3…2…1….blast-off – how to market the launch of your new business

When starting a business there are a few basic marketing activities you need to get underway. 
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Ideally you would have developed a marketing strategy for your ongoing operations, but just as much focus should be given to launching your business.
You will only have one ‘grand opening’ for your business, so you should make the most of it. 
Getting your launch marketing activities right will put you in a good starting position and create a great first impression.
Here are my tips for marketing the launch of your new business. You can also use some of the same tactics for marketing a new product, service, idea or store location.
The ‘Coming Soon’ phase
In the weeks leading up to your grand opening, you want to start sharing the ‘Coming Soon’ message.
You can achieve this by:
  • Creating a ‘Coming Soon’ web page. You don’t need your full website to be up and running for this. A holding page or temporary page is fine for the ‘Coming Soon’ phase. Refer to my previous blog post for tips on setting up a website.
  • Tell everyone.Tell all of your friends, contacts/everyone you know or meet, about your upcoming business opening.
  • Create a contact list– start building an email/mailing list of people who would be interested in receiving information about your business. This will be the starting point of your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system – one of your most valuable assets. You may not be able to afford specific CRM software, at least not initially, so you can use a simple spreadsheet to capture contact details.

    You could also set up a simple subscription form on your website and Facebook page. You can even create and manage contact lists in a free web-based tool such as mailchimp, which provides tailored sign-up forms and can be used later to develop and distribute e-newsletters.

    However, you must comply with relevant privacy laws and anti-spam laws, which you will need to make yourself familiar with. These differ from state to state and country to country but generally you can’t send marketing information to anyone unless they agree to receive it.  If someone agrees to only receive certain type of information, you can’t send them different types of information. You can’t pass on any person’s contact details to a third party without their permission and their details must be kept securely. You must also include an unsubscribe option in any email/text message communication.

    Don’t ever abuse the right to send contacts information or overload them with too many emails/letters. If you do they may unsubscribe.

    You could send your current contacts advice initially that your business is ‘coming soon’ and a little information about it and ask them if they are happy to receive any further updates or information about opening specials.

Get active on social media and blogs
Set up your social media accounts and post that the grand opening is ‘coming soon’. Refer to my previous blog posts on how to tame the social media beast, and identifying the best social media platforms to use for your business. You can also find tips on developing social media content here.
You can start a blog and follow and comment on other blogs relevant to your industry. Read about the benefits of business blogging at my previous post.
On social media you can also post ‘teasers’ or sneak peeks of your store, products or services or staff. Count down the days to opening on your social media pages.
Organise your marketing collateral
You will need to have your basic marketing material prepared and ready to go.
Once you have chosen or created a logo and visual identity, including colour schemes and preferred fonts, you can start printing and creating email templates.
The basics include a business card and email signature. These should include your main phone and email contact details, website address and details/links for social media pages if you have them.
You will also want to start preparing letterhead templates and other stationery if needed. You may need flyers, catalogues, posters and/or product lists, and signage ready to go. Refer to this blog post for all the different types of marketing material you may want to consider.
Make sure all of your marketing material includes your key messages and speaks to your target audience. Your point of difference should be clear. Read these tips on how to develop a unique brand story and key messages.
Contact media
Determine the most relevant media for your audience and business, then send them a media release advising of your upcoming business.
Often your local paper and radio are happy to highlight good news stories of businesses opening, especially if you are buying advertising at the same time. Just don’t demand media coverage. Don’t ever pressure a journalist to write something ‘because’ you advertised.
Editorial (or media coverage) is not an entitlement for advertisers, but it can give you a better shot at being highlighted in your local media. That being said, if the news angle or story idea is strong enough, you shouldn’t have to advertise to generate media interest. Tips on writing a media release can be found here, as well as how to identify news story ideas or media angles.
If you are interested in advertising, contact the media outlet’s advertising representative and determine the best advertising plan for you. Ask them for details on their audience and demographics so you can ensure your advertisement reaches your target market. There may also be opportunities to buy an advertisement and ‘advertorial’ in a specific feature relevant to your business and target market.
Once you have determined your advertising plan, ask the ad rep how you may go about approaching editorial to see if they would be interested in doing a news story on your business. They will give you the best advice for their media outlet.
Other advertising and cross-promotion
You should also consider other advertising and promotional opportunities such as outdoor signage and billboards.
Look for opportunities to cross-promote with other businesses by offering discounts/deals for each other’s clients. Choose likeminded businesses, those located near to your business or complementary businesses, eg. hairdresser and a make-up artist, butcher and a fruit and vegetable shop, an accountant and a solicitor. You can put business cards or flyers in each other’s shops.
Even if you don’t have a shopfront you can develop mutually beneficial relationships with other businesses and share each others’ details, promotional material and perhaps promote links to each other’s websites or social media.
Giveaways, discounts and competitions
In the lead-up to your launch and at any launch event, offer giveaways, discounts, or competitions to win a free product/service. Send details to your contacts and post details on your social media.
If your business is focused on a specific region or location you may want to consider a letterbox drop, and offer discounts or giveaways to them. This is an especially great idea for direct neighbours, especially if your neighbours are residential and you want to get off on the right foot with them.
Get out there
Start getting out there and introducing yourself to potential customers and influencers. Try to reach your target audience in person if possible.
You can set up a stall at trade expos, festivals or community events. Consider sponsoring a popular local event.
Get listed
Make sure your business name and contact details are listed on key directories. These directories will differ depending on your business type and budget, but they may include Yellow Pages, TrueLocal,and/or Yelp. Some directories are free, but if they are charging money just make sure the directory seems credible and well-used.
Check out where your competition is listed and perhaps get listed there as well. At the same time, investigate what other promotions your competition are doing and how you can compete.
Launch event
Hold your own launch event and invite contacts, supporters, potential customers and media. If you have a shopfront try to hold the event on site. If you don’t have a physical shop, hold it at a local hotel, café, restaurant or function centre.
It doesn’t have to be a particularly lavish type of event. Make sure you have marketing material on display and product samples. You may also want to prepare a slideshow or presentation.
If you are a service based industry you may like to offer a free or discounted price seminar at a local venue. You can give away some of your ‘secret sauce’, which will help to develop brand awareness, and hopefully give you leads on potential customers or opportunities to upsell your full services.
Coincide activities
Get the most bang for your buck by trying to coincide promotional and advertising efforts with each other. For example, if you are sponsoring an event on a particular weekend, you may want advertisements in the local paper around the same time and pictures or teasers for the event on your social media pages.
Have your operational ‘ducks in a row’
It is all great to have all your marketing sorted for your launch, but there’s no point if your operational ‘ducks aren’t in a row’.
This means your product and services need to be ready for launch. Marketing materials need to be sorted. Distribution channels need to be ready as well as customer and product support infrastructure. Packaging, pricing and people (staff) also have to be locked in readiness for launch.
Marketing strategy
Try not to lose sight of your overall marketing strategy for your business. Your launch is only one promotional activity in the grand scheme of things. You want to keep your promotional momentum going well past your launch and your overarching marketing strategy should support this. Learn here how to DIY and create your own marketing strategy.

For help with your marketing needs contact us at Kylie Fennell .
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