8 aims and goals for your business launch

Whether you’ve been planning to set up a business for weeks, months or even years, for most people, launching is a big step - always exciting and sometimes a bit nerve wracking! Here we outline some key aims and goals to consider pre-launch.

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8 min read

There’s no one right way to do it - it will depend on your type of business, what you’re hoping to achieve and the budget you have available.

Remember when planning your launch - no matter what you do, it will never be perfect. And if you keep trying to get everything perfect, you’ll never get round to launching.

What you’re aiming for is ‘good enough’ to get out there and find your first customers as soon as possible. Let’s get started.

Digital requirements for launch

Unless you know your marketing will be fully word of mouth, for most businesses the minimum you need in place to begin marketing is some information on a web page and/or social media page about your business, products and services. You will also need some way of taking payment (either online or offline).

Options for this are covered in this guide - setting up your digital presence.

Different aims for your business launch

The purpose of a launch can vary considerably - from reaching as many people as possible as fast as possible, to simply dipping a toe in the water to test, learn and adapt. We’ve listed some of the key motivators below.

1. Test your most basic offering: Minimum viable product or service

It’s not always necessary, or sensible, to have a perfectly polished product or service before launching. There are always so many variables that impact success which cannot be predicted before launching.

Therefore, businesses which are creating something innovative that hasn’t been seen before, sometimes launch what’s called a ‘minimum viable product’ (MVP) before investing more in product or service development.

This is because no matter what research has been done, you can never be completely sure who your customers are or exactly what their needs are, until you try something for real. Unfortunately, what people will say when you ask them in research or focus groups, is often very different to what they actually do, when deciding to buy something.

Your MVP could be as simple as an advert encouraging people to sign-up and find out more about the service you’re thinking of launching, so you can see if there’s demand. Or for a product like an app, it could be building a prototype to demonstrate your concept to gauge interest and willingness to pay for your creation.

From there, you measure what’s worked and what hasn’t, and decide whether to keep going or “pivot” to something different. For more on this approach, the Lean Startup by Eric Ries is worth a read.

2. Test your operations: Soft launch

Perhaps you do have a finished product or service, but you might still want to take a low-key ‘soft launch’. Delivering good customer service is about much more than just your core product. It’s about the shopping experience, the order or purchase process and effective delivery or fulfillment. It’s about having the resource to meet demand at the right time to avoid unhappy customers.

No amount of planning can replace the need to test these elements in real life. One way to do this is to restrict the number of people who know about your business on day one, and slowly expand it once things are ticking over smoothly. This gives you a chance to collate and respond to feedback quickly and deliver a positive experience for all your customers to build future word-of-mouth referrals.

And, if something does go wrong, fewer people are aware of it, giving a chance for you to recover with minimal reputation damage.

This can be ideal for businesses in food and hospitality which can use it to test menus or recipes and train new staff for a few weeks before progressing to a higher profile launch. Or, for hand-made craft businesses where you’re not sure if you have the capacity for a big surge in demand.

Of course, your approach to this will need to take into account the minimum amount of sales you will need to achieve cashflow and to be profitable.

3. Build your capability and cashflow: Phased launch

A phased launch is useful if you eventually plan to have a whole suite of products or services, but you need to work up to it and build your capability and cashflow first. In this case it’s best to start with a limited range and see how things go. But how do you choose what’s best to start with? Perhaps go with the simplest option that’s likely to have the widest possible appeal combined with the one that’s most likely to capture attention.

For example, let’s say you’re launching your own T-shirt designs. Rather than launch straight away with 15 different colours in a multitude of sizes (giving yourself a cash-flow issue and a problem of where to store them all) perhaps pick a single very bold colour to stand-out in your ads and images, and one neutral colour which is likely to have a broader appeal.

You’ll probably end up with a series of mini-launches for each new or extended product or service you add in. This gives you the opportunity to test, learn and adapt, as well as keep things fresh with lots of exciting new choices for your existing customers.

4. Make a statement: Surprise the competition

Sometimes nothing beats a grand launch in terms of building excitement and awareness. It’s often ideal if you’re introducing a new concept on a traditional approach, such as a quirky restaurant, unusual visitor attraction or some kind of physical experience. It can also be suitable for a small local business such as a deli, hairdresser or children’s activity business.

But since the pandemic, this type of launch has rarely been possible, and it might be some time before we see larger budget parties, balloons and champagne corks once again. For obvious reasons, there have been fewer physical businesses launching. Those that have taken the plunge have needed to take a different approach, as click and collect has been the closest they’ve been able to get to their customers.

Although it’s still possible to do the digital equivalent of a big splash, this can require a large amount of budget upfront and a coordinated marketing effort. The digital equivalent would likely require a suite of digital display ads, a PR campaign, influencer outreach and strategic partnerships to make large waves in the market.

For the time being, with a more uncertain environment, and customer needs being harder to predict, many small business launches are likely to be soft or phased over several weeks and months, depending on current restrictions.

Digital marketing goals

Regardless of your launch aims, the overarching digital marketing goals for different businesses are likely to be similar, it’s just the balance and scale that will vary.

1. Create anticipation and interest

This could be done through pre-launch communications or even early market research:

  • Asking for opinions e.g. a Facebook poll “Which of these should I launch first?”
  • “Sneak peaks” for image-led products and services using Instagram or Facebook stories
  • Seeding out to relevant groups online (e.g. hobby based Facebook groups)
  • A landing page with a countdown to launch

2. Build a database

A key goal of any launch is to build your own email database and social media following to make future marketing as cost-effective as possible - it’s always easier to sell to ‘warm leads’ than start from scratch. Consider tactics on your social platforms and website like encouraging sign-up for giveaways like:

  • A free consultation
  • Digital downloads of valuable content
  • Discounts and special offers

Create interesting content and recruit your existing network of friends and family to help you share it and spread the word.

3. Sell and gather feedback

At the beginning, every single sale you achieve isn’t just about the income. It’s the opportunity to test your processes, check your pricing is right, and learn more about who your customers are. You can find more about what customers want to buy and how they want to buy it and then adapt your approach if needed. Consider tactics like:

  • Linking to an online survey in confirmation emails
  • Offering incentives to those first customers who deliver feedback

Read more about gathering feedback.

4. Encourage reviews and word-of-mouth

Great reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations are the key to successful organic growth of your business. If you have a stand-out offering you deliver well, sometimes this just happens without you doing very much!

However, many businesses support this by using review sites and encouraging customers to leave reviews. They can be very useful in helping a new business establish credibility quite quickly. To help gain reviews:

  • Respond to any online reviews you have already received
  • Gently prompt existing customers to leave reviews

Have a look at:

More help

Find out what expertise and budget you need to make the most of digital marketing with this guide on finding new customers.

Our DigitalBoost programme offers a wide range of support and resources on all things digital. Upskill on a variety of topics, including Digital Strategy, eCommerce, Social Media and more, and take advantage of our free digital health check, webinars, guides, video tutorials and podcasts.

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