The most important time in a startup’s life cycle is its launch. If you think that you can get through to this stage without having a launch plan then your startup idea might end up being your nightmare.
The most important aspect of a launch strategy is how you will go about marketing your startup at the launch stage.
Why Prepare a Marketing Focused Launch Plan?
A launch plan consists of strategies and procedures a company may use to develop communication channels for its target audience.
A marketing plan helps you target your potential customers, their channels of information and ways to target them. Your whole business is dependent on a solid marketing strategy and requires planning and timely execution at its launch stage. Having a plan helps you in:
- Evaluating the effectiveness of your marketing strategy.
- Listing resources you will need to put in place your plan.
- Knowing your customers and your competitors.
- Describing your business and its products and services.
- Identifying the marketing approaches you will use.
Elements of a Launch Plan
After analyzing some of the successful startups’ launch, we have come up with very specific elements to include while designing your launch marketing plan.
1. The Intent of Your Business
In this phase, you must figure out what your business intent s to meet. During the course of defining your marketing strategies, you must develop action-oriented insights into why your business is more dependable. By doing this, you are helping your customers to know your business better.
2. Identify the Potential Audience
The market is like an ocean of potential customers willing to buy a product; but what makes you think that they will buy your product as well?
First, you have to identify which category of consumers you are targeting. A detailed description of these categories would make your efforts worth it. You should describe the target audience in detail to have a clear understanding of what you’re trying to achieve.
3. Know Your Competitors
You must keep in focus that your competitor does not want you there because they might not welcome challenges. And not everyone wants you playing in the big league. Mind it. Coming up with an original idea will help you stand out and be prominent in a market full of saturated ideas.
More often than not, startups don’t spend much time to test their competitors. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses with a strong analysis of your competitors can give you a head start.
4. Solid Brand Positioning Statement
Your brand and what it intends to do for the customers will be an integral part of your marketing arsenal. This can be your strongest competitive advantage. A simple yet comprehensive statement of how you will meet your customers’ needs while edging out the competitors can do wonders for you.
The positioning statement with a target-oriented approach to solving problems is a better approach than those with wayward vision.
5. Conduct Beta Tests
After your product has hit the market, conduct tests and ask people for feedback. You should run these tests through actual customers. Ask them what is wrong with your product. How you can improve it further? Eric Ries from Lean Startup says that by conducting public beta tests they were able to bring a product to the market that the public actually wanted.
You should note that your customers see the product from another perspective that your team may not be able to provide.
6. Create and Perfect Your Pitching Deck
Once your MVP is ready, prepare a pitch deck to pitch investors in pitching sessions. Startup experts recommend that a pitch deck should not have more than 19 cards. In fact, Peter Thiel, the author of Zero to One and the Co-founder of Paypal, has provided a complete guide about preparing a pitch deck that can help investors understand your startup within the minimum time period.
His advice is to prepare two pitch decks. One you will use to pitch to investors during the sessions. It will have more visuals. Prepare a second pitch deck that has more detailed information. You will send it to investors and attendees through email. This will help them (especially the attendees) about the scope of your product. And, maybe the investors who may not have understood your idea in the pitching session become interested in it after reviewing its potential.
Here is a fine example of AirBnB Pitch Deck from Malcolm Lewis
7. Participate in Startup Competitions
So, you have prepared a pitching deck. Now what? Participate in pitching competitions. Jodi Goldstein provides some golden rules for founders, they should follow to enter competitions.
Here is a summary but you can read the whole article on Forbes.
- Don’t go pitching blindly: Make sure you read the terms of the competition. There are many pitching sessions that would want a stake in your startup just for PITCHING!
- What benefit does pitching offer you? Before pitching in the session, evaluate the pros and cons of the competition. There is one rule of thumb. If the competition offers benefits even if you lose then you should apply. Otherwise, stay away. Benefits can be anything from networking with investors to meeting more partners and co-founders. Etc. But the benefits should be measurable.
- Keep control of the pitch: Yes these are experts that you are pitching to, but it is your startup. So, keep a control on the pitch. Don’t be afraid if they say that your startup lacks potential or it isn’t going to solve the problem or something similar. Just be confident and boldly say that you are confident that your product can solve it. Pitching sessions aren’t about debating or arguments. The investors are just trying to check if you have potential.
In the end, pitching sessions aren’t just about finding investors but marketing your business. Who knows maybe you can get customers from these sessions.
8. Identify Platforms to Announce Startup Launch
While the above two points are a necessary part of the startup launch plan, they relate to investor pitches and funding. Not all startups are lucky enough to get funds and most of them are bootstrapped. But even with a bootstrapped startup, you can spread the word through launching platforms such as Product Hunt, Beta List, Hacker News, and many others.
Each of these startup launching platforms has its terms and conditions. Do ensure to read them before submitting your product to avoid getting banned.
We got really good traction by launching Cloudways Startup Program on Product Hunt. You should try it as well.
9. Promote through Announcement Sites and Press Releases
Similarly, you can promote your startup through press releases and announcement websites. Though online press release submission websites have now lost their charm, they are still relevant for the launch marketing plan of a startup. Why? Because these can send signals to search engines and even help get the word out among journalistic circles – these efforts combined benefit the startup launch marketing plan.
Yes, we also do it!
Tips for Writing a Press Release:
- Write an attractive Headline
- Tell your (startup) story
- Describe briefly
- Write in the inverted pyramid style
- Don’t forget to add your contact information
Identifying the Marketing Strategies
Now that you have to figure out ways to reach your customers. Apart from the conventional approaches like print and broadcast media, we have put together a small list of some digital marketing channels that may benefit your business.
Social media is the face of modern-day marketing. It has become a crucial part of any business’ marketing plan because you can target a wider audience, which in turn may lead to potential customers. Through social media, budding entrepreneurs and startups can either make it or break it. You must focus on smaller goals by following a systematic approach.
This is the era of social media and digital marketing and it’s vital to analyze your worth on social media. An attractive blog site, an active Facebook and Twitter page can serve as weapons for your social media artillery.
Email marketing, indeed a tried-and-tested concept, is an effective and popular medium of promotion and marketing for many startups. Organizations can employ email marketing techniques to amplify their business’ reach. In addition to this, newsletters, promotional emails, and campaign emails can surely help the cause further.
No business can survive without an active blog today. It’s considered a building block of modern marketing. It helps in amplifying company’s social positioning and promoting the brand. Maintaining and regularly updating your blog with helpful and useful articles will help keep visitors coming to your blog and get familiar with your business.
SEO and Link Building
Systematic SEO schemes can help in a number of ways to improve your web presence, digital PR, blog, and social media marketing activities. A strong SEO strategy can help in extending the content and have a better impact on your potential customers.
Advertising is key. First, you have to get familiar with your brand and then you can advertise it to the proper audience and your target market. By targeting your audience and advertising the appropriate messages to them, you can woo them and amplify your business.
Your Time Starts Now!
When you are running a startup, following your gut feelings is not always a nice idea. You must have a well-documented plan to go about things.
By following this startup launch plan, you will definitely find your way to a successful startup launch and you will be able to seek the attention of your target audience. Make sure that you keep these valuable points in focus before you start your entrepreneurial journey.
Arsalan is a business graduate and digital marketer by profession. He works as a Startup Community Manager at Cloudways. He loves to create value for the Startup community. He is a big fan of cricket and does Netflix and chill in his free time.
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