What startups and marathons don’t have in common
Okay so, we’ve never actually run a marathon. But from what we hear, building a startup has a lot in common with running one of those bad boys.
It takes time, effort, patience, pain, motivation and dedication. But there’s one thing they don’t have in common.
You can’t jump the gun in a marathon. But in the game of startups, you can.
In fact, you should.
Too many startups wait to tell anybody about their product until they feel they’re completely ready to take orders. But let’s be honest. That could take a while.
There’s always something you could improve or tweak juuust a little bit more. And that’s great. You should never stop improving. But that doesn’t mean you should wait to tell people about the brilliant thing you’re building.
On the contrary, you should start prepping your potential users now. As in right now.
Want to know all the steps to take before and after prelaunch? Then this course is for you: How to start a startup from scratch - 32 steps from idea to growth
In this course, we’ll show you how to create a kick-ass prelaunch strategy that will make launch day much more fun.
When you’re done reading, you’ll know
- Why you should market your product before it’s ready
- How to build lasting, loyal relationships with users long before they buy from you
- How a prelaunch strategy can help you make a profit
Why should you prep your audience?
Before the age of the internet, launching was something we did when the final version of our product was done.
Once we were ready to take orders, it was all about putting together a smashing opening offer and then crossing our fingers while we waited for the customers to come.
Luckily, those days are gone.
A great prelaunch strategy lets you set the scene, create awareness and prepares both you and your future customers for the game-changer you’re about to introduce to the world.
The things you do before you launch can be the difference between instant success and waiting months or even years to hit break-even.
Pre-launch activities are all about creating some buzz, building relationships with potential users and testing your solution on real people before you launch it.
If you do it right, customers will be banging on your virtual door come launch day.
Of course, before you can start prepping your audience, you need to gather them around.
Here’s how to do that..
Prepare your marketing plan
The point of a prelaunch strategy is to start creating the buzz and drive future sales.
To do that you should focus on gathering a group of people who have the problem, you’re trying to solve, and who are interested enough in the topic that they will want to talk to you and hear from you when you launch.
Early subscribers and adopters are gold.
Not just because they might actually buy something from you, but because you can start building relationships with them and drive conversation about your product.
Do it right, and these people will end up being your most valuable ambassadors and sales drivers.
Hopefully, you already know who your target audience is. Those are the people you should aim your marketing at. Reach them in places where they’re already hanging out, and then start reaching out.
Create a landing page for early adopters
Before you start talking though, make sure you have a place for them to go. Build an inspiring landing page where people who want to can sign up.
Your landing page should quickly present your solution to the problem your users are facing. Make sure it’s visually appealing, include some engaging copy - and a signup form of course.
You may also consider giving subscribers something in return for their subscription. Depending on your product it could be early (and free) access, samples, free video training. Whatever makes them happy.
Once the page is up and running start directing people to. One way to do that, if you have a bit of money for it, is through social media ads.
You can also post your product on third-party review sites such as Product Hunt and BetaList and link to your landing page from there.
If you don’t know how to build a landing page, here are some helpful tools that all have a free (trial) version.
Build your landing page with these tools
With Instapage your ads can convert 4.2x higher by automating 1:1 personalized post-click experiences for every customer.
Start building relationships
The key to a successful business is strong relationships. And you might as well start building them now. Strong relationships create loyalty and help build trustworthy awareness about your brand.
Like relationships in real life, it’s all about caring. No one really likes people who are too busy talking about themselves to listen to what others have to say. Don’t be like that.
Instead of endlessly trying to push your product on people, talk to them. Ask about their problem. Share stories they can connect with. Care about helping them. Not fake care. Really care.
In other words, you shouldn’t talk about your product and all its excellent features. It won’t work. Instead, talk about your customers’ problems and the changes they wish for.
If you add value to their lives now, they will add value to your business later.
There are a lot of different ways for you to spark conversation. We’ve listed a few of them to get you started.
If your bootstrapped behind can’t scrape together the money for advertising your landing page, you can start blogging. It’s free and it’s great for starting conversation.
While blogging is time-consuming, consistently writing about the things your audience care about (and that you can help solve) will help you build the buzz you’re craving.
If you want to start blogging, do yourself a favor and plan ahead. Put the different topics on a piece of paper and gather the posts you want to write in a content plan. Most importantly, dedicate the time to actually write them.
Start a social media community
Like blogging, a social media community is great for driving conversation.
It can be challenging to manage the conversation on a blog and you have limited options to generate actual two-way dialogue. On social media, you might have better luck.
People are more used to having conversations on social media, and creating a closed group of likeminded people will help you build a sense of security and belonging. And people love to belong.
Social media communities are a lot of work. Especially in the beginning.
You need to plan, execute and be there - all the time.
At some point, though, the community will start working its magic and the people in it will start helping each other without you having to monitor the conversation as closely as in the beginning.
If your landing page is working, you’re well on your way to building a list of beautiful email addresses you can use to get in touch with your users.
The best thing about email marketing is that by giving you their email address, people are telling you that they want to hear from you.
Don’t take that lightly. Meaning don’t spam them with piddly crap, but also don’t give them the silent treatment.
Create an email campaign focused around adding value of some sort to your subscribers’ lives.
Give them 7 tips that will help them change their problem for the better.
Or 10 pieces of knowledge that will make them smarter about the condition they are in.
Keep them engaged and happy by giving them what they need.
These tools can help you create awesome email campaigns
An easy to use marketing platform, so you can focus on what really matters: Growing your business, stand out and save time all at once.
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Test, listen and adjust
So now that you’ve gathered a group of some pretty cool early adopters, it’s time to ask for their help. It’s time to test your product. Beta testing is a unique opportunity for you to get some honest feedback from your users, before you finally launch.
Ask your early adopters to try your product and give you some feedback. And once you get it, listen to what they have to say. Feedback not used is a waste of everyone’s time.
The more feedback you can get and the earlier you can get it, the better. In fact, you should start gathering opinions as soon as you start to validate your business idea. We guarantee you it'll make your product so much more awesome.
Using the feedback to make final adjustments will not only make your product better. It will also give your early adopters a sense of urgency, that will build upon the loyalty they’ve already shown you.
Most likely, these people will happily advocate for you and your product and provide social proof that you’re worth betting on. And honestly, money can’t buy that sort of marketing.
Phew, that’s it! Now you’re almost ready to get ready to launch.