Using a Blog as a Pre-Launch Marketing Tool

It’d be fair to say that a lot of people reading this blog also have their own blog. John Chow dot Com has inspired thousands of people to start their own blogs, however besides blogging about how to make money online (which seems to be the trend these days), have you thought about using a blog as the cornerstone of a social marketing campaign to launch a new product?

Even if you don’t have a product yet, you can start a blog to get ideas, and then eventually talk about the product as you build it over the course of a few weeks or months, like I’m doing at TheStoreSuiteBlog.com – I started this blog about a month ago to talk about the PHP shopping cart software we’re currently building called StoreSuite.

One of the ideas I came up with to start generating some pre-release buzz for StoreSuite was to give away 100 copies to bloggers. You can read about it here, but the general idea can be adapted when you launch any kind of product:

  1. Workout how many copies of your product (such as an eBook, membership or software) you can afford to give away. Generally it costs $0 to produce an eBook for example, so it comes down to how much time it will take you to support the product or deal with customer enquiries.
  2. Create a blog to talk about your new product and offer to give away copies to influential bloggers to help get the word out.
  3. Every time a blogger talks about your product, send them a free copy or note down their email address and send them a copy when your product launches

This idea is of course very similar to paid ReviewMe reviews, but it’s free, so you don’t need to pay for the exposure – instead, you’re using your product as currency and not real money.

This is a simple idea that works well. You could take it one step further (like I have) and blog as you’re building your new product. Talk about features you’re adding, or the latest chapter you’ve written for your upcoming eBook, etc. Even go so far as to accept feedback and feature requests on your blog and include them in your product. I do this from the StoreSuite blog and people really appreciate it.

At the end of the day marketing is about people, so why not involve them in your product even before it’s ready for launch? You’ll build a huge fanbase and you might even win some friends along the way 🙂

This post was guest blogged by Mitchell Harper, cofounder of Interspire who is currently working on shopping cart software called StoreSuite. You can follow along with his progress at TheStoreSuiteBlog.com


43 thoughts on “Using a Blog as a Pre-Launch Marketing Tool”

  1. This is great advice! Good job Mitchell! *=)

    :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

    1. Sean says:

      I just realize how much Mitch is guest blogging… he must know how to persuade people and his articles are good one too. 💡

      1. WarriorBlog says:

        IT was a good post anyway. I use my blog for that purpose as well and the amount of traffic from blog are way better too. 😆

  2. Click Input says:

    I don’t know about a blog for a specific product, but I definitely intend to post information on current projects I have on my own blog. From your example, the ALCOGO etc blog works well though.

    1. It is the same method, just that you talk about “projects” and one can talk about “products” or even better “upcoming products”. A great marketing strategy, letting people know before the product is even in the market, collecting ideas and feedbacks that can give you a more close-up feel with what your “potential customers” would like in a shopping cart.

  3. Whoaa! Slow down there horsie…I just got my money/finance blog started and you’re already talking about coming out with my own product. I’m just taking it slow. But you’re right…a blog can be a great platform for launching products. Free samples to illicit reviews can be positive as well. If I got one I’d write about it too! 🙂
    — Raymond (MONEY BLUE BOOK)

    1. KingJacob says:

      Ray, how about an e or physical Money Blue Book 😉

  4. Alfonso Mugar says:

    The email textbox of the free ebook that you offer doesn’t work…

    1. John Chow says:

      Thanks. That’s fixed now.

      1. max says:

        Yep, I did see this too couple days ago…

  5. Alfonso Mugar says:

    The email text box of the free ebook that you offer doesn’t work…

    1. WarriorBlog says:

      Try to sell your product in your post. If you were to post about making money online, recommend them to your product…easy money 😉

  6. Dave says:

    It’s a great idea, and I’ve been following the development of the software through your blog. I’ve been closely watching StoreSuite as well as Magento…which is doing the same thing (although theirs is open source) in terms of creating a pre-release hype.

    Looking forward to both! God knows we need some better solutions out there.

  7. max says:

    Oh yeah, that’s right. Start a blog and then add a store. That’s what we did at Bedzine.com. I think it’s a great way to pre-launch your store without even having a product. Heck, you can probably just blog and blog if your topic is good enough…

    1. That was always my problem in the past, having enough to say about something as specific as one product. A couple of pages = easy, a regular blog = pain in the bum.

  8. wow – never thought of that really – I mean it does make sense for affiliate marketers that talk about other products and give them little reviews about it…I have done that in the past – hmm.. maybe I should get in blog promotion – I mean John that is what you kinda do with the ReviewMe.

    I might have to get back into the swing of things – I like that “Every time a blogger talks about your product, send them a free copy”

  9. Good points! I star a Blog contest site. Every blogger who hosts a contest can post the information there. :mrgreen:

  10. Sean says:

    I too use a blog as a way to keep attract “sticky” visitors.

    I can also do product review and refer them to product I recommend if I wish and I think thats a good idea if your blog is filled with great content.

