Are you a brand new entrepreneur who is looking to launch their first product or service You feel excited, exhilarated and a tad anxious at the same time: “What if nobody buys?”, “What if people buy on the first day and then crickets? No more sales after”, “What if people don’t get what’s on offer?”, “What if they think the price is too high?”, “What if the buy now button doesn’t work?” Or, you might be someone who already had a product launch – or two, and things did not go that well. Actually, that’s an understatement. Your launch sucked.
You could not build a buzz. There were hardly any people talking about your launch. There were no pre-orders. Only a handful of people took you up on your early bird offer. The results fell short of your expectations and you ended up being terribly disappointed.
Now you never want to do another launch – thanks very much.
Just hold on for a second ..
For most people, their first launch is always more of a learning experience. So if yours flopped, don’t take it to heart. There are ways to salvage it or do it better next time around. And if you are about to launch the first time, it doesn’t have to be a poorly executed one.
In this post, I am going to give you very practical, super useful tips to turbo charge your upcoming launch. You can either use it as a checklist and run through your already planned launch, or use it to create a plan from scratch. Either way, it works.
#1 Start with a really good product (or service)
Begin with a product that is something your audience truly wants. Make sure you have done all the research, you have surveyed people on your list, and you have asked questions in the forums. There is competition in the market and you have created something for which there is a sufficient demand in the marketplace.
Understand that if you try to sell something that nobody wants, no matter how well you plan and execute your launch, it is not going to work. It’s not that your launch failed, but your product did. (If you are interested in writing an ebook that sells, check out this four part series I wrote which takes you through all the steps.)
Also, don’t make the mistake of assuming that if people say yes, they will want it. All yays do not necessarily translate into sales.
#2 Have a beta group test your product
Before you do a product launch, invite an initial group of people to test it for you. Pay attention to the feedback you get and make improvements accordingly.
Don’t forget to collect testimonials. Your first buyers will usually be your most loyal and supportive people, they are much more likely to overlook any minor flaws and give you positive feedback on what that really matters.
Spend less time creating the product and more time testing and tweaking it.
#3 Determine the goals of your launch
What do you want to achieve in this launch? What are your objectives? The more specific you get here, the better are your chances of achieving them.
For example, do you want to do a list building launch? Your goal is not to have the maximum number of sales, but to get the most amount of people on your email list. You announce your super cool offer and make a big fuss about it. You may sell some copies of your product but you will consider your launch to be a success if you meet your list building goals.
Similarly, your goal might be to launch your brand. Maybe you have rebranded, or just got a really nice looking website. You want to get attract press and renew interest in your brand.
Decide on 3-5 metrics that will help measure the success of your launch. In our case, this would be the number of product copies sold, seats filled for an event or bookings for your coaching offer.
#4 Define your offer really well
What’s in the box? What do they get and how much does it cost?
You should be able to articulate your offer in a few sentences, if you can’t do this it means your offer is not clear. Another test is to have your 8 year old read your offer. Do they understand it? If so, congratulations, you have a clear offer. If not, go back to the drawing board.
Give people very simple instructions on how they can avail this offer. The more complicated you make it, more choices you give them or more hoops to jump through, higher is your chance of losing people in the process. Tell them exactly what’s on offer, exactly what you want them to do and exactly what they will be getting.
Get people excited about your offer. Clarity is not enough. Put out an offer that is too good to refuse – make it irresistible – by stacking bonuses, offering a rock solid guarantee and the right price. Don’t forget to feature success stories of people who have bought from you.
#5 Set up your affiliates (optional)
Not every launch needs affiliates. You may or may not want to ask other people to promote your product for a commission (usually anywhere between 25% to 50%). If you do, keep these in mind.
- Only get in touch with people whose communication and business styles resonate with your own.
- Contact highly reputable folks.
- Start building relationships with these people well in advance so you can give them plenty of notice.
- Send potential affiliates all the information they need to promote your product. Don’t rely on them to send out emails. Give them the copy and remind them – repeatedly.
