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How to Develop a Following of Passionate Fans Even Before Launch

A fundamental mistake entrepreneurs make is failing to first build an audience around their idea before they launch their business. 

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A fundamental mistake entrepreneurs make is failing to first build an audience around their idea before they launch their business. 

I’ve seen it many times: an entrepreneur spends countless days and nights creating a great product. As their launch date nears, their anxiety level goes sky high. They have stomach butterflies that keep them from eating and fears of failure that keep them from sleeping.  

Launch day finally arrives. This is the day they’ve been waiting for, working towards, the day to which all their blood, sweat and tears have led. All engines are running, the website is live, here we go! And — crickets. Nada. Zilch. They built it but no one came. They struggle to comprehend how all of their hard work has resulted in silence. No one cares. It’s one of the worst feelings a new entrepreneur can experience. Why has this happened? 

It’s simple — they failed to create a community of potential customers to whom they could launch, before the launch!  

If you plan to launch an idea that will change the world, you first have to build excitement about it. Like ripples in a pond, you have to drop a pebble into the water to stimulate the wave motion. The community of potential customers you build before your launch is that pebble: small but mighty, and essential for giving your idea the energy to spread.

What to do before you launch a product

A recent example of a successful pre-launch program to acquire and engage prospective customers comes from the stock trading app, Robinhood. Leading up to the launch of the app, Robinhood invited people to gain access to its private beta, giving them the chance to be among the first to benefit from what was on offer.

After opting in, users were placed on the waiting list and shown a “thank you” page displaying their position on the waitlist, along with the chance to move up the list by inviting their friends, family, and networks to the app, too. The more people a user got to join, the sooner they would get access to the app.

Through introducing this type of marketing in the pre-launch process, Robinhood was able to both acquire and engage prospective users long before the app was even available.  

Also, to reduce your risk of a failed launch, instead of putting all of your efforts and resources into building prospects in just one area, you create as many touch points with potential customers as possible.

Consider email marketing, for example. Many entrepreneurs, particularly in a product launch arena such as crowdfunding, commit a lot of resources to building an email list of subscribers before they launch.

This allows them to send an email to these potential buyers when a product becomes available, with the intention of driving a lot of traction and sales right from the moment of launch. While this is often a solid route to go and can go off without a hitch, there’s no plan B, however.

“When you build an audience, you don’t have to buy people’s attention – they give it to you. This is a huge advantage. So build an audience. Speak, write, blog, tweet, make videos – whatever. Share information that’s valuable and you’ll slowly but surely build a loyal audience.” — Jason Fried

A few years ago, I was working on the launch of a technology eyewear product. There was a lot of interest in the product, people were excited to get their hands on a pair, and we had prioritized one core marketing communication channel for these folks: email marketing.  

Two days before launch, disaster struck. In our final pre-launch email to the subscriber list, we noticed the open rate of our email sends plummeted from something like a 50 percent open rate down to a mere 10 percent. All of a sudden, almost no one was opening the emails we were sending. 

These days, I have a pretty tight process if this were to happen. Back then, this was a first for me. After hours of digging, I discovered that the domain used in the sender name of our emails had been blacklisted by the email providers (Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Outlook and so on), due to website security errors on the client’s part.

This had then been flagged by the email platform (the mass email tool we were using to send emails to thousands of prospective buyers), meaning that emails being sent were being pushed in spam folders, rather than inboxes.  

We were in trouble. No matter how excited or interested these potential buyers were, if we couldn’t place an email in their inboxes on launch day then we had no way of informing them the product was now available. Thousands of excited community members would be left in the dark, unaware that our preorder sale was kicking off.  

In the end, we were able to somewhat save the situation by employing workaround tactics to reach these email subscribers via different marketing channels. It was a far from perfect solution, though, and significantly impacted the success of the launch.  

Lesson learned: one touch (one method of communication with community members) wasn’t enough. Putting all your eggs in one basket won’t work if the basket flips over. 

Will Russell is CEO of Russell Marketing, specializing in e-commerce launch marketing, which has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs validate their ideas and execute successful launches. He has been featured in Business Insider, Forbes, Crain’s New York, Indiegogo, StartUp Nation and more. His new book is, Launch in 5: Take Your Idea from Lightbulb Moment to Profitable Business in Record Time (Nicholas Brealey, Nov. 8, 2022). Learn more at https://www.launchin5book.com

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Success Advice

Mindful Productivity: How Top Achievers Combine Focus and Balance

By being aware of your emotions, thoughts, and surroundings, you can work with your internal and external environments

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Mindful productivity

Your big-dream goals matter … but not at the expense of your health. (more…)

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Change Your Mindset

The Art of Convincing: 10 Persuasion Techniques That Really Work

The knack for persuading others can act as a catalyst for change, open doors, forge alliances, and effect positive change

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how to be more persuasive

Persuasion is not as complicated as it may sound. In fact, it is something that we have been practicing since childhood. Do you remember convincing your parents to let you skip school, asking your teacher not to assign homework, or persuading your boss to give you a day off? Well, these are just small examples of what persuasion looks like. (more…)

