My client Morgan Langan once told me, “Launching isn’t for pussies” and I have to agree.
They should make t-shirts: “I just survived my first product launch!”
While we’ve built product launch platforms for other entrepreneurs, this is the first time I’ve walked through the fire myself and I wanted to share the mistakes I made and the lessons I learned.
I just “closed the cart” on Message to Money and I’m excited to have over 60 amazing entrepreneurs and small business owners in the program.
So how did I pull off such a successful first launch? Or what should you do to launch a new product online?
1. Live Webinars – It’s a lot easier to fill a program if you are able to engage your ideal clients live, whether that’s speaking from the stage or hosting a virtual event. After you’ve had a chance to build a relationship and give value for 60 to 90-minutes, your audience is much more receptive to continuing their journey with you right then and there. You can often “close” a minimum of 5% of your audience and often 10% or more, after they’ve experienced you live.
While Jeff Walker style email campaigns and video launch sequences are all the rage, I’ve found that this strategy works best for the big dogs who have access to hundreds of thousands of people.
If you’re just starting out and you have a small list, then live webinars are a great way to launch a new product especially if you’re able to enlist a few good partners.
I launched Message to Money exclusively through 6 live webinars – 3 primarily to my list, and another 3 to partner lists. 8-10% of each audience signed up for the program, which was priced at $497.
2. Good Timing – I offered the first version of my Message to Money program in 2010. At the time, I wasn’t ready. I only had a few hundred people on my mailing list and I was making just $50K/year. Before I could be successful with an online product launch, I needed to focus first on growing my client-base, building my web presence and following. While you can fill a small group coaching program by reaching out to people one-on-one, it’s difficult to fill a larger program if you don’t have some sort of following or a few good partners.
3. Impeccable Materials – How you do anything is how you do everything. If you send out boring emails, have an unconvincing sales page or deliver surface-level content, then no one is going to want to join your program.
So many people have bought programs that didn’t deliver on their basic promise that they’re hesitant to buy. While any launch is bound to turn some people off who are just flat out uncomfortable with marketing, you want to make sure that you’re selling with integrity and turning more people on then you’re turning off. You also want to understand people’s desires and objections and address them head on in your materials. Finally, you want to differentiate your program in some way – whether it’s through your hook, your testimonials, your bonuses, the experience you create or the community you provide– to give people a reason to buy from you.
4. Amazing Support & Block Time – Any launch, big or small, is more work than you can imagine. If you’re juggling a launch with other work, then you’re going to need support. Simply having one other person to help you set up squeeze pages, post replays, edit emails, and manage the technology and live chat aspect of a webinar is indispensable. By having a virtual assistant or partner support you on the details, you can focus on the big picture of showing up and delivering great content.
In addition to support, you need to give yourself the time and space to create new content without distraction. Any launch requires a huge amount of content – from the free value you provide on webinars, through emails, blog posts, and social media, to the program itself.
I stopped taking new clients for two solid months to give myself time to create and launch Message to Money. While that was scary, because I didn’t have income coming in, I knew that time was an investment in the future of my business. I knew that I needed to start offering products and group programs to leverage my time and scale my business.
5. Faith & Courage – Any time you take your knowledge and expertise into the market in a big way, you’re going to come face-to-face with your own self-doubt, negative thoughts and limiting beliefs. Here’s the thing: other people can sense your doubts and fears. You have to believe from the bottom of your heart that what you do is valuable and that you can transform people’s lives with your content. That doesn’t mean you’re not going to doubt yourself or worry that no one’s going to sign up, it simply means acknowledging these thoughts for what they are and pushing through.
Before you think this launch was smooth sailing, I want to share some of the mistakes I made or what NOT to do when launching a new product online.
1. Don’t Wait Too Long to Approach Partners or Rely Too Heavily on Partners – By the time I figured out what I was doing and started contacting partners, there was just 2 months lead-time. Most pros book their marketing and promotion calendar 3-6 months out, so I was only able to schedule 5 webinars and 2 of them got cancelled at the last minute due to changes in my partners schedules. Even if you do everything right, you have to realize that some partners will fall through and make sure you have a back-up plan.
2. Make Sure You Give Value Right Away – Before I officially launched Message to Money, I had it available from my website in a different format. The thing is, I wasn’t ready to fully deliver the program at the time, so the people who bought did not receive the complete course until several months later. By the time I was ready, some of them had lost interest. While many marketers encourage you to sell a program before you create it to make sure you have a profitable idea, you also have to be prepared to really deliver once people start to buy.
While most people gave me the benefit of the doubt, I’m so committed to over delivering for all my clients that I felt bad and I felt I was letting people down.
3. Be Careful Who You Hire – I spent a significant amount of money on a copywriter for my Message to Money sales page and I was underwhelmed by what he delivered. I hired my copywriter based on a glowing personal recommendation and didn’t take the time to do diligence, get referrals and find out more about his process. I was disappointed to find out that he stopped at 2 revisions, regardless of whether I was happy or not. And that he countered all my feedback with the argument that he had “launched million dollar products” and that he knew what he was doing and I didn’t. The thing is, I know my business and audience better than anyone and I need to work with people who will consider my feedback as valid. The irony is that all the sales I made came from my webinars and none came from “warm leads” to the sales page.
4. Make Sure Everyone On Your Team is Prepared – I had heard that it’s much better to have someone host you on a webinar than to host yourself, so I asked a client of mine to step in and host. We were writing the script until just an hour before the call, so even though I had prepped her the night before, she didn’t have enough time to rehearse and she sounded stilted and unnatural. Then she didn’t engage during the call like we discussed, so it seemed to come out of nowhere when she stepped in to make the sales offer at the end of the call. Because I didn’t take the time to prepare her properly, she didn’t perform as well as she could and we had the worst sales ever for biggest call. I had 183 people on the line and people raved about the content afterwards, but just 7 signed up for the program.
So there you have it!
I know that I’ve learned a lot from this process and will approach my next Message to Money launch in March/April 2013 with my eyes wide open. I hope that you can learn from my experiences, and have an amazingly successful online product launch.
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Awesome info, thank you!
Marisa, thank-you for your authenticity in this post. It is such a breath of fresh air to hear someone admit to the challenges, mistakes, and difficulties of their launch and speak frankly about what worked and what didn’t. I’ve sent this post to my Evernote, so I can reference it as I plan my own launch. Namaste… Sean