I have been wondering why *highly-funded* startups expend HUGE marketing budgets on radio, TV and billboards adverts. While there are no wrong or right ways to approach your marketing, most times this kind of advertisement yield little ROIs, especially for web-based businesses.

For example, the cost of branding one BRT buses in Lagos, Nigeria could be up to N500k, ~ $42,000 just for one.

brt branding prelaunching strategies for startups

For a bootstrapped startups, that rate is killing.

Another common mistake is what is the ecommerce myth.

The great ecommerce myth is that all you need to get people to pull out their credit card and buy is when you have the right products, a beautiful site design and stunning product photography.

That is true to a certain extent, IF you’re launching your site to a group of people who are interested in what you’re doing in the first place.

One way to get this type of highly expectant market interest is a PRELAUNCH STRATEGY.

A pre-launch strategy allows you to stimulate interest in what you’re doing and prompt people to take actions even before you release the product or service.

Apple is a master at this. You too can create buzz at your next product launch

prelaunch strategy like Apple

With a good pre-launch plan, you can gather data on potential customers; effectively test the way in which you’re marketing your business concept (on a no-to-low budget), capture customer feedback to identify new markets or applications and build an audience of prospective customers for your public launch.

The maxim is that: If you can build excitement with your key customer influencers – you’re well on your way to success.

That is why it is important to consider the following guidelines frameworks in your prelaunch strategy

BUILD A PRELAUNCH PAGE

A launch page is simply a landing page with a single focused objective which can be used to persuade a user to click through to another page or as a lead generation tool to capture customer data (usually, a name and email address). To be effective, it must have:

  • A simple messaging,
  • A clear call to action,
  • Build anticipation for your public launch and ultimately
  • Allow you to collect emails or invite beta users.

On your prelaunch page, you want to pay attention to your design. It must be clutter-free and you want to avoid using scrappy images.

You can check one of these 15 examples to see what will inspire you to build a viral pre-launch page to adapt for your startup. In fact, here is a guide to pre-launch landing pages

BUILD ANTICIPATION WITH EMAIL ENGAGEMENTS

Do not underestimate the importance of email. You want to collect email address so you can notify them of your launch and communicate with them to sustain their interest in your startup all the way to launch.

In addition to your pre-launch page, you can now use Twitter cards to capture email addresses . Many startups, like Harrys have been successful with building their email list to up to 100,000 within 7days, before launch. If you want to build your email signup quickly, you will find these 3 steps useful

Capturing email addresses is the first step, engaging them is more important. It is good to have series of welcome emails to indoctrinate your subscribers, ask for feed backs and give special early bird offers.

You can also segment your list based on demographics to target them with the most appropriate message. For example, an ecommerce shop can segment its customers according to sex and send them welcome emails based on their preferences.

PRESS

It is important to get the buzz out about your product, early on before you launch.

Take for example the prelaunch strategy behind The OpenFeint Bluff, the social gaming network for iPhone. Before they had written a single line of code, they sent a press release to TechCrunch and got the blog to cover the story. Only after many people signed up did they decide that building out the concept was worthwhile. So, they worked away at it for 45 days straight. The company later sold for $104 million.

Through PR outreach, you can engage potential customers, users, and other interested people early and often. That is what WaraCake did by leveraging the active community of Radar for quality feedback for the pre-launch of their new website. Jason Njoku of IrokoTV is a master of the art of PR that is why his startup is presumably more successful than the average Nigerian startup.

SOCIAL MEDIA

You can leverage social media to create a community of fans for your yet-to-be launched startups. For example, using Facebook, a freelance entrepreneur was able to gather over 1000 signups pre launch.

On social media, you need to post a lot of graphics , because as humans, we are visual creatures, which is why “sneak peeks” work so well. A sneak peek might include screenshots from your app, a video promo, or in some cases, even just text link in a blog post describing what your startup will be about.

There are other effective pre-launch strategies you can try include blogging, contests and other growth hack ideas.

Will the above strategy help you to get buzz for your startup? Share your views

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