How to Build Buzz and Launch Your Company
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Don’t launch with a whisper; launch with a roar. Here's why: When you’re a young company, you don’t have time to sit around and hope your brilliant idea catches on. Either you’ll run out of money or be displaced by a competitor who takes over your market before you can gain a foothold.
Ultimately, then, your company's success hinges on your ability to build buzz early on. The following strategies will help you do just that.
1. Get influencers on board early.
Admittedly, “launching” isn’t as simple as opening your doors and presenting yourself to the world. It’s more of a multi-step process, which is why you see so many apps going through MVP and beta iterations before presenting their formal marketing launch to the public.
When I was building Mailshake, our formal launch occurred after we’d hosted several dozen beta users and made changes based on their valuable feedback. That way, we were confident that the buzz we’d built wouldn’t oversell what we were actually delivering.
In addition, one unexpected benefit of not launching too soon is that you can bring influencers onboard early on and actually make them a part of the development process. Stuart McKeown of Gleam describes another successful tech brand that did just that:
“Take Product Hunt as [an] example," McKeown says. "They never really did a big huge launch; instead, they focused on early adopters and influencers to get them sticky on the platform. I personally think that you should be doing your marketing launch once you already know your product is going to be a success [or has traction].”
If you’re building something revolutionary, then (and you should be, if you expect to score any serious buzz), you may see authority figures in your niche jumping at the opportunity to help turn your product into the solution they’ve been seeking. All you have to do is ask, and then treat their eventual contributions with the respect they deserve.
2. Build some mystery.
No, I’m not talking about the Sarah McLachlan song. I’m talking about getting users excited about your upcoming marketing launch, before you roll out the red carpet and invite them in.
Think about how Apple rolls out new products. Consider this appraisal, from the KISSmetrics blog: “What really sets them apart is they get everyone talking months before the product launches, usually before there’s even a demo for anyone to see. No one is talking about what the product does; they’re talking about what it might do.”
Certainly, Apple has an advantage. The company is, at this point, a well-oiled launching machine, with everyone from journalists to breathless fanboys out there willign to back them up. But there are still lessons you can learn from Apple's example:
- Tell a story. People are naturally driven to complete stories and patterns. When you give them just a hint -- especially a hint they’re interested in -- they’ll want to learn more in order to satisfy their curiosity. Building mystery into your launch through your pre-launch content and landing pages has the same effect.
- Put up a “Coming Soon” landing page on your website that teases the value your new product will provide and when it will be available. Make sure you have an opt-in form with a CTA that encourages visitors to subscribe for future notifications.
- Offer “sneak peeks” that build excitement without giving everything away. Do this through social media messages, YouTube clips or any other medium that supports your brand.
3. Create an “in crowd.”
Take a page out of the high school mean girls playbook. Everyone wants to be a part of the perceived “in crowd,” and you can leverage this in your launch plan by requiring would-be users to get invites from current customers.
Blueleaf, a personal finance startup, took this approach to the extreme back in 2010 by not just requiring that prospective users request invites, but opening invitation periods for limited windows. In an interview with Business Insider, the founder of Blueleaf, Sachin Agarwal, shared how doing so helped his team sign up more than 10,000 users before launching
"Rather than limit the number of invites someone has," Agarwal said, "there are an unlimited number of invites; but we’ve limited the time frames to invite a friend. We turn on the ability to invite a friend for just an hour or two, so that people who want in have to beg everyone they know who’s on to let them in before the window closes.”
These strategies may or may not work for your specific product; if they don’t, you’ll need to explore others to get your name out there as you build buzz for your growing company.