To create a pre launch buzz for your product, you must engage a marketing agency late in the development phase or at least in the Beta phase. The pre launch buzz tactic has been used by the film industry for years. Most movies are released with a strong marketing campaign using traditional as well as social media before the release. For example, the Hobbit journey movie in 2012 used almost all the classic ways to create a buzz around the movie before it was released.
1. Mystery and Suspense
Building suspense before the movie launch has been used successfully by movie makers for decades. The Blair Witch Project created an ad campaign with realistic posters for missing persons to catch people’s attention and project the movie as a true story. Recently, the Prometheus team used the Tedx platform to advertise the sci-fi flick and even created a fictitious website with the company name used in the movie.
But the entertainment industry is not the only one who can do that. Recently, Facebook used this tactic to build anticipation by sending a brief invite to select reporters about a product without any information.
2. Invitation Only – Scarcity builds Curiosity
This is perhaps the most used tactic in the current IT sector. Most of the social media tools are released in the ‘invitation only’ format. Taking this approach in the Beta phase has dual benefits. First, you get to test the tool in the real world by power users – that is if you can get them to use it. And second, limited supply increases the value of the product in the invitee’s eyes and others who are not part of this select group.
3. Shock and Awe
People tend to ignore the routine. Flashing banners do not get the viewer’s attention as most are attuned to ignore anything that is flashing on their screen and even slightly resembles an advertisement.
Create advertisements that surprise people. Images and videos that exhibit a Guinness World Records kind of feat. A funny or cute video that makes people smile, no laugh, still better – roll on the floor. Anything that will capture the viewer’s attention.
You have to be careful with this one. The controversy has to be controversial enough to raise interest, but mundane enough to die down with time and not cause permanent damage. You don’t want the controversy to become bigger than the product. We see this tactic used many times by the entertainment industry: a public spat between actors, litigation by someone who doesn’t represent the target audience, and so on. We have also seen politicians make some irrational statements to get into the limelight. The key is to get it right and not cause any permanent damage.
5. Free Access
I know it seems like I am contradicting my earlier reference to limited availability. However, think of this as the second step in your pre launch buzz activities. Provide free access to limited features to everyone. This will introduce your product to a wider audience and also initiate a conversation online.
Ensure that the free feature you offer solves the most important and pressing problem that your product solves at that time. Offering a feature that ten other products already offer is not going to attract any users.
6. Press Releases
Not everything has to be attention grabbing. Coverage is equally important. Writing press releases helps you reach a wide audience as it is syndicated across various web sites. Update your audience of what’s happening with the product and company. Talking about external investment and any other accolades will build a trust in the product’s features and assure your customers of its usefulness.
7. Increase the Chatter
Well, it isn’t called Buzz for nothing. Contact bloggers from your industry and request reviews of your product. Ensure that these are genuine bloggers who put out original content and not one of those who just reproduce blogs from other open feeds. Reviews on a few high traffic blogs will get you thousands of impressions and build product awareness.
Your pre launch activity has to be perfectly timed. Begin your marketing efforts too late and you have a long initial wait after the launch; start it too early and the buzz will fizzle out before the launch time.
Mourdoukoutas, Panos, and George J. Siomkos. Seven Principles of WOM and Buzz Marketing. Springer, 2009.