And how to actively build your business’ launch timeline
One of the big pieces in building your business is readying it for launching. You’ve tested your product, designed your storefront, created the course modules, debugged your software, uploaded your new blog theme, and set up your schedule for client calls. You’re putting on the finishing touches and looking forward to the day of launch.
There’s quite often this buildup of action that’s all geared towards “going live”. In other words, the ultimate success flows from getting your business out in the world. In an e-commerce business, for example, the belief is that after the “Go Live” button is clicked, people will then organically visit the website and these visiting leads will quickly become loyal, paying customers.
If I build it, the people will come.
The Business Launch Assumption
The problematic assumption here is that your software, product, services, blog, etc., will speak for itself and sell itself. You may, naturally, feel that the act of putting out the Shopify website, starting the blog, and launching the software will be the major step needed in bringing users to the scene. In other words, “if I build it, the people will come.”
If only that were the case.
This mindset might have been remotely possible in the early 2000s when the Internet was a different landscape, but it’s certainly not the way that things work in 2020. Now, there’s a lot of “noise” in online advertising and marketing tactics.
At the end of the day, there’s certainly no question that getting your business concept and offerings out in the world is important. Otherwise, you can spend all day perfecting and refining, and never get your vision translated out into the real world. However, while the push for that first iteration of your business offering is pressing, it’s only part of the bigger launch strategy.
What does a business need to consider? How do you build an effective launch strategy and timeline?
Shifting Your Business Into Launch Mode
Step away from clicking the “Go Live” button on your offerings, pull out your calendars, schedule your marketing team meetings, and be ready to create a launch strategy.
First, recognize that launching is a multi-phased approach.
Launching isn’t all about pushing the “Go Live” button. It’s a multi-step process of determining your audience, focusing on the solutions you’re providing, and translating your solutions into a valued solution in the eyes of your target customer. This launch process is going to have layers. Ideally, it’s a 2–3-month process:
- early pre-launch ( 2 weeks)
- pre-launch ( 1.5 months )
- launch (2 weeks)
- post-launch (1 week)
The Early Pre-Launch
This is the period of determining the communities you should be engaging with, as well as the plan to engage. You should be reaching out consistently, building your niche brand image, and interacting with your social media accounts. Your focus will be to grow your audience in this period of connection and brand image building.
This is the time to “warm-up” your existing leads and community followings and make these groups familiar with your launch date. You should focus your content marketing on your existing email lists and communities on social media. This is less about audience growth and more about working with the people whose attention you have now.
Additionally, you should be planning ahead and creating the ad copy and content writing surrounding your product and service that will be delivered during your launch period.
This is the time to deliver the email automation series to your email list, activate your ads on Facebook and Instagram, and link up to your landing and opt-in pages for product offerings, webinars, free toolkits, and initial consult calls. Ideally, you will have automated these processes prior and be hands-off on the content creation side. This leaves you to be hands-on with community interaction, providing support and information to customers and leads, and focusing on further marketing and administrative decision-making.
At this time, you’ll sit down and determine what went well, what didn’t go well, and what could be optimized. You can understand where your launch soared or fell flat, and how people felt who didn’t opt-in. These insights can then be applied for the next launch period for future features, new product releases, bigger online courses, and higher-priced memberships.
Second, you can apply this multi-phased timeline to any point in your business or brand’s journey.
A launch can be for the first major “push” in the business, but can also be applied later in your journey with highlighting and advertising future solutions. As the initial launch assumption of “if I build it, the people will come”, this is also the case for new features. For instance, if you introduce a new feature in your software portal that betters the user experience, there’s no certainty that your users are going to stumble across it organically or intuitively understand the function immediately.
What if I’m held to a certain launch date and can’t apply all phases of the launch process?
In some cases, you may be able to push out your launch date, but you may also be held to a specific team budget for a certain timeline. That’s fine. Ideally, it’s a multi-month process. Several of the phases in the ideal 2–3-month timeline to prepare are considering that you have a week or several days dedicated to several tasks, such as building out sales slideshows, social media content, blog posts, and ad copy.
Reference your calendar and then list out what still needs to be done with regards to preparing for your launch. Make sure that the actions that need to be completed are assigned among your available team members, and each task has a time estimate attached for tracking and quick turn-around.
What if I’ve already launched?
Good question. You can take lessons mentioned in the above “post-launch” step, and then apply this process in the future for new feature releases, products, courses, major events, and new components to your offerings. Not only can you use it to amplify your new offers, but you can build off a “softer” current or previous launch.
Finally, give yourself credit.
Launches are difficult. It’s a lot of trial and error and trepidation for sharing a business idea you’ve seen through concept infancy to a customer’s shopping cart.
Following the immense planning and efforts of a launch, give yourself and your team time to regroup. This is important to gather your thoughts and thank your team for their efforts. You should savor the satisfaction of having launched, with your offers now out in the world.
Whether you’re a solopreneur or a small team, give yourself and your team some well-deserved downtime and credit for what you’ve been able to establish. That rest and regrouping make you that much stronger for your future launches.