Are you gearing up to launch your new business, product, service, re-brand (or you fill in the blank!)? Taking the time to craft a launch strategy is just as important as perfecting your project, and I’m here to share my 5 best tips for launching big in small business! Let me begin this post by saying I am not a professional Launch Strategist. There are some awesome ladies and gents that are offer services to help you in this arena, but I do have experience with launching brands and have had multiple people approach me to seek my advice. The best way I know how to do so is to simply share the strategy I crafted for our big launches and hope it can help you in your own small business!
Let me also begin with this simple yet (maybe) surprising fact about me in my business: As a hard and fast rule, I do not look to my right or my left in my industry to see what others are doing. I know I know, it is beneficial to know what is going on in your market, and I do, but I don’t study my industry peers to see how they are doing things any longer. Their success is a joy to my heart, but in order for me to stay in my own lane and find my own way, I pretty much always study the strategies of other brands outside of my industry.
*This post was updated in October 2017! New notes are shown in blue!
And that is exactly what I did when it came time to re-launch our brand into Megan Martin Creative! I dived deeply into studying some major “big” brands and marketing campaigns like the Lilly for Target line among others to get a very clear understanding of the strategies that helped create those super successful launches and then took those principles and adapted them for my business mission and target audience. As I was prepping for the launch (which by the way took a solid 10 months! More on that another time!), I was also busy putting my very intentional social media strategy to work so that I could build a solid following of people that were genuinely excited about what I do and my mission (Also more on that to come!). From the time I started slowly implementing the following steps to launch day to the here and now (4 months post-launch), my social following has grown over 500% and that is just nuts fun! So while I can’t say I am a pro at launching businesses, I do believe these strategies are successful ways to help you launch big, whether for a new biz, re-brand, shop, new product line, to you name it… even in your small business.
Tip 1 – Get A Buzz.
No silly, not the sparkly, “I just had a couple cosmos” kind, but rather the, “what everyone is talking about” kind! Seriously, I cannot stress this first step enough. In every major launch I studied, the genius marketing teams put teasers out far FAR in advance. Across the board, major brand launches (I will use this term to cover the wide variety of launch types from re-brands, to new products, and etc.) started putting teasers and a bug in the ears of their audience months in advance to get them excited for what would be coming, even if they had no idea what it was.
If you read this while you are in the process of building a business, re-brand, new product line or whatever, don’t wait until you are about to hit publish before getting the word out! Start building your social media feeds with teaser images and let your current audience know that something new is coming! For my business, I started posting with my new brand palette and style LONG before my re-brand launched. I had the visual brand identity done within about a month of starting the process and subsequently began posting images daily in my new brand direction for 9 months before it actually went live. Why? Well it got the buzz going that I was up to something which helped get my audience get engaged and create brand awareness, and by the time I launched the re-brand, I had a solid social feed filled with posts that made it look like I had been established that way for awhile. Seems a little backwards I know, but let me explain the next step to launching big before I clarify why.
Recently, I re-designed a new site for MMC using Showit 5 and still used this strategy! But this time, I heavily used Instagram Stories to give sneak peeks and build excitement. I have found great traction as of Oct. 2017 with Instagram Stories over just posting on my feed due to that thing we all hate… the algorithm!
Tip 2 – Find Your Brand Cheerleaders.
Or Launch Ambassadors. Or Brand Reps. Or Whatever You Want to Call Thems! Once you have set the official Launch Day, the next thing you should do is find who I like to call your Brand Cheerleaders. These are your friends, your business peers and followers of your brand that love you and what you do. Find them and graciously ask them to come on board with you and help you spread the word come launch day.
In today’s age, there is SO much information being shared every. single. second. It is SO overwhelming. I know personally I am not a huge fan of just sharing things right and left, so I wanted to make sure that I went out of my way to love on anyone who was willing to be a MMC Cheerleader big time and this is how I did it:
First I shared a post on my Instagram, personal Facebook and one of my fave Facebook Business Groups – Savvy Business Owners, with a graphic image saying that I was looking for Brand Cheerleaders for my upcoming launch and that I would be sending something special to each and everyone who came on board. I asked them to share their email in the comments and let them know they would be seeing an intro email from me soon. (Over 120 people said they wanted in!)
As Facebook Groups have grown and admin rules evolve, you may want to tread lightly on posting an In Search Of like this! Make sure it is okay with your group leaders to be sure you aren’t over stepping or going against their guidelines. These days I would suggest that during the time you are working on your project to be launched, you also work to build an email list. Your email subscribers will be primed and excited to help you out!
Related: Social Media Blues and How to Master Email Marketing (even for service based businesses!)
Next, I sent a fairly long email to everyone (be sure to BCC every contact so you aren’t sharing emails with everyone to keep privacy!) introducing myself and giving a brief history of my brand and the reason for my re-brand as well as the heart and mission of where my business was heading. I then explained what being a MMC Cheerleader would mean, which was agreeing to posting an image that I attached to the email on the day of my big launch on Instagram and Facebook, while being sure to tag my social handle in their post. I explained that I wouldn’t tell them what to say, but simply that they tag me in whatever they came up with. And that was it! I then asked them to fill out their information on Postable and promised that I would be sending a special gift in the mail as a way to say a HUGE thank you, gave them the heads up that I would be doing a big giveaway on Instagram and also that I would be hosting a private cheerleaders giveaway of one free Business Coaching session.
