Your product is ready. Finally!
You have invested time, money and resources. The product has to be a hit, otherwise, it was all for nothing.
You push publish and it’s live. You have finally launched the product and… Silence… Uh, oh.
No one cares, let alone buys your new product.
You messed up, that’s what. You didn’t build pre-launch buzz.
I do not want this to happen to you. I have been through the product to market cycle many times and worked with hundreds of startups.
Here are a few ways that you can build real buzz before your product is released and avoid failing.
1. Consider the product and how it changes lives or an industry
It all starts with the product itself. How does it disrupt the status quo?
Your new product should be destructive and creative. It should eliminate an older way of doing something and offer a new, innovative means of achieving the same goal.
If you begin from that framework, you can start your preliminary advertising about the product by honestly saying that it will change the way people live and/or do business. That’s sure to generate some press and put your company in the spotlight. Make notes on the core features that are 100% unique. That will be important later.
2. Demonstrate the issue clearly and show how you solve it
You don’t want to brag about the product’s features. You want to share how it will make life easier for people who use it.
Think about the last time you saw one of those “But wait! There’s More!” TV commercials advertising some clever new gadget. Those commercials offer a great formula to follow for building buzz about a product before its launch.
The gadget commercial usually begins in black-and-white showing somebody struggling to accomplish an everyday task. An announcer chimes in with something like: “Are you fed up with….?” Then, the commercial goes on to demonstrate the numerous benefits of the gadget.
That tried-and-true method will work for your product launch as well. Begin your ad copies and social media campaigns by identifying the problem (“Don’t you hate it when…?”, “Are you frustrated with…?”). And then, just leave them hanging.
Say no more. For a while, anyway.
Repeat the problem identification message for a period of time. Then, after a little while, turn it into something more positive: “Wouldn’t it be great if you could…?”
Now, you’re generating curiosity.
And buzz will follow.
3. Get influential bloggers on board
If you’re product is ready to go but hasn’t reached its launch date yet, then you should contact bloggers who reach people in your target market and make the product available to them free of charge in exchange for a review or feedback.
The best way to approach this is to look at your competitor’s products and Google the <product name> plus “review.” This will bring up all the people who reviewed your competitors. Make a list of all these people in a Google sheet.
Next, use tools like BuzzSumo and Followerwonk to determine the influencial people in your space. Add those people to your list as well. Send your product to as many bloggers, editors and writers as possible. The more you reach, the better your chances.
That will benefit you in several ways.
First of all, people who view the blogs will read about your product and you’ll generate more interest. You’ll build the size of your market at launch time.
Second, almost all popular bloggers know how to use social media to promote their posts. As a result, word about your product will find its way on popular social media sites.
And do not forget to ask these same people to come to your event…
4. Create an event surrounding your product launch
Are you planning on launching your product with a bang or with a whimper?
If you’re thinking to just make the product “available for purchase” on a certain date and that’s it, then you’re not building excitement. Why should people believe that your product is a big deal if you don’t even believe it’s a big deal?
On the other hand, if you’ve rented out a venue, sent invitations to decision-makers, hired a band, purchased a few prizes for a raffle, and contracted a stand-up comic to participate in your launch, then people are going to think that your launch is a big deal.
5. Take pre-orders
Apple is the undisputed pre-launch product buzz king. Follow that company’s lead and allow people to pre-order your product.
When you do that, you’ll find that eager customers (the best kinds of customers, by the way) will be lining up before the doors even open on launch day because they want to be among the first people to get your product. You might even have to call the police to stop a few fights (a good problem to have).
When you let people pre-order, you’re creating a groundswell of enthusiasm that exists prior to the release date that’s sure to generate lots of buzz.
6. Keep them in suspense
If you want to generate some free PR about your upcoming product launch, advertise that it will offer a radical change to the way people live or do business and then keep them guessing.
Run ads that drop clues about how your product will benefit people. Be sure not to disclose complete spoilers, though. Give them just enough information to want more.
Steve Jobs was the quintessential genius at this tactic.
7. Ask for social shares on landing pages
Your product has a landing page, right? If not, it should.
Use that landing page to ask people for social shares. Once they sign up to learn more about your product (so that you have their email addresses for email marketing purposes), you can take them to a “Thank You” page that presents them with social share buttons.
