If you are running a website, you are most likely selling a product. That product may be a physical item, a download, or a service that is provided – the end result is that you need to sell your product to achieve your aim. Without visitors, and therefore customers, your website is pointless. That’s why it’s a great idea to hit the ground running.
The Pre-Launch – building a buzz
It would be assumed that you already know your market, and have conducted research into what they want, what prices they are willing to pay, and the kind of things they search for. Your website should be built with all of this in mind, but in the weeks (or even months) before you launch, you should have a pre-launch strategy.
By building a buzz about what you are doing, you’ll have a ready-made audience waiting for you from day one. If you were to open a retail store, this would be the equivalent of having a line stretching around the block waiting to get in.
But how do you do it?
Start with your site. Have a landing page that incorporates some catchy headlines, a little bit of info (but not too much – you need to build intrigue too) and a sign-up form to collect email addresses. These email addresses will be important in the future for building your business, but also great for sending out a message as your site goes live – “Roll up, roll up, we’re open for business!”
Set up your social media accounts and give regular updates. Let people know you are preparing to launch, and give them small snippets of information about what you are doing. Follow other people, brands, and pages that do similar things or are in the same industry as you. They may follow you back (giving you a form of authority) and their followers may follow you too, as after all you are talking about something they are interested in.
If it is appropriate, place adverts in local print media. Certain demographics prefer discovering information in print rather than on a screen, so this may be an ideal opportunity to reach people that other companies may ignore.
In the final few days before launch, make a big deal around the countdown. Get people excited – maybe even offer a special opening discount for your first few customers.
Be ready, and be prepared. If you’ve built it up well during the pre-launch phase, you should have plenty of traffic to your website. Some may buy, many won’t, but you’ll probably get some questions along the way. Make sure you’re available and responsive. If a potential customer contacts you and gets an answer straight away, they’ll be more likely to buy something than a customer who has to wait several days to even receive a cursory response.
If you’re selling a physical product, make sure your packing and shipping procedures are in place. You don’t need a bottleneck, you need to be on this as much as you can.
Wherever possible, automate procedures – the less human involvement, the faster things can happen, and the less likely mistakes will occur.
If you’ve managed to take care of the pre-launch and day 1, this should hopefully lead into a steady stream of traffic over the coming weeks and months. Keep up your social media presence, and thank your customers for visiting, even if they didn’t buy anything yet. You want people to keep coming back, as the more often they visit your site, the more chance you have of selling something to them. Always be grateful for what you have, and always be looking for a way to turn it into more.
When the well dries up
It can become easy for your customers to gradually forget about what you do or why you do it. If you are there day after day, year after year, they may begin to take you for granted. And while your sales will continue, you may need to do something to improve your standing and increase your sales.
At this stage, it becomes worthwhile to look at a second launch. You don’t have a new site to launch, that’s obvious, but you might have a new product. You can treat this in the same way as the initial launch – have a pre-launch for the product and build a bit of buzz, and let your subscribers know when “launch day” is.
But what if there is no new product?
There’s no need to panic – all you need is to take an existing product, repackage it, and relaunch it.
Look at automobile manufacturers. Year on year they produce the same vehicles, with little changes here and there with color, shape, and performance. Many people will buy the new model simply because it is the new model – even though it is virtually identical to the last one.
It is perceived that newer is better, but that isn’t always true. Newer is sometimes the same as older, just literally newer.
If you are service-based, try changing your pricing structure. Offer new and small additions to your standard service. Change your contracts to a different time period – maybe 8 or 14 months instead of 12. Even offer things that are worse than your main service – perhaps the original service could be branded “Gold”, with the lower services being named “Silver” and “Bronze”. This will open you up to a new market – the people who couldn’t afford the original service, but like the look of the affordable Silver deal.
If you manufacture and sell a product, make it bigger, smaller, a different shade, scented, rounder, wider, narrower, squarer, and so on. If you can’t do that, change your prices and do two-for-one deals. And then pre-launch the two-for-one deal!
Use Your Imagination
There are plenty of ways you can build a buzz, and there are many ways you can repackage something to relaunch it. As long as you can meet the demand, you should always be working on a launch strategy.