Guide to launch a startup: 1. Pre-launch

Frame 18

Lucia Pons

Feb 09, 2023

Guide to launch a startup: 1. Pre-launch

This year at Gretel, we have a huge challenge ahead of us: the official launch of our tool (how exciting!πŸ€—). Yes, my friend, we can feel the excitement, and the countdown to "The Big Day" (aka the launch day) has begun. However, let's be honest: while The Big Day will undoubtedly be one of the most stressful as well, like all days, it will only last 12 hours (I hope to be at full strength!). Prior to those 12 hours, there are days and days (in our case, months) of work, not to mention the post-launch, which will serve as a before and after for our brief existence.

In this post, we will provide you with all the information you need for the pre-launch, but since we haven't launched yet, we'll also use this as our own personal journal to track our progress 🀫.

For those who are unfamiliar, the launch of a startup, more specifically a SaaS, entails introducing the product or service to its target audience (and the general public) for the first time. It will be similar to taking a microphone and standing up in the middle of Plaza Catalunya in Barcelona to sing; you must be ready to step up to the challenge and not throw up while trying!

Fortunately for us, we are marketers, not artists!

I won’t get too technical about how we arrived here. However, I do want to briefly mention the stages we had to get through before deciding to launch our product (and make it big):

  1. Initial validation phase πŸ’‘: Last year, we invested a lot of time in validating the business concept and our product with our target market. This can be done even in the absence of a service or product; however, since we were clear on our goals and the strategy we would use to achieve them, we came up with a presentation that would align the product with our audience.
  2. Product validation phase βš™οΈ: We are here now! We have been introducing our product to early adopters and be in touch with about 200 marketers over the past year. It is finally time to formally introduce Gretel to them! The key in this phase is communication between the product-sales-marketing teams; we'll keep you updated on social media about how things are going!
  3. Development and preparation for the launch phase πŸ’’: This is a transitional stage prior to the launch where we will gather early adopter feedback, fix bugs, change the website, etc. Additionally, we will start developing automated onboarding, guides, FAQs, etc., and modify the message for the launch.
  4. Launch phase πŸš€: After the product is released, work must still be done to fix bugs, confirm user experiences once more, and improve the product. However, that will be covered in a post-launch (spoiler) section. This is as far as we can go for the moment πŸ˜‰.

In spite of the fact that we are now in the initial validation phase, we are defining the launch strategy (even before we have the product!). There are different opinions about how much preparation time is sufficient; some say a week, and others say three months... It is never too early, in my opinion. Take as much time as you need to draw the lines of the strategy and start thinking about what you will need for the launch, and prepare everything you need while the date is approaching.

So, without further ado, let's go over the steps Gretel took to prepare for this product launch:

STEP 1: Define the launch strategy.

A launch, like any new marketing campaign, will entail analyzing all of the aspects that we defined when creating the campaign. As I previously stated, we began doing this in November 2022, four months before the launch. We created a draft with the following information:

  • Objective 🎯: Before considering all of the actions we want to develop, we asked ourselves what the goal of the launch is and what OKR we want to achieve. It is best to set numerical goals. For example, 1000 subscribers, 5,000 website visits, and/or 5,000 Twitter followers. At Gretel we set these goals:
    • 1,000 subscribers
    • 50 comments in Product Hunt
    • 1200 Upvotes in Product Hunt
  • Channels πŸ“’: Where will all of this take place? In this step, we can distinguish between our own channels: the web, social networks, YouTube, and external channels, which are all those that will be used for the launch's distribution. These include Product Hunt, communities like Growth Hacker, directories like Startup Stash or G2, and so on. The ideal situation here is to conduct research on our channels as well as external channels; there are many lists that recommend directories or communities for startups.
  • Actions πŸ”¨: Will we make an offer? This is related to the channels. Will we offer the product without charge? Do we want to record a video or webinar on the launch day? Will we work with partners to accomplish this? Do we intend to have the founders' voices in the communications? Depending on our resources, capacity, and time constraints, we can define and narrow down all the actions we have in mind in order to achieve some really cool things.
  • Resources πŸ’Έ: In a startup, it is essential to define the following: How much time do we have? How many people are on the team, and how much money are we going to spend? Our actions will either be one or the other depending on these parameters! But be aware that we have a team of three marketers and a budget of between 100 and 1,000 euros, so we can cover lots of activities!

