How We Launch, Part 7: In which we sell 3 unrelated things and it actually worked.

This is part 7 of a 9-part behind the scenes series on how we ran our biggest launches. You can start at the beginning right here.

Spring was rolling around and it was time to release a few new products.

Since Dave and I had started working together, we had so many products in the production queue that it was a tough call to figure out when to release them and in what order. We had more products than we had launch slots, and the backlog was getting worse instead of better. We had three ebooks in particular we wanted to release next, though, and we wanted them out as quickly as possible.

(You see, we had next year’s Black Friday sale to think about, and the longer the products are in the store, the more time people have to get used to hearing about them. Get enough exposure at launch, and then come sale time, the cash register goes ding ding. If you take Big Launch, we’ll talk about this in the Launch Objectives section in month one.)

So we’re sitting on three products we really want to get out to the audience, but we didn’t want to run three separate launches. (“Didn’t want to” here is actually code for “it would defy the laws of time and space”.) There’s only so exciting three consecutive ebook launches can be, and unless we wanted to run a launch every three weeks, it just wasn’t going to happen anyway.

Also, we wanted to preserve the “you never know what IttyBiz is going to do next” factor. (It’s good for business, and it confuses the competition.)

This is something a lot of people don’t realize:

Once you’ve proven something is successful, and you’ve taken the risk to see if the market wants something, competitors will come in and, well, compete. The more you switch up your offer strategies, the harder it is for competitors to figure out what the hell you’re doing and subsequently rip you off.

The benefit to the audience is good, too, in that you always stay fresh to them and your competitors can start looking a bit stale.

In a typical launch promotion, we tend to offer the product at half-price during launch and then at the end of the launch, it goes into the store at full price. It’s simple and straightforward and generally, everyone is happy.

But with three products being released, it’s a little tricky. You can offer all three at once, with the option to buy whichever they want at half price, but then you have three separate buying decisions to make on three separate products no one has ever heard of. Not ideal.

And truthfully, it’s more than three buying decisions. It’s:

  • Do I want A?
  • Do I want B?
  • Do I want C?

But it’s also:

  • Do I want A and B?
  • Or do I want A and C?
  • Or do I want B and C?
  • Or do I want A, B and C?

And as the seller, of course you want the maximum number of people buying all of them.

So you incentivize each one – let’s say it’s half price. But do you further incentivize buying two? Do you even further incentivize buying all three?

You’d be insane not to offer the deepest discount for the biggest bundle, but if you do that, now you’ve got three products, seven bundles, and three price points.

Hello, decision fatigue.

(I have a headache just writing that, and I’m a pro. A new launcher would throw themselves under the nearest bus.)

Veterans of IttyBiz training know what we have to say on the topic of decision fatigue. If you are not among that hallowed group yet, I’ll give you the short version:

DECISION FATIGUE ON THE PART OF THE BUYER MEANS VERY VERY VERY BAD THINGS FOR YOU.

On top of that, the three ebooks were very different from each other. One was on customer loyalty, one was on recovering from a bad launch, and one was a copywriting course for people who were freaked out by copywriting.

They didn’t naturally end up as a bundle that made sense. There would definitely be people who wanted all three, but chances were that a lot of people would only want two of them, and it was impossible to know which two they’d want.

(Plus, what kind of launch content are you going to create that does each of these three topics sufficient justice? Oy vey.)

Here’s what we decided to do.

We decided to go insanely simple and just make it a 3-for-1 offer. $97 gets you all three books. The idea behind this is that it could come across as a bonus offer rather than a price offer – each of these three books were going into the store at $97, but if you bought this week you got all three.

So if someone wanted only one of them, they might want to buy now because it wouldn’t hurt to get the other two for free. That was the core ethos of this offer.

When we did the launch, we had to figure out what kind of content we were going to have in our emails. As you know by now, typically, we might do something like a 4-part email series on the topic of the product, so we could have interesting things for the people to read whilst we kindly asked them to give us money.

Since these three products were completely different, there was no common ground, content-wise. So what to do?

(Answer: Lots of meetings. “Meetings” here translates to “visits to the little wine and cheese place with the huge chorizo, down by the cathedral.”)