- Create bonuses for your affiliates.
- Join an affiliate program such as ejunkie or Clickbank and create a page for information on how people can join your affiliate program.
- Announce prizes for affiliates who do really well.
Does it look like a ton of work? It is. Normally it takes twice as much work to do an affiliate launch than it would take to do one on your own. You must get them on board, make sure they have their links, copy and that they are actually mailing.
If this is your first product launch, you may want to skip recruiting any affiliates for now.
#6 Set up a pre-launch list
If you cater to a variety of customers and your offer will not be for everyone, it makes good sense to create a separate interest list. Do this 2-3 months before your pre-launch.
Create a landing page and let people know. Give people an incentive to sign up, those who are even mildly curious will check it out and get on the list. They will get your freebie which will give them a taste of what’s to come. This can be a free chapter of your ebook, or a behind the scenes video for your online program or a report, or anything you want, really. Make sure that what you offer is directly related to your offer. You can send out a few reminder emails to get as many people on the list, that’s fine.
Don’t burn out your main list. If the product is not for them, don’t bombard them with your launch content. People will unsubscribe, or start ignoring you.
Create a product banner for your sidebar and link it to your landing page. This is for your new website visitors or the people who are not email subscribers to get on the pre-launch list.
#7 Start hinting about your launch
Start leaking news about your product launch. Mention you are working on something on social media. Don’t announce it formally yet but hint at it in your blog posts and in your emails. Add a P.S. in your newsletter. Mention it in interviews and guest posts.
Ask people questions on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ to spark discussions and curiosity.
Even though you have your product ready or almost ready, keep asking people what they want to see in it. This will help tweak your product and make it surpass people’s expectations.
Don’t forget to direct all these people to the landing page you have created so they sign up for your launch content.
#8 Create your launch content plan
How many pieces of content will you send out? What format will they be in?
Do you want to create a video sequence? Do you want to create a series of blog posts? A webinar? A mix? Decide on the format. The best thing to do here is to follow the same format of your product. Do video if your product is a video course. Do webinars if you are launching a new coaching package. This makes for a smooth transition and there is no jarring effect from promotion to product.
If your program includes video, calls and written material, go with what you are really good at. Play up to your strengths here. Now is not the try to experiment with something new. Stick with what works.
#9 Brainstorm your launch content
Now it’s time to sit down and map out some of your launch content. Your goal here is to give so much value that people feel obligated to pay attention (reciprocity), attracts attention, builds your authority and positions you as an expert.
It is important that your content follows a natural progression. So if someone reads the first piece, they will want to read the next and so on. If someone happens to find a piece in the middle, they would want to catch up on what they have missed.
Make it interesting.
- You can talk about the need for your product (pre-sell). You can talk about the mistakes people make which have them stuck in their current situation.
- You give them pure information such as worksheets or checklists.
- You can give them what’s to be included, for example, a table of contents.
- You can take them behind the scenes and show what’s happening.
- You can share case studies – talk about success stories of your clients/customers.
- You can do live Q/As via Google hangouts or on your Facebook page.
#10 Create a timeline for your launch
How long will be your pre-launch and launch periods?
The less expensive the product, the shorter these periods tend to be. You don’t need a two week period leading up to your launch if you are selling a $37 ebook. However, if you are selling a $1200 e-course, then you need more time to get people interested, sustain their attention and get people off the proverbial fence. Normally, you can’t go wrong with 5-7 days of pre-launch content.
Start scheduling everything in. It doesn’t have to be perfect now but it will give you a sense of what needs to happen when. It will give you a rough idea of the overall launch and give you a bird eye view of the whole process.
Always give yourself more time then you anticipate. Things break and don’t always go according to plan. Put everything in such as working with affiliates, finalizing your sales letter and getting some future promotion in place well in advance.
#11 Announce your product
Create a specific blog post where you announce the launch of your upcoming product. Go into detail here.
