Planning a Blockbuster Launch

ANNOUNCING YOUR BIG NEWS TO THE WORLD SHOULD BE SO MUCH MORE THAN A SOCIAL MEDIA POST.

Whether you’re unveiling a new product, hosting an event, or getting ready to deliver earth-shattering news - having a launch strategy is absolutely critical to the success of your business’s big moment.

The advent of social media allowed us to pass information from our mouths to customer’s ears without much effort. But these days, as publishers have less control over the time a message lands and the audience that actually sees it, we have to be much smarter about how we get our news out there. So without further ado, here’s what to keep in mind when planning your next big thing.

BEFORE ANYTHING

Don’t even think about shouting from the rooftops until you’re sure that your message is the best that it can be. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I have a clear value proposition? In other words, does my target market know what they are going to get or gain from buying my product/attending my event/coming to my store opening?

  • Does my marketing material have all the information that my customers need in order to act? Ask yourselves the 5W’s + H - who, what, when, where, why and how. Your materials need to answer all of those questions quickly and succinctly.

  • Is there something for everyone? Your launch might not only attract people who are ready to buy today. Remember to think about ways to capture different types of buyers so you can continue to communicate with them regularly down the road.

  • Is your information exciting? Does it make people mark their calendars? With so many of us suffering from information overload, it can be tough motivating people to do something or go somewhere. Make sure what you’re offering is enticing and makes people say “yay”!

  • Does everything work? Once you’ve analyzed your customer facing material, make sure all of your backend and systems are perfect. Does your booking mechanism work seamlessly? Can you collect money with ease? Go through everything wearing your customer hat no less than half a dozen times. Work out any bugs or issues well in advance of launch day.

Once your message is out there, it’s hard to take it back. The last thing you want is for a customer to have to ask when the date of your opening is because you forgot to mention it on the invitation, or to lose 100 customers because your online checkout is malfunctioning. Don’t let the excitement of getting attention distract you from having your operations and communication on point.

SET YOUR BUDGET

Any solid promotional strategy will need some sort of marketing spend to go along with it. This could include marketing materials such as posters and flyers, paid social media advertising, an event listing - the options go on and on. So make sure you have a clear goal in mind for what kind of revenue your launch should bring in, and then decide how much of a slice you want to commit to marketing. Between 10-20% is a ballpark figure worth considering.

NOW, BRAINSTORM

The days of dropping a message on Facebook and waiting for the masses to infiltrate are long gone. In order to have a great launch, you need to look at promotions in a number of different ways. By diversifying your platforms, you can deliver your message to a wide range of potential customers without having to pray that one outlet will deliver. Here are five options to consider, each of which includes multiple opportunities to explore:

Social Media

Small businesses love using social media because its wide-reaching, free (or cheap) and it doesn’t take much time or effort. The key is to make sure you’re using it wisely. Create a content calendar between two and four weeks out and have a regular schedule of dedicated posts teasing people about your launch. No single post is going to do the trick, so make sure that you have a series of posts that combine eye-catching imagery with captions that allow consumers to take action. Don’t forget to encourage people to share, even if that means asking your friends and family for a favor.

Digital Marketing

Email newsletters, online advertising, AdWords, your own website, blogs, vlogs, and self-publishing sites give you plenty of opportunities to raise awareness for your launch. Using some of these tools in conjunction with social media is a great way to reach a larger audience.

Public Relations

Is your big news something that you could picture in the local paper or in a major magazine? If so, put on your writer’s hat and craft up a killer press release to send to relevant media.  Remember, reporters are as busy as the rest of us and they are looking for news that’s easy to report on and that will interest their audience. Make sure to include all the relevant information including any images or videos and be clear about why your launch deserves the coverage. Also, be aware of their deadlines and lead time - newspapers need a few days notice while major magazines write at least three months in advance.

Traditional Marketing

Remember when you used to get 20 pieces of snail mail and five emails in a day? Good times. With everyone rushing to build a digital and mobile brand, it’s worth remembering how powerful a traditional marketing approach can be. Whether it’s a postcard mailer, flyers on the bulletin board of the local coffee shop, or even an ad on the local radio or newspaper, a bit of old-school outreach can be extremely effective.

Events

Events are a dime a dozen, so why not utilize the ones that attract your target demographic to build some excitement about your news? If you’re opening a new business that attracts health-conscious consumers, why not hand out some flyers at the weekly farmers market? If you want people to come to your coffee shop, how about offering a deal or discount for people who attend the craft fair down the road. Launching a dance studio? Become a fixture at the “Dancing Under the Stars” community nights. Make a list of all the events in your area that you can leverage and use them to network and spread the word.

DEVELOP YOUR PLAN OF ATTACK

Once you have some ideas for how to promote your launch, it’s a good idea to build out an action plan, including a timeline. This will help you stay on track and ensure that every who is involved is held accountable.

THE BIG DAY IS NOT THE LAST DAY

One of the biggest mistakes people make when executing a launch is thinking that the work is over after the event is finished. The way you engage with your customers post-launch will do one of two things: turn them into loyal, repeat customers, or make them a “one and done” transaction.

Make sure you have a strong follow-up communication ready well before the big day and send it within 24 hours of your launch. Do your customers have feedback that’s important to listen to? Is there an additional sales opportunity to communicate to them? Do you have a deal or discount that you can follow them up with? Can they provide one or more referrals?

