Knowing when to launch
Updated: Jan 7
Plan to launch a business? We often talk about how to start a business; this post looks at when. In it, we encourage entrepreneurs to consider timing, a vital consideration for launching a business. We discuss how to find a launch window, the anatomy of a launch plan, then provide a marketing launch checklist and some advice for startups.
So, you have a dream—a huge dream! Whether you aim to disrupt an industry or build a better mousetrap, you desperately want to launch a business. You yearn to bring your concept to life. You cannot wait to cast off the indignities of your day job and escape your cubicle. And then, at last, you can join the ranks of great Canadian entrepreneurs who have delighted the world.
Great! But when? When’s the best time to launch your new empire, anyway?
The hard truth
Like most veteran marketers, we’ve seen countless startups come and go. The hard truth is that most ventures fail for lots of reasons, including bad timing. With so many challenges facing a startup, you can at least try to make your timing work for you—not against you.
Finding a business launch window
One of the questions marketers get asked all the time revolves around when to launch the business. While “next week,” always seems to satisfy entrepreneurs, you should try to calculate your launch date to maximize your exposure. The more advertising noise out there, the higher the cost of media and the less likely your marketing will reach anyone.
The anatomy of a plan
Like any marketing plan, a solid business launch plan clearly defines the market opportunity; defines the objectives; identifies the target audience(s); spells out the approach and the tactics that will deliver positive results. Plans should also account for variables like competitive activity, as well as things like trade show events or cultural occasions, like holidays.
Your best bet? Work with the pros. To deliver the best possible ROI, engage a marketing agency and/or media planners to develop a launch campaign.
What launch campaign?
Wait, you say, what launch? What marketing? If you have no advertising budget, let alone a marketing plan, then watch out—you may not be ready to launch at all. The notion that “if you build it, they will come,” does not prove true. It’s more like “if you build it and advertise it, they may come—but not for long and probably not more than once unless you’re really good.”
Marketing is a must
Love it or hate it, marketing drives our economy. Even activities as simple as A-frame street signs and basic text ads at online search engines can help attract attention. Of course, appropriate tactics vary by industry and circumstance, but most businesses need a basic marketing mix to stand any chance of success.
Business launch basic checklist
At minimum, most startups need something like:
A brand (i.e. a distinctive name/domain, logo & maybe a slogan)
A “responsive” website (meaning it works properly on smartphones)
Professional email (business-class, not free consumer web mail)
Social media landing pages (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
A sales presentation (for prospective investors and customers)
Some sort of launch event (even if it’s just virtual)
Your big day and after
The idea is to expose these items—and every other kind of advertising and PR you have ready—on the same day (your launch day,) so you create the most exposure and excitement. And yes, you should run ads, do social networking, and have PR going on after you launch as well. This way you can maintain momentum and continue to generate sales, not languish in obscurity.
Get ready to pay to play
Ad agencies, marketing campaigns, PR, social media, signage, negotiating ad rates—if this all feels complex and/or sounds expensive, then your business instincts serve you well. Marketing success does not come easy for any business. YouTube stars and trending memes notwithstanding, building great brands generally takes many years of sustained marketing.
Walk before you run
Still committed to bootstrapping every aspect of your business, including marketing? Then try loosening up your timelines. Give yourself some breathing room. Instead of trying to make a big splash, embrace the notion of the “soft launch.” Gradually roll out your venture so you have the time you need to do it all yourself, call in favours, do plenty of social networking (which costs you nothing except time), and try to generate revenue to reinvest in your marketing.