You have built it. Now they will come, right?
Yup, we just threw one of the startup world’s biggest clichés in your face.
But we got news for you. They won’t just come. If you’ve done a good job with your pre launch activities, some of them will be waiting for you. But if you don’t tell them, they won’t know you’ve launched.
No matter how much effort you’ve already put into building awareness, pressing the big, shiny launch button won’t cut it.
Like with pretty much everything else you’ve been through on your journey so far, successfully launching your product takes lots of planning and lots of work.
So before you push the button, strategize, plan and get ready to work.
Read on, and we’ll walk you through the most important launch steps.
When you're done reading, you'll know
- How to make a solid launch strategy
- How to prepare for the media
- How to collect and convert leads
- How to celebrate your launch like the startup superstar you are
Launching isn’t just pressing the button - why you need a launch plan
We get it, you’re excited to launch. Probably pretty nervous too. A part of you might just want to get it over with. Another part is telling you to wait.
We’re here to tell you that you are ready!
If you've gone through most of these steps to build a startup, you are ready. Even if there are still things to improve, you are ready. We’re sure of it. But we also want you to know that launching is way more than just pressing a button. If you want to set yourself up for a successful launch, you have to do the work.
You’re 98% there. Don’t be a lazy slacker now!
On launch day, things will move fast. Your head will be filled with all sorts of things you need to remember. You’ll worry about stuff that can go wrong. You’ll be nervous that no one will even care.
While no one can lift the weight of your worries off your shoulders, you can help yourself by project managing the heck out of your launch day.
So what goes in a launch plan? We’re glad you asked...
We’ve crafted a launch list for you. May it be forever in your favor.
How to plan your launch
Make sure your positioning is in place
Before you launch, make sure you are clear about the position you want to take in the market.
By now you’ve hopefully talked to your target audience more than once. You know them. You know their pains and what they need.
Run through your notes one more time. What is the feedback you’ve gotten? What have your early users told you? What value do you create for them and why is that different from what your competitors create?
A solid positioning statement will help you do your marketing, write press releases, talk to media and potential customers and make important decisions both during and after your launch.
Your positioning statement isn’t a slogan. It’s actually just for internal use. But it will help you know what to communicate to the world on launch day and how to answer the questions you get.
Create your positioning statement by answering these four questions:
Who is it for? (Who is your target group and what is their pain?)
What market are you in?
What promise do you make to your users? (what are the greatest benefits they will get?)
How will you do that? (what evidence do you have that you can keep your promise?)
Now write it in a sentence:
For ____[your target group]____ in ____[the market]____ ____[your brand/product name]____ provides ____[promise/benefit]____, because ____[your evidence]____.
Prepare a press release
Even if you’re not the typical attention grabber, in fact, even if you prefer to keep a caveman status for all eternity, you’re going to need attention on launch day.
That’s why you should craft a press release and start getting in touch with some people, who might want to share your news.
A couple of important notes about writing press releases:
- Be clear about the purpose of your press release. If you’re not sure about it, no one else will get it
- Choose an angle and the key message you want the world to hear
- Build your press release around the inverted pyramid. Don’t know what the heck that is? You can read a bit more here
- Keep your writing clear, short and active.
- Include catchy headlines, sub-headlines and an introduction that hooks your readers
- Back yourself up with some quotes or statistics from people smarter than yourself
Unless you already have a couple of hundred thousand followers on social media or a really long list of early subscribers, you’ll need the help of someone who does to get the word about your launch out.
Once again, take a good look at your target group. Where do they hang out? Who do they follow?
Now reach out to influencers, bloggers, journalists and media, who are in touch with your audience and tell them about your product.
You already have your positioning statement and a press release. Remember to adjust the press release so it matches the media channels you want to use.
While a national newspaper might need a formal, well-written press release, an influencer will want to test your product and share their own opinion with their followers.
Craft a launch day plan
All great project managers know that a successful project needs clearly defined goals. Once you have those in place, you can plan backwards from there.
So the first thing you need to do is to define your launch goals.
When is your launch a success? Do you need 50 purchases? 1.000? Or maybe just one?
When you’ve decided on the goals, define what needs to be done to reach them. Which actions are important to take for the launch to be a success?
Create a list of all the actions you have to take to reach the goal. Once you have that list, prioritize the actions to get a clear plan of what to do on launch day.
A good framework to use when prioritizing tasks is the ICE framework. ICE stands for impact, confidence and ease. Prioritize the tasks by giving each of them an ICE score from 1-10.
For each action on your list, figure out how big of an impact it will have on your end goal, how sure you are that the action will work, and how easy it can be carried out.
