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.
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 in your consideration cycle? 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 as they navigate the decision-making process.
- 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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 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. Check out this example:
Event: Zephyr Gym Open House Day
Date: September 5th
Goal: 75 new memberships = $11,250 in new monthly revenue
Event Budget $1,750
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 no later than 24 hours after 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 building 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.