The 40 Step Checklist for a Highly Successful Launch

The 40 Step Checklist for a Highly Successful Launch

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Pre-launch. The marketing campaign you’ll release to build desire before the launch.
  3. Mid-launch. The activities you’ll do on and around the week of your launch to ensure success.
  4. 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

  1. 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?
  2. Decide what the offer will include — content, delivery, bonuses, guarantee, price, etc.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.)
  5. 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?
  6. 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.)
  7. 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.

Pre-launch

  1. 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.
  2. Evoke emotion. Craft a genesis story that gives the audience a sense of meaning, context and emotion.
  3. 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?
  4. Create desire. Plant seeds of anticipation in blog posts and emails to your list long before your official marketing campaign kicks off.
  5. 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.
  6. Demonstrate their commitment. Include and acknowledge any involvement your audience has had in shaping the offer so far (surveys, email, comments, etc.).
  7. 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.
  8. Prepare other marketing materials. Will you be doing a webinar? A Twitter party? If so, prepare these additional marketing materials.
  9. Create the sales page. Where will people be directed to buy? A sales page or video? If so, create it.
  10. 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?
  11. 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.
  12. 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?

Mid-Launch

  1. Checkout process. Set up the checkout and order process, make sure all files and signup variables are working properly.
  2. Follow up. Craft a welcome email and an email list for buyers. Then test it.
  3. Review. Have others review the sales page, including marketers and someone that is your ideal customer if possible. Take their feedback and improve.
  4. 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.
  5. Proof. Do a final proof/edit of the sales page and get someone else to proof it too.
  6. 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.
  7. Post on social media and other various communication channels.
  8. 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.
  9. Implement social proof. Update people on feedback from the launch so far; # of spots left, comments, shares, etc.
  10. Solicit help. If it’s a big launch, ask strategic partners (non-affiliates) for help spreading the word.
  11. 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.

Post-launch

  1. Celebrate! Have a party! Take yourself out for dinner or buy yourself something nice. You’ve earned it.
  2. 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.
  3. Smooth out the kinks. Ask for feedback from first buyers on induction process (if you have one).
  4. Wrap it up. Close cart or remove bonuses.
  5. 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.).
  6. 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?
  7. Automate testimonials. Schedule a post-release survey to buyers a few weeks out to procure testimonials.
  8. Update your audience. Follow up with readers to tell them about how the launch went and create social proof.
  9. Review and improve. What did you learn from your launch? What will you improve on next time?
  10. 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.

If you did, please donate a tweet or ‘like’ with the buttons below.

PS: Want a launch blueprint? Check out this infographic.

 

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Comment & Add Your Voice

Lori Stalter August 30, 2012 at 5:41 am

“Say a prayer, light a candle, make an offering to the launch Gods.”

I love this line! I’m definitely doing this for my next launch…oh, um, along with the other 39 steps. ;-D

It feels wonderful being on the other side of launching my blog even if the actual launch felt a bit anti-climatic. But that’s what happens when you shave two weeks off your schedule and reduce your to-do list to the barest of “must have done” essentials.

In a way, I’m glad I did it this way. Otherwise, I might have continued to delay my launch date until I “felt comfortable” – like that day may ever come.

Great article, Jonathan! If you keep giving all this great stuff away for free, what are you planning to sell next? I can’t wait to see!

Reply

Jonathan August 30, 2012 at 12:04 pm

I’m not sure if it works or not, but it makes me feel better. :)

Andy August 30, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Dude, the launch gods are suckers for flattery and fried chicken. It works. Trust me.

Jacob August 30, 2012 at 6:10 am

Great resource, Jonathan. Thanks for putting this together. I have a feeling this will save people (myself included) a lot of time, frustration, and wasted effort, especially on a first launch. Thanks again!

-Jacob

Reply

Jonathan August 30, 2012 at 12:03 pm

You’re welcome. :)

Tom August 30, 2012 at 6:25 am

Jonathan,

Very helpful and concise.

My biggest struggle was #6 + #7 under planning, which it turns out determined in large part what I was able to put together.

Once you set that date you’ve gotta hit it, so without clearing time to put everything together you won’t end up with what you hoped for.

The planning phase will be my #1 focus next time around.

Thanks!

Reply

Jonathan August 30, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Planning is critical. With every launch I do I spend probably 50-70% of the time on planning.

Nina August 30, 2012 at 7:26 am

Thanks for sharing this Jonathan.
I have my own if you’re interested – I can post it if you give me the thumbs up!

PS How do you create those awesome infographics?

Nina

Reply

Jonathan August 30, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Sure, feel free to share a link here.

As for the infographics, that’s all Dustin. Maybe he’ll respond here for you.

Dustin Lee August 30, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Hi Nina, I create the infographics as well as most of the graphics that you see on Paid To Exist. We’ll be creating a new infographic each month, I hope you like them!

jill goldman August 30, 2012 at 10:51 am

fantastic stuff in there! so much valuable and helpful information. thank you so much! i’ll use it all as i move forward on my next launch.

Reply

Jonathan August 30, 2012 at 11:59 am

You’re welcome Jill. Glad to be of service.