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Success Advice

5 Steps to Leveraging Industry Speaker Events for Career Advancement

Jumping into industry events is a smart move for your career, but there’s a knack to it

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How to advance your career by networking

Jumping into industry events is a smart move for your career, but there’s a knack to it. It’s not just about sitting in a room full of people. You’ve got to find the ones that fit your career puzzle, dive in while you’re there, and then make the most of what you’ve learned afterward. (more…)

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Success Advice

Overcoming Plateaus: 6 Powerful Strategies for Breakthrough Success

A plateau is not a full stop; it’s a comma that allows you to pause, reflect, and shift gears

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how to overcome obstacles for success

In the pursuit of personal and professional growth, plateaus are inevitable. They appear when progress seems to halt, despite your continuous efforts. But remember, a plateau is not a full stop; it’s a comma that allows you to pause, reflect, and shift gears. This article provides six powerful strategies to overcome plateaus and achieve breakthrough success.

1. Find Out the Root Cause

When facing a plateau, there is likely something causing you to sabotage your progress. Identify the root cause. What is sabotaging your progress? Examine your daily routine and how you spend your time. Are you wasting time on unnecessary activities? Or are you taking on too many tasks that you can’t handle?

Often, adding more tasks overloads your already tight routine and distracts you from focusing on the most important tasks. Therefore, often eliminating unnecessary activity will work to overcome plateaus. However, be cautious of not doing things right, such as tasks you have not yet undertaken or missing something. What actions do you need to take or improve to achieve your goal? Are you avoiding them, or have you not started yet?

2. Never Tolerate Problems

Once you’ve identified the root cause, never tolerate problems. If you tolerate them, you’ll end up staying stuck. You get what you tolerate. Once you recognize the problem you’re facing, never tolerate it. Instead, address and improve the situation.

3. Focus on a 100% Solution and 0% Problems

To overcome a challenge, it’s essential to plan how to get through it. Yet, people often find themselves asking, ‘Why is it bad?’ or ‘What is wrong with it?’ Questions of this nature limit our thinking, leading our brains to generate responses like ‘Because you’re not good enough’ or ‘Everything is wrong with you.’ These limited answers tend to resonate with the situation and drag you down further.

Instead, ask empowering questions without limits, such as ‘What is not perfect yet, and how can I turn things around while making a more positive impact?’ By asking unlimited empowering questions, you’ll shift your focus from the problem to the solution. Additionally, you will also notice that asking empowering questions can expand available options and allow you to see from an angle you couldn’t see before.

Focusing on problems rarely yields positive outcomes. The key to positive results lies in concentrating on the solution. The next time you face adversity and notice getting caught by unresourceful thoughts, snap out of it and direct your focus to a 100% solution and 0% problems.

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” – Henry Ford

4. Cultivate Success-Driven Traits

Identify the traits you need to have and get rid of to become the person you aspire to be. Consider your specific goals – for instance, attracting positive relationships. To achieve this, note down the traits you need to embrace, such as being open-minded, gentle, healthy, and treating others the way you want to be treated.

Cultivate a positive mindset. Simultaneously, get rid of traits like criticizing others, having a short temper, and engaging in unhealthy habits like taking drugs.

Learn from individuals who have achieved similar goals. Study their traits, both the ones they have and those they’ve consciously avoided. Implement these traits to align with the person you want to become.

Once you have your lists of traits to embrace and eliminate, diligently follow them. Place the list on your desk or the door of your room, ensuring you read it at least once a day to reinforce your commitment to these traits.

5. Track Your Habits

Carry a notepad to track your habits throughout the day, especially those contributing to plateaus, as well as your new habits or traits aligned with achieving your goals. For instance, if your root cause is excessive internet use, record instances of mindless scrolling on social media. Note when you engage, the emotional state prompting it, and the approximate duration.

Calculate the total minutes wasted at the end of the day. This habit tracking makes you aware of the emotions triggering these behaviors (stress, boredom, and frustration) and the time wasted.

Additionally, track positive new habits, like reading good books and exercising. Document what you’ve learned from the book and the time spent exercising. This practice helps you build new positive habits by enabling you to compare today’s results with those from yesterday or a week ago. 

Moreover, consistently sticking to new habits for around 18 months transforms them into lifelong habits. Even if you take breaks, you will find yourself naturally returning to those habits.

6. See Obstacles as Opportunities

Every obstacle can be an opportunity to turn things around. If the economy is in a downturn, it’s time to recognize it as an opportunity to thrive while everyone else is struggling and focused on the problem. If someone makes fun of you or causes you trouble, ask yourself, ‘What can I learn from this experience?’

Alternatively, consider that the person underrating you is setting low expectations, which are easier to exceed. If your business receives a bad review from a customer, see it as free feedback that guides you on how to improve and take your business to the next level.

Always try to see different angles that others may overlook. This perspective can reveal aspects you might be missing. When you view a problem as an opportunity, it has the potential to foster growth.

In the journey toward success, plateaus are just temporary pauses, not dead ends. So, keep moving, keep growing, and make your breakthrough.

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