Launching Your Project
Whether you’re launching a fundraiser for a cause, a book you just published, or an innovative new product, these tips can help you throw a spectacular shindig. Here’s how to get your brand out there, grow excitement, and kick off your marketing strategy with some sparkle.
What is a launch party?
This is an event you host to announce your project to the world. Your goals might be to curate brand recognition, demo the beta of your product, promote the book you just published, or raise money to start your project. If you just opened a new store, this would be a great way to get people in your doors for the first time. If you’re trying to raise money to acquire a space, you might throw an outdoor event near area where you hope to open your location. A launch party gives people an opportunity to meet you and your team and learn what your project is all about.
Free for all
If your project lacks brand recognition and exposure is one of your main goals, you’ll see higher attendance at a free event. If people don’t have to pay to get in, they’re more likely to buy something else at the event — like your product. You might also consider making general admission free, but offering a limited number of VIP tickets for sale with special perks attached to them.
Not every guest will make a purchase at your event, and that’s ok — but those who don’t should be left with a way to remember it. Offer free swag like stickers, keychains, or bookmarks printed with the name of your project. Make sure your logos and branding are consistent. This provides guests with a reason to tell their friends about your event, which may lead to other people becoming involved or making a purchase in the future. If you don’t have the capital to offer these things yet, you can make items available for pre-sale. If you plan to sell T shirts, reusable totes, or water bottles eventually but don’t have them on hand yet, sell them at a discount that allows you to get the capital you need to have them made.
Sell your item
If you’re at that stage, have your product available for purchase at your event. If it’s a service, offer gift certificates or sessions. If its an e-book, provide guests with simple, visible instructions on how to download it. If you’re fundraising for a product that hasn’t been built yet, you can offer discounted pre-sale prices. Make sure to have tablets or laptops with a way to accept payments, as these are much easier for guests to use than their phones. It’s best to be able to accept credit cards, cash, and checks on the night of your event.
What will you do to make your event stand out from all the other options people have for things to do with their Friday night? Make an exciting statement that’s consistent with your brand and message. If you’re launching a new book, do a reading of a thought-provoking passage. If you have a prototype of your product, do a demonstration. Make this the featured spectacle of the party by counting down to the time when it will happen and making announcements. Get everyone’s attention so all eyes are watching when it is unveiled.
Tap into your community
Holding free events, even if you do hope to make money off of them, will often inspire other organizations to help out your cause. Local businesses are usually more than happy to donate a gift certificate or basket item that you can raffle off to your guests. Ask restaurant and beverage establishments if they would be willing to sponsor food and other refreshments for the event. If you plan to sell donated food and drinks at your party, make sure you let your sponsors know and ask them how they would like to be featured. You can put their name and logo in your program or on signage posted around the event, and make announcements thanking them and telling your guests how they helped you out.
Document the event
Since you’ll be busy shaking hands and talking to guests about your project, have a friend available to post live videos of the event on social media. They can interview guests, show off the entertainment, and encourage viewers to stop by and join the fun. The photos you take at this event will serve as marketing collateral in the future, so make sure they look professional. Usually this can be done to great effect with a phone camera. If you’re friends with a photographer, they might be willing to offer their services at a discount or as a trade for the product or service you’re launching. Make sure to ask them first how they want to be compensated. Remember, you might be doing this “for the exposure,” but not everyone else is.
A surprise give away is a great way to generate additional excitement surrounding your project. Use this as an opportunity to spread awareness on social media. Hold a contest where entrants have to like and share your social media or content pages. You can do this during the time of the event and select a winner at random when the night is coming to a close. Your give away item can be the product you will eventually offer, or it can be something totally unrelated — as long as people feel excited about it and want to win.
Involve the press
Press releases are free publicity. Write a press release including the details of when and where your event is happening, and why your project is awesome. Send it to local newspapers and online publications. Your city probably has free online calendars featuring fun things to do. Just search “things to do in [your city]” to find them. Contact your local news shows and tell them about your event. If you’re lucky, you might even get a reporter to be present at the event and film some of it for their show.
Be an inspiration
Your guests will connect with your story, face, and personality. You may decide to feature a time during your event where you speak to the room about how you dreamed up your project, why it will make an impact, the struggles you faced, and how you overcame them. Identify your core values and beliefs, and share them: Why are you starting this project? Who will it benefit? Why is it important? Take a moment to thank your sponsors, friends, and all the people who supported you. Be available to speak with guests and make sure to thank them for coming.