Well, we decided to go meta. We created a 6-part series of monster articles called “How We Do It” that would go to the IttyBiz list. We talked about stuff like how we came up with product names, how we decided what offers were going to look like, and how we wrote launch content.

We knew that these would get extremely high open rates due to a) everyone wants to know about launch, and b) everyone wants to peek behind the scenes. (Also, March is boring. People are looking for something to do.)

Dave, who still mailed to his old Launch Coach list periodically, took a different approach. Each day for the same six days he sent an email to his list linking to an online version of my emails, and then dissected them in real time. He explained why I chose certain subject lines, how I created a sense of flow in the emails, and why I chose specific calls to action.

Basically, he opened the curtain and showed exactly how we were selling the products, as we were selling the products.

Another thing to note:

The launch content we released for this launch was long. Each email averaged out to 2,000 words, and I sent six to my list and Dave sent six to his. So, 24,000 words of launch content over less than a week.

That was on purpose as well – if you’re selling three books to people, it helps to get them in the reading mood.

As far as numbers went, the work paid off. The launch went very well, and open rate on both lists was high. Now, also keep in mind that there was a lot of crossover between Dave’s list and my list, so probably about 6,000 people were getting both of our emails every day for six days.

That’s a hell of a lot of content. But open rates stayed high, mainly because of the detail in the content, where we covered tactical detail that doesn’t usually get talked about.

Unsubscribes were higher than normal, but when you email people six days in a row, that happens. But they weren’t commensurate with sales. So in other words, sales were extremely strong, but the unsubscribe rate was only about 10% higher than it would be in a 4-day launch sequence. It was definitely worth the extra emails.

An absolute onslaught doesn’t hurt as much as you think it does, as long as you’re onslaughting people with something legitimately useful. It’s like an onslaught of organic tomatoes, or fudge, or free naps. There’s only so mad the average person’s going to get.

(One more thing: Remember earlier, when we were talking about exposure? From an exposure perspective, it worked for that as well. The loyalty book specifically went on to become our highest selling product for two years running.)

So what do we learn from all of this?

1. Yesterday you learned about the SEO School relaunch, which was the most unspectacular launch you’ll ever see in your life. It worked really well, and it was really low key. In this case, our launch was incredibly co-ordinated and perfectly timed. This launch was a work of art.

What we learn from this is that there’s no one true path. There are best practices, and guidelines, and common sense, and some tricks and tactics. But if you suck at spectacles, YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO SPECTACLES. And if you love spectacles, YOU CAN TOTALLY DO SPECTACLES.

You can launch the way YOU want to launch. If you’re sick of the formula fallacy and you want to actually learn how to do this like a normal person, we talk about your different options and how to successfully pull them off in Big Launch.

2. Your product doesn’t have to be as neat and tidy as you might think it does. In fact, it can be a total mess sometimes. We can often work with a total mess. No, it doesn’t work in every case, and sometimes too motley is too motley. But you’d be surprised at what can be streamlined into a perfectly reasonable offer.

3. People love behind-the-scenes. You are proving that right now. So if you’re stuck for launch content, go with that. I haven’t ever seen it fail. If you have no idea what to do, create a four to 10 part series with the titles “Behind the scenes, part 1” and so on, and make sure to number them. It’s the easiest way to make launch content, and as long as it’s reasonably good, people will pay attention.

So, speaking of behind the scenes …

Next up, we’re going behind the scenes on the Your Next Six Months class. The unique thing about that one was that it was a limited quantity offer. For newbies, that means it’s weird because you can’t decide in advance what your last day is. (That means you can’t plan your emails in advance. Spooky.)

If you sell service, or coaching, or anything with a limited quantity, this applies to you.

Want to know how we pulled it off? Of course you do. Read part 8 now.

Naomi writes more things like this in The Letter. Get it for free today. (It also comes with free marketing courses. You can’t move for free here.)

About the author: Naomi Dunford started IttyBiz in 2006. In her free time, she likes to… ha! Free time. You’re adorable. Learn more about her here and catch up with her on Twitter or Facebook.