Over the years I’ve launched countless sales and campaigns and new products. Some launches took months to plan and execute while others were… ahem… done markedly faster.
“So, um, Mike. Can we do a Flash Sale tomorrow?”
While the amount of time needed to prepare doesn’t always have to be weeks and weeks, there’s something to be said for taking the time to get it all right.
Because if you don’t, you’re liable to skip some key steps.
Sometimes I’ll choose not to do something for the sake of expediency.
Sometimes I just forget.
That’d be OK, except those lapses in memory or judgement COST MONEY. Potentially a lot of money!
Take my most recent launch as an example: The Campaign Planner.
Despite knowing better, I made all kinds of mistakes and errors with that launch! The good news is I was able to identify those deficiencies and make adjustments. And it’s worth noting that each time I made a course correction, not only did it have positive results for the launch, it also helped me further understand the overall product reception and success probability.
So what I’m sharing with you today certainly aren’t the only ways to screw up a launch (they may not even be the worst ways to hose things up. These are just the most recent ways that I messed up, or messed up launches in the past).
#7 – Soft Launch That’s Too Squishy
A Soft Launch is when you have a very limited preview or restricted audience for a new product or service. Maybe it’s only open to your existing customers at first, or your email subscribers. There are a variety of reasons why a business may choose to have a soft launch, from limited initial inventory, to testing functionality or reception, and more. But at some point a full launch is opened up so that anyone can purchase.
But here’s the thing… it’s possible to be too soft. It’s possible to create a soft launch that’s so soft, no one buys.
And that’s basically what I did.
Instead of starting by telling all my channels (email, social media, blog) about the new product, I launched by publishing a blog post about campaigns which, oh and by the way, my campaign planner was mentioned in there.
It was too subtle.
As a result, it was a couple of days before there were any purchases. That might be OK for some launches, but for the entrepreneur looking for conversions to satisfy their inner need to prove they achieved success after high school, those days seemed like Dante’s 4th level of Hell.
What I learned was simple: don’t beat around the bush. When I launch next time, I’m going to launch like I mean it. The educational blog posts will come, but Day One needs to be all about communicating what’s being launched and linking to the landing page on all channels, on all cylinders.
#6 – No Urgency Baked In
Next on the countdown of launch screw-ups is a real doozy… but! In my defense, I chose not to do this the “right” way for testing purposes.
I offered no urgency. No need for my landing page visitors to make a decision to purchase right now.
For some products and services, that might be OK. And frankly, once your launch campaign period is over, you’ll likely lose that sense of urgency anyways. But to help drive sales and buzz during the launch, there has to be a limitation in some way. Whether that’s a limited quantity or enrollment period or timed discount is up to you.
But me? I had nothing. I’ve usually built a timed discount (50% off until such and such a date) into my launches and that works great. For my launch prior to the Campaign Planner, I tried a limited quantity at a discounted price, and that was OK. But I was curious if I could launch a product with no sense of urgency at all.
So after a couple days of nada going on, I switched things up. In addition to the direct sales messages and social posts I did to address #7 above, I built in a limited quantity of 20 that would be available at the discounted price, and I included some additional value (which I’ll get into during screw-up #3). I sold 25% of the inventory that day.
#5 – No Video For The Millennials
Ok, ok… that was a cheap shot at my younger and more charming friends. But it’s true! My launch lacked any video content which meant that there was nothing but text on the landing page. Not everyone learns best by reading, which means I was unintentionally (and unintelligibly) excluding a portion of my audience.
Fortunately that was an easy fix. Lumen5 to the rescue!
My first blog post was 7 Powerful Considerations For A Successful Campaign which easily translated into a nice video, which Lumen5 created almost automatically. After giving the system the post URL, Lumen5 pulled in the key points and suggested imagery and text placement. I swapped out all of the images for a series of Parisian pictures for a fun personal connection, added some French music, and… voila! A fun video to share to social and embed on both the blog post and the product landing page.
#4 – No Social Proof
My next colossal screw-up was to launch the new product without any social proof at all.
What’s social proof?
It’s anything you can do to show the reader or prospect that other people have bought in to whatever you’re selling. In order of importance from least to most, you have:
- Social Media Shares (i.e. tweet count)
- Purchase Indicators (i.e. “Mitch from Wisconsin just purchased Campaign Planner” appearing on the site)
- Case Studies
It was a brand-new product so I hadn’t shared it or invested in paid social ads, and I hadn’t sold any of course so I didn’t have customers purchasing and then leaving reviews. But where I really messed up was not sharing preview versions with any of my influential friends for potential feedback and quotes. I’d done that before, of course, with the Ultimate Blogging Planner, and I suppose part of me didn’t want to bug them with yet another request to review my latest planner.
