Our team is always looking for ways to become more efficient by creating and continually improving our processes. Between launching Lisa’s books, The Tale of Kale and The Alphabet of Avoidance, announcing a new Borden Communications product (like our BaaLLs and Orb Candles), and helping clients with their own product and business launches, we are often in the business of releasing.
With each release, we like to think that we are getting wiser and more effective, as we tweak our formula and narrow our focus to an adaptable checklist, which keeps us organized and on track.
If you want to release anything, big or small, with impact, follow these guidelines, and put your own personal spin on each step.
Before the Release
Make sure your e-mail marketing is in order. Way before you are ready to release a new product or program, you should already be building your e-mail marketing list. This is a best practice that we recommend to everyone – you must have an engaged community. We use and recommend MailChimp to organize and send emails, which is free up to 2,000 subscribers, and integrates with almost every online platform. Don’t wait to build your community. Start building now so that they are as excited (almost) as you when you are ready to launch!
Have a clear vision of your product or service, and how you will choose to describe it. The Tale of Kale was more than just a personal project for us. We knew early on that it was the kind of marketing your kids (and kale) need – and an encouragement to trying new things. By the time we were ready to write our press release, website content, blog posts, and social media announcements, we knew exactly what we wanted to say about it, consistently, across channels, and were thrilled with the immediate success when released.
Start testing it. Whatever you’re launching, start asking people you trust for feedback. Let them try/use/sample, then revise based on their feedback, raves, and struggles. Ask your family to test-drive your recipes, or ask your friends to work through you workbook. When we were developing The Borden Formula for simple branded websites, we ended up getting the exact same question from several of our “testers”. This told us where our formula was unclear. Our team also uses the same content calendar for blogging that we recommend to clients during our consultations – it’s the only way to make sure what you’re selling is ready to put out into the world. Remember; it’s not what you say, it’s what others hear.
Building up to the Release
Let people know what you’re working on. Here’s where you get to start to widen the network of people who have heard about your new project. Let people who come into your workspace see and touch sample versions. Take pictures of your prototype and share them on social media. Send out samples, give your friends advance copies, and invite your friends for a complimentary service. Not only will you create some anticipation around what you’re doing, but you will also be able to get a sense for who in your audience is responding to the work you’re putting out.
Incentivize your champions. If you have friends or know of bloggers who are excited to get the word out for you, figure out how you can give your product or service to them for free or at a discounted rate. Use a plugin to create affiliate codes on your website, to share commissions with those who talk about you online (that’s what we did for Orb Candles). Offer subscribers to your newsletter a bonus offer or discount redeemable on the launch date.
Prepare your announcement and support materials. Write all of your content ahead of time and give yourself time to proofread everything. This includes posts for your blog, your website content and what you want to say in your newsletter. We also strongly recommend reformulating something that you’ve written into an official press release – get help if you require it.
Pro Tip: We like to use MailChimp for creating press releases that are organized, branded, and professional. Include your contact information at the bottom for photos and media inquiries. Set the campaign live and share the URL with those you know in the media, or include a link in your blog post (Here’s the press release we made for The Tale of Kale as an example).
Share weekly updates. People rarely buy a product the first time they hear about it, so make sure that your audience knows what your product does, how it can help them, and when it will be available, several times over before you launch. Share your news in different ways to different groups.
Give away your product or service to your champions and influencers. By the time your product or service is for sale/market, it helps to have people who are able to review it honestly on Google Plus, Amazon, your website’s shop, or anywhere else where customers will be going to make their purchase decision. Even better, you can exchange early edition copies or your service for honest feedback, blog reviews, and social media mentions. Sharing is Caring!
Check in with your influencers. Pay attention to questions they may have or to any trouble they run in to receiving or ordering from you. This will help you iron out any last minute details before your launch. And, absolutely follow through on any promises you made others in the form of discounts and promotions. Remember to thank them. Gratitude makes the world go round.
On Your Release Date
Test your links. Links break and things get moved. Make sure that everything you wrote in the weeks leading up to your launch are still linking to the right place, and that it is easy for people to understand what action you want them to take when they click through to a new page.
Publish and send your blog posts, graphics, pictures, and release. Definitely make use of your business’ social media channels and answer any questions that may arise in the comments. It is up to you whether you use your own social channels to push it out, but in our experience this works well for projects that are close to your heart!
Send an email to your list and personal contacts. Or, if your audience is used to hearing from you at a certain time of the month, make sure to include your announcement on the next newsletter that goes out. Here’s where that email list you’ve been maintaining comes in handy!
In the Days that Follow
Keep the buzz going. Re-tweet positive reviews on Twitter, or use Repost to share Instagram posts of others using your new product or engaging with you.
Express your gratitude. A lot of work goes into a launch. Thank your team, thank your influencers, and thank those who have stepped up to support your release through a purchase or a social media share. You can express your love publicly on social media (writing LinkedIn referrals is a valuable exercise in gratitude and good business), or efficiently by email, but never underestimate the value of a hand-written note.
Keep delivering on everything you’ve promised. Continue to provide the level of customer support that your early customers could rely on. Maintain the same level of quality that you launched with – your customers will notice when you cut corners. Deliver on incentives that were promised to influencers and members of your affiliate program.
Keep your social channels alive. We don’t often recommend automating social media posts because it’s easy to abuse, but tools like Hootsuite and Buffer can play a valuable role in keeping your previously tweeted content in rotation. If you plan it well, you can have engaging, well written tweets go out, even in the event you forget to mention your product for a month (If you’re considering hiring someone to run your social media, read this first).
Keep sharing media coverage and milestones. If you or your product is featured in the news, in a magazine, or on a blog, post the link along with your appreciation for being featured. If you reach a hundred, a thousand, or however many downloads/purchases/registrations/etc. excites you, share it with your community. Celebrate with those that helped you achieve each goal.
Stay evergreen. Do good work, and live and work up to your promises. Releasing (and sustaining buzz for) your projects is extremely rewarding. Remember to put the same care into planning your launch as you do into your development. It will keep you organized (and sane!), and guarantee that you are reaching your audience in the right way at the right time to give your new release the debut it deserves.
Kindly note: We don’t like to refer to ourselves as “experts”, but we do take great pride in sharing our business advice, distilled down from our extensive research and (often) mind-blowingly frustrating experiences we’ve endured and learned from. We try our best to create a clear and humble approach to good business tactics that you and your teams can understand and turn into effective and productive revenue streams. We are actual, real people and look forward to supporting you in any way we can, whether it’s on the topic of this post, or other business development and marketing communications you may be involved in, or considering. We are proud of the services we provide; if you don’t see what you’re looking for, just ask us – we also take pride in being super responsive!