8. Use crowdfunding
If you want to build buzz about your launch, use crowdfunding.
You might be thinking: “I don’t need to use crowdfunding, I have all the money I need thanks to my investors.”
Use crowdfunding anyway.
Why? Because it’s a great way to build buzz about your product launch. Remember, with crowdfunding, you’re giving away prizes to people who offer money. Make sure that those prizes are useful and that they promote your brand. It’s pretty cool when people give you money so that they can advertise your business.
Also, with crowdfunding, you’re by definition creating a crowd that’s interested in your product. Those people will take to social media to talk about the fact that they’ve contributed to your launch and might be making history in the process.
And you’ll have more buzz.
9. Build a website, optimize it and do some content marketing
What keywords are related to your new product that are also popular search terms? Identify a few and build a website that’s optimized for those keywords.
You’ll generate some pre-order interest if people stumble across a site that teases your product with a simple Google search.
10. Create an explainer video
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of video marketing. That’s because statistics show that video increases engagement.
Sit down with your marketing team and craft a well-produced video that creates a sense of anticipation about your upcoming product launch. Distribute that video to the usual quarters (YouTube and Vimeo at a minimum) and be sure to share it on your social media channels.
Also, feel free to run the video as a YouTube promoted ad. Target people in the YouTube community based on interests and demographics so that they see your video even if they don’t subscribe to your channel.
Finally, keep in mind that YouTube is also a search engine. Be sure to optimize your video for keywords relevant to your product.
11. Promote pins
Use the image-driven social media website Pinterest to prove that a picture is indeed worth a thousand words. Create a clever image that reflects your product, include a brief ad copy, and pin it to Pinterest. Consider teasing people on Pinterest with the revolutionary way your product will solve a problem, but not telling them how.
Then, promote it. Pinterest allows you to promote your pins so that they appear to users who don’t follow your brand or any of its boards.
Schedule at least a few promoted pins to roll out in the weeks and months leading up the launch. If your images look great, you’ll have people on the social media site liking and re-pinning your pins.
12. Facebook ads
As of this writing, there are more than a billion and a half people on Facebook. It’s safe to say that if you want to generate buzz about your product online, that’s where you should be making a statement.
Start by using Facebook native ads. Those are the ads that appear in a user’s newsfeed as though they’re content posted by friends. There will be a “Sponsored” message on the ad, but it won’t be too obvious. Your ad should include a link to some outstanding, teasing content about your upcoming launch. The content should have a compelling headline. Additionally, you should follow the advice of Kim Walsh-Phillips and use the text area of the ad to say something catchy about your product. Hit them with a double-tease using both the text of the ad and the headline of the content.
Also, run a “Like” campaign for the Facebook page associated with your product (you do have a Facebook page, right?). Once again, you can get creative with the text you use. One of the best approaches is to ask people to click “Like” if your product solves their problem. For example, if you’re launching a product that makes it easier for people to work from home, the text can read: “Click Like if you if you want to work from home every day!”
Make sure that you target the right types of people with both of your ads. Fortunately, Facebook allows you to craft an ad campaign with laser-like precision to users based on demographics and interests.
13. LinkedIn sponsored updates
A great way to build buzz about your product, especially if you’re in the B2B space, is to use LinkedIn Sponsored Updates. Here’s how it works: you use your company page to create some amazing content, then promote that content so people in your target market see it even if they’re not connected to you.
It’s native advertising for LinkedIn.
Once again, create a compelling headline and a fascinating lead. Follow the “slippery slide” policy made popular by legendary copywriter Joseph Sugarman. He said that readers should be so compelled to read your copy that they can’t stop reading until they read all of it, as if they were sliding down a slippery slide.
14. Twitter advertising
Another social media channel that offers you a veritable ocean of prospects is Twitter. You can tweet a brief text message in 140 characters or less, an image, or even a video.
Then, you can promote the tweet so that even people who don’t follow you will see the tweet. You’ll be charged based on engagement.
Fortunately, Twitter Ads allow you to target your tweet to people based on interests and demographics, so be sure to promote the tweet to people who are in your target market.
