So - you have a final product that you're eager to share with the world.
This is an exciting time - all the long days, sleepless nights and challenges you faced to get your product ready for this moment.
In this guide, we walk you through various ways to effectively launch your product, what to expect, and key examples of successful launches.
Build Hype with a Landing Page
Landing pages are a great way to announce the launch of your product, and build hype around the launch.
Here are a few great ways you can get some buzz from your landing page:
- Add a countdown timer to get customers excited
- Add a waiting list to add value/demand to your product AND as a way to collect emails.
- Consider having a "Thank You" page with a CTA to share your landing page on their social media accounts.
Another great way to incentivize customers is to offer a discount on the product when they reach your landing page.
One great example of this is when Lindsay Scholz, founder of Vowed Box Co. offered a 10% discount once her site officially went live:
I built my pre-launch email list by initially unveiling vowedboxco.com as a simple, static landing page intended to capture email addresses to add to a MailChimp email list. Upon signing up new subscribers received a thank-you message, along with an exclusive 10% off bounceback code that they could use on their first Vowed purchase once our site went live. This worked tremendously well for me as I was able to provide new subscribers with an incentive to come back once we launched, before a physical product or full website even existed!
Within a few weeks I had built up a pre-launch email waitlist of 250 people and steadily built a brand presence and following on Instagram, which I took as a sign that I needed to make Vowed a reality – and fast.
At the start of 2018 I set out to make Vowed Box Co. a reality, but wanted to be sure that it was a product that brides-to-be would even be interested in. I created an Instagram account for the brand before a physical product was even a reality to gauge interest...and the response was overwhelming!
Photo credit: Brooke Michelle Photography
Create a Teaser Video
By creating the right teaser video, you have the opportunity to make your product go viral, which could ultimately change your trajectory quite a bit.
The power of one video (even if it's just 30 seconds long) has the ability to really engage your customers and create some excitement about your product.
Here are some items you may want to consider when creating an effective video:
- Address how your product will help solve your customer's problem
- Focus on the UE (user experience)
- Touch on what makes your product unique (ie. features, benefits, etc).
- Keep your video short, sweet & try to make sure your pitch isn't too sales-y (that may easily turn customers off)
- Promote your video in areas that your target customer is most likely to see it (ie. product hunt, youtube, Facebook, Instagram, etc)
Matt Dryfhout, founder of BAKblade discusses exactly how his campaign video went viral:
After an overwhelmingly successful Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaign in 2016, we had a campaign video featuring a husband and wife in marriage counseling because the husband was in denial of his back hair. When the camera panned from the wife to the husband he turned out to be an 800lb gorilla that was ranting and raving.
The video was picked up initially by the Business Insider and 72 hours after the video was released we had over 30 million views. The video went on to do over 240 million views between several Facebook pages including Business Insider, Yahoo, Mashable, Unilad, Fortify, Broternity, LADbible, etc. The success of the video really led to other large media opportunities including the Today Show and other news outlets.
Our mission statement is to design and create unique products with unique content to solve unique problems. Our goal to restore confidence back in our customers which ultimately breeds success in their lives.
Get Press Coverage
"Getting Press" can be perceived in a lot of different ways, whether it's through news outlets, social media, TV shows, influencer marketing, and the list goes on.
As simple as it sounds, a great starting point would be to simply reach out to journalists, local media resources, and other entrepreneurs and tell them about your product.
Summer Pierce, founder of Unique obsessions launched a pimple popping toy and two weeks after launching their website, was featured on dozens of media outlets, which made their product go viral.
Check it out below:
After launching our website on January 19th, 2018 we ended up going viral within the first two weeks of selling our product online. We did over $100,000.00 in sales within 8 days and almost 200k in February 2018 the second month since we launched. We never imagined that we would go viral or that we would end up on season 10 of Shark Tank, The Today Show, The Doctor’s and Pickler & Ben! We’ve done many Radio Show interviews and have had over 50 articles written about us through different magazines and online articles! We definitely never would’ve imagined that BuzzFeed, Forbes, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, Aol. and Yahoo News would’ve wrote stories about us! We’ve had over 50 million views worldwide. Fast Company actually dubbed us “the next fidget spinner”. I’ll never forget opening up my browser to Aol.com and seeing my product on the front page. It was AMAZING to say the least.
Here’s an example of one of the videos that went viral.
