Celebrating a Launch on a Budget

Slashed budgets are no excuse not to celebrate your product launch in style. For under $20 per head, you can still have a launch of historic proportions.

Budget Launch Gifts

Desk pets. Product managers spend most of their time in meetings. The team member who is nailed to the desk might appreciate a pet for company. A puppy might be a little presumptuous (or just plain stupid), but a goldfish or betta fish might be nice. Ant farms, Chia Pets, and Sea-Monkeys would also make great desk pets.

The T-shirt. If you have to be dull and go for the clichi of a launch T-shirt, at least do it right. Don’t let your T-shirt end up in everyone’s bottom drawer with the other launch and trade-show T-shirts (or, worse yet, at a goodwill store with all of my old T-shirts). Here are some pointers on designing your launch T-shirt:

  • Find the sassiest dresser in the office and make sure that the design is something that he or she would wear with pride.

  • Keep it simple; keep it clean; make it clever.
  • Consider a cool shirt style. Softball shirts, for example, are back in vogue (white body, three-quarter-length colored sleeves).

Photos. Photos are always the best gift for the sentimentalist. Rather than just having a glossy of the team framed, try creating a calendar with photos of the team or baseball cards that everyone can autograph.

Budget Launch Events

Classes. They may be less useful postlaunch rather than prelaunch, but team classes can be wonderful team-building experiences. Cooking and pottery classes are civilized and fun. For more adventure, try rock climbing or break dancing.

Volunteer work. If you work for an Internet company, you are probably overpaid. Give something back by having your team do some volunteer work. This can also be a great team-building experience. Some ideas include:

  • Helping to build or restore a school in the area

  • Cleaning up a neighborhood park
  • Planting a few trees to make the city pretty
  • Installing computers at a local school

New age. Looking for a more accurate way to forecast product revenues? Try taking the team for a visit to a fortune teller. Every respectable town has at least one astrologist, tarot-card reader, or hypnotist.

Worth the Extra Bucks

Sports gear. I’ve seen this done only once, but it was “tonar” (totally gnarly). Design your own custom snowboard or skateboard. This would be a perfect complement to a launch party on the slopes.

Jerseys. Authentic baseball, basketball, and football jerseys are a little pricey but worth the extra money. Use your company colors, logo, and the name and employee number of the team member on the back.

Gift certificates. Gift certificates don’t give you as much of an opportunity to be creative but are probably the most useful launch gift. You can get your team gift certificates for:

  • A local travel agent or travel web site to use toward the employee’s next vacation

  • An afternoon at a spa to prepare the employee for the next project
  • Dinner for two at a swanky restaurant in the city
  • A weekend for two at a nearby country inn
  • Membership at a local museum

You can also get your team tickets to local sporting events, the opera, a play, or an amusement park.

Launch Clichis (To Be Avoided)

Avoid the following launch clichis, if possible:

  • Pizza, beer, and a game of billiards

  • Anything from a trade-show catalog
  • A white T-shirt or mug with the company logo and a tech joke

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