Also, don’t forget to show sincere gratitude. People have lots of choices when it comes to the brands that they interact with. If they choose to give you a shot, make sure you say thanks, and mean it.

REFLECT AND BREATHE

Finally, take some time to reflect on your launch. What went well? What could have gone better? Meet with your team and document everyone’s feedback clearly, so you can build from it and make your next big event even better than the last. Not everything is going to go perfectly, but learning from your mistakes and build upon them is something that even top marketing pros do each and every time.

Need some helping planning the launch of your next big idea? You’ve come to the right place! Get in touch to have a chat about how we can help you get your message to the masses.

 

Mix It Up With a Diversified Marketing Strategy

If you’re like most small businesses, marketing might seem like a bit of a crapshoot. You hurl yourself into social media, maybe send out a few postcards or put an ad in the paper and hope for the best. Truth be told, for businesses that are new to marketing, the spaghetti on the wall approach isn’t a bad thing, so long as you measure and monitor as you go and refine your approach based on what activity is generating leads.

You might have heard from your accountant or financial planner that it’s always a good idea to diversify your assets. Believe it or not, the same thing goes for marketing. Once you have honed in on your target market, you can start to figure out the best places to market your services to them.  But just like in finance, it’s never a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket.

If you’re on Instagram, you might remember the near hysteria that occurred a few weeks ago when information began circulating that the platform was going to change its algorithm to deliver “engaged” posts first, instead of its current chronological format. This change created panic amongst businesses who rely on Instagram, and feeds began filling up with requests for followers to “turn on notifications” so brands wouldn’t be left in the gutter. Of course, none of that was the case, and within 24 hours, the dust settled and our photo-op obsessed existence went back to whatever we consider normal nowadays.

For any brand that went into panic mode, this potential change should have been a wake-up call. Instagram, Facebook and any of the social media goliaths have the opportunity to change the way they do things in the blink of an eye, and they aren’t likely to ask permission. So if you were one of the business owners who felt their heart drop into their stomach at the thought of an algorithm change, here’s my advice. Diversify your marketing with a mix of channels that will help you stand out from the crowd and give you the ability to market a message through multiple touch points, not just a single picture or post. It’s that simple.

In marketing, there are five general categories to explore. Let’s go through them.

  1. Social Media – Small businesses love using social media because its wide-reaching, free (or cheap) and it doesn’t take much time or effort. Don’t get me wrong; I love social media as much as the next person, but here’s the thing. Because everyone uses it, it can be hard to get noticed and stand out from the crowd. So, by all means, use it, but don’t rely on it as a sole means to market.
  2. Digital Marketing – In addition to social media, there are lots of things we can do online to promote our businesses. Email newsletters, online advertising, ad words, your own website, blogs, vlogs, and self-publishing sites such as Medium give you plenty of opportunities to raise awareness for your brand. Using some of these tools in conjunction with social media is a great way to reach a larger audience.
  3. Traditional Marketing – Remember when you used to get 20 pieces of snail mail and five emails in a day? Good times. With everyone rushing to build a digital and mobile brand, it’s worth remembering how powerful a traditional marketing approach can be. Whether it’s a postcard mailer, business cards on the bulletin boards of the local coffee shops, or even an ad on the local radio or newspaper, a bit of old-school outreach can be extremely effective, so long as they hit the right audience for your product.
  4. PR – The say public relations is the oldest profession in the world, and it’s no wonder why. For generations, people have used the power and reach of the media to get their brand in front of potential customers. From seeing your product featured in a major magazine to enlisting an influencer to spread the good word, PR is a powerful mechanism for building a brand. It’s not the easiest way to get attention, but because it’s widely recognized to be a non-paid endorsement, a nod from a well-regarded person or publication can easily be a major boost for your business.
  5. Events – Many start-ups are so consumed by digital marketing that they forget the power of being seen as a living, breathing brand. Event marketing is a great way to allow people to see, hear and touch your product or service, especially if you’re target market is concentrated to a local area. If you’re a new yoga studio, setting up a free class at the local park is a great way to attract new customers. If you’re an accountant, attending networking events might be the ticket to drawing up new business. People don’t fall in love with profile pictures and posts; they fall in love with living, breathing human beings. So make sure your face and name are out where your customers are.

So now you know the five areas of marketing. From this list, pick at least one channel from each category to help you build your marketing plan.  As an example, let’s say you own a florist that delivers daily, pre-arranged bouquets at a very affordable price. You might use Instagram to showcase your bouquet of the day and email newsletters to make sure potential customers see it when they arrive to work in the morning. Then you might decide you want to put up flyers in the local coffee shops, and hand out discount cards at the local farmers market. Finally, you might decide to offer a flower-arranging workshop once per month at your studio, and you’ll use Facebook events to notify your target market about the event. Then you might invite the local paper along to participate in the workshop and take photos for a potential feature story. These activities might represent your first month’s marketing activities and from here you can measure and monitor which channels provided the best results. Then, you can decide which to repeat, which to tweak and which to discard altogether.

Remember, there is no use putting together a marketing mix if you have no way to measure your results. The key to getting the best bang for your buck is ensuring you ask the question “how did you hear about us?” with every new interaction. Otherwise, you’ll find it tough to decipher one channel’s results from the next. Good luck!

Need help planning your marketing strategy? Get in touch, we are here to help!