How We Launch, Part 9!

Is that a light at the end of the tunnel? Indeed it is.

We have reached the very last part in our behind-the-scenes series on some of our biggest launches, and we’re capping it off with this launch we executed when we first wrote this series.

So, we’ve told you about eight of our big launches.

We told you why and how we made our decisions, what our deciding factors were, and how the behind-the-scenes played out.

What are we doing today?  Today, we’re going to do the same with the launch of our BIG LAUNCH class.

From start to finish, we’re going to tell you how we ran the entire promotion – and what you can learn from how we did it.

Let’s begin.

So, how did this class (and launch) come to be?

About two months prior, we finally stopped putting off making this class. We’ve thought about it for what, four years now?  And we hadn’t done it.

Here’s why:  The primary difficulty in teaching launch is the fact that there is NOT a formula to it. Yes, you can certainly package one specific launch process and call it a formula, but that has two problems.

  • One, it’s generally applicable to only one real process. (Four videos and a sales page!) What if you don’t want to make four videos? What if you’re not launching a digital product? What if you’re not launching a product at all, but something other than that? What if you’re not a copy or tech wizard who can roll that specific process out?
  • Two, any formula that “works” will be copied so often that it’s quickly formulaic. (And obsolete.) Remember how the words “awesome” and “rockstar” actually caught people’s attention, and now they’re ridiculed? Yeah. That’s what happens when everyone wants to join the bandwagon.

The thing about launch is that to do it right – to make a launch actually perform very, very well – you don’t just have to know what to do.

You have to know how to think about launch, how to think about getting and sustaining attention, how to think about product positioning, copywriting, customer experience and psychographics, and a lot of other stuff. Teaching people how to think like a marketer takes time and a fine hand.

And that’s big. So when we pulled the trigger, we figured we’d call the class BIG LAUNCH. It’s Big. It’s about Launch. And hopefully, it’ll get our students their biggest launches yet. (See what we did there?)

How we structured the offer.

Because launch is such a big topic, we decided to break the offer into very specific chunks (12 monthly Class Packs) to achieve specific launch objectives. Here’s what we did and why we did it.

  • The program starts off with 3 months of core classes – the basic “Everything you need to know to run a very good launch.” This way people who have launches coming up soon can tweak and fix their launch plans and know they’ve got all their bases covered. People new to launch get their core training fast, and more advanced people learn the nuances that make their current launches better.
  • We always want to make sure our classes start out with immediately useful or actionable information so that people can see material results. Even in long-term programs people have near-term needs. Making sure those get addressed is just good for business.
  • We spread the rest of the class content – the parts that take a very well-structured launch and make it even bigger –throughout the year in monthly Class Packs. This way there would always be something to look forward to, and so that the information would be digestible (we hear a lot about “too much information all at once” as an issue for a lot of people). We called these installments “Launch Multipliers” to separate them from the core content so there would be no confusion.
  • We also wrapped “Office Hours” into the offer, because a major part of what customers say they want is the ability to ask questions based on what they’ve learned. Just as with our very first product, SEO School, having after-purchase support is a big draw in an offer.

When you’re creating an offer, it’s extremely helpful to think of all the reasons people would “almost buy” but hesitate, and adjust your offer to take that hesitation away.

For example, we scheduled our Office Hours to be on weekend days as well as weekdays, which means that people who are busy during the week can be taken care of. (Also, Australians.) A lot of customers have day jobs during the week, and this one tweak can improve the offer for them.

Here’s how we ran our pre!-pre-launch.

As we’ve said before, launches are primarily about a sustained period of attention. Once you’ve got that attention, you can do whatever you want with it. You can have promotional webinars. You can have “answering your questions” teleseminars. You can give away free samples.

We decided that in this case, since we were selling such a teaching-heavy class, we should go with teaching-heavy launch content.

But if you’re going to have that much teaching, you’ve got to get people in the space where they can learn, give them a context to use all that teaching in. So we did five pieces at the beginning that warmed people up to shifting into learning mode and looking to the year ahead.

These five pieces were titled:

We also sent email roundups to people as we were coming out with this pre-launch content so that:

  • a) our list could notice we were coming out with a lot of content,
  • b) they had some time to get used to a higher frequency of emails, and
  • c) they got used to clicking on links that we sent them.

(Hint: People always ask us how to improve click-through. One of the easiest ways to do that is to put some of your best content out on your blog and then send emails with links to them. Your people will get used to clicking on things only to find something very good at the end, which is only good news for you. And them, come to that.)