As soon as the social media sites started sharing the videos, the sales started coming in! Our apartment then turned into a full-time manufacturing facility with family members coming down from Michigan to help us lol!
Another great example of gaining exposure through the press was when Jeff Phillips, founder of Beardo was featured on "Good Morning America"
Without a huge media boost, it can be tough to get new customers. I would always keep a list of ideas I had, or things I saw that other brands were doing that seemed to work. That pretty much became my neverending to-do list.
The MOST exposure and returns we have seen were directly resulting from being featured by the big fish like ‘Good Morning America’, our Kickstarter, or our appearance on ‘Dragons Den’ and also having exposure from celebrities.
Some issues I see are things like spending too much money before you have even started. These days you can start with an idea and turn it into millions before you even have product!
A company called FAB (daily design deals) liked our product so much that they used it in their online campaign in 2011/12 which resulted in HUGE social media growth and a lot of sales. One thing leads to another though, so the more exposure you can get will almost certainly lead to more and more. It’s kind of a snowball effect, and that’s what you want.
Out of everything we do, social media and SEO are consistently the best returns for us.
Reach Out To Influencers
Connecting with influencers in your industry can be a very powerful tool for your launch.
The right influencer for your product has the ability to reach your audience with just one post, and because of their loyal following, this could lead to a big return for you.
Since one post can have such a big impact, it's important that you communicate your vision when it comes to messaging, tone and the way you want your product to be perceived.
Lucy Bloomfield, founder of Trefiel built her business through Instagram influencers and gives us a step by step guide to finding the right influencers and best practices:
Instagram and influencers were what we built our business off, although I must say the space has changed a lot since we first started.
Originally, we approached influencer marketing in two prongs - sponsoring posts on large influencer platforms, and gifting products in exchange for a post with micro influencers.
If you’re looking at using influencer marketing in your own business, here are a couple of my best tips for doing so:
How to find influencers
Typically, I start with my demographic and look to the platform they’re spending the most time on. Then from there, I’ll either use hashtags, keywords or audience insights to find people who are influencing in the space I’m trying to sell into.
Once you’ve identified a few key influencers, you simply reach out to them, introduce yourself and your company and ask them if they do sponsored posts. When you reach out, don’t waffle and don’t waste their time (they receive hundreds of emails every day). Be concise, to the point and respectful.
Working with paid Influencers
If you’re paying an influencer, you can have complete say over when and what they post, right down to the caption itself. I always recommend giving the influencer leeway to communicate to their audience in their usual way - the posts where we’ve written the captions for them have never performed well.
As for what type of content you should ask the influencer to post, it really comes down to what your product is. If you’re a fashion brand and influencers can sell your product without actually saying anything about it, you can see great results with a simple photo and one-liner tagging the photo.
On the other hand, if you have a product whose benefits need to be spoken about and the influencer’s experience using it is important, you need to strictly ask them to speak about this. If you don’t, they won’t and your product won’t sell.
Working with free, micro Influencers
If you’re not paying an influencer, you don’t really have a say over what type of content they post or when they can do it.
You can ask nicely and provide guidelines, but engaging influencers for free isn’t a guaranteed game. A lot of the time they won’t post or they won’t do what you ask. But, if you nurture the relationships and treat the influencer well, you can have some really great experiences, results, and long-term relationships.
The current space for influencer marketing
Established influencers want exorbitant money with no real increase in ROI. New influencers want exorbitant money with no real ROI at all, and their audiences are savvier and less trusting of influencers and sponsored posts in general.
More and more I find myself recommending brands to pick one or two influencers, over hundreds, and really develop great relationships with them. That’s where there are still opportunities.
You can organize long-term contracts with them for sponsored posts - we have done this previously. It’s a good way to keep the relationship going with an influencer. But if you really want to continue doing business with the person you’re working with, you need to actually go into business with them.
Influencers have a lot of leverage and, from my experience personally working with them, they want to build their own business, not yours. They often don’t have the skills or the knowledge to release their own lines though and that’s where you, as an expert in whatever field you’re in, can really help an influencer out (and the same in return). I’ve seen a lot of companies do partnerships with influencers, who have seen huge success and growth because of that partnership.
But, one word of warning - an influencer is not your friend. They are mercenaries, and they are often ruthless. If there is a better deal, they will go to it. There is no such concept as loyalty. So tread very carefully, make sure you have contracts drawn up and you protect yourself in every way possible when going into business with them.
