The pre-launch phase of building your subscription box is very overwhelming for a lot of entrepreneurs. It’s one of the hardest parts, to be honest. I mean look at all the little things you need to do BEFORE you start sending out your first box:
- Finding suppliers
- Building the box
- Finding a damn box
- Getting a logo
- Creating a website
- Getting your sales copy written
- Finding a good shipping provider
- Figuring out what the hell you are going to put in the box in the first place.
- Combine all this with still needing to find customers at the end, it can be overwhelming!
To help provide a little bit of clarity for those of you in the pre-launch phase, I have created a list of 25 ways you can build a list or an audience that you can use to pre-launch your subscription box and get your first paying customers.
This is no means exhaustive, nor is it a list of all things free. These are just a few ways you can start building the momentum you need so you can launch to a buzzing vibe instead of just crickets.
25 ideas to pre-launch your subscription box
1 – Run a contest giving away a free month/lifetime subscription
This is a pretty standard tactic. Most people will launch using a viral contest using KickoffLabs or Gleam.io. Having several free-subscriptions up for grabs makes the competition seem easier to win for prospective entrants. Make sure email capture is a MUST for entry.
2 – Run Facebook Ads to a landing page that asks people to opt in to receive first access to your box
Another pretty basic approach. Instead of offering a giveaway, create a landing page using LeadPages or the like and incentivise people to be the first to get their hands on the box.
3 – Partner with the admin of a Facebook Group /Page and offer their customers an incentive to sign up for the list/launch
I like this one a lot. Partnering with a known group/page is a great way to leverage the authority someone else has built. If you can get them to promote your box/list on your behalf you instantly get credibility in the eyes of potential customers. Plus this is a great branding tool you can use on your homepage later on: “As seen on ___.”
4 – Find email lists in your niche and purchase an ad.
I’ve personally had a hit and miss on this one. I’ve used services like massive mommy blogs and purchased space on their EDM lists (Internet Marketing fancy talk for the Email list). It can be quite expensive however you are guaranteed a certain amount of reach (number of people the email will be sent to) and you can also get the stats from the list owner about historical performance. I have seen people crush it with this method as long as your offer aligns with the audience it’s being sent to.
5 – Start a challenge where the next logical step is signing up for your box.
Challenges are a great way to get to know your customers on a more personal level AND demonstrate your authority on a subject. It can be as simple as promoting your challenge in Facebook Groups / Ads and sending an email to challenge participants every day. Each day you simply lead them to some little success point where the next step once they finish would be to sign up to your box. Challenge examples are: “7 days to lose 5 pounds” a daily challenge to eat well, sleep soundly and live like a queen.
6 – Source a bunch of affiliates using a marketplace like ClickBank OR advertise directly that you are looking for affiliates.
Affiliates are an amazing resource when used the right way. ClickBank is a marketplace for affiliates to find great deals and advertising your product on there is a very solid long term tactic. If you are just starting though you may want to consider advertising via Facebook Ads for affiliates. Demio, a WebinarService Provider, launched to over 7 figures doing exactly this.
Incentivise your affiliates by offering prizes such as cash up for grabs, for those that prefer the most paying customers. Make sure their affiliate commission is decent too.
7- Run an educational Webinar. At the end of the webinar have a pitch offering a foundation membership deal.
I love webinars. My original Subscription Accelerator Program launch was massively successful thanks to webinars. There is no reason you can’t use this same internet Marketing tactic for a Subscription Box. If you are launching to a passionate following that is always eager to learn more, a Webinar is perfect. Give them educational content and pitch them at the end! Make it a no brainer idea for them to sign up. You can do this by providing Webinar Only incentives that expire at the end of the training (or a few hours after).
8 – Run a Free + Shipping offer.
Offer your box for free in exchange for the customer just paying for the shipping. Make sure you price the shipping higher than normal 9.95 – 12.95 to help you cover some of the costs. The big reason you would want to do this is that you end up building a list of BUYERS. People who are willing to pay for your product. This is much more valuable than someone just signing up for an email list.
9 – Create a Street Team and deploy them in Cities. Hand our flyers and coupons as people are leaving/arriving at work.
Street Teams are STILL GOOD! Create a bunch of postcards and flyers and pay some college kids to hand them out. Make sure the flyers send people to your web site via a unique landing page. This will help you track the effectiveness of the campaign.
10 – Contact your Local Radio and offer listeners a discount if they pre-register for your launch.
Radio still works. If you are looking to get your first paying customers, local customers are just as good a national ones. Try to get an interview during the morning commute or the afternoon commute time. Reach out to them and pitch em!
