New businesses and brands pop-up across the web constantly. Some will thrive, and others will crash and burn. As a result, people have sought to define just what it was that separated the paths to success and failure for brands building their online presence, thinking that there will be some magic recipe they can follow to carry their brand to the virtual promise land. And while there are many factors that will ultimately play their part in defining the relative success or failure of a brand leaping onto the web, including in part luck, one thing that tends to make a massive difference is preparation.
Perhaps this is partially my short stint as a Cub Scout in my formative years bleeding through pages, but being prepared for what lies ahead when you are getting ready to launch your brand can be quite instrumental in which path your brand ends up walking. That is where this post comes into play. We have compiled an important list of tips that will get you ready for somewhat smoothly navigating the potentially rough waters that lie in wait.
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So if you have ever launched an unsuccessful brand and are still scratching your head and wondering where it all went wrong, or you are currently standing on this very precipice preparing to launch your brand wondering if you are really ready, just read through our offerings and see if perhaps this post can point you to the answers you seek.
Is Your Online Brand Ready to Launch?
Just to reiterate, there is no one approach that will guarantee complete success, but preparation is probably the best assistant you can have on your side when you launch. You might want to get out a pen and paper to make a list of these important questions that you should be considering.
What Kind of Presence Do You Want?
If you have not asked yourself this first question, then you might want to rethink your level of preparedness, for this is vital to being successful. You have to know what your expectations are. And in order to set them, you have to know what kind of presence you are wanting your brand to have. As I have touched on previously, those behind the brand will have very specific ideas as to what constitutes success. Only when their own expectations of success have been met will they hang their banners and declare victory.
So it is important to understand what sort of presence you will need to get your brand across this defined finish line. If your idea of success is one of days filled with millions of unique page views then you are going to need quite the well oiled and financed social media machine and overall online presence to generate that sort of viral interest in your brand. If your benchmarks are more modest and you are looking to simply have your brand slowly capture the attention of online users and build a loyal following, then your approach can be more scaled back and subtle.
If your ideas of success rest more in the range of having the online arm of you brand actively engaging and tying in to your brand’s existence offline, then naturally your presence will have to be defined and launched with different focuses and missions in mind. This is why you need to know what you want that presence to be. This is not to say that your online presence cannot touch on all of those ideas of success, just that without knowing what you want your brand to be to online users you won’t know how to properly build your approach to your audience.
How Well Do You Know Your Audience?
On the road to building your presence among the online masses, you have to ask yourself another important query. How well do you know this audience you are seeking to capture the attention of? This too is crucial to getting those expectations in line and finding out what kind of brand you are going to be. Research, research, research. If you want to know what users are responding to, then ask. Get out there and look around, interact and check out what is working and what isn’t.
As we see in other areas, online users are anxious to share their experiences. What they liked and didn’t like. And more importantly in contexts like these, what they responded to and what they didn’t. Just as you cannot effectively build your approach without knowing what type of presence you wish to have, you cannot effectively reach out to an audience and win them over if you do not know anything about them. If you are just firing into the dark and hoping to connect, your results will probably fall far below your expectations.
So get out and do the proper legwork so you can tap into the online crowd and deliver them the experience they are looking for. So your brand can rise to not only meet your own expectations, but also those of your intended user base.
How Much Time Do You Have to Give It?
Next up, we have another consideration you cannot go forward without fully examining. Whether you are flying your brand solo, or have a team of players behind you, you have to know realistically how much time you have to give this brand. Especially in the beginning when getting the brand out there and circulating will be key to starting off strong and leaning towards sustainability. But even more so, later. There is a place you can get to where, for the most part, the brand will be on cruise control.
Where the ebb and flow of the web will keep things moving. But you won’t get there by accident. And you won’t get there immediately. No, you have to put your time in. Just like with most things in life, it takes time and effort to be rewarded with the results you were hoping to achieve. This is no different. If you do not gauge this correctly, then your brand will have periods of extremely slow growth. Or worse, no growth at all. Which is certainly not going to be helping push you towards a sustainable online presence.
This will also give you insight into how best to setup your brand online. For example if your time is somewhat limited, then you need to make sure that you have chosen the right host, design, CMS, etc… so that all of your time isn’t having to be spent chasing down issues users are having with your site. So it lets you know that the research you do into your host is important. The time you devote to picking the right design (or design team) is fully warranted. The time you put into choosing the perfect CMS to manage your content is necessary. These things will help you ensure what time you have will go where it is truly needed.
