55 Pre-Launch Tips For Your Startup
The complete list of actionable items to start building pre-launch buzz.
The day you launch your startup is a monumental day. It’s sure to be something you have shed blood, sweat, and tears working towards.
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What people tend to overlook is the amount of effort it takes to start building buzz before your launch a product or company. In the beginning, all you are armed with is an idea, your creativity, and the internet. Depending on who is embarking on this journey, results may vary.
You may have all the ideas in the world to start executing on, or you may be clueless. If you fall on the clueless end of the spectrum, take a look at some of these marketing ideas. Everyone might no work for you, but hopefully you’ll be able to take some of these ideas and run with them!
6 Months before Launch
Goal: Work on the right product idea that excites your beta customers.
- Set up accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, Snapchat, and UNUM messenger.
- Use a tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to make social media management easy.
- Get to know the influencers in your area and start to connect with them.
- Post content related to your industry and start building up a reputation in your space. Wherever you share it, just start getting the word out and establishing yourself as a thought leader.
- Sign up for a Canva to easily start creating amazing custom graphics.
- Start using a tool like RendrFX to begin creating video content to get the word out about your product. Video is a very powerful tool.
- Participate on sites like Reddit and hackernews in the discussions and earn karma points. This will help to build up your reputation for when you shamelessly plug yourself later on.
- Get active on forums like Quora for topics related to your product. Answer questions and be a good samaritan. It’s alright to have a small plug at the bottom of your answers if it’s relevant. Quora also is a great place to see what popular questions people are answering in your industry.
- Set up your blog and post interesting content related to your product. Post about the the problem you aim to solve. Include media to display the human side of your company such as photos of your team, office, videos of fun events, etc. Popular companies like Slack and UNUM messenger have began hosting their blogs on Medium to make things easy. It’s a breeze to set up and it looks awesome!
- Start trying to guest post on niche blogs in your space. Also try to start writing for bigger publications like Fast Company, Inc, Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, Mashables, and other similar publications.
- Get a good brand name and register your site. You could use nameninja to brainstorm on the brand name. Then scoop up the domain on a site like GoDaddy.
- Create a splash page. You can use a site like launchrock — with a signup form to begin collecting emails and other contact information. Here is how my splash page looked.
- Build a conceptual prototype of your product with InVision. See how I build my prototype here.
- Sign up for Mail Chimp to start sending emails to the people who pre-register for your product and to keep them updated. See the introduction email I sent here.
- From your small network created in the previous steps, get a few target users to sign up for the alpha/beta of your product.
- Choose the exact day you want to launch, so you can begin counting down. Make sure this is thought through and you give yourself enough time. The last thing you want is to have to push back the release date after you hyped it up in a big way.
3 Months Before Launch
Goal: Build a kick-ass product that people will love.
- Step it up and build a more informative landing page that has a clear call to action (signup/phone number to contact/buy the product, etc.) You can easily use a Wordpress theme to make it look great. See everything I did to build my website in this article here.
- Make your logo and create branding for your product. You can use a site like Fiverr to get something basic, or find someone amazing on a site like Dribbble to do all of your branding. I found someone who did an amazing job on our branding named Ramin Nasibov.
- Keep producing great content and distributing it widely to get the word out about your product. Submit your content to sites like StumbleUpon, Digg, Zest, and other submission sites (especially niche submission sites relevant to your product, content, and industry.)
- Repurpose your content. Don’t let the things you make fizzle out. Change up and reuse content by altering up the way it’s delivered. You can repurpose your content for sites like YouTube, Slideshare, and others.
- Cultivate a relationship with bloggers and the media in your field. Here are some tips to cultivating the blogger relationships. If you can get bloggers like Robert Scoble or Ryan Hoover interested, the idea could spread like wildfire.
- Start attending startup related events — keep building your network and keep exchanging business cards. Make your brand known. Here is a lost of some startup related events.
- List your startup on Angel List and CrunchBase.
1 Month Before the Launch
Goal: Start to get things polished up and lay the foundation for launch.
- Optimize your site for speed as new customers may not be patient enough for the site to load if it takes too long. Here are 21 tips to speed your site.
- Do basic SEO for your site to bring customers through search engines. If you have an app, start to think through your ASO strategies. Here are some basic SEO strategies and here are some basic ASO strategies.
- Setup Google Analytics in your site and monitor your site daily. Track visits, bounce rate, traffic sources, time spent on site, etc.
