Using the cloud to launch your products

Cloud computing

I am always hesitant to talk about cloud computing—after all, it’s a term that seems to be saturating the business and technology news at present. But for business owners, cloud computing can prove to be a tremendous opportunity with access to technology infrastructure, software, and data in a pay-as-you-go format. But cloud computing is also a fascinating phenomenon, with many of us already using cloud computing resources without even knowing it. Just think about it—if you use Gmail then you are using the cloud. If you share or post your photos on Flickr, you are using the cloud. And YouTube … well, you get my drift.

Natalie Giddings has already shared some of her reasons for using cloud computing: convenience and lower IT investment. She cleverly uses DropBox to share files with her dispersed teams, utilizes Basecamp for collaboration and project management, and online time-tracking software for managing freelancer invoicing. But cloud technology isn’t just about business process. For the innovative business owner, there are plenty of cloud technologies that can help you reach your customers and launch new products, and they all work in the same pay-as-you-go format, delivering big-business scale features for a small business scale price.

Here are just a few you might want to consider as part of your product launch arsenal.

MailChimp: With all the hype about social media, directly emailing your customers seems to have fallen on hard times, yet email marketing remains a powerful way of launching a product. Using MailChimp you can create mailing lists and publish newsletters, updates, and announcements from a library of well-designed templates—and measure the results of your email campaign with ease. There are plenty of guides and best practice examples available for download, and with dozens of colour schemes available, you’re bound to find one that matches your business branding.

Launch tip: Remember, we all like to feel a little special, so be sure to announce useful easy-to-share information, launch videos, presentations or whitepapers with your existing fans and customers just before you go public.

Slideshare: These days, sharing the story of your product’s development can be a powerful way of building interest, momentum, and demand ahead of launch. Slideshare is a cloud platform that is designed specifically for those presentations. With its own built-in social network, leaderboard and integration to sites like Twitter and Facebook, Slideshare allows you to create a “channel” dedicated to telling the story of your business.

Launch tip: You can even upgrade to Slideshare Pro and gain access to analytics, capture leads from your presentations, and customise the branding on your dedicated Slideshare page.

Animoto: Don’t have the budget or skills to produce your own TV commercial? Using your own or stock photos, videos and music, Animoto helps you to quickly create your own video commercials that can be downloaded, shared on YouTube, Facebook and embedded on your website.

Launch tip: Select royalty-free music from the Animoto music library to avoid copyright issues.

Have you used any of these tools? What others have worked for you?