The Launch Countdown
You know you need a launch plan. You’ve heard time and time again that you need to build buzz and warm up your audience before asking them to hand over their money. But you’re overwhelmed with what to do and in what order. Should you throw a launch party? Reach out to press? Should you be posting on ten different social media sites? Oh gosh, should you have started two months ago? UGH.
Take a deep breath. Don’t worry. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s a simple 5-step countdown to a great launch.
5. Assemble the minions!
Prepare the assets that are going to represent your product. Invest some time and resources to make sure these look professional because you want to make a strong first impression. Your assets will likely include:
- Landing page/website
- Trailer and/or pictures
Ok, that was pretty self-explanatory, right? Onward!
4. Find the nerds
Instead of shouting to the masses, focus your efforts on people who geek out on what you do. For country rap (aka “hick-hop”) musicians like Lenny Cooper and Colt Ford, whose music focuses on themes such as hunting, fishing, and driving big trucks through the mud, this means that instead of going after the typical country music radio listener, they’re specifically targeting people who have an interest in off-road vehicles and attend mud bogging events (yes, this is a thing).
You also want to find the supernerd influencers in your space and reach out to them directly. Send them copies of your work to tweet or blog about if they like it. Keep it friendly and give them a way to say no. No one likes to feel pressured to do something - make them feel good about supporting you and your work.
Artist Kyle T Webster sends free brush sets to influential digital artists and designers, many of whom create artwork using his brushes and share them with their following. Kyle then reposts their illustrations on his own social media - what could be a better endorsement?
3. Build momentum with content
Focusing on one or two main content channels (which should be dictated by where your core fans tend to hang out online), drip out free content such as songs, tutorials, sketches, or a sample chapter. Try to build to a cadence, releasing progressively more special content over time (i.e. first a single, then a music video).
Note: Its a good idea to start an email list no matter what, as its the most personal way to send followers updates on your project.
Filmmaker Emily Diana Ruth focused the marketing of her film, The Water’s Fine, on YouTube. She made a 14-episode video series on the making of her film, where she talked about everything from screen writing and casting to location scouting and budgeting. The content was not only educational but it also told high a highly personal and entertaining story of Emily’s journey to produce the film, making the viewer feel invested in her project.
The cadence built naturally as she moved from prep work through to shooting and editing. The 13th episode revealed the film’s trailer, and the final episode announced that the film was ready for purchase on Gumroad with a YouTube annotation linking to the product page.
Nathan Barry recently wrote about a 5 week sequence that you could use to deliver educational content via email:
- Week 1: Educational email, mention the product so they know it exists.
- Week 2: Educational email, with a quick update on the product.
- Week 3: Educational email, with more details on the product launch date.
- Week 4: Short educational email, lots of product details including price and what is included. Reminder of the launch date.
- Week 5, Monday: Provide every detail the customer needs in order to make a decision of whether or not to buy.
- Week 5, Tuesday: A short email with link to purchase the product and a couple testimonials.
Both examples focus on providing valuable content rather than being purely promotional.
Encourage people to buy by providing some sort of limited time bonus for doing so. This could be a discount for the first week of sales, extra content for early buyers, or limiting the quantity of one tier of your product.
The Eminem team did this extremely well for Eminem’s MMLP2 launch. They released limited bundles of signed merchandise such as lithographs and deluxe albums that created a sense of urgency amongst fans and sold out within minutes.
Coordinate across all your channels on launch day, including any testimonials from your outreach. Its a good idea to make a list of all your channels and the exact copy/images/videos you’ll be using for each, so that all you have to do is pull the trigger on launch day.
That’s it. Five simple steps. Now get out there and prepare for launch!