Steps for a marketing launch: 1. Pre-launch

Frame 18

Lucia Pons

Feb 09, 2023

Guide to launch a startup 1. Pre-launch

This year at Gretel, we're gearing up for a big challenge: the official launch of our tool (how exciting!πŸ€—). We're feeling the excitement and counting down the days to "The Big Day" (aka the launch day).

Now, let's be real: The Big Day will undoubtedly be stressful, but it'll only last 12 hours (fingers crossed we'll be at full strength!). Before those 12 hours, there are months of hard work, planning, and post-launch activities that will shape our future.

In this post, we'll share all the info you need for the pre-launch of a SAAS, but since we haven't launched yet, we'll also use this as our personal journal to track our progress 🀫.

For those new to it, launching a startup, specifically a SaaS, means introducing the product to its target audience (and the general public) for the first time. It's like standing in the middle of Plaza Catalunya in Barcelona with a microphone and singing; you have to be ready to step up to the challenge and not throw up! Lucky for us, we're marketers, not artists!

I won't bore you with all the technical details of how we got here, but I do want to briefly mention the stages we had to go through before deciding to launch our product (and make it big):

  1. Initial validation phaseπŸ’‘: Last year, we invested a lot of time in validating our business concept and product with our target market. This can be done even without having a service or product available. However, since we were clear on our goals and the strategy we would use to achieve them, we created a presentation that would align the product with our audience.
  2. Product validation phase βš™οΈ: We've reached this stage! Over the past year, we have introduced our product to early adopters and have been in touch with about 200 marketers. It is finally time to formally introduce Gretel to them. Effective communication between the product, sales, and marketing teams is key during this phase. We'll keep you updated on social media about our progress!
  3. Development and preparation for the launch phase πŸ’’: This is a transitional stage prior to launch where we gather feedback from early adopters, fix bugs, and make changes to the website. Additionally, we will begin developing automated onboarding processes, guides, and FAQs, as well as modifying the message for the launch.
  4. Launch phase πŸš€: Once the product is released, there is still work to be done to fix bugs, confirm user experiences, and improve the product. However, we will cover that in a post-launch (spoiler) section. For now, this is as far as we can go 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 your marketing 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 your 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 your 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 (remarkably 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: Create content for your launch 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 your available resources!

What resources 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 demos: in addition to guides, it's highly recommended to have visual material that introduces the product. It's 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'll need and the people who'll be responsible for each action so that you can be certain you can complete everything on your list.

STEP 4: Search for allies (early adopters) πŸ™‹

Reaching a large user base is crucial to the success of any project, and that's exactly our goal here! But how do you go about identifying and finding allies? They could 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, or even influencers or references in your industry if all else fails to organically spread the word about your product.

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 marketing 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 (or find a new tool in our list of tools for marketers). 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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