Send out a short email to your main list and remind them to get on the pre-launch list. You want to do this because you want to remind people and catch the attention of those who are new and haven’t seen any of your previous emails.
Keep linking to your landing page so people can get on it.
#12 Build your team
You don’t need a huge team to support your launch but you do need a list of people to contact for support and in case of emergencies.
You might need a virtual assistant, a proof reader, an IT person who deals with any technical or back-end issues, a business mentor or coach, and a friend or two for general support. Launches are very stressful at times and you would need to call on people when you simply need to talk to someone. Contact a few people ahead of time and ask them if they’d be willing to be your cheerleaders.
#13 Test everything
Make sure you test every single element of your buying process.
Ask at least two people to test the links, the buy button, and complete the sales process. Have them confirm that they received the post purchase emails and that all the links to your product download or the program login page are working.
#14 Do a pre-order campaign
Do a pre order campaign for your product if it makes sense. For example, if you are launching a book, people can order it in advance and get a chapter or something for free now.
Talk about the process while you’re doing it. People love to see what happens behind the scenes, they especially love it if you talk about the not so good parts and show your vulnerability, like how nervous you are, etc.
#15 Do an internal launch
Start your email list sequence and open doors for people on your pre-launch email list. Let them know that they can get their hands on the product before everybody else.
Give them an incentive like a significant price discount or early bird bonuses which expire on a certain day and are not open to general public.
The internal launch window should be fairly short. On the third day, open doors to the public and start promoting the link on various social media platforms.
#16 Publish sales page and open cart
Revise your sales page, meaning take the information off about the early bird pricing and bonuses, and publish. On the main blog, make an announcement that the cart is now open.
Make additional changes based on the feedback you received, for example any design changes or removal of any typos found etc. Add testimonials. Add pricing options.
Test your links one more time, especially the affiliate ones. I do not recommend leaving your sales page till the end. Launch period is highly stressful and this is one element you should ideally have ready before your launch.
#17 Promote on other platforms
Do not launch and then take your foot off the gas pedal. Keep sharing and promoting it.
Do contests on Facebook and run ads to drive traffic to the sales page. Give interviews. Publish guest posts (try to have these arranged in advance and go out in the launch week if possible. People see you everywhere which is great for brand awareness and makes you memorable.)
#18 Build social proof
We, as humans, tend to follow others. We look to others for guidance. This is the power of social proof. Get people behind your launch. Ask them to tweet, like, plus1 and leave comments. Ask friends to share your link.
The more people you have supporting your launch, the more credibility you generate. This will have great impact on your bottom line.
#19 Send two emails on the last day
The email list is extremely important. It is quite difficult it is to get purchases from Facebook, Twitter, or blog posts alone (even if your audience is super engaged). They aren’t buying from there. They were buying from email.
Don’t be shy to remind people on the last time. Your emails won’t bother those who have already bought or who are not interested (those people have already unsubscribed). The ones who are sitting on the fence want to hear from you. They want you to convince them, so do that.
Send one email in the morning and one just hours before closing. Keep them brief and remind people that the product will no longer be available shortly or the price will go up, if you intend to move it to your store.
#20 Post launch
Your work is not done, not yet. There are things that still need to be done. Here are the most important ones:
- If you had affiliates, announce prize winners and send thank you emails.
- Thank your readers, supporters, peers and friends for their support.
- Make sure everybody got what they bought. Continue to provide an excellent customer experience.
- Surprise your buyers with a starter bonus you did not announce. It doesn’t need to be something elaborate.
- Follow up on testimonials from high profile people and influencers.
- Does your product need to move to your store at a higher price (ever green product)?
- Consolidate your results. How did you go in terms of your launch goals?
So there you have it. This is essentially your blue print to launching anything.
At the end of the day, keep this in mind: while a launch is important, also invest time and effort into the long tail of the product. The reputation of this product will grow in the future and you will sell it more.
You can definitely make a well-designed product work for you over time.