By Mark Evans
For most startups, the problem with a product launch is they don’t work….but if you’re committed to a launch, you need a strategic and tactical plan.
Here’s a checklist of items a startup needs to have any shot at success.
1. If a startup is going to capture the spotlight, its Website has to meet expectations and encourage customers to take action – be it watch a video, download a white paper, sign up for a demo or purchase a product. The Website needs clear messaging, intuitive navigation, strong calls-to-action and solid About and Contact pages.
2. If the Website’s home page is not the key destination, a strong option is a landing page that provides information about a startup’s value propositions, key benefits and a call to action (e.g. white paper, Webinar) that builds a database of email addresses for prospects.
3. Testimonials from happy customers. While testimonials are corporate marketing vehicles, they demonstrate traction and give potential customers more confidence.
4. A list of reporters, bloggers, analysts and influencers to tell about the launch. This requires grunt work to identify the most relevant people, learn about their interests, and collect contact information. A startup also needs to personalize each outreach opportunity to ensure an email or pitch isn’t quickly dismissed.
5. A one page summary that quickly tells what a startup does, the key benefits and features, information about the management team, and how to contact.
6. An explainer video to meet needs the people who would prefer to watch rather than read. The upside of an explainer video is it can appear on a homepage, landing page, YouTube channel, blog post and newsletter.
7. A press release published internally and/or externally using a wire service. Press releases are not sexy but they demonstrate traction to key stakeholders. It helps to inject some creativity into a press release to give it some sizzle.
8. (Optional) Public relations. In general, I’m not a big fan of startups using PR but there are benefits if finding a partner who knows the key industry people. When startups pay a PR agency, they’re buying relationships and opportunities to get attention. It means doing a lot of the grunt work such as target lists and pitch creation in advance rather than letting a PR agency burn hours with preparations.
But wait, there’s more.
After a startup follows this recipe to launch, there is still more work.
Tracking post-launch activity is a must-do. This involves reviewing social media activity, white paper downloads, registrations, emails, telephone calls, blog posts, articles, and Website analytics to assess how the launch performed.
This bubbles up opportunities to engage, market or sell. If, for example, influential people on social media mentions the launch, add their names to a target list and, if required, acknowledge the mention. It goes without saying that people who leave their email address to receive a white paper are prime sales prospects.
Launches are a lot of work with uncertain prospects for success. The best way for startups to approach a launch to see them as opportunities to spruce up their sales and marketing efforts. Even if the launch doesn’t work, it is not a complete waste of time.
For startups looking to jump-start their marketing, I provide strategic and tactical services – core messaging, brand positioning, marketing strategies and content creation.