Another successful story is when Nick Bare, founder of Bare Performance Nutrition generated over $120,000 in 24hrs through paid influencers:
After 2017, I decided to take a more deliberate and proactive approach to scale the brand, and it paid off. We focused efforts on paid Facebook ads (both prospecting and remarketing), started placing emphasis on building our email list and began utilizing social media influencers to share the Bare Performance Nutrition brand with their followers.
In 2017, with a planned execution of facebook/Instagram ads, email marketing, and organic social media posting (with paid influencers as well) we were able to generate over $120,000 in 24 hours on a 20% site-wide sale - our biggest up until that point. We spent a total of $10,000 in ad-spend leading up to and on the day of that sale which generated $120,000.
Reach Out To Everyone You Know
Your network may be more powerful than you think, and it all starts by just putting yourself out there.
Initially, you may feel a little uncomfortable doing this - let's be honest, reaching out to old high school friends may not be on your top priority list, but even if there's one opportunity or customer that comes from it, you might consider that a success.
Facebook/Instagram can be a great starting point to tell friends/industry peers about your new product. Simply just asking for a share to help you out is OKAY.
One great example of this was when founder Krista Woods asked all her Facebook friends to share her product (spoiler alert - that led to Shark Tank!):
As soon as I had my website up and running, about a month before I had product available, I did a “pre-sale” with future ship dates and shared on all my social media. I asked all my Facebook friends to share my social media pages and websites, and did they ever, it was amazing to see how many people felt personally invested because they literally watched GloveStix be “born”. I also started looking for a few influencers that allowed me to send them a sample, they would try it out, and then all I asked was if they liked the product to make a social media post for me. I looked for people who had great engagement with their followers and I could see that they interacted with them. I did not focus on the number of followers they had or offer any payment, my only ask was if they liked the GloveStix that they make a post.
I realized super quick, that in my network of friends, were all the answers I was looking for. Not many people can say they actually created a business on Facebook… but I can. I am not afraid to ask for help, so I did. I asked a question on Facebook and I would have friends comment suggestions or even offer to connect me with a friend they knew that might be able to help. I took all their suggestions, wrote them down and used the ones I liked and disregarded the ones I didn’t, but I didn’t stop asking. Every time a friend offered to connect me with someone they knew, I took the time to make that call or answer that email. You cannot be afraid to ask questions and get help. Pride can work against you when you are starting a business and the feedback from others is essential in your success. Ultimately it was those friends that took the time to answer and connect me with people they knew how I found my manufacturer. If it wasn’t for my friends and families help, I could have never done this, and I will never ever forget how important those people were to my success.
Launch on Popular Sites
Entrepreneurs want to help other entrepreneurs succeed.
Of course, there's always competition, copy-cats and sometimes even "haters," but for the most part, we're a community with a strong bond.
An easy way to get some buzz is to simply submit your launch to popular startup sites, such as:
Here's a quick look at how I used a few start-up sites to launch Starter Story a few years back.
Launch on Kickstarter
Launching your product on Kickstarter can be highly effective, however, it's important to make sure you have a plan.
We've outlined a few tips to help you execute a successful campaign:
- Sell more than just your product. Sell your passion, your vision, and your story.
- Be real. Give your community honest details about your product.
- Treat your audience as your friends (not just potential customers)
- Put together a great presentation - it will attract people quicker.
We connected with one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns, Photobooth Supply Co and asked founder, Brandon Wong to give us some insight on his strategy:
Product first, campaign second
So with all of those positive benefits of the platform figured out, we wanted to make sure we had the product itself in the right place before we launched.
We’ve been working on Salsa for a long time now and wouldn’t have felt comfortable revealing the ability to pay for it until we hit a very important milestone. We had a final prototype.
Doing all of the sourcing and actual production is secondary—there was absolutely no way we could have gone public without people being able to see real photos (and touch in person) a functioning prototype.
This meant that we had to do all of the development before we ever saw a cent.
Finding backers in the real world
We launched the product at our annual Booth Summit, which is a convention for photobooth owners to get together and learn from experts in the field. Launching a product in a receptive environment is generally considered to be a good idea. The same was definitely true for us!
We had a crowd of people who had just told us they were dedicated to growing their business… and we had the chance to offer them a way to do just that. I really can’t emphasize enough how important it is to make products that matter for people who will care about them.
This opportunity to see the product in real life was an essential component for our launch, but it might not be the same for you. I think it just shows how essential having a great prototype is. People love to touch and feel what they’re buying, if you’re talking about something physical… you should be able to show a prototype before you ask for money.
