“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin
Your product launch will be both exciting and stressful. It is a major milestone for your business. There are a hundred things to get done leading up to it and you do not want to mess it up. Depending on your product your launch will provide the bulk of your first year revenue (e.g. books, movies, video games, and apps all make most of their money in their first week).
A successful launch comes down to two things: planning and preparation.
Everything you do from the time the idea for your business pops into your head is preparation for your launch. Some of these are covered more in depth elsewhere in this guide but each of these is a step you need to take. You can use free project management software such as Trello or Asana to manage all of your launch tasks (not to mention the rest of your to do list).
Customer discovery means getting out and actually talking to people that might likely become your customers. You iidentify your ideal customers and then ask them what they think about your product idea. If the feedback you receive is positive then you go to the next step. If not then you need to reassess your idea and possibly pivot it into something else. Repeat this step until you have an idea that the majority of the people you talk to say they like.
For your launch you are going to want to maintain a list of the people who have responded positively and their contact information.
In this step you will ask for something from people to see if they are really willing to pay for your product. You can do this with Kickstarter, by taking pre-orders, or even just asking them for their email address. Be careful with that last one though. A lot more people will say they will buy something than actually do when you call them on it. Entering credit card information is the ultimate validation.
The people in this step are your first customers for your launch!
Creating Your Marketing Site
The two key components of your marketing site are your value proposition (what makes your product something that somebody would purchase) and a form to collect email addresses of people that are interested in your product. There are numerous landing page providers that you can use and WordPress is also a popular choice. As soon as you launch you want to add a link to buy your product.
If you have not already created a Twitter account and Facebook profile for your business then you want to do that now.
Setting Up Your Sales Channel
How are you going to get your product into your customer’s’ hands and process their payment? If it is a physical product you can use a marketplace such as Amazon, eBay, or Etsy. You can set up an ecommerce store on Shopify. You can sell music with Bandcamp, apps through iTunes and Google Play, and information products such as ebooks, plugins, or online courses through Gumroad. No matter what your product is there is a place to sell it online.
Before you launch you need to be able to accept money and deliver goods. If you used Kickstarter as part of the customer validation step then you will still probably want to set up an additional sales channel.
Contact Bloggers and Journalists
Hopefully you have been developing relationships with influencers and the week before you launch is the time to use those relationships. Send each of them a personal email that lets them know that your product is about to launch. Mention that you would love to hear any feedback they may have and would appreciate it if they could help you get the word out. Depending on your product ask them if they would like a free sample for review.
Contact Your Mailing List
Email your mailing list a day or two before your launch and let them know the exact day and time they will be able to buy your product. Follow that with the official launch email and then an additional email a day or two after your launch letting them know that your product is going fast but you still have a few available. (This last email creates artificial scarcity which often gets undecided buyers to pull out their wallets.)
Test Your Launch
The day before you launch you will want to test that everything works. Make sure the buy link on your marketing site points to the right place, that your payment process works, and that your email marketing software is ready.
Send your launch email!
With all of your preparation your launch should hopefully go smoothly. Be prepared to respond to customer questions and do whatever you can to make them happy. These first customers are going to be the ones that will tell their friends and coworkers about your product which will drive your success.