse for procrastinating.

And guess what? The feedback I’ve been receiving from listeners has been overwhelmingly positive. When I’ve gingerly asked them if my lack of intro and outro music bothers them, most listeners have told me that they listen to my podcast because there’s no music and because I don’t spend the first five minutes doing idle chit-chat. They like the fact that I don’t waste their time – that I dive right in to the “meat-and-potatoes” content.

My #1 goal is to give my listeners a value-packed experience.

As I prepare each episode, I ask myself, “How will I relentlessly serve my listeners?”

While I still have “issues” with B- work and I’ll always believe that “just ok is not ok,” I’m learning to let go of some of the stuff that really doesn’t matter all that much.

I feel confident that I’m adding a fresh voice to the world of podcasting – a voice that will resonate with writers who are eager to share their message with the world, and who need ideas and encouragement for making that happen.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about whether a B- launch is good enough for you. Are you an “it’s not happening until it’s as perfect as I can make it” person, or are you an “I’m launching it now and I’ll perfect it as time goes on” person?