You’re about to launch your online business and open the cart up for purchases. This is the moment you’ve dreamed of for the past year.
After spending months putting all your efforts and every single penny into taking your business online, it’s launch time.
You think about all the work you’ve put into setting things up and figuring out how to make your website a freaking sales machine. If you could give yourself a high five, you would.
Your shop has all the bells and whistles:
- Great on-brand design
- Scripts that would make an Eskimo buy ice.
- Functionality, and
- A customer journey that has been tested and retested
To Launch Or Not Launch Your Online Biz?
At the very moment you’re admiring the work, looking at your online shop for the millionth time, your assistant walks in.
“We’re more than ready,” she says with a ton of enthusiasm. “For the time and money, you’ve put into this, those online customers will be whipping out their credit cards.”
“Oh Yeah! Oh Yeah!” you reply, almost singing the words,” while giving her the high five you wish you could have given yourself.
That night while you’re moisturizing your face before bed, you take a look in the mirror. You feel motivated and excited. Tomorrow can’t come soon enough.
You take a gob of moisturizer out of the jar and then it hits you.
What customers was your assistant talking about?
Should You Cancel Your Launch?
You’ve been so focused on working with your developer to get the shop up and running that you’ve spent little time cultivating a community on social, building an email list, and setting up all the pre-launch activities.
“What should you do now ?” You ask the question in despair. After a restless night tossing and turning, you get back to the office and tell your assistant something shocking.
Everything has been canceled!
You want your first launch to go successfully. This is more than just sales for you. While the monetary ROI is crucial and important, you also want to create hype around your efforts.
There has to be a better way than just making an announcement.
In today’s post, I want to spend some time talking about the launch before the launch. I’ll share what you need to be doing to get ready before you invite people to view your shop, your course, your work, and add your products to their carts.
Because if you don’t get this part right folks, it’ll be enough to break up that online friendship between you and all those folks waiting with their credit cards.
Let’s Dive In!
No. 1| Why A Pre-Launch Matters For Your Business
“What should a launch content marketing strategy look like?”
I want to clear up something first though. The scenario above, the one I just shared with you, is an actual real-life situation that one of my students, Terry, experienced.
Her ‘situationship’ (you get my drift), sparked by her moisturizer in the mirror moment, was tinged with a great sense of failure. She felt guilt rich, but ideas poor. She wanted me to spell out what a pre-launch content marketing flow would look like.
In essence, she was asking if I had a step-by-step guide that could teach her what she should be doing and where her start point should be.
What I told her is what I’m sharing with you HERE. There is a silver bullet you can use when it comes to having a successful online launch and all of it happens in the PRE-LAUNCH phase.
I’ve done too many launches not to know that while everyone’s process and marketing mix is different, you cannot and should not just launch your product or your service and expect loads of people online with credit cards waiting to buy from you.
No. 2| This Is The Runway To Launch Your Online Business
Way before you launch you need to show up and add value that is specific to your audience. You need to do this each time you post on social media or blog or send out a newsletter.
Many people forget this part. Terry did for sure.
She missed thinking of the pre-launch phase as a runway where she could build an insane amount of trust with her existing community, no matter how small, just by warming them up with a specific kind of content that demonstrated her knowledge, acquainted her community with her expertise and primed her audience for what was to come.
I want to share a personal example.
So first things first, take a look at this post. I call it my Primer’s post in the pre-launch phase.
You see in a little over two weeks after I write this blog article, I’ll launch my latest online signature workshop and course. I have not made the announcement or opened my cart but I’m priming my community. I am setting the stage.
Instead of telling my readers and followers about what I’m doing, I invite them in the post above (hope you clicked that link) to share their own vision for the courses they’d create in an ideal world.
Priming my community gets them engaged, opens them up to talk about their own courses, and readies them to receive more specific details from me.
Let me back up and say,
No 3. How Long Should Your Online Pre-Launch Be?
I’m going to talk about exact timelines in another piece I’m writing on launches and timelines. What I do want to say now is that your content has to be lit in the pre-launch phase.
A lot of content has to be created that will allow your followers to know you as a human (show off your personality. talk about your WHY); trust you (take them behind the scenes, show them what you do), and invest in what you are about to show them (show them your results, talk benefit and not features, use testimonials, etc)
Like I said before, every follower, reader, and listener is a potential customer who can amplify your messages.
They are on the prelaunch runway with you, trying to understand if you can help them get from Point A to Point B.
RELATED: How To Get People To Buy From You
They are checking out your content to see if you understand their pain points. As you begin to tease what you are launching, they’ll pick apart what you produce to see why, and if it may be the ultimate solution for their needs.
If you’ve been producing content like this then you already have a hot audience and the runway strip to launch your online business can be 2-4 weeks out.
If you’ve done nothing then double/triple the time because you’re now building community.
Here’s my Northstar that I want you to see and follow with adaptations as needed
I believe in audience-led launches. I don’t believe in building a product or service first and hoping “they” will come. That’s why I’m the biggest advocate for profitable content planning and building content systems for success.
No. 4| Things to Look At Before You Launch Your Online Business
The pre-launch phase is all about content planning and mapping.
If you’ve been around here long enough, you know how obsessed I am with content systems and putting things on repeat.
So take as many notes. I’m going to be brief as I’m developing a new post complete with checklists, and timelines from the pre-launch to launch and the post phase.
Ok, remember Terry? She’s my student who postponed her launch because she never warmed up her community or built lists or challenged herself to be more strategically engaged in the pre-launch phase.
So here’s the advice I shared with her for the weeks leading up to her launch.
5| Four Tips To Make Your Pre-Launch A Success
1. Get clear on the end game: I told her to get clear on what challenges her end-users experienced and what kind of transformation her products would bring about? This would take her to the next step
2, Content mine: Here is where I told Terry she should be looking at her competitors. Head to Amazon to check out comments, reviews, and discussion boards that were related to her products, view Instagram and Pinterest for visual inspiration, etc. The goal here is to go deep into research mode and figure out what kind of content map she’d draw to get people excited about her offer in the pre-launch phase. You do not want to copy, you want to imitate to innovate.
3. Editorial calendar: Doing this one is my jam and it should have been Terry’s too. Planning pillar content takes a while but it’s the source from where all social media posts and content flows etc. Depending on how much you know about content planning, you want to set up your pillars like dominoes so when you tip one, you knock over the others one by one and they fall in this clear path from awareness, to trust, to offer, to sale. I reminded Terry to include the video in her map as there is nothing better than looking people in the eyes and telling them about your offer and what to expect.
4. Plan: I like automation so my posts are planned in pre-launch mode. This kind of detail makes sense for Terry too even in the launch phase. Things are way more intense when you’re showing up every day for Lives. etc. Also, you never know what’s going to come at you during launch week so scheduling is always sooo helpful.
My go tool for content scheduling.is Planoly. I absolutely believe in it.
Question: Let me know below in the comments if you’d like me to do a post on how I use the paid version of Planoly app as part of my overall content planning system
Putting The Puzzle Pieces Together
Figuring out what pre-launch strategies fit together is not hard but you have to be willing to do the work and invest the time.
Now don’t get me wrong, not everything has to be perfect. If you take a few ideas, test them, and in another launch add a few more success tactics, then you’re already winning.
Terry did what felt right for her. I’m not here to judge but what I’ll tell her and you, is that you can’t wait for 100% confidence to come knocking on your door. (Spoiler alert: It never will.)
The trick I have learned is at some point dipping your toe does not cut it, you’ve got to dive in, get messy and clean up from there.
I’ve done my fair share of that and the diamond that emerged has always been beautiful to witness.