I guess I am a social media, marketing geek.  I didn’t really accept that fact until last week with the launch of Bikenridge.com. I had read online that a great marketing tool for  new/redesigned websites is a launch party.  The idea of a launch makes sense to me as we do that a lot in real estate (my day job).  I asked my other geeky friends about how they “launched” new websites and they had no idea what I was talking about.  Really?

I also spoke with friends who had successful websites and they were also quite clueless. “How would you have a launch party for a website.”

So being the geek that I am, I started reading everything I could get my hands on about a website launch.  There is so much information out there. I googled “How to launch a new website.”  The beauty (and scary) thing about the internet is that everyone with a well designed website looks like a professional.  A few of the sites I found helpful and with catchy titles are below:

My best source of support and encouragement has come from Amy Lynn Andrews Blog.
After spending many early morning hours reading about the planning, scheduling, pre-launch preparations, content strategies, content ideas, I decide that I had to have a “launch party” of some sort and at the very least, invite all my friends and family.

As the idea evolved, I realized that I should also invite all of the people, businesses and  organization included on the Bikenridge.com website. I am not new to website site design or marketing, but this was a big step out of “my box.”  All of my insecurities from childhood came rushing forward.  “What if no one likes it.” “What if they tell you that it is all wrong.” or “no one cares what you have going on.”

Luckily, I had been in therapy for many years to deal with that little voice, so I pressed forward with some apprehension and at the encouragement of my boyfriend who is super supportive of the idea.

The big question now was whether to have an online/social media Launch Party or to have a REAL Launch Party.  Both party ideas take some planning and scheduling, which in turn takes TIME.  Bikenridge.com is really my “third” job.  My “first” job is being  Mom & Girlfriend and my “second” & day time job is selling real estate, I felt as though the TIME factor was going to be the most challenging.

I hear my Mother’s voice in the back of my head, “If you are going to do something, then do it RIGHT or don’t do it at all.”  That mantra can be motivating or intimidating.

After much debate within my inner circle, I decide to do BOTH launch parties: online & REAL. (of course).  This could only work if the stars aligned and these items fell into place:

  1. Timing, the online and the REAL launch party had to be a few weeks apart.
  2. Plan & Schedule ahead of time – just incase of hiccups.
  3. Setup a budget that I can handle.
  4. Ask for Sponsorship support for the REAL event (food, drinks, swag)
  5. Keep it Simple (but fun)
  6. Critical – Support & Help from your inner circle
  7. Invite everyone involved and your friends & family (for support).

I planned the online/social media and the REAL Launch Party 4 weeks apart.

The hardest part was setting the date for the online launch and then setting the date for the REAL launch Party. This is a critical step because until you set that date and start telling people it ISN’T REAL and there will be opportunity for you to founder around and not commit.  So set the date, pay the deposit and tell your friends.

Compile all of your email addresses. Before you start to create the evite (email invite), be sure you have a solid set of email lists. I pull together my friends and family email list.  I then started working on the Business/organization list which was a bit more complicated and seems to be an ongoing.  You want the evite to go to the correct person so a phone call or visit to their business is a good idea.  This turned out to be a good opportunity for me to tell them a little bit more about Bikenridge and establish a bit of a rapport.

MailChimp has a free service up to 2,000 subcribers in an eblast (eblast is when an evite is sent out to a list of people). As a small business, this is a great opportunity to create a slick evite template that looks professional. MailChimp also tracks opens, click throughs and reports back with all the stats. Very cool service. I highly recommend it.

So I took a deep breath and sent the eblast! The eblast invited everyone to the online/social media launch and also ask them to Save the Date for the REAL launch party.

I asked them to play along on during the online launch party by sharing some of the bikenridge posts to their own friends (facebook) and followers (twitter).

The online/social media Launch Day was super fun! I tried to think of it as a party so there was a mix of links to fun videos, “good read” guest blogs, photos, interviews, silly graphics, more video and music. It was an all day affair. I started at 8:30am and the last post was at 9pm. (exhausted, but super fun!)

The result was very encouraging. Bikenridge.com Facebook likes increased to128 and the web traffic to the website increased by 1000%. Not bad …

A couple of things I will do differently next time:

  1. I will have some “give-a-ways” & games planned and schedule.
  2. Instead of a Friday launch, I would plan it during the week.

Over all, I was happy with the result and think it was a great event that got the word out about bikenridge.com.

Of course, the fun doesn’t stop there.  Now I am in the midst of planning the REAL Bikenridge.com Launch Party!   It will be interesting to see how this event unfolds as I must come to terms with the vision I have in my mind with the reality of my budget. Stay tuned.

Enjoy the climb.