How To Prepare A Product Hunt Launch in Just Two Weeks
Jul 22, 2021
Launching on Product Hunt is a massive milestone milestone in the software startup world.
As a watering hole for a community of people who are enthusiastic about new tech and software products, launching here is an integral part of a startup’s coming-of-age process: kickstarting unimaginable growth for a company, or flopping so hard that a product pivot is inevitable. Or indeed, the results can symbolize nothing at all.
What’s inescapable are the number of self-professed experts on the topic, and there’s no shortage of blogs and how-tos online whose methods are just certain to put you in the daily top 5.
I must have read about 50 of them, but can honestly say that the best way to learn about how to launch on Product Hunt is to actually launch on Product Hunt. There are a few base guidelines which I’ll list here, but otherwise it’s up to you to have set the foundations for the launch months in advance as a natural part of your growth strategy.
Whether it’s spearheading your official launch, or a small component of your marketing strategy, at the end of the day launching on Product Hunt is another cog in your marketing machine. And if you’re already following a well thought out go-to-market, your success on the platform will be a given.
That said, in spite of the mysterious PH algorithm, it helps to have the basics of the platform locked down. We’re lucky enough to have Meeshkan COO Makenna Smutz on our team, who’s had experience working on successful launches such as [Ledgy’s Startup Fundraising Calculator] (https://www.producthunt.com/posts/startup-fundraising-calculator). So we had a head start in terms of familiarity with the platform and insight into what to prioritise.
You also need a clear goal, and it doesn’t have to be getting into the top 5. You don’t need to be the number 1 product of the day in order to have phenomenal success, provided you make it absolutely clear to yourself and your team what you want to achieve.
In some cases, Product Hunt is used by big brands to demonstrate the kudos they have with a network of product experts. Tesla launching the Cybertruck is a good example. Their KPI might be something like the number of pages linking to their PH page, or by how many upvotes they can break the Product Hunt record by.
These types of campaigns typically have a large budget and a lot of time to prep, and use Product Hunt as just one of many channels to build hype about their products. It’s a good idea to not launch on the same day as these guys, though it’s hard to predict – Google launched a product just one day before ours, and would have made getting to the front page even more arduous.
In others, it’s a chance for companies that have been flying under the radar to jump into the spotlight, and thrust them into their next stage of growth. This was us, and if you’re reading this article, it’s probably you too.
In our case, we were launching the Meeshkan Recorder: a Chrome extension that enables anyone to write a UI test for their software in seconds. As a small component of the full Meeshkan product – UI tests generated from real user interactions using AI – our goal was to drive installs of the extension, and build our waitlist for the full product. Still under development at that time, we wanted to create a buzz, and qualify leads for the general release of the full testing suite. This fit into our broader strategy of marketing and product development, to lay the foundations for rapid scaling in the future.
- Create loyal evangelists early on. You need to have product champions who have already validated your solution before launching - otherwise there’s no knowing if your product actually solves a need. Then, have them create Product Hunt (PH) accounts as soon as you start thinking about your PH launch. Comments are gold for giving your products a higher ranking. And ranking counts more than upvotes in the eyes of a user, as it lends more credibility to the product. The thing about comments, is that they need to come from real Product Hunt users, not your Mom and Dad who you asked to create an account the night before launch, so the earlier you can encourage your evangelists to do this the better.
- Get involved with the PH community before launch. Even if it just means upvoting and commenting on a few products in the weeks before your launch, your engagement will please the almighty algorithm. And if you’re lucky, they’ll follow you and you’ll create a network of other PH users who’ll have your back when you launch. After all, all of your followers are notified when you hunt or share a new product, and they could be your next users!
- Set a tight deadline for preparatory materials. There’s no limit to the supporting materials you can include, and no limit to how much time you could spend creating them. But as with many things in the startup world, it’s best not to put too much time into an unverified concept. Sure, Calendly might have a slick video with actual actors and impressive graphics, but is that something that will significantly move the needle for you? Setting a tight deadline prevents you from getting carried away with promotional or supporting materials.
- Know your audience (and the audience you’ll encounter on PH). This should go without saying: knowing the language your audience uses to describe their pain point is what will make them upvote (and check out) your product. This is also where your preparatory involvement in the platform will prove useful, as you’ll start to understand what the “PH version” looks like.
- Give yourself the full 24 hours. Your product can be listed for a full day, starting at 00:00... in California. So make the most of that by launching as close to then as possible. And if you can, “relaunch” again after the first 10 hours, through new social posts, encouraging new comments, and generally making some noise. The sun will be coming up over San Francisco, and that’s where a significant number of PH users are based so it’s a great opportunity.
- Keep the fire stoked. Keep the social posts coming. PH is very receptive to clever tweets, so it doesn’t hurt to stay in their good favour! Plus, it gives your new fans something to share with their own networks.
- Tell PH as soon as you’ve launched. We weren’t appearing as a hunted product for our first 2 hours online, and all it took was a quick message to Aditya on the live chat to let them know we were live to get us listed. It’s a simple tip, but was one of the biggest game changers for us.
- Have the future in mind. There’s nothing stopping you launching again on Product Hunt in the future with an updated version of your product. Anything you learn about your audience, your product, and your own process can be the foundation for another launch. There’s no such thing as failure if you learn from it!
At the end of the day, you want your launch to generate leads, and eventually users. A Product-Led approach is clearly the best fit for a community of hungry early-adopters.
Above all else, before you start asking “How do I get my product in front of the greatest number of potential evangelists as possible?”, you need to have a product that people can engage with in a way that informs them of what is in store for the future.
You just need to blow on the sparks you find in the right ways, and you can ignite some serious growth.
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