I have a little news flash for you: launches are stressful.
Now, I really enjoy creating and launching programs. I have been at this for over 10 years, and I still love the anticipation and excitement of sharing a big, new idea with my tribe. I even like email marketing, if you can believe it. This is totally my zone of genius, and now I get to help clients do the same.
But even with so many successful launches under my belt, each new launch still stirs up nerves for me.
I’ve found the best way to alleviate this anxiety is to have as many of my ducks in a row before I begin. Then you can concentrate on how much fun it can be to send something out into the world that you know will change people’s lives for the better.
So I’ve put together seven pillars that I feel you need in place before you start selling programs and building your business empire.
1) You need an engaged list.
We’ve discussed this quite a few times over the past few weeks, but a big list doesn’t necessarily equal big sales. Whenever I launch a program, on average, only 5% of my tribe ends up purchasing that program. So, it’s important to check your expectations against your numbers.
Take it from me, launches suck up a ton of time, so you want to make sure that you’ve already invested in nurturing your following so that the efforts of your launch don’t fall on deaf ears.
Now, here’s a work-around if you don’t have a big list…
Rely on Centers of Influence: friends and colleagues with a strong following who can recommend your launch event to their respective tribes. Because their list already knows and trusts them, that trust will be transferred to you (to a degree). So, they’re coming to you as warm leads instead of ice-cold prospects.
2) Don’t go it alone.
You need an established support team in place. I recently coached a client through a launch who hired a virtual assistant (VA) three weeks before kickoff to help fill in the gaps in his plan. The day the launch began, the VA hit the road with no notice, and without completing any of the work properly. Needless to say, my client was really scrambling.
Now, there is no way to predict those kind of circumstances, but had the two worked together before the hectic schedule of the launch was in full swing, there would have been an opportunity to build trust and teamwork. And the VA might have been more invested in the project to power through the extra work required with a launch.
It takes time to learn each other’s rhythms and establish a good line of communication with your team. In effect, how do you best explain what you need from them, and how do you expect them to deliver their work to you? There is no minimum time frame for how long this process takes, but during crunch time is not the place to start. So make sure you and your team are on the same page before you dive into your next launch.
3) Your program or product needs to be complete.
I’ll say that again. Your program or product needs to be complete… or pretty damn close to it!
This may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s easier to overlook than you think. Your product or program needs to be fully realized, clearly laid out and down on paper.
(Full confession: I have, on occasion, sold a program that wasn’t yet ready, but I have never started a launch without being crystal clear on the outline of the content, a full picture of how I wanted to deliver it, and more than enough time on my calendar to create that content before my students expected it.)
First, no one wants to hustle to meet a looming deadline while you’re deep in sales promotion with the added pressure of money at stake. Secondly, a completed program will help you structure all the other components of your launch, from your e-mail copy, to who you reach out to spread the word, to how your support team handles customer service.
So, sure, you may make a few tweaks here and there if it’s an ongoing program with meetings or phone calls. You may add new content if the product lives online, but the framework needs to be set before you start selling your program. You need a clear picture of the outcome you’re providing, all the mile markers you want to hit along the way, and exactly how and when you’ll make good on your promises to your clients.
4) Money matters.
Please make sure that your shopping cart is triple-checked before you open registration. Test the process from the customer’s perspective, so you can ensure everything is running smoothly. Then, test it again. And more than one person on your team needs to know how to handle technical hiccups, declined payments and refunds.
Here are some questions to ask when checking your order process:
Is the refund policy clear to customers and actually legal?
What will the thank you page say after purchasing?
Do customers receive an immediate confirmation e-mail?
Do your coupon codes work?
For my shopping cart, I use Infusionsoft, which includes a lot of functions in-house, but if you use a payment system like PayPal, just know that there may be some back-end setup that needs to be completed to make sure you can track purchases and deliver your content.
5) Make sure your email marketing program can meet your needs.
Your email marketing program needs to support the level of sophistication you want to rely on for your launch. This doesn’t mean you need a complicated, expensive system, but it needs to meet your needs. So before you start a launch, map out your marketing plan and then cross-reference it with the functionality of your marketing program.
Don’t assume it has all the bells and whistles you want. The more preparation you do, the smoother your launch will be.
6) It’s going to take time.
Cue a little George Harrison… it’s going to take a whole lot of precious time to do this right. When my team is preparing for a launch, we typically set aside 2 weeks for promoting the launch date, 2 weeks for promoting the sale, and then at least 6 weeks for preparation before a single word of the launch leaks to my list.
So the process is very front-loaded, but we need every minute of that preparation time to work out all the wrinkles and ensure the process is easy and smooth for our clients. The more time you give yourself, the better your launch will be and the more you can enjoy the process once things get busy.
7) You have to stay flexible.
Here’s one thing I CAN promise you: no launch will ever go off without a surprise.
Even the best-laid plans go awry. The call doesn’t record. The email didn’t send. No one is signing up, so you need to roll out some extra bonuses. My team and I work very hard to anticipate the questions we might receive, the technical issues that might arise, and the things we may have forgotten, but inevitably, something new will always pop up.
So be flexible enough to roll with the punches.
I remember one launch I assumed would be a cakewalk, that I would press play and within a few hours the program would sell itself. My team and I were anticipating our phones ringing off the hook (as they had in the past) with questions and a full scale Internet meltdown. At 9AM, the webinar went live, and my whole team just sat and stared at each other as nothing happened.
Fewer than ten people registered on the first day. So where once my big concerns had been managing the overflow of sales, I suddenly had to put into place a whole new marketing campaign with extra calls and bonuses to put butts in the seats and ensure we would meet our income goals for the launch.
So do your best to plan your launch schedule, but stay open to the fact that you may have to to make changes to meet your sales goals.
So, now you have ‘em… my Seven Pillars for Launch Success. With these bad boys in place, the fun and excitement of sharing your programs with your tribe can easily outweigh any anxiety.
So here’s to solid preparation and many successful launches!
Do you agree with this list? What have you found essential to launching your own products and programs? Let me know in the comments below, and I just might add a few suggestions!