  11. Let us know how this works out for your most recent venture!

  12. orha007 says:

    Great point, would you write for my money blog :mrgreen:

  13. max says:

    John, your “subscirbe by email” at the footer is pointing to your “www.johnchow.com”, maybe it might be better for SEO if you create a separate page for it and link it there?!? 💡

  14. Deep says:

    Good idea and as is always the way with good ideas, obvious too.
    Do you ever meet people that have a really cool internet idea they will not at any price tell you about because they think the waiter close by will over hear, steal it, steal your wife, take your car and bask in the glory that is your dream? I have.
    They will, however, tell you about the fact that they have an idea, project, site in the pipeline that isnt yet ready for launch. When it is launched in will be in a private beta, invitation only of course etc and they cant possibly tell you about it.
    By this point, youre nearly home having turned around and walked away half an hour ago.
    To those of you that think your idea will be stolen, do us all a favor and relax. Take John’s advice, tell the world, promote yourself and stop being so damn secretive!

  15. max says:

    Well, I think there are some things keeping a secret but yes, you can always promote your own site (money making site or advertisement or whatever) by making a cool blog like this one, which would be helpful for those starting with online marketing… 😀

  16. johnny card says:

    mitch:

    php shoping cart solfware. what does the “php” stand for?

    also u gave a 100 copies of what?

    u don’t know why john chow let u guys post on his blog. never know what the hell you’re talkin about.

  17. johnny card says:

    oops, my b, i meant to say, i don’t know why john chow let u jokers post on his blog, i hope it’s worth it for him.

  18. max says:

    Well, u are the joker… oops… (nothing personal…_)

  19. max says:

    Here’s my latest post on 10 reasons why you need a blog: (FYI)
    This might be helpful…dur… 😳

    http://zedomax.com/blog/2007/08/27/the-top-10-reasons-why-you-need-a-blog-vs-static-website/

  20. johnny card says:

    hey max, good one, great way to promote your site.

  21. ashxx says:

    those are some good points, but the internets attention span is so short that if they product isn’t ready and your talking about it, it’s just going to make them go ahead and get your competitors product 😯

    1. I disagree, Ashxx. The current stable of ecommerce solutions are outdated and clunky, and that’s what we’re hoping to change with StoreSuite. Just try using a few of the available solutions and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Usability is paramount in a shopping cart solution and that’s what we’re bringing to StoreSuite.

      1. ashxx says:

        I definitely agree that it looks like you will have an excellent and useful product, and you are going to get your name out there to companies and web developers…

        But let’s say someone is looking for an ecommerce solution that they can start with within the next week, your product isn’t ready, and the developers client isn’t going to wait. They are going to move on to your competitor.

        Although you loose the use of your software on that particular client, the developer will probably remember your name and check back with you the next time they need an ecommerce solution.

        I’m just saying, if someone wants something now, they probably are not going to wait

        1. Geedos says:

          Yeah but if someone wants something now and you’re product isn’t ready then they’re always going to go with a competitor – period.

          So you’re not really losing too much by pre-advertising your product before it’s ready. Besides there’s always the chance that the odd person will like what they see and decide to hold off their purchase to wait for your product.

          I understand what you’re saying but I don’t think it’ll drive people away from your product.

      2. max says:

        I checked it out and it looks pretty web 2.0ish… But we needed this about 2 weeks ago… Well now we are going to use Shopify for our keetsa site. Next time we make an e-commerce or change it our current ones, we can think about using yours… 😀

  22. KingJacob says:

    Ive built blogs for companies that are established offline and they’ve worked wonderful. It’ll be interesting to see how much of a benefit blogging is to the bottom line of newly launching companies.

    1. ashxx says:

      Thats a great point. It’s not just technology products or online companies that can benefit from establishing themselves in the blogosphere

    2. Geedos says:

      I think a blog can add a “personality” and “character” to an otherwise faceless offline company.

      There’s so much competition in the commercial world that anything you can do to make you stand out and offer more transparency to your customers can only be a good thing.

      The only caveat I’d add is that if you decide to start a blog for your company you’ve got to follow through with it and keep it up to date – otherwise it could have a negative effect.

  23. Rob Schultz says:

    Good post. Well worth the read.

  24. But will the investment not go waste once the product is launched????
    Even if the blog is continued after that it will require the time of the company….

  25. Hip Hop says:

    I market a lot of stuff on my blog

  26. Jonathan says:

    Another way to help your product sales during pre-launch is to not only start a blog, but make a “free” version of your product, that has MANY features stripped out of it (not a trial or demo verison, nobody likes the sound of that). Be sure to call it a “free” or “lite” version and announce it on your blog, and before you release it, post a message on your blog telling people to post a comment if they want to be notified when the “free” or “lite” version comes out.

    Trust me, this works and you will have many people requesting to be notified when the free version comes out. After you release the free version and notify everyone, release the full product a week or two later and you will have a good reputation built up (given the free version had some value to it), and some excitement over your product (not to mention any hype that was built through your blog itself).

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