How to Successfully Launch Your New Business and Measure Milestones

Published: 24th June 2010
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This past week, Vivoderm Laboratories (aka Vivoderm Natural Skincare) held its first official launch party in Newport Beach, California. Months of planning were involved to ensure the party's success.





The timing was right. The skincare line was ready and the sales infrastructure was in place. So, a great space was selected, caterers were booked, Vivoderm marketing and communications went full steam ahead, publishing press releases, updating the social sites, optimizing the website ( www.vivoderm.com) and blogs, designing banners, invitations and promo pieces. The guest list was initiated and a lovely assortment of Los Angeles celebrities, orange county business owners and socialites were on their way.





We were very happy with the turnout and everything went smoothly-according to plan. The party was great success and the feedback we received on our product line was nothing but positive. In light of this, we thought we'd put together a little 'how to' checklist for you on how to throw your own launch party and the details you need to consider before undertaking the most important day of your new product's life.





SO, WHAT IS A LAUNCH PARTY?


A launch party is traditionally thrown by a company to celebrate the release of a new product or service. The launch party was once associated with software and technology industries due to the lavish and costly launch parties thrown by companies in the Silicon Valley in the 1990s.





Today, any company or start up can throw a launch party to draw in potential new customers and to increase public exposure for their brand name, offering freebies for guests such as branded clothing or bags, providing an open bar, catered food, and a variety of entertainers. Most launch parties represent a substantial investment for the company; some parties can cost as much as $250,000 as companies struggle to differentiate themselves from the competition.





With the increase in popularity came an increase in size and criticism and many launch parties lost the focus as a networking venue. The goal of brand promotion is not often accomplished, with some companies being famous for their launch parties, rather than their brand.





There are many people that take this important event too lightly, so they do not appropriately dedicate the resources necessary to have a successful launch. Product launches can be aimed at an entirely new niche or at an existing target market.





A SOLID BUSINESS MUST COME BEFORE THE LAUNCH


It's no surprise to those experienced in the world of start-ups and new business ventures, that the absence of a solid business plan can kill a new project before it even has a chance.





The assumption here is that you already have a solid business plan in place, with "what if" scenarios for unforeseen budget and market situations. You already have a well-designed infrastructure, hired key sales and marketing staff and developed systems architecture for the incredibly long sales cycles that retailers and manufacturers demand.





AM I READY TO HOST A LAUNCH PARTY FOR MY NEW BUSINESS?


Some of you may not have heard of a "launch party" or a "corporate launch" and you may be unsure how it can help your new business get going, attract new customers and generate sales leads.





The public launch of a product or service should be designed to raise the profile of a company. Think of it as a marketing event-or a kickoff party. What you need for a launch is a compelling product or service, plus a handful of early customers providing gushing testimonials.





If your company or product have little to show in terms of accomplishments, spend your marketing budget on other more focused efforts instead of a launch. For instance, get your marketing team working on collateral-sales support material like brochures and data sheets-while the sales folks hang out with potential customers and ask for suggestions on product design.





Make the press and blogging community aware of your product and the companies that are using it, as well as the problems your product is solving and the specific benefits that have resulted from its use.


Raise your profile with trade associations, distribute a white paper or create a website or blog illustrating the future of your business. Educate readers and help people make decisions. Develop online, targeted promotions. Position yourself as the expert.





TARGET YOUR AUDIENCE AND BE PRESS WORTHY


You should prepare for your launch by answering the following four questions. Who is using your product/service? What specific problems are being solved? What is your product/service offering? What have the tangible and quantifiable benefits been to your clients?





Start a "mini-roll out" by sending mail to a targeted group from your subscriber list or current clientele. If you have an established consumer base, you might try giving them the first crack at your new product as a way to thank them for their loyalty.





Your goal here is to target your products/services' benefits to your customer and measure those responses. When you have quantifiable benefits-sales records, case studies, focus group responses, testimonials-this is newsworthy and the press should now be made aware of your launch. You can then offer the case studies or sales records to journalists who are working on a story about your company.





DON'T LAUNCH TOO SOON


There is no "U turn" once the product is launched, which makes it difficult to fix anything that you might want to change. Make sure you have everything in place from the very beginning. This will only be an achievable goal if you start planning well in advance of the launch, doing so while the product is still in design would be a good idea.





There's no magic number of customers or amount of sales you need in order to execute a launch. (You don't have to disclose this information to the press). You should launch when you are ready to gain traction and when you have the infrastructure set up to handle an increased number of inquiries and sales. Make sure you're ready, though-many startups sell their product for six months or more before they officially launch.





PICK A POINT PR PERSON


Pick a point person for the launch. This person can be internal or external, and have a blend of marketing and PR skills. They'll spend a great deal of time on preparing marketing materials such as customer case studies, customer testimonials, and product fact sheets.





They'll also distribute press releases, pitch journalists and influential bloggers, answer frequently asked questions, book customer interviews, and a lot more. The pre-and post- launch activities take months of dedicated time. Doing it right is well worth it.





KEEP AN EYE ON THE DETAILS


When planning your launch, it is critical to keep the small things in mind, and make sure you have contingencies for any little thing that can happen. Many product launches and events have some sort of technical glitch that occurs. Be prepared with a work-around or a backup plan.





KEEP A TIMELINE


A timeline is how every major event planner or project manager gets the job done. It is a visual list of events and how and when they should occur to best serve your purpose. The timeline helps you to stay focused and make sure all the details are taken care of. It will also allow inevitable obstacles to be dealt with one at a time and not all at once‒before it is too late.





THE BOTTOM LINE


One of the biggest days in the life cycle of any product will be its launch day. You want to spend as much time as you can planning every aspect of this day. If you lack on the planning part, then your product launch might not go as anticipated and will not generate as much aplomb as it should. So, do your homework, make sure you have everything in place so you can ensure the most successful launch of your product too.








Rachelle Dupree is a Communications and Graphic Design Professional who promotes natural skincare products, herbal treatments and whole health.





Vivoderm Laboratories LLC (www.vivoderm.com) is a privately owned skin care company based in Southern California, which produces skin care products comprised of natural ingredients.



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