I was amazed.
I’d been imagining what it would feel like for a long time, and truly believed if I put my mind to the task and nose to the grindstone, it was sure to happen.
But the reality was like seeing a six-pack after 100,000 crunches (not that I’d know anything about that).
I never thought I would know what it felt like to hit a million dollars with a first launch.
But now I do.
I was the ghostwriter for this project, and I worked in collaboration with many others, so my non-disclosure prohibits me from specifics of the product itself.
But that’s actually irrelevant, as is the seven-figure total.
The number is impressive, sure, and that’s what prompted me to write about the recent launch for the Copyblogger audience. But the truth is, a million-dollar launch applies to you more than you might think.
After nearly three years online, I’ve launched or helped launch everything from $27 ebooks to WordPress plugins and themes to membership sites.
Despite the specific configuration of the moving parts, the basic elements are always the same.
Whether you’ve already launched your first product, are still working on it, or you have a thriving business under your belt, these are the 10 things I learned from my first million-dollar launch.
Use them to help you nail your own launch, no matter how big or small it might be.
1. Look customer objections in the eye
Every potential buyer has quibbles that will prevent them from buying. It’s your job to address those objections with honest, unambiguous answers.
People are short on time, money, and patience. You’ll probably have to tackle one or all three.
Your buyer is thinking your product won’t work for them because they’ve tried something similar before, they don’t have the time, or their bank account is bare.
Tell them how you’re different, why they can’t afford not to make time, and why their relatively small investment is one of best they’ll ever make.
There are plenty of ways you can address objections, ranging from case studies to strong testimonials to screenshots clearly showing simplicity in action.
Tell stories or draw metaphors, but never, ever ignore objections.
2. Be specific
Buyers don’t want magic beans that do everything. Well, some do, but trust me, those aren’t the kinds of customers you want.
Your ideal buyer is looking for something that will enhance their life or business in one specific way.
We had to narrow down the options to get to the perfect offer. Because our product did so much — it included education, tools, advice, great support — we spent a lot of time weighing the merits of all the benefits.
In the end, we highlighted the most profitable angle and focused only on that. The other parts of the product became bonuses and upsells. Even though they were all part of the same product, we knew spending time marketing the extras would only confuse the power of the core component.
Take the time to know your market and what they truly need, then sell them only that. Everything else is lagniappe.
3. Be confident in your copy and your product
We were asking our buyers for a lot of money, it certainly wasn’t time to be timid. Confidence in your product is everything, but you must also shed any shyness you might have about making money.
If you’re a writer or a marketer, it’s your job to get paid for your work. If you’re embarrassed to ask for the sale, your buyer will know it, and they may confuse your lack of confidence in your salesmanship with a lack of confidence in the product.
That’s the last thing you want.
If you’re building a product, make it the best it can possibly be. If you’re writing sales copy for that product, be proud that your words are being used to represent something that will make the business profitable while helping the buyer.
The confidence will show in your writing, and it will make the customer feel confident that making the purchase is a great idea.
4. Be highly adaptable
Yes, you must set a plan in place. (The plan is nothing, planning is everything.)
No matter how well you organize yourself ahead of time, things will go sideways — it’s all part of a launch.
Test as many things as you can at least one week prior to launch, preferably two. Shopping carts, landing pages, autoresponders, merchant accounts — there are too many things that can go wrong to leave it all to chance. Don’t forget to split test your sales pages, too.
Test everything, and know that some things will still go wrong. Set contingency plans in place, but be willing to zig, even if you are 100% certain you are going to zag.
5. It’s not about the money
Money is great, and you should aim to make as much as you can. But if all you’re thinking about is the bottom line of your launch, then you’re thinking of the appetizer instead of the menu.
You should be thinking about the launch that will follow, and the one after that.
There is, of course, value in every launch, but the real value is in the relationships that a well-run launch builds. The people on your list are people, not just leads. Honor your relationships and you will be rewarded over time, and with compound interest.
Charge a fair price for your product, without overcharging. Build something tremendous. Let your market see that you’re passionate about delivering value, and they will return.
Even better, your buyers will tell their friends, virtually guaranteeing each launch will be better than the one before.
6. Enlist the experts
We had the copy and general marketing nailed, but we were also aware of our soft spots. With more than 160 separate emails to manage, plus affiliate relationships, we didn’t want to drop any of the many bouncing balls.
We hired two specialists to help with some of the heavy lifting so we could focus on what we do best. I also work with a terrific partner, Lori Taylor.
Don’t think you have to do it all, and never be afraid to ask for or hire good help. In our case, we had additional people to pay, but it made sense since their involvement more than paid for itself with additional revenue.
You don’t have to hire an expert, but you should still be as prepared for every part of the process as you possibly can be. Dave Navarro and Naomi Dunford have written an excellent (and well priced) home-study course on product launches that I’d recommend to anyone launching a product on a somewhat smaller scale.
7. Service will make or break you
One of the things that made it simple to ask for the sale was that the developers already had a learning community with a reputation for fantastic customer service.
They answer every email almost immediately, know their customers inside-out, and over-deliver at every opportunity. Their forums are well populated with eager teachers and their community thrives as a result.
This consistently exceptional service has built a layer of trust with their audience that made it easy to ask for the sale, since it was a natural extension of a promise made over a prolonged period of time.
8. Your network is important
Ideally, you should have a decent-sized audience of regular readers (blog, email, or — ideally — both) before launching your product.
Yet potentially more important than your own audience is the strength of your network.
It isn’t enough to think, “Hey, if I offer a giant commission, affiliates will line up to promote my product!”
That just isn’t true.
Good affiliates promote products and people they know and trust. Only lousy marketers will mail anything to anyone without regard to their own promotion schedule or existing relationships. (And lousy marketers aren’t going to make you any sales.)
We got great affiliates for our product, but only because every member of the team was able to reach out to their own pre-existing networks.
9. Make it easy for your affiliates to help you
Give your affiliates early access to whatever it is you want them to promote. Not only will this prove that your quality product is worth promoting, it can help get your affiliates excited to bang the drum as well.
Our product made some bold claims, and despite the existing relationships within our network, there may have been some skeptics.
But anyone who spent time with the product was thrilled to promote it, and the active users became our loudest, most avid supporters.
We also had emails written, banners created, and entire sales processes set in place, so that for the majority of our affiliates, promoting the product was as easy as pressing “send.”
Make sure that you, and anyone on your team, is eating, drinking, and sleeping product launch for the immediate time preceding the launch, as well as during the entirety of the launch itself.
A lot of things can go wrong, and a few things probably will, but with the right focus and steady determination, you will wind up ahead.
This is especially true during your first product launch, since it is twice as hard to maintain focus when you’re flying outside your comfort zone. Yet it’s in facing your fears and marching forward that you will find the success you’ve been waiting for.
Don’t let negative self-talk slow you down. No, not everyone will like what you have to sell, but many people will. It’s not your job to please the naysayers, it’s your job to do the best you can for your audience and deliver a product worth launching.
Your launch doesn’t have to be seven figures to be a success. If you build a quality product that cements your authority and helps your audience, your launch can’t help but be a triumph!
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