Every time I do a launch, I always begin with this question: How can I make it impossible for this to fail?
Practically speaking, I don’t think you can make failure 100% impossible. But asking this question forces me to see how I can do whatever it takes so that the odds are stacked overwhelmingly in my favor. And because of that, to date, I haven’t had a failed product launch, or a launch that didn’t meet our minimum goal for success.
Below, you’ll find the checklist I personally use for every launch that I do. It’s broken up into four sections:
- Launch planning. The phase where you determine what the product offer will be, how much money you want to make, what the unique positioning will be, etc.
- Pre-launch. The marketing campaign you’ll release to build desire before the launch.
- Mid-launch. The activities you’ll do on and around the week of your launch to ensure success.
- Post-launch. How to finish strong, learn from your launch and blow your customers’ minds.
When you’re running your own launch, it’s a good idea to decide what’s Essential, Really Nice to Have, and Nice to Have. Inevitably, you’ll probably not have time for everything, but doing this will help you triage and focus on the most important stuff.
Ready to get started? Follow the checklist below to ensure your own epic launch’s success.
Planning the launch
- Decide on your goals. How much money do you want to make? Do you want to increase your visibility? How much do you want to grow your email list? Do you want to make yourself seen as a bigger player in your sphere?
- Decide what the offer will include — content, delivery, bonuses, guarantee, price, etc.
- Prepare. Do you expect this launch to be big? (Of course you do.) If so, make sure you notify your merchant account provider that you’ll be expecting a lot of sales.
- Payment plan. If it’s a higher priced product or service, will you offer a payment plan? (Generally, payment plans can increase sales on products more than $200. When doing a payment plan, you generally want to charge people 20% more to pay in installments.)
- Make it fun and interesting. Can you do a tiered sale ($1 first buyer, $2 second buyer, etc)? Can you create some type of launch party? Can you have a fun contest that gets people to share? What can you do to make your launch interesting?
- Set a date. Decide a day and time for your launch. (As a general rule of thumb, 7am PT/10am ET on Tuesday works well.)
- Margin. Create margin and clear your schedule leading up to the launch. Launches are always crazy and things manage come up that you couldn’t have anticipated, so it’s better to have more time than you need blocked off.
- Create the campaign. Map out all launch emails and blog posts. Generally, the higher priced the product is or the more important the launch, the more time spent on pre-launch. I typically like to go for about 3-4 weeks of pre-launch before the cart opens.
- Evoke emotion. Craft a genesis story that gives the audience a sense of meaning, context and emotion.
- Belonging. How can you create a sense of identification with your product? How can you make people feel like they belong to the cause you’re espousing?
- Create desire. Plant seeds of anticipation in blog posts and emails to your list long before your official marketing campaign kicks off.
- Get commitment in advance. Ask your audience if this is something they’d be interested in before you start building it. Continually solicit higher and higher levels of commitment through participation in blog posts, surveys, contests and other events before you give them the opportunity to buy.
- Demonstrate their commitment. Include and acknowledge any involvement your audience has had in shaping the offer so far (surveys, email, comments, etc.).
- Results in advance. Release special pre-launch content that helps them get a result and builds more anticipation. This could come in the form of a case study, report or free toolkit.
- Prepare other marketing materials. Will you be doing a webinar? A Twitter party? If so, prepare these additional marketing materials.
- Create the sales page. Where will people be directed to buy? A sales page or video? If so, create it.
- Do something original. How can you do something no one else does with launches? For instance, can you create a movie-style trailer? Can you give people access behind the scenes of the making of your launch? There are always launches happening at any given time; how will you make yours stand out?
- Review what’s working. Gather a swipe file of other successful launch sequences and marketing campaigns. Review and take what applies best to your offer while making it your own.
- Create urgency. Will the cart only be opening for a limited amount of time? Will it be limited to a certain number of buyers? Will you have a special bonus for the first 50 people? How can you create urgency to get people to buy?
- Checkout process. Set up the checkout and order process, make sure all files and signup variables are working properly.
- Follow up. Craft a welcome email and an email list for buyers. Then test it.
- Review. Have others review the sales page, including marketers and someone that is your ideal customer if possible. Take their feedback and improve.
- Triple check. Double check and test the order and signup process, then get someone else to do it too. The last thing you want is to lose money because you sent people the wrong link.
- Proof. Do a final proof/edit of the sales page and get someone else to proof it too.
- Hang up your shingle! Publish your blog post, send out your email announcement. Say a prayer, light a candle, make an offering to the launch Gods.
- Post on social media and other various communication channels.
- Update affiliates. Send a note to affiliates about the launch and how they can promote; include swipe copy. This is an optional step, of course. You can either do an internal launch, or a JV/partner launch. It depends on how complicated you want to make things.
- Implement social proof. Update people on feedback from the launch so far; # of spots left, comments, shares, etc.
- Solicit help. If it’s a big launch, ask strategic partners (non-affiliates) for help spreading the word.
- Important! Listen and respond. This is perhaps the most important step in any marketing campaign, but it’s often neglected. Most people create launch sequences and implement them verbatim. They’re not actively listening and responding to the feedback they’re getting from the campaign. This skill takes time to develop and ultimately separates the amateurs from the professionals. The key is to take the feedback you’re getting (positive or negative) and use it to adjust the campaign midstream.
- Celebrate! Have a party! Take yourself out for dinner or buy yourself something nice. You’ve earned it.
- Follow through. Follow up with initial buyers to make sure the sign up process works flawlessly. Bonus points: Create an induction survey that asks them why they bought.
- Smooth out the kinks. Ask for feedback from first buyers on induction process (if you have one).
- Wrap it up. Close cart or remove bonuses.
- Over-deliver. Can you do something to over deliver on value? Example: deliver some type of bonus that wasn’t expected (another product of yours, free consultation with you, etc.).
- Make it memorable. Is there anything you can do to deepen the experience and make it more memorable? Perhaps you can send people a handwritten card or call them individually?
- Automate testimonials. Schedule a post-release survey to buyers a few weeks out to procure testimonials.
- Update your audience. Follow up with readers to tell them about how the launch went and create social proof.
- Review and improve. What did you learn from your launch? What will you improve on next time?
- Plan ahead. How can you set yourself up for the next launch? What will you release next?
I hope you found some value in this launch checklist.
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PS: Want a launch blueprint? Check out this infographic.