rocketIt’s a common challenge for most small businesses- how do you get the word out about your amazing new product or service offering? You want your launch to blast out of this world, but are worried that it will just fizzle out. So, how do you make sure that you avoid failure-to-launch? Follow the tips in this countdown to get maximum lift-off:

3… Get your network READY!

Businesses often make the mistake of targeting launches to only new customers. But, if you want your offerings to really take-off, get your existing network of family, friends and fans ready in advance. Tease your release with little nuggets of information, sneak peeks and hints in the months and weeks prior to get them excited.

Those that already know and love you will generally give you the most support and help spreading the word (no one sells better on your behalf than mom or dad!), so make it as easy for them to help as possible. For example, set up a few templates that they can copy/paste in their own social media pages with clear, concise instructions and give them a time-frame in advance (don’t spring this on them 5 minutes beforehand and expect everyone to drop what they’re doing to help you). Send out your requests via your email lists, newsletters and social media sites.

The personal touch can go a long way too, so the more personalized that you can make your requests, the better. Make individual phone-calls, send personal messages, deliver materials like flyers via snail mail, or have a big launch event to really generate buzz and help your release take-off!

2… Get your endorsements SET!

There’s no better way to fly your offerings to the moon than to play among the stars (as Frank Sinatra would say)! So, get a big celebrity, rock star or major influencer within your target audience to endorse your product or service (even if you have to shell out some marketing money to get them on board). It can be worth the money, as long as you are thoughtful about what makes sense in terms of the product that you are launching and your target market vs. theirs.

For example, if you’re launching an innovative cane and your target customer is 70+, having Justin Bieber send out tweets may not make much sense. But, having Burt Reynolds on a snail mail flyer might. Because celebrities and influencers have a built-in audience that already holds their opinion in high regard, they can often be the rocket fuel for your product- in a quicker and more efficient manner than many other types of advertising.

1… GO with freebies!

To get your offerings to rocket past the competition, especially if it’s something really new or different, you need to take as much risk out of the equation as possible. A great way to do that is with freebies- either a sample of your product, a free consultation for your service, a discount or coupon can all work to mitigate some of that risk. Couple those freebies in with an ask, such as “The first 50 people to tweet about our widget launch positively using #widget get a free widget” and you’ll get a ton of extra promotion out of it.

And to get even more buzz about your launch, you can send samples and freebies, along with a cover letter explaining the key benefits, features and points of differentiation of your product to all kinds of media outlets, online and off, that might be interested in your particular offering. There is nothing like the instant credibility of being covered by a big TV show, radio program or popular newspaper or blog to really ignite your launch efforts.

Follow the tips in this countdown and your new product launch will no doubt blast-off!

Thanks to Michael Kawula of Self Employed King, Randy Peyser of Author One Stop, Inc., Janet Christy of Leverage & Development, LLC., Barry Cohen of AdLab Media Communications, LLC., Becky Boyd of MediaFirst and Robert Barrows of R.M.Barrows Advertising for the inspiration behind some of these ideas.