Whether you’re launching your first or 1000th service, you will likely face similar challenges. While each service will differ, from its branding to its post-launch operations, they all share similar journeys. That’s because, fundamentally, each launch goes through the same phases of planning, marketing, and execution. With this in mind, let us walk through how to launch a new professional service from start to finish.
The phases of launching a new professional service
In brief, the basic stages of any product or service launch are 3:
- Planning. In this initial phase, one will analyze themselves, their market, and the competition. They will define clear goals and set the foundations for the phases to follow. M2Live strictly prioritizes these practices for a successful launch.
- Marketing. Having completed planning, this phase entails vigorous marketing. Marketing will strengthen branding, generate hype around the new service, and boost overall visibility. Movers Development finds that proactive marketing yields great results across industries.
- Execution. Finally comes execution – and, more importantly, post-launch activities. In this phase, one will typically monitor their efforts and augment their prior work. Landau Consulting finds that SEO shortcomings, often leftovers from prior phases, often undermine this phase.
However, this is little more than a cursory overview. Thus, let us delve deeper into each phase and the most notable practices it entails, asking the appropriate questions.
Phase 1: planning your new professional service
Planning is arguably the most crucial phase of launching any product or service. Any oversights left over from this phase will seep into the ones that follow, and may cost dearly. Therefore, to launch a new professional service successfully, one needs to thoroughly cover 4 distinct areas.
Every service requires clients, so the initial step lies in audience identification. Here, you may pinpoint your exact audience:
- Who are they? First, you must narrow down your audiences to specific industries, demographics, and psychographics. This is the initial step toward buyer personas and customer journey mapping.
- What problems do they face? Next, identify their exact pain points; what they need. Doing so will help you determine ideal marketing approaches.
- Where are they? Finally, you will need to locate them in the digital space. Explore the user bases of different social media platforms and different marketing channels to determine how to reach your audiences.
These are the foundations of buyer personas. The more detailed buyer personas you can craft, through personal research or professional consultation, the better-informed your campaigns will be.
The other key player is, of course, the competition. To properly position yourself within your market, you will need to know who you’re competing with. Here, you may simply Google your service, analyze the top results, and ask:
- Who are they? Are you primarily competing with local businesses, or will your keywords pit you against digital juggernauts? Are they authoritative or new?
- How do they market their service? Which keywords do they target, and how does their content frame them? What user search intent are they satisfying, and how much engagement do they incite?
- How can you differentiate yours? Finally, how can you stand out among your competitors? Can you offer a distinctly better service? Can you market it in a unique, refreshing way that resonates with audiences better?
You may conduct this step yourself, researching the web with any tools at your disposal. To do so more effectively, you may use SEO tools with competitor analysis capabilities, or consult agencies that offer this service.
Finally, with the above insights in hand, the final player as you launch a new professional service is you. Having identified your audience and your competitors, examine your own means to establish clear goals and realistic expectations.
- What is your service quality? Are you experienced in your field of work? Will you be able to offer trailblazing services, or will you need to rely on marketing alone to carve your place?
- What resources do you have available? For that matter, what is your budget? What content can you produce? How much time and effort can you invest?
- What is your market position? Finally, where can you position yourself within your market? Can you compete with the best and brightest? Do you need to, or is your market lacking what you offer?
This final step will both inform your overall efforts, and specifically help you set realistic goals.
Phase 2: marketing your new professional service
Now, having planned ahead as thoroughly as possible, you may begin to consider marketing. In this regard, marketing will assist your launch in 2 key ways:
- It will generate buzz around the upcoming launch, increasing brand awareness, and
- it will enhance initial lead generation, letting your service launch start strong.
That said, marketing comes in distinct forms, and each may serve you better in different ways. To consolidate them down to 3, consider the following.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is arguably the spearhead of modern digital marketing. This series of practices optimizes content for search engines, increasing their online visibility. If you already have a high-performing website, chances are you’re already familiar with it. If you’re not, however, you will need to examine it at this stage:
- Can you afford to invest in SEO? SEO is indeed extremely lucrative, but it is also a long-term investment that rarely produces immediate results. What’s more, it’s very expansive, as Backlinko identifies over 200 ranking factors. Thus, you may need to prioritize other forms of marketing that may suit your launch better.
- Can you leverage SEO effectively? To answer the above question, you may ask another – can you swiftly leverage SEO? If you already have an SEO-friendly site or blog, you may use it for your new service. If you do not, you may need to start local instead.
- Is local SEO the optimal choice for you? Finally, local SEO may indeed be preferable. Whether your service is explicitly locally-focused or not, local SEO will enhance your local visibility for physical visits. Simple access to the Google app ecosystem, such as Google Maps, may garner enough local attention to launch successfully.
Of course, SEO is not distinctly DIY-friendly. You may certainly align your content creation with SEO guidelines yourself, but SEO agencies or freelance marketers may set more suitable foundations for this phase.
