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Whether you are an established small business advertising a new service or product, or a new startup that has yet to go live, developing a marketing strategy before you launch can help effectively spread the word and draw in new customers. But why is pre-launch marketing so important? Results from marketing, particularly digital marketing, don’t happen overnight. It takes time to gain social media followers and for web content to become popular and have reach on the web. You’re going to want to prepare so that when your business has launched, you’re ready to let people know about it.

1. Research your target audience.

Develop a profile of your ideal consumer. Figure out where your target audience gets their information, both online and offline, so you can know where to focus your marketing efforts. If you’re trying to sell a fashion accessory for women, Pinterest, which is a visual platform and skews toward women, may be a good place to get out your message. On the other hand, if you’re marketing a B2B service, LinkedIn might be a better platform. If you are pursuing a digital marketing strategy, figure out the keywords your target audience uses to search for products and service online, and research the costs of pay-to-use channels including the cost of keywords for PPC marketing, telemarketing support, and the price of email lists. Knowing where to advertise and how much you can expect to spend on your marketing beforehand will be extraordinarily beneficial for planning down the line.

2. Build a social media following.

The earlier you can gain a significant social media presence, the better. You don’t want to only have two followers on Twitter or one “like” on Facebook (Thanks Mom!) when your business launches. Growing and supporting your social media presence early on also provides the opportunity to build some pre-launch buzz about your new company or your latest product or service. You can increase your organization’s online presence by identifying and connecting with influencers within your field and even those in related disciplines.

3. Create ready-to-go marketing content.

Before launching, you will want to have a line-up of marketing content ready to go. Your pre-launch content marketing can include a number of blogs, infographics, videos, or even eBooks. You’ll want to ensure your website has also been created or updated with SEO in mind, so visitors and potential new customers can easily find it online. In addition, create and offer free content to build a list of prospects even before you make your product or services available.

4. Have an initial email marketing campaign.

Assembling a contact list of prospective customers also allows you to get a leg up on an email marketing campaign. Let these interested customers know about your launch with an email campaign you have ready to go once your product or service is available. Over time, you’ll want to follow up with the individuals on your initial list by sending blogs, business updates, and other content related to your company.

5. Know what you’re willing to pay for a lead.

More established businesses launching a product or service have the advantage of having data on how much it costs to acquire a customer. This data may come from past marketing campaigns or sales efforts in related business areas. With a target cost of customer acquisition, you can calculate the amount that you are willing to spend per lead or, in the digital advertising realm, per click. For example, assume that your company has previously spent $50 per lead via telemarketing and sales calls. You don’t want to spend more than that on your newly launched product. You know from previous data that you convert 10% of visitors to your website. You’re now launching a digital marketing campaign and expect a click through rate of 5%. You should be willing to spend up to $.25 per click ($50 x .10 x .05).

Pre-launch marketing can help accelerate the rate at which your startup grows. You’ll gain visibility and generate excitement for your new business before it even launches. With a proper marketing strategy in place, your opening will be greeted with a host of visitors on your new website and calls from interested customers.