Joe Fuld, an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member from Washington, D.C., is the president of The Campaign Workshop, a political and advocacy advertising agency that provides strategy, digital advertising, content and direct-mail services to non-profit and political clients. We asked him about steps you can take as you look toward your next launch.
As an entrepreneur, I always feel like I'm launching something new: a product, an offering ... perhaps even a new company. Having a system or checklist to make sure people know your "new thing exists"--and engages with it--is a critical part of achieving early success. Here is my holistic system for a successful launch:
- Know your message. Whether you're launching a business or a product, you need to know what you are trying to say.
- Write a press release. Yes, press releases are "old school," but they are easy to write, will help define your message early on and can help nab you media attention if done right. The key here is focus on that lead paragraph, as well as quotes from you and opinion leaders about why this launch is important.
- Create personas to define your audiences. Who are you trying to reach? What makes them tick? How will you get to them? If you can answer these questions, you are on the right track.
- Reach out to your audience. Once you have defined the audience, start the outreach. What would your audience like to see at your launch? What will get them there? What have other folk done that is successful?
- Find media that fits your audience. Specialty media is a big deal. From bloggers and podcasters to print publications, they all have a role. Find out who covers the space in which you are interested.
- Build an engagement list. Who will you talk to about a launch? What is the timing?
- Engage the media. Once you define your media contacts, start reaching out to them. Have a pitch down about why they should cover you. Know what makes your launch special and let them know. Just because they don't cover your release, it does not mean you can't get coverage from them.
- Engage your "super fans." Tell your super fans about the launch to get them talking and excited. Also, figure out what role your super fans will play. Will they come to the event? Endorse the project on LinkedIn? Write a forward to your e-book? Write down who will do what.
- Engage influentials. Influentials have a significant impact on a launch. There is a small number of people in your network who hold significant influence on the rest of your network. Use social listening tools to identify them and reach out to them early.
- Get social. Social media is amazing. It can help you build an audience and create lasting reach by connecting you with new folk, but a solution it is not.
- Write content. For one of our most successful e-book launches, four people from my team and I each wrote a guest blog post about a topic related to the e-book. In addition to supporting the book with related content, each book also had a link to the e-book. By planning ahead, we were able to get it done without a big lift.
- Create other media content. Don't just blog. We love the written word, but now that you've written it, turn that content into a video or infographic. All of these materials can be used at an event; the infographic, for example, could be used as a cool flyer you hand out.
- Get your website ready. Set your site up to engage and convert if people come to find out about your launch. Make sure you have a specific place and information on hand for sharing.
- Don't forget email. Email is boring, but it is incredibly effective. An email strategy done right can be your most effective tool for engagement and conversions. One email is not enough-- you will need at least three. An introductory email, a follow-up email after your launch and a welcome email if people sign up serve as a solid trio.
- Have a launch calendar. A calendar around the launch is critical to making sure everything gets done on time.
- Have a checklist. Take all of your steps and write them out in order; be sure to define who owns the task.
- Paid advertisements are an option. With social and targeted digital, a paid advertisement to a custom audience on Facebook or an advertisement in a specialty digital publication could get you additional engagement.
- Hire help if you need it. Decide if you need PR or advertising help, but do it early. The closer you hire to your launch, the less time the professionals will have to help you.
- Plan your follow-up. In the words of Yogi Berra, "It's not over until it's over." You can keep pushing out information, setting up demos and doing interviews on your launch for weeks after the event. The more you plan this, the more successful your launch will be.
And then? Repeat it all for your next launch.