If you’ve just built an app, finished writing an ebook, or you’re releasing an online course it’s important to find a way to get the word out about your product. Because let’s face it, the amount of noise on the internet is pretty crazy these days. The shear number of individuals and companies vying for your attention is overwhelming.
It can be daunting trying to build some buzz for your product against this mountain of competition. The good news is there are more than a few clever ways you can go about this, and it doesn’t have to be expensive.
The first (and most critical) step in successfully launching a product, is creating a valuable product.
Simply put, no amount of PR sweat and buzz building tactics will save you if your product isn’t good. So focusing your time, energy, and money here is of course the first thing to do.
Bonus Resource: Here’s our list of top tools to use for your next creation.
But now you’re finished and ready to unleash your creation. What to do next?
Below we’ll walk through some strategies anyone can use to make sure their digital product revenue grows dramatically.
1. Consider the impact of your product (Start Today)
Really consider the story your offer has to tell the world. As blindingly obvious as this sounds do not skip past it. Does your product improve people’s health? Does it teach them a valuable skill? Does it help them grow their business?
Figure out exactly what what kind of impact you’re making and take some time to understand the relationship between this outcome and your end user.
This is undoubtedly something you’ve done, likely at an earlier stage in the product life cycle. But everything that comes from here is an outgrowth of this starting point. So you absolutely must get this step right, or the subsequent ones will not matter.
Once you understand your customer, you can plan your paid advertising and PR efforts knowing your core benefits. Now that it is established you can quickly begin putting efforts into making the launch about the people who will consume your product. There is a temptation (especially when you’re excited) to go on and on about your product and what makes it valuable or unique.
Resist this temptation.
People often only care about something as much as it intersects with their needs. So, frame your marketing approach accordingly. Paint a picture of what your product does and clearly tie that to the outcomes people need/want. Do this effectively and your consumers will get excited.
2. Time your launch emails just right (3 Months Out)
Once you’ve done most of the hard work and built your product it’s time to hit publish. But just like all the prior points we’ve discussed, giving a bit of careful thought to exactly how and when you do this is critical.
Comedian Louis C.K. premiered a new show in 2015 and he did so with almost no notice. Subscribers to his mailing list simply received an email telling them that a new show was available to purchase.
On a Saturday no less.
No million dollar ad campaign or late night television appearances, no trailer. In an interview Louis would later explain his aim was to “tell almost no one” as an experiment to see if it could grow organically.
This is an intriguing strategy – but it’s essentially the opposite of what you want to do. Most of us don’t have (and will never have) the celebrity, fan base or resources of someone like Louis C.K. Which would make an attempt such as this foolish.
So, when exactly is the right time to launch your product?
To be clear by time we don’t mean what day, morning or evening, etc. By time we mean conditions. There is no one answer to the question above. But some important indicators are how many email subscribers to you have? How cold or warm are they to your offer? How much social proof have you collected from founding members to provide case studies and overcome objections?
These are some of the metrics you need to look at to find the right conditions to launch. For a bit more “copy and paste” approach to tackling the issue, Bryan Harris from VideoFruit created an app called SlingShot to help online entrepreneurs plan their product launch.
3. Get influencers onboard (3 Months Out)
Another critical step is sharing your product with VIPs as soon as possible. You need to do this at least a few months in advance–although it’s never too soon to start warming up influencers.
If you want to use terms like “influencer” or mediapreneur, that’s fine. You just need to get your product in front of as many bloggers or other people with relevant audiences as possible.
If you have no idea where to start in this sense, put in a little due diligence, Google your competitors’ products with the phrase “review”.
It shouldn’t take long before you are able to build a list of folks who have reviewed similar products. Approaching these people requires finesse and is an artform all unto itself though.
You can always offer up a free copy and humbly ask for their honest opinions. For more advanced tips and tricks check out this this post. Also avoid any salespeak or spammy urls in your contact efforts
You’re talking to another human so act like it.
Providing exclusive tidbits about your product is another good strategy, which these people can pass on to their audience, positioning themselves as insiders.
Getting your product in the hands of these type of people will also have a positive effect on your promotional efforts in terms of social media (discussed later). Any blogger worth their salt will be utilizing social media to share and spread information they find worthwhile. So there should be a nice trickle down effect here.
Bottom line: The more folks with a following, platform or audience that know of your product the better, so find a way to make it happen and get them into your email funnel.
4. Utilize social media (1 Month Out Through Launch)
Putting a bit of money into a social media advertising campaign may also be worth some serious thought. With the audience targeting power of Facebook ads, there simply isn’t a better way to reach a specific group of people.
You can find a detailed breakdown of the benefits of Facebook advertising here. At a minimum, you’ll want to set up retargeting (a.k.a. remarketing) ads on a small budget, so that folks who visit your sales page (without converting) will see your ads and prompt them to come back and complete their purchase. Then you can move on to more advanced experiments like sponsored updates on LinkedIn, Google AdWords search campaigns, or location-specifics ads on Twitter.
Beyond paid ad campaigns, there are some simple things you can do to promote your product on social media.
These include (but are not limited to): Start a Twitter Q&A around your topic of expertise, create a product giveaway with KingSumo Giveaways to harness virality while building your email list, or launch a free version of your digital product on ProductHunt to gain new subscribers.
In How We Leveraged Community to Grow Product Hunt from 40,000 to 400,000 Users in 4 Months from CMX Hub, Erik Torenberg writes:
We explicitly called our first users “thought leaders.” We started incorporating curated lists — collections of products recommended by thought leaders (e.g the best “growth products”, “designer tools,” etc.) This encouraged them to share widely to further their personal brands.
However you build your list on social media, make your users feel like cutting-edge early adopters. Bake in exclusivity. Encourage them to share your project with their friends so that your community grows itself.
Although not for a product launch per se, we really like to cite REI’s #OptOutside as a brilliant hashtag strategy. Be careful here though, a poorly thought out hashtag can have the inverse effect of its catchy counterpart. There’s not much worse than a goofy hashtag followed by silence.
5. Build some suspense (1 Month Out Through Launch)
Now that you’ve created a great product, gotten said product in the hands of a number of influencers and built a little bit of social media noise, one of the best things you can do is build suspense with your email list.
Building suspense is like adding fuel to the fire of those who are interested in what you’ve got to offer. One company that has perfected this is Apple.
Every time they launch a product, information is leaked well in advance (usually through email), rumors begin to circulate, nothing happens for six months as anticipation slowly picks up, and then boom! Here is the iPhone 6.
Here are a few ways you can try and add some suspense:
- Post a video trailer, or teaser. You can do this cheaply via a Screenflow teaser of your product, or just by releasing one module or sample of your product.
- Make the initial release limited to a certain number of invite-only founding members to ramp up the exclusivity.
- Ask your audience to help you actually design the product. For more on this strategy, check out The Interactive Offer strategy from Clay Collins.
Is Your Product Worth the Hype?
At the end of the day there simply isn’t any substitute for creating a product that adds legitimate value to the lives of other people. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t employ as many of the buzz building tactics discussed above as possible.
One thing to emphasize: Getting a good product out to a decent start will only continue to be successful if it’s worth the price of admission.
You don’t need a marketing department or a PR company on retainer to plan a successful launch. A product launch doesn’t have to be complicated to be successful, but it does need to be deliberate and well thought out.
So, what are you launching soon?