15. Email marketing
Another way to generate buzz about your upcoming product is to build an email list of people interested in it and send out periodic teases to the list.
The usual rules apply here. Send people in your target market to a page that offers something of value in exchange for an email address. Make sure that your offer also builds your brand (e.g. a discount on the product when it launches).
Also, set up a Facebook quiz that asks fun questions related to your product (take a look at the quiz created by Crystal Ski Holidays for an example). People who want to participate in your quiz will have to provide an email address. The great thing about this tactic is that quizzes are shareable on Facebook, so you can generate even more buzz if your quiz goes viral.
Once you’ve got a list, be sure to email it regularly so that people don’t lose interest.
16. Press releases
Hire someone to write a professional press release and distribute it to one or more newswires. Make sure that your article teases your product well but doesn’t offer too many spoilers. You want to generate curiosity.
Why? Because you might have professional journalists calling you and asking for more information about your product. Grant those interviews and offer the journalists the appropriate level of information. You’ll get free advertising in their media outlets when they publish the story. Note that you can also add images and videos to press releases, so make sure to integrate your strategies.
17. Declare your milestones
A great way to combine social proof while generating anticipation at the same time is to brag about your milestones online in terms of orders placed.
For example, when you receive your first 100 pre-orders, tweet something like: “We already have 100 pre-orders!” Then, tweet out a similar message when you have 500 orders, 1,000 orders, 5,000 orders, and so on.
You’ll create a snowball effect. People will buzz about your product because there’s already buzz. That buzz will continue to build as you share your milestones.
18. Advertise your social responsibility
It’s usually not a great idea to brag about your charitable giving, but if you want to create some pre-launch product buzz, you probably should.
For example, issue a press release declaring that, for every 10 products sold, your business will donate $100 to the Red Cross or the Salvation Army. That kind of good-natured expression will get people talking and might even land you a few more interviews.
19. Keep blogging
It’s so easy to get caught up in looking for new ways to promote your product that you forget about the basics. Don’t neglect content marketing during your pre-launch era.
At least once a week, blog about your upcoming product. Use titles and copy that are rich in keywords related to your niche. You’ll gain an audience from search engines and boost the buzz about your product.
20. Guest blogging
Hopefully, you’ve established relationships with business owners who aren’t competitors. Those entrepreneurs almost certainly have blogs. Reach out to them and ask about guest posting.
Use your guest posts to not only talk about your brand and your product, but also to provide contextual backlinks to your own blog. This is an effort at SEO as well as product promotion.
21. Create infographics
Infographics are thoroughly enjoyable and often shared. A great way to start some conversation is to create an engaging infographic about your product. Be sure it’s tailor-fit to people in your target market as well.
Follow the usual pattern of infographics. Offer plenty of stats with visuals that complement the information. Post the infographic to your blog and share the link on your social media channels.
22. Use HARO
The Help a Reporter Out website brings journalists and sources together. It also offers you a great way to get some free press about your product.
Sign up as a source on the website and offer your expertise in a way that’s related to your upcoming product launch. There’s no guarantee, of course, but a reporter from The Chicago Tribune or Time might call you and ask a few questions. When the story gets published your name and company name will be mentioned and you’ll have some additional publicity.
Also, respond to requests from reporters if they’re looking for sources related to your expertise. Reporters are always looking for quotes from business leaders to add to their stories. You can make that work to your advantage.
23. Attend trade shows
“Old school” marketing still works when it comes to pre-launch promotion. Attend trade shows and industry events and start networking.
While at the show, you’ll run into a potpourri of editors, reporters, and influential bloggers. Offer a product demo to them and you could gain some additional press.
Wrapping it up
To reach your sales potential, you need to create buzz about your product before it launches. With just a few easy-to-implement tactics, you can have people talking about your product and excited for its release date. Then, you’ll hear the cash register ring repeatedly.
Guest Author: John Lincoln is CEO of Ignite Visibility and a digital marketing teacher at the University of California San Diego. Lincoln has worked with over 400 online businesses and has generated millions in revenue for clients. In 2014 and 2015, Ignite Visibility was named #1 SEO company in California and top 2 in the nation. You can keep up with his latest work on the Ignite Visibility blog or by following him on Twitter @johnelincoln