When you've put your heart and soul into a project, having the right launch strategy is absolutely essential. So often people equate hitting the publish button on a blog post, e-commerce store or video hosting platform as a launch, and that's just not true. Whether you're an indie film maker, writer or new YouTuber or even a small business owner starting your own e-commerce venture, there's some marketing basics you need to know if you're going to be a success.
1. Give yourself time to create a quality product.
So often indies rush it. Those online classes that teach you how to "write a book in a weekend" are leading you down a garden path. You need to ensure that whatever you create be it a book, a video, a course, or a widget, is ready for the consumer you're trying to reach on launch day.
This means you're ensuring things are properly done and finished. Be sure to have things edited, formatted, packaged and ready to go weeks before your launch.
A few years ago, I was consulting with a new life coach who was desperate to "launch". I asked to look over his free offer, and subsequent paid content and it was full of errors (grammar and formatting) and didn't represent who he was at all. I knew she was talented, smart and an exceptional coach with a lot to offer, I told him so. Yet, when I suggested he slow down and polish things up, he panicked and said he needed to make money "Now!" He jumped the gun, hit publish on his website and e-books and "launched", he got nothing but silence back. He didn't have quality reflecting his value and in his rush to earn an income he pushed away the success he desired.
Take the time to get your ducks in a row on the deliverables first.
2. Build Your Audience at least 6 months ahead of schedule.
Let's face it, depending on your niche (and yes, everyone has a niche), organic traffic is just not going to happen on or offline, unless you are exceptionally rare (or already famous). It takes time to build an audience. As the business axiom goes, "Givers gain." You don't build an audience by posting sweet inspirational quotes all over social media. You build your audience by finding where they are and being interested in them, showing your value and supporting other people. What? How can you do that if you're a filmmaker, writer, photographer?
You do it by knowing your people. Knowing your specific audience is essential. It's not just demographics by age, gender (or gender identification), location and income. If you want to target just off those numbers be ready to have several million dollars in advertising dollars available. To be honest, even in corporate marketing, no one just shot guns ads to women aged 25-35 and hope it works.
Not everyone is going to want what you have, that's just a fact. You don't need to convince them, you need to find the people that match you!
To paraphrase marketing giant, Seth Godin, 'You don't need a million followers you have to try to engage with, you need one thousand loyal fans to be successful.
Take the time to understand your people, get to know them and build relationships. That's what the experts mean by build your platform, they don't mean build a pulpit. The more engaged you are with your audience the more likely you are to build a bigger and better audience that's the right fit for what you're trying to sell.
3. Take time to build your marketing assets.
If you put your heart and soul into creating a product or service (on or off line), then make sure you funnel that passion into your marketing assets. Marketing assets can be social media accounts, websites, blogs, print material, planning attendance at festivals and conventions. Make sure you have good quality material, just like you do with your end product. Don't be afraid to be different or to stand out, after all the name of the game in marketing isn't to do what's the "industry standard" it's to stand out in your industry.
Hall of Fame Speaker and international advertising expert, Sally Hogshead (author of How the World Sees You), is famous for her quote, "Different is better than better." She's right, the more you can stand out (with quality materials) the bigger your advantage in a crowded marketplace.
4. Line up your supporters weeks in advance
If you've been building your audience and networking for months, you're bound to have made some key relationships. These people may love you work but aren't really your audience, but they are really willing to support what you do. Be sure to reach out to them before launch and ask for help getting the word out. Ask people with solid, relevant social media platforms (only if you built a relationship first) if they can help you out by tagging you or sharing your posts. See if any of your offline supporters are willing to take you out networking.
You only need a few people to help you out, it will help with credibility and building a stronger audience.
5. Be PR Ready
Start pitching articles or apply to be on podcasts, streaming shows, and/tv as a guest during your launch period. In his book, The Four Hour Work Week, Tim Ferris, tells a story about college students he challenged (at Harvard none the less) to reach out to famous people or people they admire in an email and see if they got a response. Not one of the several hundred students did the exercise even though Ferris offered a free vacation to anyone who dared to be bold.
Reach out to shows and studios, pitch people, use resources like HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to find news outlets seeking contributors or experts to pitch yourself to the media.
Where as, having a marketing budget is essential for ads, booth fees and print material, it's important to remember you should be wary of media opportunities that have a fee associated.