Once you’re done, you’ll have a clearer idea of how to go about your launch day.
Set up key metrics
What do all great project managers know?
That’s right. Successful projects need goals. As does a launch. One of the biggest launch mistakes a startup can make is to launch without having set key metrics to measure the successes and failures of the launch.
Not only will you not be able to know when you’ve done well, but you will not be able to adjust your strategy or kill the things that don’t work.
Making sure you have key metrics set up for your product launch will help you keep focus and get your whole team working together to make it a success.
Every product launch is different, which means that relevant metrics will also be.
Some metrics that are relevant for most include:
- How many warm or qualified leads do you want to get?
- How much traffic should your marketing efforts drive to which sites?
- How many media channels do you want to pick up your press release?
- How many news stories do you want to get?
- How many social shares do you aim at getting?
- What opening and click rates do you want to reach in your launch email?
- How many purchases do you need to get?
- How big a market share do you want to win?
Want to dive a bit deeper into this? Then give this course on Setting Key Metrics a go.
There are a lot of tools out there that will help you test, track and measure performance. We found a few for you right here, but if that's not enough, jump into our Startup Resources to find the best ones for you.
Tools for Measuring Your Launch Performance
Create visually stunning optin forms and get sky-high conversion rates on your website! Turn visitors into subscribers with this drag ‘n’ drop builder. Monetize the traffic on your website and get all the stats so you can target and personalize your campaigns to your audience and increase your sales.
With Hotjar you can get feedback directly from your visitors, track customer satisfaction, user behaviour and much more - All in all an amazing tool for getting to know your audience.
It's time to push the button!
That’s all the preparation you need. You’re ready. Below here, we’ll walk you through the things you should be ready for in the hours after you launch.
Now go push the button. We know you want to.
What to do when you’ve launched
Tell your people
We know, we know. We told you to go find someone with more followers than you.
But! (There’s always a but, right?). You should always treat your own followers, the people who have backed you up from before your product could walk, like celebrities.
So before you tell anyone else about your launch, tell your cheer squad. Reach out to them and tell them that the product they’ve helped you build is now on the streets.
Your early adopters can make or break your success. No matter how much or how little time they’ve dedicated to your journey up until now, they have dedicated something. Now’s the time to repay them.
The least you can do is to let them be the first to know. You may even want to offer them something in return for believing in you. Make them feel special.
Once you’ve sent your early adopters a notification, it’s time to spread it out.
After that, you can post on social media and reach out to the media and influencers, you’ve talked to to make sure they’re ready to share your wisdom.
Be prepared to sell
By now the news of your launch will be driving traffic to your website and your sales page, knock on wood. Traffic is leads and you need to be ready to collect them and follow up to make sure they get warmer. There are a couple of things you can do to collect leads, make them warmer and convert them into sales.
Make sure your sales channel work
For the users who are already eager to buy your product make sure everything works. Make sure they’re able to pay, that they know exactly when they’ll receive their product and where to go if they need any assistance at all.
In any way you can aim at exceeding customer expectations. Amazing quality, service and support will help you reach the startup stars.
Here are a couple of handy tools to set up sales and customer support channels
Create a pop up to help visitors sign up to your email list
For the curious souls, who visit your website and leave again shortly afterwards, create a popup signup form. They’ve visited for a reason, and while a good chunk of them will probably leave without signing up, some of them will want to hear more from you.
Craft an awesome campaign for new signups
Once people sign up to your list, be sure they actually hear from you. All research shows that across markets, email marketing is by far the channel with the highest ROI.
So there’s really very little reason why you shouldn’t at least prepare a campaign to target new subscribers. Make a series of emails that provide value to the readers and make sure to include CTA’s in each of them to help raise the conversion rates.
Oh and remember. Value isn’t letting them know every cool feature your product has. It’s giving them.
Be ready for bugs
Even if you tested your product to the point of insanity before you launched there will be bugs. Someone will have an issue, you haven’t run into before.
Make sure your users know where to report bugs and have a system in place to fix them as soon as possible. Let people know that you’re working on it and remember to thank them for helping you out.
And then fix those damn things!
POP THE BUBBLES! 🍾🍾
We should’ve probably put this just below the actual button-pushing fun. In our defence though, we really wanted you to get to the end of this course. But we kind of hope you already had a sip of champagne.
Because you did it!
You launched. Your baby has left the nest. It’s out there living its life. And while your job is far from done, we think you’re allowed a wee bit o’ celebration (if you’re a Friends fan, you know what we’re talking about).
So go open your favorite bottle of beer or bubbles, high five your team, hug your mom. You’ve earned it.