One thing I’ve learned from reading countless success stories is that there is no definitive way to launch a product. How to market it, how to test it or how to come up with an idea for one – there isn’t a single, guaranteed approach. I remember reading once that all bodies of knowledge go through three phases: mystery, heuristic, and algorithm. Building successful products, as a body of knowledge, will forever be in the heuristic stage. There isn’t an algorithm through which you can run your product idea and ensure success before launching that product idea.
What we’re left with are heuristics – heuristics that are getting better.
Heuristics are rules of thumb, guides, or best practices. For example, we know that building a product that solves a problem is a good heuristic. It drastically improves your chances of succeeding if you clearly communicate the problem that your product solves.
As you might expect, there is no algorithm that ensures your idea will spread. However, there are a lot of recommendations from product designers based on their experiences. Your idea, however, is unique in its time and space. Technologies may have changed, an approach overused, or new human responses developed.
What we’re left with are heuristics – rules of thumb for how we can spread our product ideas.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently for Tre, the product I’m building. What’s the best way to spread my idea? How can I create demand for it before it gets released? How do I create enough buzz before launch so that people are dying to get one on launch day?
With my first business, Mirror Lake, I remember waiting till launch day to announce the opening. I was naive enough to just make a post for Instagram thinking that people are dying to sign up for my service. Obviously, I launched to a thud.
You can’t just announce that you’re open for business or that your product is ready for purchase by tweeting it out or putting a post up on Instagram. You need to create buzz. Build up the hype. And you need to start as soon as possible doing that. In a sense, you need to market your product way before you actually build and sell it.
In Kuwait, the most common way to spread word about your product or business is through soliciting influencers on social media. You pay them a hefty amount of money in exchange for them promoting what you’re selling. Besides the fact that I question the honesty and authenticity of these influencers, I want to be more creative with promoting Tre.
Here are two ways I plan on creating buzz and spreading the word about Tre before launch day. As you’re reading through these two approaches, think about your own product or idea. Is it applicable in your case? How so? And if not, why not? Again, those are based on heuristics. They might work for Tre but not for your idea (and vice versa).
“Buzz” starts slow. You need to be patient. You also need to be scrappy. Before automating your marketing on channels like Instagram and Twitter, you have to do things manually. Manual tasks will build momentum, and then slowly transition to being automated. You should be thinking: how can I get one more person to know about my idea? At this stage, you’re beyond family and friends because family and friends have probably heard enough about your idea already (if not, you better start moving!). You want your idea to reach new people and new social circles. For example, if you’re building a physical product, then is there a way to create samples of your prototype and have people use them for a week or two? If it’s an app or piece of software, can you send out a personal invite?
Here’s how I’m doing it for Tre: I’m planning on building two samples of Tre, and giving the samples to friends of friends. The intention is for people receiving the table to share their experience on social media. Why friends of friends? Because I want to get the word out to circles of friends that don’t overlap with mine. Essentially, that will allow Tre to reach more people. The beauty of this approach is it costs me nothing. Those people don’t have 100K+ bots followers, but rather real people. Furthermore, those two samples will be built anyways to be used for photography and videography in preparation for the Kickstarter campaign.
Is your product or idea regional or global? Thanks to the internet, you can easily be part of the global marketplace and start selling your product or promoting your initiative online. That means you can reach anybody. This is the exact opposite approach compared to doing things manually. What you want to do is set up a website or a social media profile for your product, and then drive people to that page. You can do some really cool things with this approach like testing for interest according to geography, age group, or adjacent interests.
Here’s how I’m doing it for Tre: I’ve set up a landing page (a one-page website) with a simple call to action. I explain briefly what my product is, and what problem it intends to solve. I then ask people to take a simple action: provide their email address. The intention is to curate a list of leads (people interested in my product) so that i can prepare them for launch day. Better yet, I can engage them with the backstory, and any other messaging that might be helpful pre-launch.
Ok, ok. I get the whole “I don’t want to share my idea or you’ll steal it.”
How are you promoting it or planning on promoting it? Have you thought of how you’re planning on generating buzz? Perhaps you plan on pre-selling your product or creating small batches at first? It always helps to define who your idea is for. That way, you can find out where they hang out, and seek to create buzz through the channels they use.