Listers Campaign: 6 Ways to Build Buzz for Your Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Marketplace Launch

There are a number of strategies virtually any company can employ to make their own product launch a huge success. General and niche media companies in particular have a number of promotional tactics at your disposal including: web site take-overs, site tabs, remnant advertising slots, social media contests and competitions, full page print ads, user forums and so on.

So the question becomes: how can audience owners effectively launch a brand new peer-to-peer rental marketplace with high levels of "liquidity" in a relatively short space of time? (Note: We define a “liquid marketplace” as a site where the lister of an asset has a reasonable expectation to rent it and earn some extra income and where the renter expects to find both the breadth and depth of quality inventory to rent.)Tapping into our 12+ years of experience of launching e-commerce programs for major media companies, we’ve answered that important question by sharing some useful ways of implementing an effective pre-launch marketing plan to ensure the audience owner’s marketplace is on the path to liquidity!

1. Put the Focus on the People Versus the Product. Let’s use Apple as an example. Rarely did you hear Steve Jobs talking about the various features of Apple products. Instead, he went out of his way to emphasize how the product affects you. It’s about simplicity, practicality and style — they care about their problems and how your product is going to fit into their lifeSo that’s how we suggest you frame your marketing; show them a compelling picture of how it’s going to make their life better. For example, when launching a UK cycling rental marketplace, illustrate the marketplace benefits for a British cyclist on his way to a cycling holiday in Spain:The journey starts with him eagerly opening up the media company’s branded cycling rental app to locate his dream road or mountain bike that's available at his destination, reserving it with a few clicks and boom he's ready to go!Instead of having lots of hassle at the airport check-in, we instead see the cyclist NOT having to pay extra to carry his bike on the flight. As the journey continues, the (unencumbered) traveler arrives, gets an Uber to his mountain villa retreat, with only his suitcase in hand. The marketplace journey ends with relaxed cyclist enjoying their holiday all the more because of the on-demand lifestyle the publisher has created for them via their branded marketplace.That’s the type of story that gets people excited about on-demand rental services.

2. Get Opinion Leaders and Brand Evangelists On-Board Early. Major brands like Microsoft and Apple have a knack for getting bloggers and other thought leaders on board before their products launch. No one is talking about what the product does; they’re talking about what it might do.And it’s a strategy any media company can use; leveraging your communities of enthusiasts who love your magazines and digital properties and who tell you that they love you, on the forums that you own and operate! Start working within your own powerful marketing tool box to leverage your position as the authority on the subject, in advance of your marketplace launch. Even if it doesn’t get you full listing coverage, it’ll give you something to build on at launch and a clear path to marketplace liquidity. The listers you are encouraging to create a profile will know who you are and will want to earn passive income from your marketplace, so come launch day, you won't be starting cold.And that type of buzz can also make getting earned media all the more easier.

3. Become Revolutionary. When someone like Steve Jobs took the stage, the whole world watched, not just because Apple decided to stage an event, but because it was real news. Can you do the same thing as a less-known brand, a media company or even a niche audience owner?At MediaMerce, we think so. Every media company, no matter how niche or how small, has the opportunity to revolutionize their business by getting their audience excited about and listing on their branded rental marketplace, before it even launches. Do something none of your competitors have ever done before, take a position that’s bold and imaginative, paint a picture of the sharing economy future that your customers want to live in, and then put your whole brand into motion creating that vision of a place that lets them rent things not only for convenience and practical purposes (using the example of the British cyclist) but also for reasons of passion; e.g. to try out another community member’s coolest, most hip road or mountain bike just because they’ve always wanted to. There's no better place to do this than a niche rental marketplace that enables users to get what they need when they need it, but also lets them have a bit of experiential fun!

4. Turn Your Marketplace Launch into an Event. When a company like Facebook a new service, you don’t see some PR person walking out onto the stage to read a press release. They stage an entire event around it so that everyone knows something important is happening and they need to pay attention.And who do you have at center stage? None other than the CEO of the company, Mark Zuckerberg. He isn't so much a speaker as he is a showman, leaving the audience spellbound and desiring the new service.And it works, not just for Mark, but for everyone. As most media companies have the budget for it, you should throw a big press event for your product announcements. If not, at least have some kind of online event. If you make a big deal about your on-demand rental marketplace launch, both your potential users (supply and demand side) and your competitors' users are likely to take notice, and it’ll be reflected in your sales volumes.

5. Encourage Pre-Launch Listings. This is probably one of the most overlooked launch strategies out there.Every company that’s been around for a while has an engaged set of users who will participate in any new product or service launches. As soon as you announce the marketplace, they’ll be lining up in droves, eager to list their assets and to get their hands on the first assets that have been listed.So why not let them?Running an effective pre-launch "listers campaign" means a baseline inventory will come in over a period of weeks, not months. You can harness this enthusiasm by making sure that prospective listers have confidence that they'll soon start to monetize their spare capacity assets, once the marketplace is live. Get them excited about not only the potential of them making money off your branded marketplace, but also as we’ve discussed earlier, excited about trying out other users' road bikes, surf boards, boats or whatever category your marketplace caters to.

6. Release a Marketplace Your Communities Will Want to Show off and Share. Don’t underestimate the importance of your marketplace’s appearance. If it’s ugly, your customers won’t want to share it with their friends and colleagues, hiding it away regardless of how useful it is. At the same time, a professional design makes people want to talk about it; having a big impact on your product sales. MediaMerce's marketplaces are designed to ensure that all of our customers' sites are visually stunning as well as user friendly. Whether you rent out bicycles, RV’s, run a cat-sitting business or rent wedding dresses, our designers will create your beautiful and professional-looking branded marketplace.

The Bottom Line: Plan Your Rental Marketplace Launch. The point is that as a media company, you have decades of experience of thinking through your product launches. Deliberately plan what information you’re going to release and when, who you want talking about you (e.g. listers), and how you can turn your on-demand marketplace launch into something worth talking about.

To learn more about how we can help your business innovate in the fast-growth sharing economy, please visit us at: www.mediamerce.us.


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