Here are 11 Ways to Get Noticed When You Launch a New Venture or Product
The pandemic has not stopped the entrepreneurial spirit. As people get laid off, some are using the opportunity to make their own business dreams come true.
Recently I’ve met several small business owners who opened their first business and are disappointed at the lack of attracting customers. While the circumstances may be different, I saw two clear common threads between them:
1 — Noproactive marketing or launch plan upon inception
2 — No allocated marketing budget
This is a sure-fire recipe for failure because this is the first impression your prospects get of your business and it is the only chance you have to exploit a Grand Opening event and establish your business’s footing.
A successful launch has enormous long-lasting promotional, public relations, sales, and marketing implications.
Simply put, this is just too important NOT to get right.
In my own neighborhood I’ve noticed several newly-opened businesses. These storefronts include a pet supply store, spa, salon, and a deli. All are mom and pop stores. All seem to be struggling. I drive by and no cars are parked in their lots, there’s little to no activity going on evidenced by the bored looks on the owner’s and worker’s faces I see inside.
One business, however, a pizza parlor, is clearly enjoying success despite the fact they have more competition in the area than the others. Why? They created a splashy grand opening event that passersby could see. When I drive by their storefront I see cars in the parking lot, I see hustle and bustle inside. I see success.
The sad part is that the small business owners who are struggling could have emulated the pizza parlor’s success without spending a fortune.
The word advertise means to make known. Small business owners who make it known they exist have a far greater chance at success. Be bold.
If it took you many months, or even years to get to this exciting stage in your business then NOW is the time to make sure you didn’t waste that time creating something that has no plan in place for success; no strategy for bringing in revenue; no marketing forethought.
Mostly this happens simply because you aren’t trained in marketing. I’ve worked with clients in industries and professions as diverse as aviation data services to yoga practitioners. It doesn’t matter. I promise if you follow these simple launch tips — whether you launch a new retail space, e-commerce business, product/service, or a consultancy working from home — you’ll be well on your way to success.
Here are 11 ways to make a splash:
Leverage your personal network. Email everyone you know to tell them about your new business. Your friends, family, neighbors, former employers, and colleagues are your first line of advocacy. Don’t be shy. Ask them to share your information with their networks and on their social media.
Utilize community press outlets. There are many hyper-local digital news outlets. Research those in your community and send each a press release. I’ve invited reporters to Grand Opening events for clients and they often do show up because communities are sorely in need of good business news these days. Better yet, reach out with a personalized digital invitation.
Consider a COVID-Safe Grand Opening. I was once co-owner of a retail business. We did a soft opening to work out the kinks then about a month later hosted a Grand Opening. We partnered with the local Chamber of Commerce who helped us plan a big splash. Then, on the day of the event, we did a ribbon-cutting out front and we had a great turnout. It helped us tremendously especially after it made the local news. Launching an eCommerce business? Use Facebook Live for your Grand Opening. The point is to make a public splash.
Have a plan. I went into one of the new pet supply stores in my neighborhood shortly after they opened and made a purchase. While paying for my goodies I introduced myself and offered my marketing help. I gave the owner my business card and agreed to be put on her email list. But I never received anything. Sadly, they’ve since shuttered their operation. The location is now a deli run by someone who knows what they’re doing, so their great big parking lot is almost always full.
Use all touchpoints. Get the launch information onto your website, phone message, put it at the end of your emails, announce it on your personal social media with links to the business accounts so people can navigate over. Get creative with promotion too.
Get all your social media accounts up and running. Hootsuite is your best friend here and a free account is all you need. If you’re going public, then your social media has to be kept up to date so the business appears vital and on top of its pubic image.
Use all the no-cost Google tools available. Get your Google My Business account set up. It will serve you well in the long run. When linked back to your website it helps to build an online presence, is a place for reviews, and other critical SEO-building tools you’ll need to be successful.
Train any front line employees. Whether you have a retail establishment, professional office, or e-commerce business, be relentless in training any front line employees who will have interactions with with your new prospects and customers. Make sure they’re fully trained in the way you want your business to be presented, how the phone should be answered, and provide scripted bullet points so they can speak confidently. All too often I see a launch fall flat because the front line fell down. Remember, in this early introduction stage image is everything.
Be seen. One storefront I drive by made some attempt, I suppose, by taping letter-sized yellow paper to their front door. What a wasted opportunity. Don’t cheap out! The only way to see these is to already be there! By investing just $150 she could have purchased a banner that would have made her message visible from the road — even after hours. Sandwich signs work great for this purpose too.
Incorporate the SRO concept. Standing Room Only is visually powerful. Ever notice that very hungry, very chic ‘of the moment’ consumers will tolerate long lines just to eat at the hottest restaurant, when across the street there is no wait? It is because people want to be where other people are. So, call all your friends and your family, even consider hiring temporary workers for the day to congregate around your storefront (I’ve done this and it works!). Passersby will wonder if they should be there too. If yours is an online storefront, use testimonials and reviews to emulate the same point.
Capture all-important customer information. Have a sign up at the cashier/front desk (and/or your website) to capture email addresses to begin to build the all-important customer list. Send an immediate “Thanks for stopping by” and then create a consistent email campaign to keep in touch with them. Include links to your review accounts and start gathering testimonials. This is critical to long-term digital marketing success.
Setting the groundwork for a Grand Opening whether in person or online, is key to getting off to a good start. It’s a make-or-break opportunity to harness all the attention and early interest and buzz the opening will generate.