A launch party can be an effective and profitable way to publicise your company, product or service, but it is neither a requirement for nor does it mark the end of a launch. How you throw your specific launch party depends on factors including your budget and scope, but should you decide that a launch party is right for you, the range of possibilities includes all budgets, themes, audiences and results.
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Know your budget. It may seem like a no-brainer, but creating a budget before anything else will help you make decisions and prioritise all aspects of your launch party.
Define your goal and audience. These go hand-in-hand. If you are launching a new product and want to boost sales, plan your launch party around your product's display and demonstration, and target an audience of consumers or distributors. If, on the other hand, your launch party is for a community outreach program with a goal of building awareness, your audience may be more local and press-oriented.
Scout and set your location. A launch party doesn't have to be fancy; in fact, it can even be virtual. Keep in mind your purpose and audience, and choose a setting that suits it. For instance, if you're releasing your band's first CD, you might throw its launch party at a local record store, which is buzz-beneficial to you both. If you're launching a high-end product, on the other hand, your location needs should follow suit. A virtual launch party is also growing in popularity; these are free and can create a lot of buzz, but only plan one if it is in keeping with your target audience. Also, trade shows are often overlooked, but they can provide a rich location with a built-in audience for a launch party.
Invite your guests and provide a call to action. Whether you send press packets or electronic invitations depends on your audience and budget. If the target of your launch party is media coverage, splurge for a well-designed invitation; but if you are launching an Internet product with a consumer or blogger buzz target, use an online invitation service. Either way, give your invitees a reason to attend. For example, offer consumers who attend a discount on your product.
Set the mood and showcase the star of your launch. If your launch party is for a technology item, have it available for demonstration. In other cases, books and CDs can be displayed along with author readings or music tracks (preferably live performances) playing. Stick to your purpose, audience and branding.
Entertain your audience, and keep the entertainment within your branding. If you're launching a music CD, your money may be better spent on a flair bartender than a juggler. If your budget is low, ask for sponsors to share publicity. Again, keep it consistent with your branding; not only will this consistency be reflected in your launch party, it will motivate sponsors who fit with it to participate.
Follow up and follow through. A launch party is just part of your launch. Send a thank you to attendees within a couple of weeks and offer new information. Keep this type of communication going throughout the process of your product launch.
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