In turn, SEO will inform your overall content marketing, as it itself was informed by audience insights. For example, audience insights may reveal desirable keywords, which content marketing can leverage for specific purposes. Writing on this subject, Salesforce identifies 5 content purposes to consider as you launch a new professional service:
- Entertain. Entertaining content, such as quizzes, you may post monthly. It does incite engagement, but serves little purpose outside of it.
- Inspire. Inspirational content, such as success stories, you may post bi-weekly. It too incites engagement, but mostly retains existing audiences.
- Start a conversation. Conversational content, such as AMAs, you may post weekly. Being conversational by definition, it can substantially help branding efforts and generate leads, especially on social media.
- Teach. How-to content, such as tutorials, you may post twice a week. This type of content addresses informational search intent, which lead generation hinges on.
- Provide relevant information. Finally, informative content, such as rich articles, you may post thrice a week. This type of content will both enhance your SEO and build trust with new audiences.
Still, content marketing will largely depend on your own ability and resources. You may, for example, lack the means of producing high-quality videos – or the reason to. This is why identifying this element in the previous phase is so important.
Finally, you may consider outbound marketing to promote your launch further. Outbound marketing practices to consider include:
- Traditional media
- Cold calls
- Cold emails
- Display ads
However, outbound marketing finds little appeal with many audiences, as it is more disruptive by definition. Thus, you may ask such questions as the following before deciding on using it:
- Will it produce results? Revise your audience insights to determine if such practices will work for them. If they’re unlikely to, you may save your resources and time for other pursuits.
- Does it fit your brand? Especially when this will be the first contact with your brand, it is crucial to determine if outbound marketing fits. Depending on your brand it might, but that’s not an image all services want to project.
- Do you need it? Finally, you may re-examine all the steps you’ve taken thus far, and determine if you need additional marketing. Between general and local SEO and social media, it is not unlikely that you’ve already covered your marketing needs.
That said, this is not to discourage from outbound marketing in its entirety. Indeed, outbound marketing can complement inbound marketing in established strategies. However, it does warrant caution in this specific context.
Phase 3: execution – launching your new professional service
Finally, you may launch your new professional service. But even assuming everything goes perfectly, the post-execution phase is just as vital as the rest. Here is when you can apply swift corrections, collect feedback, and cement your market position.
Solidifying your brand
First, having just discussed branding, you may continue to consolidate your brand image. Here, it is crucial that you provide a seamless, identical experience across channels.
- Is your NAP information accurate and consistent? First, examine your Name, Address, and Phone number information across GMB listings, social media profiles, websites, and other listings. Few shortcomings can harm your brand image as much as this one at this stage.
- Are your online profiles consistent? Similarly, examine all your online profiles and ensure they offer an identical experience. Inconsistencies will hint at a lack of professionalism and diminish the user experience.
- Do you project professionalism? Finally, in this phase, you may begin to collect feedback. Do your audiences perceive you as a trustworthy professional? If not, why is that, and how can you remedy the issue?
Scheduling and scaling
Second, now you may delve into the operational. With proper planning, you should encounter few issues at this phase, but such elements as the following may warrant attention.
- Are you scheduling efficiently? Should you find yourself overwhelmed, that’s often an excellent sign of success. However, maintaining proper scheduling is crucial in the early stages; if you’re struggling, consider scheduling software.
- Is your customer service robust? Similarly, examine your customer service portals. Are you offering self-help portals, informative material, chatbots, and similar options? If not, what does your customer influx suggest you might need?
- Are you scaling accordingly? Finally, are you scaling your operations to meet demands? With your current insights, do you believe you can continue to do so?
Monitoring your efforts
Finally, the most crucial post-execution practice is, arguably, to monitor your efforts. Here, you may examine your launch under such scopes as:
- How do your traffic and conversion rates look? Examine the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you’ve identified during planning. Does your traffic volume match your expectations? Are audiences engaging with your content at satisfactory levels?
- What do audiences say about you? Collecting feedback at this stage is invaluable, so you should monitor your social media profiles closely. Audience perceptions can inform your content strategy, outreach timing and tone, and your overall branding efforts. Should you need tools to do so, Buffer suggests, among others, Hootsuit, Mention, and Tailwind.
- Where can you improve? Finally, you should take all of the data you’ve gathered throughout this phase and distill actionable insights. From web analytics you may uncover SEO flaws or lacking marketing effectiveness. From audience feedback you may discover web design flaws, content depth or tone issues, perceived lack of engagement, and more. In all cases, swift action at this phase may save you tremendous woes at later times.
To summarize, it takes meticulous planning, solid marketing, and a keen eye on post-execution to launch a new professional service successfully. Hopefully, this brief overview of the process helped you define the course of action that best fits you, your market, and your service.