With today’s shift online, the time is ripe for a new type of entrepreneurship. It doesn’t require access to Silicon Valley, venture capital, or years of work before turning a profit. This approach, called launch marketing, enables would-be entrepreneurs to test a new business idea out in the world, learn if and why people will pay money for it, and depending on the answers to those questions, launch it in the most effective and profitable way.
What’s more, it removes much of the risk from embarking on a new venture. It relies more on tenacity than on talent.
For the entrepreneur, the sooner they can determine whether people will pay money for their product or service, the sooner they can move forward along a successful path or shut their idea down and move on to another one — saving themselves blood, sweat, money, and tears. Early in the journey of their idea, they will come to a fork in the road with three possible, preliminary outcomes.
Proving there is:
- a market for their idea and target customers will buy what they’re selling;
- a market for their idea if they make a few tweaks (e.g., switching from a business-to-consumer (B2C) to a business-to-business (B2B) audience); and
- an idea in its current form that is something people will buy in numbers and create a sustainable business.
However difficult it can be to realize that their world-changing idea is not going to change anybody’s world, launch marketing allows entrepreneurs to know this reality sooner rather than later. Plus, they’ll be more experienced and more prepared for their next venture, while keeping hold of a lot of time and money they would have spent trying to launch a doomed idea.
To put the data-driven concept of launch marketing into practice, use this 5-Step High-Profit Launch System as your guide to taking an idea from a lightbulb moment to a profitable business in record time.
Step 1: Validation
This initial step is about gaining a better understanding of your target customers, digging into the wider market or vertical for your product, analyzing competitive or similar products in the space, exploring possible pricing and profitability, and determining whether your idea can successfully transition from being a good idea to a viable business. Essentially, validation is a “go/no go” test for your idea. It involves tactics that help you determine your ideal customer (e.g., demographics, personality, aspirations, challenges) and where to find them. Do this before investing large sums of money in developing and promoting your product or idea.
Step 2: Audience acquisition
This involves presenting your idea to potential customers. A recent example of a successful program to acquire and engage prospective customers comes from the stock‐trading app, Robinhood. Leading up to the launch of the app, Robinhood invited people to gain access to its private beta, giving them the chance to be among the first to benefit from what was offered.
After opting in, users were placed on the waiting list and shown a “thank you” page displaying their position on the waitlist, along with the chance to move up the list by inviting their friends, family, and networks to the app, too. The more people a user got to join, the sooner they would get access to the app. Robin‐ hood was able to both acquire and engage prospective users long before the app was even available.
Step 3: Audience engagement
Engaging with your potential first‐ever customers is a big deal. Too many entrepreneurs skip this step, thinking the product itself is enough to convince people to make the purchase. When this step is skipped, the result is always the same — lower conversion rates of prospects into customers, lower revenue, and missed potential. Ensure prospective buyers are ready to act when you launch. The best way to do this? Transparency, accessibility, and outstanding customer service.
Step 4: Audience conversion
This is the actual launch step. Your attention here is focused on converting the prospective customers in your community into actual customers immediately as your product becomes available for purchase. Do this by making it personal (curating the offer as something just for them to add a level of trust and intimacy); making it urgent (such as offering a lower price for folks who act fast), and making it unmissable (i.e., making the eager crowd visible).
Step 5: Scale and optimize
Once you’ve kicked off your sales and started to bring real revenue in, it’s time to add fuel to the fire. Your goal as a marketer is to attain and convert potential customers and delight and retain them. Tactics for scale and optimization include launching additional rewards and offers, adding new features to interest existing customers, and sending out notable announcements to provide a new burst of energy.
Entrepreneurship is not exclusive to the biggest risk‐takers, the genius college dropouts, or the financially wealthy. It doesn’t need years of back‐breaking work, or an investment that’ll break the bank. Utilizing the 5-Step High-Profit Launch System, anyone who has an idea that solves a problem, a passion to make that idea a reality, and a willingness to listen and learn can succeed as an entrepreneur.
Will Russell is CEO of Russell Marketing, specializing in e-commerce launch marketing, which has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs validate their ideas and execute successful launches. He has been featured in Business Insider, Forbes, Crain’s New York, Indiegogo, StartUp Nation, and more. His new book is, Launch in 5: Take Your Idea from Lightbulb Moment to Profitable Business in Record Time (Nicholas Brealey, Nov. 8, 2022). Learn more at launchin5book.com.
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