Your eyes are tired from not having looked up from your computer in what seems like ages, and your body is screaming at you to get some sleep. You’re too hyped up on coffee and adrenaline to stop.
The day has finally come, this is it. This is what all your efforts and sleepless nights you’ve been working for. It’s that day where you take your stand on the stage of business in all of your disruptive glory. Investors will now kneel before you.
It’s like that slow, walk to the beach carrying all your sunbeds, towels and sun cream lotions; you just know it’s going to be absolutely great. First, you have to trudge all the way along the crowded seafront looking for that spot-on location to take in those lovely sun rays. You’re tingling with anticipation and then….you finally reach the perfect place, and then…
The sun goes in ……and that feeling of warm anticipation melts quicker than a snowflake on a hot summer day!
All your plugging isn’t working, FaceBook is not buzzing with your launch. Your Twitter account hasn’t taken off and your LinkedIn Account has hardly registered one tick box of congratulation. Not one social media account is raving stories about your launch. You feel as though it never happened.
Why has this happened?
That’s easy, you console yourself by saying it must have been a busy day on the global news front. If only they had read your press release, they would’ve seen that your start-up story needs to be told! Your business is unique and is so, so good!
How dare they do this to you?
How could they massacre your dreams of a successful launch by totally ignoring your groundbreaking story?
As a start-up company, however, bouncing back is in your DNA. You get right back to work. Sadly, I’ve seen this story play out too many times like that horrible feeling of ‘Groundhog Day! I’m speaking from personal experience as I’ve also made this mistake before.
Pitching on Social Media alone is not a launch strategy.
It seems obvious, but I’ve lost count of the number of times a founder has told me that they expect their launch traction to come from getting picked up by a plethora of different social media outlets.
What every single start-up business forgets is that there are a thousand start-ups with a similar plan. Simplified, other founders are doing the same thing and hitting the same “Tips” email account with their stories.
Don’t get me wrong, utilizing the press and advertising is a good idea as your start-up bloggers tell important stories and press outreach should be a crucial part of your launch strategy. But alone…..it’s simply insufficient.
So what’s a start-up to do?
A lot of folks will tell you that the first thing you should be focused on is building a cutting-edge product that improves people’s lives. But let’s assume you’ve got something really amazing. How do you get the world to notice?
Your “tell everyone” approach as your launch strategy doesn’t work. You don’t need the world to notice. You need highly qualified potential users to notice, and there’s a huge difference.
An example is HowzBout: They spent twelve months in beta, rigorously testing and iterating their Helpdesk and Live Chat apps to get them ready to launch.
Here’s something else they did, that you can do, too: They spent that time rapidly collecting email addresses of potential users. They asked their most engaged beta users to share their website with their networks.
They blogged about topics that were interesting to a customer support audience, and they wrote content for external outlets that brought value to readers, and loads of inbound leads to them.
When launch day came, they were ready: press release, pitch list, product video, blog post, email blast, the works. They did all their advertising, sent out the invites and released their press statements daily to ensure no one could forget. However, it was as though the world was shut down on the day they chose.
The Stanford Consilium – Plan B Theory
I have no doubt that a barrage of press coverage would have helped attract more new customers but they knew that the odds were against them, so they adopted the Stanford Consilium- Plan B Theory. They simply planned for it.
Taking their carefully nurtured list of email addresses, they sent out an
announcement about their launch, with clear calls to action to sign up and get in on the fun.
Double the signups, at nearly four times the conversion rate of visitors coming from the social media outlets. Note that they didn’t email this list cold: they had spent months giving away content for free, nurturing the relationships, before asking for anything. I can’t stress the critical importance of this enough.
They also sent an email out to beta users, announcing the launch and asking them to share the news about HowzBout with friends in the ‘Event Industry; who might find it useful. That email netted them another 140 users; at a conversion rate nearly double that of the social media traffic.
The problem is that most start-ups won’t make the effort to build that audience until after launch. I know, because as I’ve mentioned, I’ve made that mistake, too.
I fully appreciate that as a start-up team, the chances that you have a full-time content person are nonexistent. The chances that someone on your team has a slant towards writing well are quite high.
Ask them to invest a couple of hours a week in this exercise. It can pay off with dividends when the time comes. Write blogs Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
That’s OK, but what should we write about?
Every start-up should know how their customers think. Knowing what’s interesting to them is also a major part of that. It’s absolutely okay to ask them what they’d like to read about from you. Email them, survey them, and chat with them. They’ll appreciate it.
In the meantime, here are a few ideas:
- Write about your start-up experiences – be honest and transparent
- Explain the worst and the best things you learned from your experiences.
- Tell a good story. Be a little controversial, share your thoughts on sensitive topics with your audience.
- Offer best practices for your profession.
- Use your expert(s) in whatever it is that you do — share your knowledge and experiences.
- Publish case studies and interviews with your customers. This prepares and informs your audience into what others using your product are doing well and makes the featured customers feel good about themselves (and their relationship with your company).
Remember going flat out on social media is not a launch strategy that works. On its own, don’t gamble on it to make your business ‘Take Off’ to the stars.
By all means, reach out to the press, but diversify your launch plan to reach qualified leads that you’ve already been nurturing through those long, dark days and nights.
Invest in your quality subject matter content and incubate the customers to be ready and happy to grasp and take your baby into their loving arms. Then watch it grow up to be a total winner.