Unless there’s a specific reason for flying under the radar, get out there early and often on social media channels, create compelling content like videos and blogs start your PR outreach and get blogs and publications writing about you and interviewing you.
Instead of waiting until everything is perfect, launching, and then starting to think about your marketing, plan a marketing strategy and start hyping everything first, so that by the time you launch, you have momentum.
It’s much easier to steer a sailboat and win the race with a good tailwind and a good head start.
1. Get Ranked on Search Before Your Competition Does
The earlier you start getting found for the keywords related to your startup, the better. The best way to do this is by creating good, relevant content like blogs, videos, graphics and quality links on sites that matter to your industry.
Set up your social media channels and get busy. Set up your website as just a web page, for now, and include basic information, links to your social media channels, a signup or pre-order form and press mentions as they come in.
Youtube is the #2 search engine in the world, and videos do wonders for your search ranking and helping people find you.
Once you own the search space, it becomes more difficult for a newcomer to bump you out and will dissuade them from trying.
2. Create a Perceived Barrier to Entry
If someone else is thinking about the same idea and looking to get into your space and they see a well-designed web page with a desirable URL, a signup or pre-order form, an active social media presence and lots of press mentions, they are less likely to dive in, even if you’re not launched yet.
They’re going to assume you already have the head start.
This, in addition to traditional blockers like trademarking and filing for patent protection will help keep unwanted dogs from sniffing around your territory while you set up to launch.
3. Build Early Awareness of and Interest in Your Startup
Start the story where the story begins... with you. Why did you decide to launch a new product or service? Get that story out there via social media channels, video and PR.
Let people know what problem you’re going to solve for them, how you’ll make their lives better, even if it’s as simple as making their lives more fun, and why that’s important to you.
Maintain a consistent social media voice and presence to build a fan base leading up to the launch. Create fresh content. By the time you launch, everyone will be waiting in line to get in!
4. Build an Audience before Sales, Crowdfunding or Raising Venture Capital
- Building an Audience Before Going After Sales: Why wait until you’ve launched to start selling? If you’ve built an audience already, you can start selling right away. Encourage people to pre-order your product or service now, maybe at a discount, or at least get them to sign up to be on an exclusive list so they'll know when they can buy.
- Building an Audience Before Crowdfunding: Say you plan to launch a crowdfunding campaign on KickStarter, Indiegogo or another platform. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an anxious fan base out there already? Crowdunding typically has a time limit within which you have to raise the funds and many platforms require that you raise all the money you set as your goal or you get none of it. Starting hyping as early as possible helps ensure that you’ll hit the goal, and increased buzz and social media will help validate your product or service, making a funding decision easier in the minds of the people you want to fund your project.
- Building an Audience to Go After Venture Capital and Angel Investors: Often, before investing into your startup, investors want to see some proof that this is a good idea. Believe it or not, without any sales figures to show yet, a lot of buzz, good press and social media activity can help influence their decision to work with you or not.
If you do a good enough job, they might even find you first!
5. Position Yourself As The Expert in Your Industry
Become the go-to guy or gal before you’re even selling your product or service. As the founder of your company, you likely know a lot about the industry and have valuable information you can share with your future customers. For example, if you’ve created the most high tech travel gear ever, start a blog, video series or podcast about travel. Talk about travel tips, travel destinations, packing best practices. Get published as a contributing writer on leading blogs and publications, and look for speaking events.
You don’t have to wait until the product is available, or your crowdfunding campaign has launched to start hyping. Start now. Build a fan base. Start as soon as you have the idea. Create content, hit up the press and use social media channels as a big focus group for getting suggestions and feedback early on.