Journey of the Do – Stage 7 – The Launch

It’s almost here! You’ve planned, prepared, bought, sold, researched, set up accounts for this that, and everything else. Now, it’s time to share you product / service with the world. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before you launch.

Soft Launch

For this endeavour, my wife, and I have chosen to do a soft launch. We’ll spread the word through family, and friends (and this blog) before starting a larger marketing effort. We want to ensure we work out all the kinks before we really start generating some revenue. Some of you may want to wait until everything is perfect before you launch. DON’T. Get it out there, and work with your customers from there. There’s no shame in being up front with your customers that you’re new, and working on a few different things. Even make them a part of the discussion. Ask them questions on how else you can serve them. Do they have any suggestions for improvement, and so on.

For this e-tailer the plan is to leave a month or so to iron out the kinks before we start turning the crank. Your timeline may be different, and that’s fine.

Creating a Culture

The definition of brand has evolved. It used to be, and still is to a point, about what people are saying, and feeling about you. However, it’s a bit more than that in this new age of technology and globalization. Now you can survive as a small niche by creating a culture. Creating loving, devoted fans, and by having the most believers on your team. It used to be about getting the right / best people on the bus. Now, it’s more so about getting those that best fit your culture or the culture you want to create on the bus. People who live, and die for what you’ve created. They may not be the best in their field, but they believe in what you’re doing, where you want to go, and they’re willing to learn for the sake of the brand. This doesn’t necessarily apply to your accountant. I want the absolute best in the field. I cannot stress enough how important an amazing accountant is.

Your culture can be defined by your core values or what you want to get out of the company. And we’re not talking profit numbers. We’re talking higher-thinking. Steve Jobs believed in design, inside-and-out. Zappos believes in serving the customer to no end. They even hire their team by encouraging trainees to take a buy-out of a few grand at the end of their training. Those who take the money…GOOD. They want people who believe in the brand, and the journey opposed to the money. You get believers working with you, and the money will come.

By having this culture within your company, it will spread throughout the customer experience. Making your customers believers, and when you have believers, you’ll have more and more followers, more and more buyers, and more and more ambassadors for your brand.

One way we’re going to do this is by encouraging our customers to get involved in the process. Include them in buying decisions on what they like, and don’t like. While we’re out on buying missions, we’ll post pictures of what we plan on buying, and include our fans in the discussion. We also plan to be as open as possible to them on what we’re doing, and why. Even going as far to post our revenue numbers on our website. We also plan to do a different sort of promotion to kick things off (more on that in a few weeks).

Dress, Ever Rose, Shop Ever Rose

A look into the future. Do you like?

The BIG Launch

After you’ve worked the kinks out through your soft launch, and things are working for you, and you’re starting to see the cash flow…it’s time to spread, and scale. Having worked in the media industry (I still do), and my wife’s crazy PR connections through her blog (canadiangiftguide.com) we’ve compiled a few tips on how to get free publicity. You can check those out here. This has to involve you picking up the phone, sending out emails, and reaching out to as many people as you can within your community. People like supporting those in the community, and they LOVE stories. Plus, media outlets need to fill time, especially LOCAL time, so keep at it, and you’ll eventually see your biz in the news, on TV, etc…

In my wife, and I’s case – we’re going to spend a bit of money too in a few different markets across Canada to get the word out. More on that over the next few weeks.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

PS. After all the purchasing of goods, website, domain names, logo design, etc.. we’ve spent just over $6000. And we’re almost ready to launch.

I’m a small business, how do I get publicity?

publicity, effUmarketing

Getting stuff for free or close to free is always tough. Working in / with the media industry for as long as I have, I can tell you right away, you’ll need to offer some VALUE in order to get publicity.

#1 thing to keep in mind – you’ll have to offer a media company something whether it’s your product, or a small chunk of change in order to be seen / heard.

Who to call or reach out to

You may be inclined to speak with a sales person or management when it comes to getting publicity. DON’T! Try to go to the bottom of the totem poll first as these people are usually underpaid, and under appreciated. If you fluff them with some of your product they’ll probably be willing to go the extra mile for you. Management, and some of the more senior personalities are more prone to turn you down, because throughout their career they’ve caught on to how the game works.

Here are some ways to get the word out about your product / service for next to nothing:

  • Connect with a radio, TV or journalist by calling them, emailing them or reaching out to them through social media. Say you listen to them, watch them or read them on a regular basis (you probably should know a little bit about them before you reach out).
  • Once you’ve connected, offer to drop off your product or meet in person to discuss your service. DO THIS IN PERSON. I can’t tell you how many meaningless press releases media companies get on a daily basis. Very rarely do companies show up in person to showcase their product / service. DON’T BE LAZY.
  • If there is some resistance from the on-air personality, try contacting the promotions or marketing department. They may be able to help you out. You’ll probably have to throw something their way like a free dinner, or a night out to the movies (have something on hand of VALUE).
  • Try asking about contesting whether it’s over the air (very unlikely), on the website (getting warmer) or through the media companies social media platforms (Bingo!). I can guarantee you the media company has a way stronger following on their social media platforms, their app, and / or website than you do. Try to leverage this by giving the promotions or marketing department the opportunity to giveaway your product or service online.
  • PROVIDE SOMETHING OF VALUE. 10% off is not value. A free dinner when you bring a friend, and spend more than $40 is not value. If you’re going to give something away. MAKE IT BIG! Stop thinking about how you need to make money off of your offer right away. Make your giveaway meaningful, like haircuts for a year or a dinner for two up to $100 (or however much it costs to get an appetizer, two entree’s, dessert, and a couple drinks).

Yes, this will cost you some product / service. Yes, it may cost you a small media buy, but it’s worth it. Think about the amount of people you’ll reach by getting the publicity.

My favourite way of getting publicity

Go after a known brand (stick your stake in the sand – more on that here). If you’re a new restaurant, why not take on a chain, and say you’re against them. If you source your product locally, go after the ‘big guys’ and get the conversation started with your consumers, “Where do you think they get their food from?” A good example of this is Chipotle in the US. They started out attacking the ‘big guys’ in a non-direct way about food, and where it comes from (now, Chipotle is one of the ‘big guys’). You will probably piss some people off by doing this, but that’s okay. You need to stand for something.

Another alternative

You can’t forget digital, and social media. Although most of you lack Facebook fans, have limited followers, etc… You can still make an impact.

First – FIND SOMEONE who is an influencer or has already been in the media discussing your product or something similar. For example – if you’re starting up a business that accepts Bitcoin, then ‘Google’ Bitcoin, and see all the names that come up. I would reach out to each one of those individuals that come up (Winklevoss twins) or tag them in your post on social media. This way, they could do the work for you because they want to see Bitcoin succeed, and the more businesses accepting Bitcoin the better off they are.

Stay relevent

One of the easiest ways to stay in the public eye – is to stay relevant. Can you do something special around the holidays (Xmas, New Years, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc…)? If you can, then do it, and make sure you tell people. I’m not talking about a sale, I’m talking about a $3 burrito if you come into your store dressed in a costume on Halloween or partner up with a local Easter Egg Hunt. Think fun, and your fans will follow.

Getting publicity is tough, and it requires a bit of work on your end, but it’s totally worth it. Try out a couple of the items above, and let me know how it goes.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

PS. Like what you see? Get more freebies here