The art of the (pre) launch 🚀

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Hello! Welcome to Lunch Pail — Issue #4

This week's issue is all about pre-launch strategies, what they are, and the pros and cons of different approaches.

What's prelaunch?

Put simply and borrowed from Merriam webster dictionary, prelaunch or prelaunch marketing is the tactics used in preparation for or preliminary to the launch of a new product, campaign, etc. For companies and products, there are several different tactics used. From building significant hype machines to companies that stay stealth and under-the-radar for years to the recent trend with building in public.  How do you know what's right for you, and what tactics can help? Below, I dive into three approaches to pre-launch marketing and some of the pros and cons.

Approach: Hype

Examples: Elliot, Quibi

What it is:
Hype is extravagant or intensive publicity or promotion. Prelaunch music videos, sweaters, regular media mentions are all potential parts of this strategy. The aim is to create a lot of marketing buzz before your product launches. Pros:
If your company is entering a competitive market with established incumbents, building hype might help your product get noticed through bold claims. It also allows you to find potential customers before your product is ready and validate interest.

Hype machines can generate a lot of buzz and interest, but consumer expectations are that much higher. If your product doesn't support your brand claims, then you can lose customer trust. It's also easy to get wrapped up in buzz-building at the expense of building a great product.

Approach: Stealth

Examples:Siri, Coravin

What it is:

Mum's the word. This approach is the opposite of hype. Companies operating in stealth generally avoid press releases, pre-launch buzz, and talking about their products publicly. Pros:
Gives product and marketing teams time to substantiate claims and technology before releasing to the world. You'll have less pressure to ship quickly. You don't have to worry about competitors potentially stealing your idea. This approach works best for products that rely heavily on unique technological innovations that might take a while to perfect.

At some point, customers, investors, partners need to know what you're doing, and operating in stealth for too long will stifle the necessary feedback on your product to iterate and make it successful. Easy to get trapped in the build it and they will come mentality.

Approach: Building in Public

Examples:Convertkit, Gumroad

Falls in between the hype machine and stealth mode tactics. With the build-in public approach, you share your metrics and honest accounts of the journey of building your product. It can be particularly effective because telling stories makes us human. You get the audience-building benefits of the hype machine model, and the approach relieves the pressure to be perfect like stealth mode affords.

Copycats. If you're sharing the intricacies of your business, financials included, it might give way to new competitors who see how well what your doing works. Also, depending on how you're framing your story, you might find yourself with more supporters of you than the product that you're building. All audiences aren't created equal.

Additional Reading:

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