During product development, it seems natural to leave all the promotional issues for the postlaunch period. With a fully functional solution, a startup can grant its potential customers an opportunity to try it and admire it without counting down the days to an official release.
Seems like a fair and reliable strategy, but nine times out of ten it isn’t.
Imagine: How many people would observe the Falcon Heavy mission if it was announced right at the moment of launch?
Building an audience while building a product is a game-changing move for a startup owner. Here’s why:
- Your early adopters will help you determine the true value of the product. You can’t test that on your fellow creators; they love you too much (or envy you too much). Either way, they are not objective.
- It’s a perfect time to make mistakes because fixing them won’t cost you a lot. There’s also a lover risk to gain negative feedback. Reacting intelligently to users who point out errors will make them feel like contributors. Such people are more likely to become your brand advocates later.
- Investors prefer to support companies who already have customers. And money is the best fuel for a rocket startup launch.
There are plenty of other WHYs, but we’re here for WHATs, right? Let’s delay no further.
Here are our TOP 5 simple but effective pre-launch marketing to-dos:
1. Start from your own audience
In other words, get back to your contact list. There are definitely influencers among your Facebook friends and LinkedIn connections. Some of them may help you get media coverage. Others will offer you advice or an advisor.
Your personal network can provide you with tools, knowledge, and contacts that you probably didn’t even take into account before starting your research. Additionally, word-of-mouth is as powerful today as it has always been. Who knows how far the word of your startup will travel once you start sharing it with friends.
2. Get a landing page with a sign-up form
It’s always a good time to generate leads, even if you have no product to convert them into customers. There are myriad ways to reward their loyalty and patience.
You can offer early access to your service, exclusive features, or behind-the-scenes looks at how you make your magic. And don’t forget to send a personal thank you email as a cherry on top.
3. Be social
An impactful social media presence will help you build strong relationships with your customers. Additionally, you can use it for recruitment and support needs.
Let’s have a sneak peek into the most popular platforms for starting your SMM:
Facebook is the first network that comes to mind when speaking of SMM. It should be your №1 choice if you aim to make your idea viral and cover maximum audience potential. Launch a campaign to boost page likes or spend a few dollars to promote some of your posts. You’ll have a loyal audience in no time.
If you’re a B2B startup, then a LinkedIn presence is a must for your company. And, if you are an owner/CEO/CTO/etc., it’s also a must for you. Send InMails to your connections, and network with anyone who may be interested in your product. One of the greatest benefits of LinkedIn over Facebook is that people are comfortable with messages from strangers. They don’t take it personally; it’s all about business.
Twitter is a hot spot for the social-sharing economy. It’s also a great place to be noticed by press and influencers. Retweet or favorite their tweets, initiate discussions, and share the hottest news about your progress.
Conduct research before selecting a network. TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, or Pinterest may win you even more profit if you produce a lot of visual content.
Mind your audience’s location. You’ve probably never heard of QZone, but if you plan to market your product in China, neglecting it would be a mistake.
P.S: Social media marketing for startups is a topic worthy of a separate article, which is already on our to-do list. Please, don’t be shy about leaving comments regarding what interests you the most about SMM so we can prepare some really tasty content for you.
4. Become a blogger
...so you’ll have stuff to post to your social-media!
Just kidding. Blogging can do much more for your business than filling gaps in your SMM strategy.
First, it helps you build solid search engine optimization for your keywords. Second, it turns incoming traffic into an engaged audience, so you gain more return visitors who are already interested in what you have to offer.
Check out a related article:
Ultimate Guide to Evaluating Your Startup. Part 3: Marketing
Don't know what to write about? You can give your readers heads-up on the way the project is going on, collect and review industry news, offer useful how-tos, or share a few jokes if you host an in-house Adir Miller.
Go easy on promotional content; it tends to irritate people. Educate them, advise them, entertain them, and soon you'll win over their hearts and their attention.
5. Start your email marketing
A sign-up form, social media, and blogging can help you gather a crowd. Nurture your supporters by making them feel like the cool early-adopters they are.
Here are a few tips on creating the most effective emails:
- Be short and catchy
Long, pointless reads will never retain your audience (unless it’s a dystopia for teenage girls). Low open rates and high spam flagging will land your emails right in the spam folder before they get a chance to reach those who are really interested.
- Make your letters personal
People feel more comfortable when chatting with other people, not brands. And, they love thinking that a letter is addressed to them alone rather than thousands. Even if it is a no-reply letter, try referring to clients by name and set a living person from your team as the sender.
- Ask for feedback
Strike up conversations about your supporters’ thoughts and expectations. You may discover some really cool ideas for further updates. (There was the case in our practice, when the initial price of a product was doubled after an email-poll. Quite a massive upgrade, indeed.)
Email marketing platforms such as MailChimp allow you to make each letter a masterpiece. Additionally, they have free plans for small businesses. Check them out before starting your campaign.
Make sure that you track this marketing rampage. Integrate Google Analytics to find out where most of your traffic comes from and detect the hottest content on your blog. Collect statistics on each SMM post to find out what publications drive more likes and shares. See who is opening your emails and who isn’t. And use this data to invest time and assets in what performs the best.
Developing a startup isn't a cakewalk; there's always work to do. It won't be easy to find resources for a complex prelaunch promotion. But, if you manage it right, your first launch may become a big day for many. That’s worth a try, isn’t it?