11 – Contact a Local newspaper and give them a story about your exciting new local startup.
Show off the subscription model and how great this is for the upcoming customers. Include a direct call to action.
Just like Radio – Newspapers STILL WORK. This works very well for an older demographic too, so if you are aiming your product at the over 50s market you might find this is an easy way to hit them up. Same as Radio – just write into the journalists and pitch em!
12 – Enter any Startup Competitions you can find.
I love this tactic. It’s worked super well for me. Find local startup competitions and enter them. Generally, they all have free PR opportunities for the finalists and you can get massive exposure as a result. Winning the competitions is sweet too
13 – Start a Facebook group around your niche.
Facebook Groups just work. I’ve launched several businesses this way and it’s only getting better. Groups allow you to interact with your target market on a 1-2-1 level. This can also supplement any challenges you might be running. Grow this group by cross-posting in other groups. Add value and be seen as an authority. When it comes time to launch, give the group members a special offer. Pro Tip: Start asking for email addresses straight away by giving them someone special at the start.
14 – Create a PDF / Downloadable item.
Following on from my Pro Tip above, create a downloadable item that people can use if they want to get into whatever niche you are in. Help them to take some form of action or get a deeper insight into the topic. Eg: 10 ways to improve your long-distance running WITHOUT exercise. Promote this via social channels or Facebook Groups for free email sign-ups.
15 – Find all the influencers in your niche. Reach out to them and ask for a shout out.
Influencer marketing is a fad that is pretty hot right now. I can’t argue that it’s not effective. DM the people you find and ask for a shout out. Either get their followers to follow you OR ask the influencer to send those people to an opt-in page. Create a reason for people to give you their reason.
16 – Use influencers as affiliates.
Another option that can be augmented by the shout outs is to offer them a percentage of every sale/sign up they refer. This is especially powerful during your launch phase if you have a large number of influencers doing the same thing at the same time.
17 – Use your supplier’s lists. Offer them an affiliate deal, just like the influencers.
Pretty much the same as above but only using your supplier’s lists. Just like you, they have customers – use that to your advantage!
18 – Trade Shows and Events
Speak to your suppliers about representing them at events and trade shows. Ask to have a small number of your marketing materials at the booth. Offer a unique incentive to sign up at the trade show/event. Bonus points for this are that you can speak to your audience and find out what language they use to describe problems and desires. Use this in your sales copy
19 – Get your friends and family to promote your pre-launch.
Guilt them into doing it. Remind them that if they love you they would help. Seriously – guilt works a charm. Or you can ask nicely, up to you.
20 – Partner with other brands who are new /launching.
Reach out to complementary brands (I like using Instagram for this) and ask to run a competition together. You can both offer a super-duper mega pack of goodies including a free subscription plus their stock. Make sure this is aligned with your target audience and that you both keep the email list once the competition is over.
21 – Use a PR firm.
Now this will cost a LOT of cash but PR in the form of interviews can provide massive ROI. Imagine what it would do for your pre-launch if you were promoted by BuzzFeed. I know, because this happened to me. I thought I had been hacked because all of a sudden I was making thousands in the space of an hour, but I was simply being featured by BuzzFeed. PR is very VERY powerful.
22 – Start a Podcast / Get interviewed on a podcast.
It doesn’t have to be huge you can pretty much just use the general theme of your box and show people how to get the most out of it. At the end of each episode, have a call to action that directs people to your landing page. bonus points for gaining authority.
23 – Advertise in a magazine.
Yes, people still read these, shocking I know! It does cost money, however, magazines can get you directly in front of your ideal customer. Direct people to a landing page in your ad so you can measure the effectiveness.
24 – Sponsor a workshop/event.
Great for anything B2B or B2C. Always ask to get access to the email list as a result of sponsorship. No email = no deal.
25 – Become the “go-to” guy/gal on social for all things related to your niche.
Just try to be helpful, offer advice and be genuine. PM people directly and get to know them. Tell people what you are creating and ask if it’s ok to PM them when you are ready to launch. PM them when it’s time!
Don’t try to do it all.
This list should be a great way to start finding the marketing tactics that work well for you when it comes time to pre-launch your subscription box. The best part about these ideas is that they don’t cancel each other out. You can run 1, 2 or even all of them together and start driving a lot of traffic to your pre-launch pages.
However, I would suggest to you that you just select 1-2 from the list and focus those. Get great at just a couple of things and master them. If they don’t work for you, simply move on to the next one. You don’t need to master everything to get amazing traction for your pre-launch.
If you have used another tactic and it’s worked well for you I’d love to know! Tell me in the comments.