Karen Bowden August 30, 2012 at 11:15 am

I love reading your posts, Jonathan! Thank you! Can I ask one favor? Just FYI, on my IE8 browser your font is *very* small. For us non-20-somethings it is very hard to read if we are not on a Mac or iPad. (View Text Size Largest doesn’t work either.) However, in Firefox it looks great! Again, thank you for this checklist! Keep up the great, inspiring work!

Reply

Jonathan August 30, 2012 at 11:59 am

Hey Karen, sorry about the IE issue, I wasn’t aware of that (I use a Mac and don’t have IE). I’ll see what we can do about it.

jean August 30, 2012 at 11:17 am

Thanks, Jonathan…Just starting to get into launch mode myself. Working with a launching coach/group and passed this on to them as well.

Reply

Jonathan August 30, 2012 at 11:59 am

That’s awesome Jean. I hope you crush it. :)

Kathy August 30, 2012 at 11:45 am

Very helpful Jonathan! Thanks so much. I’m getting ready to do a launch and this will help make sure I’m covering all my bases.

- Kathy

Reply

Jonathan August 30, 2012 at 11:58 am

That’s great news Kathy. Good luck with your launch.

natalie August 30, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Thanks Jonathan this is great, The countdown is on for my business launch in early Nov. Being a one person operation and with so much to do I have been suffering from overwhelm, this list will really help me map out a plan and stay focused on what needs to be done,

Reply

Landon August 30, 2012 at 6:04 pm

I am so glad I found you! You are an inspiration! Your material? Magical. While I wish to ‘pay it forward’, I can’t wait be in a position give back. If everyone was like Jonathan Mead, there’d be no war. I’m curious. What video equipment did you use to produce the stunning “Trailblazer – Get Paid to Be You” video?

Reply

Kal August 31, 2012 at 6:56 am

Hey Jonathan,
I love your Trailblazer video. You should be an actor lol. ooops! Not trying to corner you Jonathan :)

Even though I’m not big on the new name, I am open to learning how to discover my passion (which seems be so ever elusive) and run on a path of my choosing even though I’ve had some amazing runs and disappointments along the way.
The winds have gone from my worn tattered sails and so has my freakin’ direction lol.
I think I am working on (maybe not working on… overwhelmed) too much stuff, ideas, just bouncing from one idea to another and nothing seems to stick even though I have been successful in business many times.
Do you think this site might have the cure?

Regards,

Kal

Reply

Jonathan August 31, 2012 at 10:50 am

Hey Kal, thanks for stopping by. Glad you’re giving this community a chance even though the name triggers some stuff for you. I totally get that.

I’m not sure if this place has the cure or not. I think that resides within you. Can this be a catalyst for you to uncover and embrace that cure? I think so.

Francoise August 31, 2012 at 9:30 pm

I am new to your blog, Johnathan. This is fabulous! Thank you for showing what other bloggers / authors do not.

Reply

Iftekhar Inan April 2, 2013 at 9:31 pm

I was looking for something like this since we are launching Vocabridge, our language services provider company. Now this checklist helps me a lot to plan better, and hopefully execute better.

Reply

Swearpig May 29, 2013 at 10:00 am

Many thanks Jonathan,
I’m just about to launch my product in the UK.
You have summarised a great working plan for my endeavours!
Cheers
Rich Johnson

Reply

Reagan Huckabee July 7, 2013 at 6:46 pm

40 steps seems just too overwhelming; can’t you somehow condense them down to <10? You points are very valid but way too "big". Love your blog!!

Reply

Maria August 1, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Hi Jonathan,

Just in time for the official launch of my 10-week course Exercise Bliss! I am planning the launch in 3-4 weeks, so this checklist was the missing piece I needed. Thanks!!!

Reply

Steven Aitchison September 18, 2013 at 11:14 pm

Hi Jonathan

The timing for this couldn’t have been better. I’m launching a new product in 6 weeks.

Launching is a really stressful time, for me at least :) There’s so many things to do: website, delivery platform, Getting JVs, make sure tracking works, content, videos, payment gateways, ebook design – aaarrrggh :) but it’ll all be worth it.

Thanks for a great post.

Reply

Khurram October 18, 2013 at 8:55 am

Great stuff, definitely makes life easy, I would suggest if you can put together a template on your site as well for the steps Plus I want to get in touch with you as well about my own brand launch for help and ideas.

Reply

Destinee April 29, 2014 at 9:59 am

Gave me so much motivation and guided me on the right path :) Thanks!

Reply

Lauren August 12, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Hey Jonathan, quick question for you that I seem to encounter every time I do a launch! It’s always a bit fuzzy when I should have the pre-launch phase where the is no option to purchase anything but just sign up to be notified, and when I have a pre launch phase where people actually can purchase at the discounted price. Then the full launch is technically when the price goes up to normal.

How long do you open up your cart at the discounted price?
Also, you said you usually run pr-launch for 3-4 weeks. Are people able to purchase during that time?

Thanks so much, I’m probably making this way more difficult, as usual :).
-Lauren

Reply

Jonathan August 13, 2014 at 11:22 am

No ability to buy during the pre-launch. You’re building desire and creating tension from that desire. The ability to purchase is the release of that tension.

If you have a discount, make it only for people on the interest list and for 24 hours.

Jonathan August 31, 2012 at 10:32 am

I’m wondering if they prefer wings or breasts. I don’t want to insult them.

Reply

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