You’re startup is ready. You’ve put in all the work to get your startup to where it is today. The MVP product is in order, your website is designed, and you are ready to launch your startup and get the word out. But how?
Where and how to launch your startup online
Start here. Before releasing anywhere else, you want to have the first mention of your startup on your startup’s website. This way search engines will see your site – where you make sales – as the most authoritative website when your brand is queried. If you have trouble writing, find a blogger using Fiverr, UpWork, or Craigslist. A blog article/press release is home base because this is what will be shared on social media, emailed, and linked to by other websites.
The king of product discovery, Product Hunt emerged last year but has quickly dominated the product/startup discovery space. Product Hunt is known for causing a substantial spike in traffic for any startup that gets hunted. Don’t go in blindly. Prepare for the craziest PR day of your founder career when your product gets hunted. Read from others experiences first and be ready. Journalists, bloggers, and your customers check Product Hunt every day.
Because social media is proving not to be a fad, the more time that goes by, the more your Facebook friend network grows. Your friends want to support you. Your friends have other friends, who have friends, who may be customers. Use your Facebook page to tell your network about your startup and get valuable feedback and a solid burst of referral traffic.
Like Facebook, Twitter is a great way to get the word out by tweeting your startup’s blog announcement. A LOT. Each time rename the title and change up hashtags if you have a decent follower base, you’ll get fresh a wave of visits (I use #startup and #entrepreneur). But, and this is how Twitter is different from Facebook, use Twitter to target people looking for the solution your product/service provides. Use the search tool to type “need ____” to find customers. For example, if I’m selling journals, I would search Twitter for “need a journal” or if I’m selling wall decals, I would search for “need wall decoration.” These searches will show actual people saying they need what you’re selling. Tweet a link to them and track it. This is a very manual sales process but it will get the word out directly to customers.
Cover your bases by posting the blog announcement article on your Google Plus page. If you don’t have a Google Plus page for your startup, get one. It will help with SEO. Also, check for Google groups that would be interested in the product. For example, if I’m selling an travel app, I might post something interesting about the app in a Traveler’s Handbook-type-of-group. Google groups typically have more passionate users than just posting to your public circle. Check the box to send the post to your circle’s gmail accounts (greater reach).
StartupList and BetaList
I listed these together because they are established startup listing sites with significant followings. Because they can guarantee the traffic, they charge a listing fee. If you have a budget for your launch, StartupList and BetaList may be a good expense.
This is my personal favorite. Reddit’s tagline is “The front page of the Internet” for a reason. Anything notable emerges at the top of the front page through user upvoting and downvoting. Because its anonymous, Redditors can be blunt but they are very passionate and knowledgable and willing to help. Check out the subreddits /r/startups and /r/entrepreneur to post your startup and get feedback. It’s the first place I go when I’m ready to test a new project.
Hopefully you’ve been doing this before your ready to launch. It’s a well-known principle in startup marketing to start blogging, sharing prototypes, and screenshots well in advance before the product is available for purchase. Collecting email addresses is a great way to test if you have a good idea or not. If many people are giving you their email address to learn more about your startup before its even available, then chances you have a good idea. I’m building an app now called Brew and its not built yet. But I still have an email list of 157 people from around the world who are interested in it because I’ve designed a landing page that explains what it is and why it exists.
Use your Instagram account to capture the most visual elements of your startup. Use hashtags and tag influencers. Instagram is all about non-commercial content, really focus on art and creativity here.
Some companies will just copy and paste the blog post from their startup’s website and post it on Medium. You can do this, but what works best is telling the story of startup and the lessons you’ve learned that have brought you to the present day. Give away your experience here. For example, if I’m launching a hair-cutting app, I would name the article, “The 5 Types of People You Meet in the Barber Chair” or “The Most Interesting Stories I’ve Heard While Cutting Hair.”
There are a number of press release sites that allow free posting of press releases. I mention these only because they are excellent for SEO.
If your startup has a strong local element (like a restaurant, retail shop, or service), post it on your local Craigslist site. You may not find your biggest clients, but 50 billion people use Craigslist each month and it will help get the word out locally for people who are searching for the solutions your startup provides.
For the startups that have a strong technology-based component, Hacker News is a well-visited news site. It’s minimalistic interface keeps the playing field level (hack-proof). Either your post is fascinating or it is not. You’ll find out on HN.
This is an unconventional approach to marketing your startup. Kickstarter is the world’s largest crowd funding platform online for creative projects and products (not services). If you are wanting to raise money to build something remarkable, while at the same time get the word out, put the time and work into building a Kickstarter campaign. There are ample resources to find out how to succeed on Kickstarter. Here’s a hack: set the financial goal low and attainable. Come up with valuable and relevant awards. Build out a well-designed campaign page with a video. Launch the campaign. The outcome you are hoping for is to raise some money while getting the word out. Investors, journalists, and millions of other people view Kickstarter every day.
Let your professional network know about your startup. Unlike the snide or personal comments from Facebook friends, sharing with your LinkedIn network will result in direct messages with opportunities to partner or professional observations.
GrowthHackers is a knowledge-repository for digital marketers to learn more about growing audiences/followers. Users post articles and summarize the best points for discussion, often with the author involved. Post your startup here if it will help digital marketers grow their businesses.
Submit your startup to Killer Startups to get it covered. The writers will reach out to you if they think there’s potential for an interesting article.
The best question-answer platform online where experts answer questions about anything and everything, Quora is great place to display your expertise. Find the question that frames the problem your startup solves and answer it with a well-thought-out post and helpful information. For example, if my startup recycles old car tires, find the question on Quora similar to “What can I do with old car tires?” or “How do I recycle old car tires?” Writing a strong response in Quora can lead to millions of views.
Similar to this article, PromoteHour is a list of places to submit your startup.
This is a political news site based in Washington DC that features American small business success stories. Let me know if you are interested in being featured in an Opportunity Lives article for free.
Submit your product here with a steep discount to get an incredible number of users to download/use it.
Submit your startup here if you think it has a viral element. There’s no guarantee they’ll publish but you never know. It’s worth a try. This is part of being an entrepreneur, hustle and put the work in to get it done.
Tech Crunch, Mashable, TNW, and Business Insider. Many of these news sites have a submission portal, such as “Give us a tip” or “Submit a story.” Fill out the forms on their websites and hope for the best. One tip: after you submit, search Twitter for the editors who work at the publication. Tweet to them saying you submitted something you think they’ll find interesting.
There’s no perfect launch strategy. And it’s never seamless. Stay close to your computer when you do launch so that you can respond and engage immediately to keep the momentum building.
Use this list to launch your startup to millions of people. As you launch more and more projects, the people you meet, the bloggers, subscriber lists, and relationships you build stay with you. In other words, one great way to prepare for a launch is to launch something before it!
Best of luck and let us know if we can do anything to help.