How to Plan An Epic Business Launch: A Checklist
December 5, 2018
- Business •
- Marketing •
Cydney Hatch• December 5, 2018
So you’re going to be in launch sequence soon, eh?
As this is an exciting time for any business, congrats! Whether it’s your business launch party, introducing new products or sharing big announcements, doing a business launch correctly will be key to your progressive success!
Let’s be real, you have slaved over the new aspects of your business, so it’s important that you also put an equal amount of time into how you are going to share it with the world. As many get stuck in the creative stage and rarely put thought into launching, learning how to successfully will make or break your experience. (Because really, if it’s not launched well no one is ever even going to see it!)
So, to avoid some of the tragic disappointments that can come from a poor business launch, let’s learn how to create a business launch chuck full of hype, value and excitement!
How to Plan an Epic Business Launch
Before launching any aspect of a business, creative planning should be involved. Below, I’m going to share a checklist of things you should consider to ensure a successful start!
Create a Plan
Carefully planning any type of launch, particularly a business, is not limited to preparing a business/marketing plan. Bruce Bachenheimer, clinical professor of management and director of the Entrepreneurship Lab at Pace University, recommends three planning methods to consider:
- The Apprentice Model: Gaining direct industry experience
- The Hired-Gun Approach: Partnering with experts who have in-depth knowledge and experience
- The Ultra-Lean School of Hard Knocks Tactic: Figuring out a way to rapidly test and refine your model at a very reasonable cost
While writing a business plan is certainly helpful, it’s helpful to train your mind to think about your business systematically.
If you don’t commit to in-depth preparation, launching a new business can be a very expensive lesson in failure. Just like you would not play a game of professional sports without months of prep, your business launches should also have that same type of effort put into it.
Feel Out If Customers are Ready
When launching your business or products, it’s important to understand if your potential customers have been groomed enough to understand and accept the launch. To understand this, ask the people you’ll be launching to.
You might have a business, product or idea that you know your target audience might need, but if they don’t understand the value of your offer, they probably won’t buy.
For example, if you are a business consulting business wanting to launch a new eBook tutorial on video ad marketing, you want to make sure your audience is ready for it. If you have not taken the time to stress the importance of video in ad marketing, people might not see the point in downloading your content.
To combat this, you need to utilize content marketing to sell them on the idea of video ads so they understand the value to come in your launched product.
So, you will want to poll your audience on what they need from you NOW and create those or recognize pain points for your audience and begin talking about them so when you launch, they are primed to act.
Create a Pre-Launch Landing Page
While landing pages are generally used to direct potential customers towards specific products and actions, you can also use them to create hype around the launch of your business, announcement or a new product.
If you are starting a business, don’t pressure yourself in the early stages to get a full website up. Instead, create a landing page with a countdown timer and an email list sign up that can keep interested viewers “in the know.” If you are a business just launching a new aspect, look to use landing pages to feature the new information or products!
Take a look at this example from Tapster. On their coming soon page they combine the allure of early access to their app with a chance to win a prize valued at $100:
This landing page directs potential customers to Tapster to sign up and possibly win some cash. This helps Tapster gain insights into the types of people involved, who they are, how they can contact them regarding future things. More importantly, it also shares information customers might find helpful in learning about the app before it launches!
Give Out Freebies
One great way to create hype around a launch is to build up to it with a freebie. A freebie is simply content or a small gift that someone needs to opt-in for, or in other words, exchange their personal information in order to receive it. This helps serve a few purposes:
- It allows you to collect a running email list for content
- It allows you to develop lasting relationships that you can mature through education, time and effort.
- It provides the potential customer with valuable information that will inspire them to act. When you prime an audience before a launch or sell, it makes them much more warmed up to the idea.
The more you can sink your hooks into people through downloads, cheat sheets and other content/items, the more time you have to educate and build momentum and gain an audience interested in what you’re talking about. For example, Liz Muroski does a great job at offering a lot of free materials that get people excited about new content they can read.
For example, if you wanted to download her “Free Social Media Guide” she has a snazzy short blog post featuring the content and a link to download. The download link below took me to a signup sheet that helps her collect information from social media help seekers.
The better you do this, the better your launch will be because people already see the quality of content, materials or products you output.
Host a Giveaway
Speaking of giving out freebies like above, giveaways are an awesome way to drum up some interest!
Why? Well, who doesn’t like to win something!
Now, the important step here is to make sure you have a giveaway that informs customers about your launch but also collects people’s information. Many businesses make the mistake of doing giveaways requiring just likes and follows but you lose so much when you do this! You want to keep tabs on people, you want to be able to communicate in the future and a simple follow does not do that.
An example of this can be KT Crabbs 2016-17 Wedding Photography Giveaway that helped jumpstart her wedding photography season.
She does not do the typical “like this photo, tag three friends and like my account” type of giveaway most photographers do. Instead, she collects valuable information from potential clients she could use moving forward for future giveaways, newsletters or emails.
She states in her giveaway:
How to enter:
- Follow me on instagram: @Ktcrabbphoto
- E-mail [email protected] and share your wedding date, location of your event and a little bit about you, your fiance and details about your big day!
