This article has been contributed by Zach Kitschke.
For the weeks leading up to Canva’s launch, we had a big television screen set up in the office with a countdown timer. Each day it would tick over, bringing us closer to launch day. We’d watch it with a sense of excitement and anticipation as we geared up to launch Canva.
We’ve come a long way in the past seven months from fledgling startup to a company with 620,000 users around the world. One thing we’ve learned is the importance of a strong launch. It’s the first impression and it sets the tone of what’s to come.
When launching something new, whether it’s a startup, a book, or a website, your goal is to get the word out far and wide and build a community of supporters who can help you achieve your vision. So what are the steps for getting the word out?
Whether it’s been a big media launch or a new feature that we’ve rolled out, we’ve learned that there’s a consistent recipe for a great launch. No matter what you’re launching, you’ll want to focus on building relationships, creating ‘heat’ and getting your ducks lined up so that you can ride the wave of an effective launch. These are some of the most useful lessons we’ve learned.
1. Build Relationships
The first step with a launch is to find the key influencers in the industry in which you’re launching. Find out where the influential people are in your space. You’ll likely find them blogging, or sharing their advice on social media.
Focus on building strong relationships with influencers, says blogger Ian Cleary. Speaking at the Social Media Marketing World conference, he explained that much of his time is spent on building and maintaining relationships with people; providing introductions, advice, and feedback. He uses some great tools to automate a lot of the other parts of his business so that he can focus on the human aspect.
Canva’s biggest users have been social media marketers, bloggers and small businesses, using the platform to create their own graphics. As a result, these are the groups we’ve sought out online.
There are some fantastic tools which can help track down the influencers in your field. Try these to get started:
- Grouphigh. Grouphigh is a tool for identifying influential bloggers that cover particular topics. It allows you to search through more than 13 million active blogs to find relevant bloggers in your space.
- Bitly. You can use Bitly to find out who’s sharing your content. By copying your existing content into the link shortener, you can find out which people sharing your content are generating the highest engagement.
- Twtrland. Twtrland helps you find influencers on particular topics. You can search for a skill, topic or location.
- Little Bird. Little Bird also allows you to search by topic. It allows you to keep up-to-date with what particular influencers are saying.
- Facade – A search engine to find influencers.
Another low-tech but effective solution is to create a spreadsheet with their contact details. It’s handy to track things like their name, company, blog, URL, social media links, and notes to keep track of your conversations.
Google Docs makes this really easy, and you can even share the document with other people involved in your launch.
2. Create Heat
You’ve built the relationships but how do you leverage them to create some buzz? It’s time to create some heat. Canva CEO Melanie Perkins has written about this concept and how it applies to raising money for your company.
The same idea can help you generate media coverage. Marketing expert Ryan Holiday, former Director of marketing for America Apparel and author of The Art of Media Manipulation suggests building up to a big news outlet like the New York Times or CNN, by trying to get coverage in smaller blogs and publications first. He calls it “trading up the chain”.
The reason it works? We all want to know what others think before we make a move. It’s the whole pack mentality. In fact, one survey found that 89% of journalists reported using blogs for research for their stories.
Generating buzz is like trying to light a fire. You need a spark, some fuel and the right conditions to get the fire going.
Launching a company? Get who you can to write you a testimonial for your website. Ask your followers to tweet or Facebook about your launch. Once you’ve got a few visible supporters it becomes easier to get the attention of other people. Hopefully soon, you’ll be able to get them to also endorse you.
3. Line Up Your Ducks
“To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time.” – Leonard Bernstein
Get organized before you launch with everything you’ll need to hit the ground running. Make a checklist with several different topics. Think about the following:
- Key Messages. The best brands are consistent with their messaging. You know what they stand for and who they are. Pick 2-3 key messages for any launch. These should immediately convey the substance of any announcement.
- Contacts. We’ve talked about building relationships. This is where you capture your list of top influencers to reach out to.
- Collateral. Every different launch requires different collateral. Whether it’s a media release, sample products or a video, make sure you’ve got everything organised ahead of time.
- Product. Your product is the most important part of the equation. As Guy Kawasaki says, a good product should inspire enchantment. That means it’s deep, indulgent, complete, elegant and emotive.
- Schedule. T is for timing. There’s a reason people say “timing is everything”. Make sure you allow enough time to get everything organised.
Having some great visuals will make it a lot easier to spread the word. A simple technique is to create a press kit for your announcement. This can be a simple Dropbox or Google Drive folder with everything that someone might need to know. You can upload your biography, a media release, photos, logos and videos here. It makes it a lot easier to share all the relevant collateral with other people who want to write about your launch.
Launching something new is exciting. It’s full of potential and promise. You’ve worked so hard to get to this point, so doing the hard work by preparing your launch strategy will make things go much smoother.