After months or years of planning, going to market is a scary step. Will anyone buy it? The good news is that you can begin cultivating customers even before your official launch – increasing the likelihood of "yes" when the time comes. Among the strategies:
Build subscribers and followers at every opportunity – yes, even before launch
A successful sales launch begins well in advance. Use thought leadership activities, construction or beta testing updates, trade shows, and vendor contacts to build an audience for your brand even before you formally open for business. That way, at launch you have a core group of potential customers who are already familiar with and interested in your offering.
Email is everywhere, and so should be offers to subscribe to brand updates. Every address you collect represents a golden opportunity to reach a potential customer at launch. Offering a sneak peek or priority access to your product or service once you launch can be a great incentive to sign up.
Cultivating a social media following is also key. To keep costs in line, research usage habits specific to your audience. If you're marketing a product targeted at "Generation Z," you may want to skip straight to Instagram, while those catering to Baby Boomers can safely stick with Facebook.
Whichever channels you use, connect them to your thought leadership activities so that you continually build an audience and a reputation for industry expertise. The more your insights are shared and forwarded, the larger your house file of contacts becomes – and the bigger your potential pool of sales prospects at launch.
Use beta testing and introductory pricing to bring customers in the door
Whether or not you opt to have a beta testing phase or a "soft launch," you can win your first paying customers with rewards and incentives. Pricing discounts in exchange for participating in your business' trial period can incentivize participation; asking for guidance and input on how to improve the offering gives these initial customers a sense of ownership in the brand, and – if you follow through on their suggestions – boosts the likelihood that they'll become advocates for your business. Demonstrating you have paying customers will help convince other potential buyers to come on board; you'll gain further momentum if you can generate positive word-of-mouth within the community and your industry. The key is to get the ball rolling, even if you aren't profiting on every transaction.
By adopting these common-sense "secrets," you're well on the way to demystifying entrepreneurial success. As you transform your business idea into reality, the more you seek out knowledge, build your networks, and understand your customers, the likelier you are to succeed. We encourage you to join the community of entrepreneurs at Entrepreneurnow.com to find support for realizing your vision, and to uncover further secrets of success.
"At the beginning, it's more important to get established than to make money." --Ken Burke, Serial Entrepreneur