Day 83 (to 96): Apparently, pre-launch campaigns do come out-of-the-box

“Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery – it’s the sincerest form of learning.” ― George Bernard Shaw

With renewed vigour and focus, and at risk of procrastinating further, I was ready to launch my new business venture to the big wide world. There were a few fundamental questions outstanding, however. How would I launch Tinkerdash? Why would people care? And above all, what actually was Tinkerdash?

After a bit of reading, I came across the idea of a pre-launch campaign on Tim Ferris’ blog, specifically, in reference to Harry’s pre-launch campaign. What resonated with me about Harry’s campaign, aside from them gathering 100,000 emails in just a week, was their belief that the best way to introduce someone to a new product or service was through a credible referral.

So there it was, a pre-launch campaign was a solution that would allow me to launch Tinkerdash without necessarily knowing what the fully formed version would be. And considering Harry’s to be a tried and tested method, I decided to simply replicate what they did and adapt where relevant for Tinkerdash.

Here’s what I did to ready Tinkerdash’s pre-launch campaign, costing a grand total of about £150:

1) Found a platform to run the campaign (no coding required). As it turns out, there are a number of providers that offer out-of-the-box solutions to create and run referral pre-launch campaigns. provide a useful guide on the various options here. I decided to go with Kickofflabs who provide a functionally rich solution with templates based on Harry’s (it’s very similar!), as well as being reasonably priced.

2) Created a landing page. For most people, visiting this page would be the first time they’d be introduced to Tinkerdash so it needed to build anticipation, explain the basic concept and gather sign-ups. Easy right?

Well, yes, it was relatively straight forward actually. Using one of the Kickofflabs templates, I created a landing page complete with a countdown, header, sub-header and sign-up form. The first iteration of the page took just a few hours, I then spent days agonising over the minute details. I’ve since learnt that the things I obsessed over, the wording and images, for example, were not what would make or break the campaign. Sometimes, it’s better to just get something out there and update later date if needed.

Here’s what I ended up with for the landing page:


3) Set up a referral page. This would be the primary mechanism for getting people to share the campaign so would need to include something worth sharing and be easy to share.

Again, this was straight forward using a template provided by Kickofflabs, based on Harry’s campaign. To entice people to share I offered prizes, increasing in value in line with the number of referrals generated. I balanced the value of the prizes with the value of a referral, for example, if a plastic lunch box would cost £3.50 inc. delivery and would be earned after 5 referrals then I’d be paying 0.70p per referral. Given that I expected low-ish numbers I figured this was OK.

To make it easy to share, all the user had to do was to copy and paste their unique referral link, and send with their friends, or select one of the buttons to automatically share via Twitter, Facebook, Email or WhatsApp (on mobile only). A referral would be generated once their friend signed up via their unique link. Simple.

Here’s what I ended up with for the referral page:

Tinkerdash referral page.PNG

4) Set up automated sharing messages. Another out-of-the-box feature of Kickofflabs was the ability to set up automated messages for people, making it easier to share via Twitter, Facebook, Email or WhatsApp. So, for example, if you’d clicked the share via Twitter button you’d see a pop-up with the following:

Tinkerdash auto-Tweet.PNG

Facebook’s debugging tool and Twitter’s card validator are great for testing what your sharing posts will look like before launching.

5) Finally, I bought some followers. I figured having a nominal number of followers (more than 0!) would act as social proof and encourage more people to sign-up, share and ultimately use Tinkerdash. I used Socialzy to get a number of Twitter followers and Facebook Likes in just a few days, all for less than £20. Was it worth it? I’m not sure but it didn’t seem to do any harm!

P.S. A number of images were used in setting up the pre-launch campaign, for example, for landing page backgrounds. I found Pixabay to be a useful source for free stock images and used BeFunky‘s online tool for basic image editing.

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