Building excitement with even the smallest backers
We knew that we wanted to have a ton of incentives for early backers so that they’d be rewarded for taking a leap of faith on a new photobooth.
We’re obviously not making a whole lot of money on that first $1999 tier. But it enabled people to be part of something fun.
Every $1999 backer is always going to be able to say, not just that they got a great deal, but that they were one of the first to get on board. It means a lot more than a discount code expiring—just look at how frustrated people are on Twitter when a limited stock of rewards is secretly gobbled up.
Kickstarter doesn’t reveal the names of backers, but it humanizes them. And it just adds to the fun of getting your own spot! Even for someone backing now, they’re able to say that they were an early adopter.
Delivering on our promise
One of the most common critiques of Kickstarter items is that they either never show up or that they take years. I wanted to make sure that our timeline was easy to deliver and also reasonable.
Nobody deserves to wait two years for your product after they pay for it. I felt like we needed to offer a much quicker turnaround than that. We launched on Black Friday 2018 with an estimated delivery of April 2019.
That’s under 6 months and much lower than the average Kickstarter! The most important thing is that we will be able to meet that timeline. You can’t go around promising delivery dates and missing them, this isn’t a consumer product.
Anytime you’re working with the events industry you have to be very transparent and up front about timelines. A bride who books a photobooth needs it to show up on her wedding day. It’s non-negotiable!
Host an Event
Another great way to build hype is by organizing a private launch event.
Your invite list is important - you may want to consider inviting people that are on-brand with your business. This could mean potential customers, media and industry influencers.
Getting people to show is often the biggest challenge when putting on events, so it's important that you give your guests a reason to show up, such as:
- Hold your event in a unique venue. Nobody wants to attend an event in the same stuffy ballroom
- Offer an open bar (avoid drink tickets if you can)
- Have some fun entertainment (DJ, comedy, dancers etc)
- Make sure you get the timing right (ie. on a flow vs strict start and end time, on a Thursday night vs a Sunday night).
Offer Giveaways or "Freebies"
Giveaways are a great way to create some hype around your product - I mean... who doesn't love winning free stuff?!
The criteria for "how to enter" ultimately depends on what you're looking to get out of the giveaway.
For example, if you're simply looking to get more followers, you may want to consider asking participants to like + tag three friends.
To reach an even larger audience, you may want to consider partnering with a big brand(s) that can also promote the giveaway. Entry criteria could then be to follow you + the brand and vice versa.
Check out the below example of Highway Robery's Instagram giveaway + partnership with other brands:
The better strategy, which we definitely need to do more of, is to run giveaways with other brands or influencers. To enter a giveaway, people are asked to follow the brands participating. The bigger the brands involved the more your follower count will grow. This equals more potential new customers! A few examples:
Send a Launch Day Email Announcement
Sending a launch day email is a great way to capitalize on the other tips we discussed - whether you are telling customers they're off the "waitlist" or just simply getting them excited about your product.
Another great strategy is to create FOMO by limiting quantities on launch day.
Limited quantities of anything can often make your product look and feel even more valuable and in demand.
Have Low Expectations
There's a ton of pressure that comes with launching your product, and the truth is that you don't have to have a massive launch to be successful.
Implementing some of the tips we've provided you with will certainly aid your efforts when launching your product, but it's important to remember that the status of your launch does not necessarily determine your business's "lifeline."
Jackie Burke, founder of Tini Lux discusses her "very very small launch" that ultimately led to her $6K/month business as a side hustle:
I “launched” my business on Shopify. It was a very, very, very small launch (I basically just texted my friends and family to say it was live).
I really didn’t know what I was doing at that point and didn’t have any kind of social media following so I barely had any traffic the first few months. Shopify makes it pretty easy to customize your website. I bought a custom theme after a few months and have tweaked my site over and over again since I first launched. I don’t even remember what the original version looked like but it was definitely bad.
If you are an ecommerce business, content marketing and SEO are slow but they are worth it. Invest your time and money into this because it will pay off down the line.
As I said above, I launched this is as a side hustle during the same time I moved to a different state, started a new full-time job, and was planning a wedding. So the first 9 months of my business being live I had very little time to put into it so business was very slow. However, I did have customers within the first week.
At the end of the day, launching a business should be a fun and creative way for you to showcase your product and all the hard work you've put into it.
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