So first, we ran five pieces to get people ready to learn. Focus on their goals, their aspirations, the obstacles that have stood in the way for them so far. This is warmup.

Here’s how we ran our pre-launch.

We followed the original five pieces of content with seven more pieces that answered common questions about launch. We were now past the warming up stage (that pre-pre-launch above) and now into the “let’s get people thinking about the topic that we’re creating a class about.”

Pre-launch content should always be directly related to the thing you’re selling – whether it’s prepping people for the offer itself, or just getting them thinking about the specific topic – so that when you go full out with your launch there’s not a disconnect of context.

What we did here is survey a pretty large subset of our past clients, customers and supporters and get their questions about launch – the nagging questions that they were wondering about every time they were considering running their own launches.

And we took those results and pulled seven of the most frequent questions and answered them on our blog. We kept the question format and released these seven pieces:

We also made audio versions of these posts, which is something we haven’t done before, and put the audios at the top of each post. The idea here was to incorporate a part of the class offer (a lot of the written materials in the class have identical audio versions) and have the written version there as well.

That way it’s almost like an audio and a transcript, which is how the main lessons in the BIG LAUNCH class are delivered. It’s helpful to make sure your pre-launch content is in a similar format to your product, because then the people who have been liking your content during launch will take that same level of comfort into your product.

So pre-launch was seven pieces on highly specific tactical questions. It’s hard to talk about big concepts or strategies when people have open loops in their minds – it’s hard to learn something strategic when you’re struggling so much with something simple and tactical. So we made sure to answer seven really common questions in sufficient depth to make people not confused anymore.

Once they weren’t so confused anymore, and there weren’t so many spinning records in their minds, we started talking about launch strategy. We ran 9 pieces (including this one) detailing our strategies behind our various successful launches.

Here’s how we ran our launch once the cart opened.

Ok, so now we’ve had five pieces of warmup content, seven pieces of pre-launch content, and we’re moving into nine pieces of actual launch content.

Think about that for a second. That’s a LOT of content – more than we’ve ever delivered before. We’ve run eight videos in a row before, we’ve run seven straight days of email lessons before, but this launch essentially has twenty-one full pieces of content in it.

We haven’t tallied the final numbers for word count, but assuming 2,000 words per piece, we’ve got over forty thousand words going out to our list in the three or four weeks to support this launch. This is a bit extreme (even for us) but since we’re releasing a class called BIG LAUNCH, well, it should probably be big.

So over the last week and a half we’ve put out eight detailed case studies on how we’ve run our biggest launches, with this one you’re reading right now being the ninth.

How do people respond to that much content?

One of the metrics you want to watch during a launch is your open rates and click-throughs (Assuming you’re using an email list to carry your launch communications.)

So far, our open rate is holding nice and steady, which is a good sign.

If your open rate drops considerably during a launch, that’s not a good sign. This usually happens for two reasons:

  1. Your content is honestly not that great (or isn’t relevant), and people are less likely to open your emails as time goes on. Because, well, would you?
  2. Your emails start to become repetitive. Basically the same “Hey, this is for sale” and “Hey this thing is still on sale” emails don’t merit the kind of open rate that new and interesting content can. If all you’re doing is saying the same thing, that’s not going to keep sustained attention.

(This second point doesn’t necessarily apply to your “one day left” or “last day” emails. Your open rate for those will drop like a stone because generally, the subject “Last day for X” only gets opened by people who are really considering X. So don’t sweat it when you see your open rate drop right at the end of the launch.)

Ideally, you want your open rate to stay as stable as possible throughout your launch. Having it get higher would be great, however, that’s not usually what happens unless your subject lines improve over the course of your emails.

Because our launch content is teaching-heavy, there is a “reason why” to open each and every one of them, so that’s helping support the stable open rate we’re seeing during this launch. (This is the sustained attention we talked about at the beginning.)

So what do we learn from all this?

Honestly, we don’t know, because the launch isn’t over yet as of the time we’re writing this post. Generally speaking, we make more than half of our sales on the last day, and the last day is yet to come.

We’ve had a lot of people who are in the class right now send us their intake questionnaires (About 50% send them in within a week of registering.)

There’s been a lot of great feedback so far, and the questionnaires are showing a variety of businesses – from people making $150,000 a year with an existing product and looking to bring it up to $350,000, to people selling a new line of skin care products, to people launching a new coaching practice from scratch. It’s really exciting to see the variety.

But how did it go?

Well, it hasn’t gone yet, so we won’t know until it’s done. That’s part of the fun of launch. :)

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.