I got so many sweet responses from both previous friends and ladies I had never met and was just blown away by the kindness they shared for me and my little business. When launch day arrived, this simple strategy catapulted my brand exposure more than I could have imagined. With the hundred or so shares alone on Instagram, I saw a 40% increase of followers within days. And that number didn’t decrease like you might expect after a week or so when the excitement wore down, meaning I gained about 400 new followers that were actually excited and invested in my brand! Yay, love you friends!
The key here is that your Brand Cheerleaders most likely only come behind you in support if they #1 actually like what you do, #2 like what you are about, #3 like who you are, or hopefully a combination of all three! And their followers and fans are most likely a combination of like minded people so they are a fabulous way to connect you to a larger group of people who are within your target audience!
*So quickly jumping back to step one and why getting the buzz going as long as you can is important: When my Brand Cheerleaders shared my launch day image, all of their followers and friends came over to my social feed to see who I was and what I was up to. And with 9 months of intentional posts and visually consistent images filling my feed, they were much more likely to follow me if they liked what they saw! You want the buzz to add up to something. And in the life of a small business where social media is HUGE in our daily marketing efforts, I wanted a very large feed filled with images consistent of my new brand so that they wouldn’t see the “old” brand, but rather a collection of posts that spoke to the core of who I am now and where we are heading as a company.
Tip 3 – Count. It. Down!
This is by far the easiest step. I would suggest starting your count down to launch day 3-5 days in advance (I lean more to 5, but it is up to you!). Every day before you launch, post an image with a number overlaid and talk about what is to come. This is a direct excitement building exercise that will pay off come launch day. Your following will be so curious to see what all the fuss is about and will be sure to check it out!
If you take my advice on building an email list, it would be super smart to also count down your launch to your email subscribers! You may not want to send 5 consecutive days worth of countdown emails depending on your audience and your offering, but a few emails leading up to your big launch and of course an email on the big day is a big YES!
Tip 4 – Build on Your Brand Cheerleaders’ Exposure.
So you just launched and your Brand Cheerleaders did a HUGE favor for you by spreading the word and helped connect you with your target audience, hooray! DON’T just let that excitement settle into oblivion! Build on it and keep it going my friend!
AKA I hosted a BIG Instagram giveaway!
I curated a package of goodies that aligned with my brand, my style and things I know my target audience would love. And to build on expanding my exposure, I made sure to have one of the steps to entering be that they comment on the giveaway post and tag three of their friends. I also included a bonus step of sharing the image on their feed and tagging me in the caption for an additional entry.
Again, my following grew and again the numbers didn’t drop off the face of the earth after. I would say about 20 or so people unfollowed me after the giveaway closed. I closely monitored who these people were and most were connected to accounts that only existed to try to win giveaways so I really didn’t care one bit. Hooray for meaningful connections!
Tip 5 – Keep it Consistent!
The last but certainly not the least step in anyway (actually probably the most important!) would be to continue to build on that exposure by consistently posting relevant content and engaging social media shares. Don’t fall off the planet after launching big! Keep telling your target audience all about what you are up to, why you love what you do and why what you do matters for them! Purpose is greater than perfection, so don’t beat yourself up if you can’t make three shares (or whatever your standard is!) every single day, but don’t go days and weeks and certainly not months without being present.
BONUS – Thoughts on Timing.
Besides asking about the actual strategies to set for a successful launch, many friends ask about when they should launch. There are some differing opinions, but the overwhelming answer I found is the start of the week and if possible, the start of the month.
To understand why, you have to think about the mindset behind it. If you are anything like me, come Friday, I am fully done with the information overload and ready for some wine! I would rather think about the fun I am going to have over the next two days rather than what any given business is launching. Mid-week isn’t much better. Most people are in full grind time mid-week and have 80 billion things to work on before the week is up. But Monday? Monday is fresh. Monday is new. Monday holds all kinds of possibilities and we are much more open to new ideas! The same concept holds true for the start of the month. Every month you just feel a sense of newness even though your schedule probably won’t change much. Launching in that time frame of “newness” is a smart idea if you want more people to actually stop what they are doing and give your product/biz/re-brand/service/whatever attention.
I’ve heard some compelling arguments for Tuesday being the best “launch day.” Some think that Monday isn’t as prime due to the mindset of getting back into the grind and eliminating distraction. Whether you choose Monday or Tuesday, is up to you! They both are at the beginning of the week, so I think they can both work. What I would really suggest is using your unique audience insights to make that call.
When is your audience most active and engaged with you? You can find these answers using Google Analytics for your blog and built in analytics on your social media profiles. For me, Monday is huge in terms of engagement and reach for me, so I’ll stick with it!
One of the things we haven’t discussed is actual timing on the day of your launch. Since I wrote this post, I have also done a bit of research into the best times of the day for a launch. Still going with the “newness” mindset approach, mornings tend to perform best for timing, but keep in mind the dreaded purge. “The purge” refers to the time period in the morning when you would first open your email inbox and be inundated with a full list of requests, inquires, and pitches. You are most likely to bulk delete any emails during the purge (aka first thing in the morning) so you can focus on the most important emails to start your day.
With that in mind, you’ll see big brands launch things around the 10:00am time block. Strategically placing your launch after the purge yet before the lunch lull is a smart idea! You can still amp up excitement with a pre-launch social post or email suggesting that your customers get ready for 10:00am to remind them what is coming!
And that my friend, is how you can launch BIG in your small biz! Do you have any great launching tips to share? Leave a comment and tell me all about it!