- Set up pixels on your website to start gathering information on your traffic using Google Tag Manager. This will help you retarget your traffic. Be sure to set up Facebook Pixel as well.
- Get involved in online groups like Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, Google+ communities, and Slack communities. Come say hello to me in the Buffer Slack community where I’m a moderator by joining here!
- Learn to use social monitoring tools like howsociable to track your brand across the social media.
- Start using more robust tools like FollowLiker to grow your social audience. Using automated processes and bots can help you crush social media with minimal ongoing effort.
- Make a pre-launch video like this one from Dollar Shave Club.
1 Week Before the Launch
Goal: Time to button up. Make sure everything is perfect for launch day.
- Test your product over and over again. Really, do this as much as you can. People don’t typically give a second chance. After internal testing, you could use services like 99tests to find out critical bugs and scalability issues.
- Prepare a blog post for your launch. Talk about things like why your building the product, what problem it solves, what it was like making it, etc. People love to see the personal side of a product. See How to write a product launch blog post.
- Write a good press release. A press release is content that media outlets can use directly for a story on your product. It’s written in the third person and talks about your product, team, and advantages of your product. Learn to how to write a press release by reading tips to write your press release.
- Create viral content around your launch — emotion evoking stories, videos, and pictures that people could share in social media easily. Read more about how to create viral content here.
- Create interesting infographics and slides on content related to your product (stats, benefits, user demographics, comparison to existing products) to post in your blog.
- Tease your followers with posts that give them a preview of the product in a fun and entertaining way. Without going overboard, give a bikini –reveal (enough to keep it interesting without exposing everything.) Read this article to see how to create hype around your product.
- Create fun contests (quizzes, social games, etc.) for your social followers — throw in some freebies. Some of Buffer’s most popular tweets have been giveaway tweets.
- Write personally to bloggers (give exclusives for the big ones) and give them a compelling story. Bloggers like to write interesting content, so make your story a coherent and a powerful one. Request them not to leak the story until your launch day. See how to get bloggers to write about you here.
- Collect a list of all email contacts you and your team knows. Keep these in your CRM or at the least in a single CSV file if nothing else.
- Prepare a video demo of your product and record interviews with the team and your initial customers — post them on your YouTube channel. Keep it short and fun. RendrFX is a great tool for these videos.
- Consider adding something like Intercom to your website to be able to live chat with early customers and get conversations flowing.
- Create a kick-ass presentation of your product covering the problem, your solution, benefits, etc. Post them on your blog and send it over to any blogger who shows interest in your product. Consider using Prezi to add some flair to your presentation.
Goal: Get your product in front of as many people as possible. Also, make sure to keep listening, responding to feedback, and tracking the results.
- Submit your product to Product Hunt. If people love your idea, you will see some major traction from this channel. Product Hunt is a necessity for launches.
- Post the how-to’s, presentation, videos, any testimonial you received from your beta users on your blog. Make your blog the central repository of everything related to your product. This is how you can start to establish yourself as an industry leader through content.
- Schedule two dozen tweets to go every hour — each covering a facet of your product — with an appropriate URL in your site. Here are 31 Tweet Ideas For Your Startup’s First Month on Twitter.
- Submit links in hackernews and Reddit.
- Get your team tuned into social media and have everyone readily alert to receive feedback. Monitor your site metrics — traffic, load, etc.
- Respond to email queries as fast as possible. If all your hard work is paying off, you should be getting flooded!
- Or you could just not launch. See Eric Reis’s post on why you shouldn’t launch.
- Thank any blogger who has covered your event. Send them an email and give them a call if you are able to.
- Be active on social media and engage customers who mention your product and collect their feedback. Take their negative feedback without being defensive.
- Fix the bugs and work on feature requests if they make sense. Start to prioritize feature requests in a backlog.
- Write tutorials to help your customer use your features better. Continue to keep your training material current as your product evolves.
- As your product continues to grow, ensure you are educating people on your product. Consider adopting a learning management system like Northpass to educate your customers and users.
It’s a lot of work to build buzz around your product. Not to mention, the time you have to spend actually making the product itself. It all can seem overwhelming, but you just need to craft a plan and then start chipping away.
Be realistic and list out the things you want to do. Make a rough road map of what you want to get done and when. You may not get everything done, but you need the plan to stay efficient.
Hopefully this list helps! If you have any suggestions to add, let me know in the comments below and I will be sure to keep adding tools and tips to this article.
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