The Top 15 High-Yield Pre-Launch Activities you MUST DO NOW to ensure your businesses success!
So, you’ve decided to start a new business. You quit your day job and you’ve set up your office; your LLC is official and your website is nearly there. But you aren’t quite ready yet. There are still some details that you are waiting to be finalized before announcing to the world that you’re open for business. This downtime is common and typically can’t be avoided, whether it’s to submit your patent application or to get your business process and team in place. But remember this, the Devil is in the Downtime, because it is during this period of time when it is essential to keep your momentum going and tie up any loose ends preemptively that could be your launches undoing. Here are some great high-yield activities that you can do in the meantime to ensure a successful launch and also sustain your momentum before you open your new business.
60 – 90 DAYS UNTIL LAUNCH
- Attend local networking events with the expressed purpose of refining your pitch and both collect and hand out business cards. You never know which contact will become your advocate so take as many cards as you can. Fundraisers are great, if you go, try and get photographed, no press is bad press.
- Research larger conferences that are relevant to your business and for which you may endeavor to attend and/or showcase your products. If budget is a concern, consider attending in order to establish a presence and network contacts.
- Join as many social media networks as you can and contribute daily to attract followers and begin building your online network. On the day you launch formally, know that your customers will research your online presence beyond your website. Having 10 Twitter Followers and 5 FB friends will not bode well for your business.
- Identify any trade publications or consumer publications (online or off) that you feel would best serve your product/service/budget. Most will need lead time in order to include your advertisement. Once you identify where you would like to advertise, contact a team that can put your ad together. If you are on a budget, I recommend reaching out to professionals on Craigslist. I have had great success there finding talent. Remember, unless you are a major brand, approaching an agency might not be within your budget. And frankly, the premiums are often completely unjustified since much of the work is generally done by associates, not senior staff, the talent that is all over craigslist; by cutting out the middle man you can save some money.
- Get a professional head shot. If you are a smaller business than chances are that you are the face of your business. That said you need to make sure that face is captured professionally in a head shot. Yes, you could pay a friend to snap a photo on his iPhone but don’t think people won’t notice. Image is everything, spend the money and do it right because if you don’t, your customer might wonder what other corners you cut.
- Follow your competition. Research those currently in the space you wish to occupy and see what they are doing. What type of media are they pursuing? Are they running social media contests? Are they featured on local or national media outlets? If so, what is the nature of that engagement? Are they hosting an annual golf tournament that generates press or are they subject matter experts brought in to address real time topical concerns? Where might you fit into this strategy? Imitation is a form of flattery and it may also save you money on strategic development.
- Survey Says! You must execute 3rd party reviews of your product/service. Stay away from yes men, find a colleague or friend who is hard to please and won’t lie to you. You might want to broaden your circle in order to get an unbiased review but now is the time to refine before you are in the final stretch. It is cheaper to make changes than to recall a product line OR make a bad first impression with your customer.
- Be the expert. You decided to branch out on this course for a reason. You felt that you could offer something that nobody else could, so TALK ABOUT IT. Begin to set the groundwork to disperse your expertise. A BIO is one thing, but creating calculated topical pieces is another (HINT: you’re reading one right now). Blogs are everywhere, use the platform to share your knowledge and build an audience. Industry has been using white papers forever to drum up business, there is a reason why.
- Alt funding sources. I am sorry, did you say you didn’t want a tax incentive or free money? That’s right, I thought I heard that wrong.
- Public: Contact your local chamber of commerce and the mayor’s office. These entities may be able to offer assistance to your venture. Depending on where you live, the city may have resources to help fund your business. For example: in some cities there are empowerment zones where, provided you establish your business within one, you may receive incentives.
- PRIVATE: By now everyone knows the power of Crowd funding. Depending on your business offering this avenue may or may not be relevant to you, but if it is, start your process early. While it isn’t necessary to hire a team to do your crowd funding video, odds are you won’t have the skills or equipment to do a top quality job yourself. So, hit craigslist and find a filmmaker to help you, engage them early as filming is a complex process which is best left to the professionals.
30 DAYS TO LAUNCH
- Now is the time to iron out any glitches in your website. Go link by link to make sure there are no dead links. Print out any pages that are somewhat copy dense, most people find it easier to QC in hand vs. on screen.
- Engage your LinkedIn Network. Since you are now in the final stretch this is a good time to let old colleagues and associates know about your launch. Telling them too soon may leave the impression that you are not confident that you will in fact be launching. A 30-ay lead time says that you mean business and are ready. CAVEAT: Just make sure that you are ready, LinkedIn is your tried and true network, when you pull that trigger, you better launch on time.
- Test your customer service. You don’t want to wait until the day of launch to find out that there is a flaw in your customer service process; check the phone numbers, check the voicemail boxes, QC the email addresses and fine tune any auto-response messages/scripting you have in place. Remember, it’s all about the customer; as such you need to be ready to support their needs before you launch.
- Craft your press release (ePress Kit). Just because you are a small business doesn’t mean you have to act like one. Think of all the pomp and circumstance which surrounds the entertainment industry, literally, we hear announcements before projects are even produced. There is a reason for that, it builds excitement and also establishes credibility in their product. Submit your press release on launch day. Submit it to online resources and also to local media groups, TV and radio.
- Increase the frequency of your social media activities while simultaneously announcing your launch date. You want to pique the interest of your social media followers and create excitement for your launch.
- Last but not least, buy champagne. Your launch ends the initial planning phase of your venture, so it is important to celebrate. Running a business is a marathon not a sprint and you need to make sure that you pause intermittently to reflect, thank those that have helped make it possible and celebrate the adventure that you have undertaken! Good luck.
Brandon Kelly is the CEO of NYCVanity, who (with her husband and business partner) is actively engaged in pre-launch activities for their new product venture which will launch in the fall. Follow her @NYCVanity and Facebook.com/NYCVanity.