Pop quiz: You’ve researched and tested your product, and you’re feeling ready. But is it time to launch? Unless you've focused on building a user community for your new product, you risk launching in a vacuum. Without investing in pre-launch community building, you fail to build a group of interested users who want to buy your forthcoming product. Consider how much money you have already invested in product development.

Can you afford to have a lackluster launch? If the answer is no, then you need to back up and build this community before you launch. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

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Focus on People Over Product

If users don’t like or understand your product, then they won’t use it—even if it meets a core need. Create marketing content that pitches the benefits, not the features of the product. An inspiring example here is Apple, which always connects its new products to the ways they improve people's lives.

Get Influencer Feedback and Buy-In Early

OPT Blog Image - An influencer promoting a new product of a specific to her large social media following

Not only will influencers promote your product to their fan base, they can also provide insightful commentary. If you turn to influencers in your niche before the product is finalized, you can leverage their opinions to make your product the best it can possibly be.

If you're not sure who can help, try reaching out to bloggers who have reviewed your competitors’ products, or writers and editors in your industry. Send your product to these people to increase awareness and build an audience prior to the official launch.

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Promote Your Product on Social Media

As your launch gets closer, look to the social media channels your industry uses. Create marketing videos for YouTube and Vimeo. Share branded images on Instagram and Pinterest.

Images can increase the retention of product information from 10% to 65%. And social shares can grow your audience exponentially by making it easy for brand fans to like, share, and engage with your product before and after launch.

Don't Overlook Your Existing Assets

OPT Blog Image - A person being involved in UI/UX testing as part of a new product development process

Your employees are a major asset for your products, as are the folks who participated in UX testing during the design process. These people know all the specs, they understand how to use the product, and they can help you build community.

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Help your existing fan base sell your product by coaching them, offering incentives for referrals, and asking for their help in building awareness. With something as simple as a Visa gift card, you could reward people for referrals, increase orders, and exceed your sales goals for the launch.

Any buzz you create prior to launch will pay you back with sales. It will increase awareness around your product—the first step towards building a stable community of connected users who have not only bought this product, but eagerly await your next offering.

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