Ever since the fateful night in December 2013 when Beyoncé dropped an unannounced self-titled album on iTunes, the game has changed for online launches. The trend has continued, with artists from Taylor Swift to J. Cole announcing new projects with little-to-no rollout.
As marketers, we look for the newest ways to attract attention to our products, programs, and clients. Surprise and delight applies to more than just fireworks shows. It’s become a strategy that brands can utilize to raise the bar.
Planning Plays a Critical Role in “Surprise Drops” for Online Launches
Knowing that digital is a playground for the creative, let’s talk about the ways you can use the “surprise drop” playbook to help you with your next release. You certainly don’t want the play you call to be the infamous “we’re gonna wing it!”
4 Key Plays to Help Run Your Online Launches Offense
Where you can, avoid stepping on the hem of another company’s announcement. While we can’t all be like Beyoncé and basically be the news no matter what, we can keep abreast of industry timelines. Whether it’s a trade conference or a competitor’s 50th anniversary, know when or when notto target an announcement. Aligning yourself with an event where your audience will be gathered can save on logistics – and help you get face-time with industry leaders and media already in attendance.
With everyone else agog at your surprise announcement, it’s not the time to have any team member go off-message. As the saying goes, “Proper planning prevents poor performance.” Strategize how the internal rollout will work well ahead of launch to ensure that everyone is in lock-step about the news. From front-line employees in sales and customer service to executives who will be in front of media or featured in online content, everyone should have a tight script that includes the necessary details.
If there’s one thing where artists reign supreme when it comes to digital releases, it’s cohesive visuals and merchandising. From Beyoncé’s most recent marketing feat, Beychella, and the post-show release of HBCU and Black Greek-themed clothing, to J. Cole’s latest K.O.D. with its trippy drawings that reflect the anti-drug lyrics, marketing has clearly invested in creative direction. Whether you hire an in-house team or work with a third-party brain trust, work to make your designs as consistent and coordinated as your language.
4. The What-Not-to-Do Tip
It goes without saying: never pull a full Kanye.
Yes, you can be irreverent, even iconoclastic, in your marketing. But don’t alienate long-time customers and fans by being so completely off the mark that they abandon you in droves. Full explanation of Kanye’s latest antics.
A Little Planning Can Take Online Launches a Long Way
An unannounced or little-to-no rollout project drop is not unplanned – at least, it shouldn’t be. As we see more of these surprise drops, pay close attention to the coordination and consistency that’s obviously the result of planning, and by all means use the “key play” tips above to get started on introducing your own project. People may remember where they were when Beyoncé’s digital project dropped, and you can aim for the same results for your own.
Tempted to try a “surprise” launch? Maybe you’ve experimented with a no-rollout drop? Share your thoughts in the comments!