A lot of effort goes into launching a product or service. It takes hours of planning to get it right. We all know this much. But what about the “calm” before the storm? How can you use that time to drum up momentum for your launch without taking away from the big day itself?
Whether you’re a start-up getting ready to introduce yourself to the industry or a well-established brand unveiling a new chapter, there are several ways to draw early interest to help bolster your launch.
Above all things, you have to be present. Sounds simple enough, right? But you’d be surprised to know how many brands get awfully quiet when they’re not in the middle of announcing something new. The reality is that it’s really hard to suddenly flip a switch and have people be all over your news if you haven’t been engaged prior to that. (Of course, that may not be the case if you’re a household name, but chances are you became a household name because you were ongoingly present in the first place.)
What exactly does it mean to be ‘present’? There isn’t a one-size-fits-all definition. One way to be present is to be active on social. It’s a great place to start and presents an easy forum to be engaged in relevant conversations that are happening in your space with users, influencers and members of the media. Using appropriate hashtags or having your CEO or CTO jump into a Twitter Chat are additional ways that make it easier for people who are interested to find you.
Being present can also mean creating content your target audience finds valuable, whether that’s in the form of blog posts, white papers, eBooks or more. Content is way for you to present your ideas in your own words. Show why you’re different and how you think. We probably overuse the term ‘thought leader’ at this point, but it is a great way to show that leadership.
Build on that thought leadership with an active media relations program. Whether you’re contributing articles or speaking with reporters on ideas that haven’t been over-tread on. Building those relationships with the media will only help you when the day of your launch comes. They’ll know who you are and what represent, versus popping up out of thin air.
Another idea? Partner up. Consider establishing a partnership with a brand that fits your upcoming product or service. If you already have some great partners, look for ways to bring them into the mix leading up to the launch. This is a larger business decision beyond PR and marketing, but if it makes sense for your company, it can be a great way to generate awareness. One example that comes to mind is Instacart’s parternship with Whole Foods. Instacart is a grocery delivery startup that has been slowly rolling out to cities across the U.S. They recently announced that Whole Foods was signing on to be a part of their service; users could now order from WFM through the app and have it delivered to their door. It garnered a new level of exposure which will make their future city launches that much more successful. People are often times more willing to buy into a company that is validated by another brand they already trust.
One last point to consider in your pre-launch PR planning is to think of some out-of-the-ordinary tactics. SHIFT’s client Mohu, a consumer electronics manufacturer of indoor antennas (hello cord cutters), comes to mind. Mohu decided to create Kickstarter campaign to launch their new product, Channels. The campaign, while being a core part of their actual launch, also helped serve as a way to garner attention before it was publicly available. It was wildly successful, raising their goal of $35,000 in two days and selling more than 1,000 units in 45 days. It helped establish that early interest and was a unique way to go about the process.
If you have a launch on the horizon, start gearing up now. Be engaged. Be present. Be known. Being successful at each of those will help drive momentum toward a successful launch.
Senior Marketing Analyst
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