This was a huge mistake and oversight.
I should have spent 2 minutes thinking about different people to reach out to and sent them free copies of the planner to check out. Now, once I was into the launch, friend & biz partner Stephanie Liu was kind enough to write up a review for me that was awesome. She said, “This Campaign Planner saved me! It’s like having a CMO at your fingertips guiding you step-by-step on how to launch your course.” Which of course is on the product page, as well as tweets and elsewhere. w00t!
#3 – No Beta Test
Right along with not having friends and influencers take a close look at the Campaign Planner before I launched is this other mistake. No beta testers!
Sometimes they might even be the same group of friends or a mastermind, but the idea behind a beta test group is to have people look at and potentially even use your product before you launch. That gives you much-needed feedback that you can use to improve it.
Yeah, I kinda skipped that part.
Had I taken the time to solicit feedback before I launched, I might have learned what I’ve found out since then. That the product needed additional educational and support mechanisms – a means for purchasers of the Campaign Planner to really learn how to use it, outside of the 6-page guidebook I wrote.
What they needed was a Facebook Group and video training!
So that’s what I’ve since added to the product and it’s part of the sense of urgency & limited quantity. I changed it so that only the first 20 purchasers would get that discount AND membership in a Facebook Group, which obviously includes access to me and opportunities to ask me questions, AND free video training within the group. I plan to film some Facebook Lives in the coming weeks that will walk my beta testers through each key element of the campaign, share more of my own experiences, and give them real-time answers to questions. Those lives will then exist as Units within the Facebook Group that I can repurpose or use in a variety of ways.
#2 – Bad Name
This one’s just sad.
I first came up with the idea for this product when Stephanie was going through a launch of her own in January. I knew she was working on a new class for her Lights, Camera, Live Mastermind and when I asked her what her campaign plan looked like she didn’t have much in place yet. So I started to document what I thought she should do based on my campaign experience, and realized others could benefit from the plan! Great idea, eh? Thanks Steph!
At first I was calling it a Launch Planner which was an OK name, but then I thought it’s really a Campaign Planner as it’s just as useful and applicable for sales and brand awareness and other kinds of campaigns, not just launches. So I made it a “Campaign Planner” and launched with that name.
Not only that, it’s unfocused.
You don’t know from the name what kinds of campaigns or launches it might be good for. Is it really good for anything? What does it do? The name did little to educate and nothing to excite.
Was Launch Planner more interesting? Maybe. I may yet completely rename this planner. Meanwhile, I updated the product page name to be a little more compelling, “Campaign Planner for 6-Figure Launches and Sales” – but I’m not in love with that yet either.
The bottom line here is that the name I ran with was boring and uninspiring and has clearly not helped drum up interest in this product, even though it’s a great, helpful product!
And the Number One way to screw up a planned launch…
…is to have no launch plan at all!
In fairness, this wasn’t an issue with my current launch at all. Not only did I have a plan for the Campaign Planner launch, I decided to use my own planner to build a campaign plan and then share that as an example. So other businesses and marketers can see exactly how I planned my blog content, email series, Facebook Lives, guest appearances, and more.
It’s been campaigns in the past where I had no campaign plan that made it apparent to me you have to have a plan. Do you have to have my planner to come up with a campaign plan? Of course not. My planner just helps you get organized and gives you ideas on what to include in your plan that might not have occurred to you.
But if you take the time to think through what content you need, when and where you want to publish it, and everything else you need to do or have done before the campaign, you’ll be well on your way to having a plan.
You see, the beauty of a campaign plan isn’t just the fact that it outlines everything you plan to do, it also gives you a checklist of everything that has to be done before your campaign starts. If you’re going to publish a blog post on launch day, you obviously have to write that blog post in advance so that it’s ready for publishing. Same with emails you plan to send out.
Which means, if you execute the tasks outlined in your plan, you’ll be readyfor your launch and can focus on promotion.
On top of that, if you’re in the midst of your launch and all your materials are prepared in advance, that frees you up to pursue additional opportunities as they present themselves! Maybe someone will invite you on their podcast or live stream. Or maybe you’ll have an idea for an additional blog post.
Or maybe you’re reading this during your own launch and now realize you need to add a Facebook Group and some urgency!
Whatever the case, if you’ve already prepared your other assets, you’ll now have time to work on other things that come up.
If not, if you didn’t prepare anything in advance, launch day is spent writing that last-minute email and scrambling to get things done.
Believe me, the last thing you want to do for a launch is rush the creation of graphics or other assets.
So take the time to prepare a plan for your launch or sale campaign well in advance so that you can think through everything you need to do and prepare as much in advance as possible. That will make your next launch as stress-free as possible!
Have some launch horror stories and mistakes of your own? Please share them in the comments so I won’t feel so bad.