- Top three will be selected to have phone/FaceTime interviews and the winning couple will be chosen by February 14th, 2016.
Thank you and I can’t wait to hear from you!
Like KT, a giveaway could be a physical product, digital download, discount or service. Make sure that the giveaway relates to what you are ultimately launching so that you have relevant people and hype around the launch.
You can easily set up a giveaway through Rafflecopter and add it into a blog post or you can create a giveaway on a social media account.
Connect with Industry Influencers
You can obviously do this on your own, but a little help never hurts. This is where influencer marketing could be used!
People trust people, so influencer marketing is a way to build your business trust. When you align your business with an influencer, not only do they bring their loyal audience to your business, they also bring an audience that already trusts them and—by extension—you!
Influencers have the ability to drive traffic to your site, increase your social media exposure and sell your products to their “die hard” followers. An “ideal influencer” for your ecommerce business will be one that matches your brand’s tone, style, and mission. You are not just paying someone to say “buy this”—you want someone who can create meaningful content around your business and its objectives.
Ideally, you should already have running relationships with these individuals through your social and local interactions. If that’s not the case, you need to build these relationships way before a launch.
If you have influencers at your disposal, consider asking them to:
- Create a story about your product
- Share a review
- Host a “meet and greet” at your launch party
- Organize a social media contest/giveaway
- Share promoted content
- Create visuals featuring your products or services
- Film behind the scenes content
- Create unique hashtags for them to use
For example, NatureBox is a healthy snack company that is known for their non-GMO, vegan and gluten free options. The company hired Barefoot Blonde, aka Amber Fillerup Clark, to represent their brand.
Amber took her kids out for a nice healthy picnic and took some pictures with the NatureBox snacks.
The results were incredible. Besides the hundred of Instagram comments, the blog post that Amber published about NatureBox received 319 comments.
Like Naturebox, you too can use influencers to create hype around your business!
Share Sneak Peeks and Teasers
We all love behind-the-scenes images and sneak peeks as it makes brands more tangible and authentic.
To connect with your audiences on a different level, invite them inside your business launch by sharing photos and ‘teasers’ on your blog and social media accounts. Not only does this create anticipation, it also creates more engagement and makes your business more personable.
One fashion blogger and apparel goddess is Dressed in La La who does a great job at letting fashionista’s see sneak peeks of new items to come into stock and keeping them updated, engaged and informed.
For example, her new “No Worries Sweater” was announced this week as not only a hot new item, but one that is limited in stock, never to be sold again once gone!
Talk about some fashion “FOMO!” She then shared when it was live and gave viewers updates on the stock amounts and what was left. Needless to say, the sweaters flew off the shelves all because she connected with her market by making them feel exclusive.
Between her marketing mixtures of sneak peeks, quality visuals, and feelings of urgency, she killed it! You too can create behind the scenes, sneak peeks and teasers to get people excited about your products or business launch.
Email Your People
It sounds simple and obvious, but do not underestimate the power of writing a simple email and sending it out to your full lists of people.
One thing I know for sure is that you can talk about something until you are blue in the face—you might even feel like people are sick of hearing from you—but there is still going to be a big number of people who miss your information somewhere along the line and still might be interested. Include everyone in your email communications!
With algorithms and just the business of life, people probably ignore or miss most of what you say and do, so be sure to exhaust all of your outlets of communication including email announcements and countdown to make sure you are reaching the largest possible audience.
PRO TIP: In the weeks leading up to your launch, create a plan to stay top of mind!
In these emails, you can share sneak peeks, discounts, exciting visuals or exclusive behind-the-scenes videos that inspire a sense of excitement for the upcoming launch. Plan to send emails once a week, but on the week of the launch send one the day before and the morning of the launch.
To add another personal touch, do not forget to create a “thank you” email to your people for making it (fingers crossed) a success. You can also include “what you missed” to recap information and have them download free content or a discount.
Blog Your Heart Out
Write a blog post that announces your product or service! Share enthusiasm, create exclusivity and be personable. Include telling the backstories, useful instructions and be sure to share links to the other articles you’ve written leading up to the launch topic.
Consider writing guest blog posts for added traffic and be sure you’re collaborating with sites that serve your target audience. Make sure you’re connecting with bloggers that promote their content well too so you’ll get good traffic numbers. Be sure to link to your site in your bio or at the end of the article so that it’s a page that someone can opt-into.
Make a list of at least 25 of your favorite blogs and do not be afraid to pitch creative topics they can gain value from.
Share Some Social Media Love
Blogging is a great option but another great way to promote your business launch, which seems obvious, is posting to social media. A great way to double dip between the two is to create a teaser on social media to collect hype and link it to a longer, more informative blog post!
Test different voice, content, copy, visuals and website designs to see what people like to interact with. Some of the other important social media tactics you should focus on are also:
Instagram stories are an intimate way to promote something typically they have high numbers of engagement.