Where Are Your Efforts Best Directed?
Speaking of which, given that your time is certainly a finite thing, one must use it as wisely as you can. You have to sit back and take a hard look at this model and what all it will take to sustain it. Then you have to prioritize that time you have allotted to keeping this brand afloat, and decide just where it is your efforts are best directed. In a perfect world you would have unlimited time to devote to this endeavor, or an unlimited number of people on your team to keep each area manned and everything on course.
But not many find themselves in said perfect world, so we have to divide and conquer our way towards sustainable brand launching. But the good news is, it can and has been done by others on their own. Which means you can too. But you have to effectively manage your time in order for that to be the case. If you respond to rigid scheduling, then use that to your advantage here. Schedule your time throughout the week to focus on the various arms of the online brand. Even if you don’t respond to it, breaking down the various tasks into regular time blocks may help you see the task before you differently.
It may help you see all of the various angles and sides of launching and maintaining the brand once it’s live so that you can figure out your game plan with a more complete picture in front of you. So even if it may not necessarily be your thing, this type of approach might benefit your push for a sustainable online brand.
Who Is Going to Help You?
Which brings us to a question that certainly deserves your attention and consideration before you press the proverbial launch button on your brand, who is going to help you in your efforts? This is not just speaking to those small businesses or freelancers who typically face these things on their own, this is directed at anyone who is thinking of going forward. Just like with a child, it takes a village to launch a brand and have things drive at sustainability. You need to know who is going to be on your side.
From your team to your audience, there are going to be others helping your push and you need to know who you’ve got on your side. Or perhaps I should rephrase that. From any team you can assemble to your audience, you are going to need others to helping your push to get your brand out there and circulating. Taking on the world wide web completely alone is not possible. So you have to bring others into the proverbial fold. This means not waiting for people to find you. It means going out and being socially proactive.
Start getting your social media accounts setup before the launch and begin following people relevant to your brand. Reach out to the users and others in your field and start building a community of people around your brand. This will add voices to your push and your efforts towards sustaining your brand.
How Are You Going to Make it Worth Their While?
When trying to line up your rag-tag band of beloved misfits, you have to further consider how you are going to make this worth their while. What is your brand offering that will keep people wanting to help you out? Is it your accessibility? Your customer service? Or is it your simply your one-of-a-kind content? Whatever you have going for your brand, you need to figure out how to use it to entice those around you to support and spread the word about what it is you are doing.
If it is your content, then offer up exclusive content to those who are supporting and helping your cause. If it is your customer service that scores you points, then perhaps you can offer priority access to those who’ve been actively spreading the word about your brand. Whatever your angle, you need to translate that to work for you even more. By incentivising these aspects of your brand, you might be able to can gain more followers and word of mouth. So this is a route to consider.
What Back-up Systems Do You Have in Place?
And as we bring this discussion to a close, we have the final question any brand launcher should ask before they actually launch. What back-ups are in place to protect you against the unexpected? Make no mistake about it, due to its positioning in the post, this is a make or break kind of important consideration. Contingency plans are absolutely vital to ensure that your site and your brand remain visible and accessible even when you are experiencing issues behind the scenes. Even if it is as simple as diverting people to your social media feeds, some plan of action should be setup for emergencies.
Anything can happen. And you want your brand to appear prepared for anything thrown its way. This will further instill confidence in the brand among the users and followers. Keeping everything together and maintaining your composure during difficult times is important when users are determining what they think of you and your company. Take for example the internet sensation that recently surrounded Arizona based brand Amy’s Baking Company. After a reality show debacle shone the light of infamy on the pair behind the brand, rather than maintaining composure, they lost it completely. Flying off the handle and making even more of a spectacle of themselves and their brand.
While an extreme example, it does speak volumes about having systems in place to ensure that the face of the brand that is always being presented, is professional and accessible. Never confrontational and reactionary. So plan ahead, and plan for nearly any circumstance. Having contingencies for your contingencies. This will keep the pressure of whatever is happening from causing you to meltdown and take your brand with you.
That’s all Folks
This wraps up our end of the discussion, but now we want to hear your thoughts and opinions. Drop us a comment or two and let us know what your launch experience has taught you.