STEP 2: Alignment with your team and early adopters.

Okay, you've got some great ideas, and once you get going, I'm sure they won't stop (be careful not to get too excited). The ideal scenario is to validate all of these concepts with our team before compiling them into a fantastic document or presentation, ensuring that you have not strayed too far from the objectives. Additionally, coordinating the entire business is essential to fostering internal engagement. Customers won't follow you if your team doesn't!

Has your team given you the thumbs up πŸ‘? It’s time to check it out with some early adopters. Please don't mind me clipping your wings, but some of your ideas might not apply to your intended audience. Look online for articles and get ideas from others (particularly similar companies) on how they have done it, what feedback they have provided, etc. if you don't have early adopters to help give feedback.

STEP 3: Content creation πŸ“°.

Come on, you wouldn't expect us to sing in front of people without having previously created videos for social networks, would you? Of course, the analogy of picking up the microphone and singing wouldn't apply here.

Creating all the copy, video, images, and resources required for the big announcement will require many hands. After all, if you're going to do something, you might as well do it right, but always keep in mind our available resources!

What materials will we have to take into account?

  • Web and online conditions: if there is a promotion, for example, explain the conditions. If we want a specific landing page, create it, test it, etc.
  • FAQ and guides: let's make it easy for testers to get the necessary information, and put simple material at their fingertips.
  • Videos or product webinars: in addition to guides, it is highly recommended to have visual material that introduces the product. It is not necessary to spend a lot of money to make something attractive!
  • Blog-post, webinars, and communication in social networks: are we going to communicate internally? Well, we have to think about what we will say, and how we will communicate it. What resources can we create, and in what formats? PR, blog, our podcast?
  • Success stories of early adopters: the first feedback is important, especially for our future customers. It’s essential to get comments, images, and logos in order to have already some qualified and reputable references.

Make an estimation of the resources you will need and the people who will be responsible for each action so that you can be certain you can complete everything on your list.

STEP 4: Search for allies πŸ™‹.

This is crucial if you want to reach many users, which is what we want to do here! However, how do you identify and find allies? They can be businesses that provide complementary goods, investors who can spread the word about your product to other contacts, people in communities where you frequently hang out who can support you, former friends or coworkers, and if all of that fails to "organically" spread the word about your product, you can look for influencers or references in your industry.

In order to accomplish this, you'll need to roll up your sleeves and make contact with others. Be honest and sincere, and of course, avoid lying or providing misleading information.

STEP 5: Prepare your to-do list πŸ—’.

Ok, now everything is done, things will probably start to get bumpy for you (I am not a fan of having documents with no purpose). It's time to organize now, list maniacs (hurra!πŸ™Œ). Start making your to-do list and categorizing it as you see fit based on subjects, dates, or people in charge.

Use a tool you regularly use, such as Trello, Notion, or Drive, to keep track of your strategy. Here are some examples of templates that served as our model for our own: Coda Checklist, Handy Checklist.

We can't share our list, because it's a bit chaotic (but it's the one that works for meπŸ˜… ). In a nutshell: what does our to-do list include?

  • OKRs and targets.
  • Channels and contacts:
    • Community Listings.
    • Press list to communicate the launch.
    • List of influencers and relevant contacts.
    • Platforms and directories.
  • Content material:
    • Content needed on the website, a new page, forms, etc.
    • Communications before, during, and post-launch.
    • Collection of testimonials.
    • Team videos on social networks.
    • Articles on our blog.
    • Pre-launch interviews with partnerships.
  • Tasks 1 week before launch.
  • Launch day tasks.
  • Tasks for the day (and week) after launch.

STEP 6: Launch and see what happens 🀞!

The product launch will be the final step, but we're not quite there yet! Keep an eye on everything that might occur on the first day.

Do you wish to receive updates on our launch? Become a member, and we'll notify you when our solution is ready πŸ‘‡!

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