Launching a new business or product is the biggest opportunity for media coverage and brand buzz in the lifespan of your business. Media and consumers are always eager to learn what is new and fresh and by capitalizing on the public’s desire to discover the latest new business or product you can ensure lasting success.
The launch can be divided into three phases: pre-launch, launch period and launch date.
Below find top tips for each phase that will help you maximize your launch potential. After all, you only launch once!
The pre-launch period is a really critical time in the launch process and can be nerve wracking because it is the period when money is being spent but revenue is not being generated. However, but investing strategically in pre-launch activities can translate into a big payoff. The materials and story you develop pre-launch will set the stage for how both the media and your ideal customers perceive and respond to your business.
Assuming you are clear about your target audience and have done the appropriate research, there are three key things that must be in top shape before your public launch:
Digital Presence: Having a strong professional website and social media accounts that match your brand’s image and essence is critical to a successful launch. Social media is a powerful tool for discovery, and your website is the first place that consumers, editors and even buyers will look when they hear about your product and are intrigued.
You should plan to launch your social media channels during the pre-launch period. Having strong images and copy for social media channels as well as a clear strategy for each platform will set the stage for initial growth and engagement. Active social media activity acts as a sort of proof of concept for target media and influencers who are experiencing your company for the first time.
Real life example: Recently we had a bridal client launch a ready to wear collection, but they never updated their website to reflect the brand extension. Feedback from numerous editors let us know they weren’t interested in covering the launch because they felt the brand was just a “bridal” brand. This is a classic example of missing out on a huge media opportunity by not having a digital presence that accurately reflects the brand story.
Photography: We’ve all heard that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but a picture is also worth a thousand press hits, a thousand orders and a thousand successful launches. Having strong images for your website, lookbooks or other collateral material is probably the most important element to a successful launch. However, this is also an area where businesses skimp. If you are launching a product, you simply must have beautiful and high quality lifestyle, catalogue and product images ready to go.
Key Messages:What are the elements of your brand’s aesthetic, competitive advantage, features and benefits as well as values that are most important to highlight from the beginning. From homepage copy to social media bios, introductory pitches to the media and beyond, it’s important to clarify brand language, messaging and sound-bites before media outreach begins.
Press Materials:Media outreach is one of the most important activities you will carry out during the launch period. Make sure you have company information, media kits, lookbooks and high resolution images easily accessible to media outlets that show interest in covering your launch. Have everything easily accessible in a file-sharing folder or password-protected section of your website. Make sure your images, including logos and headshots are 300 DPI or greater. If you are hoping for digital coverage, offering images in low-res can be a nice touch.
Both the materials and easy access improve your changes that media will cover your launch because you providing the tools they need to inform their audience about your product.
The Launch period typically begins anywhere from 6 months to 6 weeks before the product or service actually becomes available. This is your opportunity to introduce your product or service to the media and secure press that will publish near to the actual launch date.
During the launch period, you want to make sure the following areas have been developed fully:
Direct Brand Access:In the pre-launch phase, your goal is to set the brand foundation, while the launch phase is all about building anticipation and excitement for the brand. When developing a launch period media strategy consider how you can best introduce key media and influencers to your brand in a way that makes a lasting impact. You may decide to offer an exclusives to a larger outlet, scheduling desksides or host a media preview.
Real life example: Last year we assisted a contemporary designer with the launch of her collection and her pieces were simply too expensive to gift editors. Instead, we decided to have custom cookies created that mimicked her designs, and sent those to key editors to capture their attention and announce the launch. This resulted in coverage of the launch from a few major media outlets.
Active Pitching: It’s important to schedule your media outreach according to type of media and outlet. Print first, with digital following closer to the actual launch date. You may choose to space out news or information over time (just look at how media cover upcoming Target designer collaborations to see this media seeding in action), or send out your announcement closer to the actual launch date. Make sure to clearly list pricing details, website, addresses, social media handles and other pertinent information in your outreach.
The Launch Date is the date that your product or service will become available to the public. It’s the date you’ll tease throughout the launch period, and include on a launch release. It could mark the day that a collection is available at a brick and mortar location or via an e-commerce site, or the day app is available for download.
Launch Event: The official launch date is a great opportunity to make a big splash. You may hold a launch party that includes friends, family, supporters, media and influencers. An intimate media brunch or virtual launch can act as the big to-do or as supplements to a party.
Social Media Blitz: Ecommerce, mobile or digital brands especially should consider how to maximize site traffic, downloads and signups on the launch date. You may want to consider a social media campaign where you have influencers announce your launch on social media platforms. If you can coordinate simultaneous time or date posts, you can maximize impact. You may also want to consider having influencers host a contest on social media to garner followers and spread the word about your launch.
Real life example: We implemented a celebrity and influencer seeding program for a recent launch of a brand that led to rapid growth on Instagram. We went from nothing to more than 10,000 organic followers in less than three months.
Marketing: Your content strategy across social media and early press coverage will drive interest and awareness for your brand. Once a target consumer has enough interest to type the brand name into Google, or click a social media link, it’s crucial to scoop up this interest by converting potential customers into email subscribers and early purchasers. Incentives, free gifts with purchase and exclusive content and access are all strong marketing strategies to have in play to take full advantage of this important time in brand-building.
Once your brand is officially launched, it’s time to move into the post-launch period where you consistently develop timely, relevant story ideas for media, fun and engaging social media content and plan for future launches and program extensions.
Photo Credit: EvelynHill