Do not be afraid to get on camera and talk about what you are doing and what is to come from your business. People need to see the real face behind the business. This personal communication helps potential customers develop a sense of trust and connection with you, so rock Instagram stories with valuable content and visuals, including your beautiful face!
Facebook Live, like Instagram, is another great interactive way to get the word out about your business launch. Many businesses have used this strategy to air Q&A sessions, tutorials, new product inventories as well as sharing reviews.
Facebook Live is another great way to add that personalized touch and let people know there is a real human behind the sales message wanting to connect, educate and help!
Social Video Use
People are much more likely to engage with a video than any other form of content, so it’s a good idea to include a video in your social media posts. Keep it short and sweet but informative, creative and engaging!
Be Shameless, Include Friends and Family
You might feel that awkward jerk in your stomach, but its okay to ask people to share your stuff!
Start with the people you know and move on to your email newsletter lists, former customers, etc. Simple encouragement can go a long way and you would be surprised, especially now many viral videos online end with “share with someone who needs this message”, “share with someone who would love this…”, etc.
By making friendly statements like, “Hey, feel free to forward this to your favorite shopping buddy” or something along those lines, it gives people permission to know that it’s acceptable. This mindset obviously will help get your content shared out with similar people who are already interested in your content.
Another way is to reach out to industry friends or peers and let them know that you have something exciting that their audience might be interested in.
Launch Mid Week (Typically)
Typically, it is best to plan a business launch mid week so your content has time to resonate. By launching on a Wednesday or Thursday, you have plenty of time to remind your audience about your new stuff earlier in the week so you can still create content to keep the excitement going at the end of the week.
This could vary based on your industry and your audience, but this is a fairly good rule of thumb for most creative entrepreneurs and bloggers.
Create “FOMO” By Limiting Quantities
If you’re launching a new product, consider offering a limited quantity to create a sense of urgency among your audience and create more of a demand.
Not only does this make your product more valuable, but if you sell out, you’ll create even more hype for your product the next go round. You see this commonly with apparel boutiques, specialty makeup lines, conferences/seminars to even services.
Understand Timing Is Everything
Timing is everything. As you put together your business launch strategy, you will need to think about pre-promotion, launch week, weekly follow up and campaign close.
Below is a rough estimate of where you should spend your time. Let’s break that timeline down in detail:
Pre-Promotion (2-4 weeks)
- Create a media blast! Let everyone know you are going to launch! A great way to build hype is hosting a pre-launch private event. For example, Restore Cryotherapy Salt Lake City did an exclusive one-day event where you could try their cryotherapy service for FREE!
- Post your launch date across all your personal social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram! Word of mouth matters because people need to know when and where they can access your business/product!
- Setup Facebook Ads for Email Signups! Facebook is one of the best marketing platforms you can use before you launch your campaign. Target your ads based on your audience and try to get a good amount of email sign-ups. This will be helpful with sharing content later!
- Send out media releases to local media resources! This will help you spread the good news! Restore Cryotherapy did a GREAT job at this!
- Display promotions that will help drive initial sales! Again, Restore Cryotherapy upon opening had “50% off #ivdriptherapy 20% off memberships.”
- Send the message out. Let everyone know you have launched!
- Post your launch across all your personal social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Make sure you share videos, live streaming, and photos to get the hype up.
- Create great customer service. You want people who are interacting to have a great experience, which will then push them to share your product and services.
- Display short-term promotions that will help drive initial sales.
- Plan giveaways and involve other like-minded companies to donate gift cards and other products to sweeten the deal.
Follow Up & Running Weeks
- Send weekly updates that include campaigns progress, special announcements, new rewards you have added or when a large donation has been made! It is also important to post a weekly update as supporters get concerned if they don’t receive an update on a campaign they have donated to.
- Create updated content! This could include an update on how your campaign is performing, any new developments or achievements you have experienced or a simple thank you to those who have already donated. Be human and connect with your supporters.
- Add limited time only rewards to attract new supporters or get old loyal supporters to donate again. Use “FOMO” words such as “limited time only”, “special rewards” and “special edition”.
- Connect and get featured on local and online media platforms.
- Countdown the last week till your campaign finishes on all of your social media accounts. Post something every day this week! Use phrases that create a sense of “FOMO” like, “only three days to go”, “only $200 off my goal!”
On top of a thoughtful timeline, think about how you can creatively launch your business or product during a time of the year that makes sense!
If you are launching an outdoor product to help someone camp, it doesn’t make sense to launch it in January when no one is typically camping. Think about how you can use holidays, months and seasons to promote your products and services.
Here’s to an Epic Business Launch
So there you have it, by considering the above checklist items, you can ensure having a pretty dang successful business launch that will greatly benefit your business.
I hope this inspires you to put the effort and energy into the launch process and I promise when you do, you will see a difference in the bottom line. When you put good stuff out, you receive it right on back. Hard work pays off if you do it well!
You’ve got this, and good luck in your future endeavors!
If you would like help planning your business launch and launch marketing, I would be happy to help! Be sure to reach out to me here!
How do you plan business launches? Are there other ways to create hype around your business? Share and inspire below!