Launches are fun.

(OK, that’s not true. Launches are lucrative. When you look back at them, you say, “Wasn’t that fun?” and you think it was fun because something good happened at the end. This is very similar to childbirth.)

Making money while you sleep is also fun.

(Fine. You’re right. I suppose that’s not really true either, because you’re sleeping when it happens. I don’t know why you have to be so pedantic about this. Sheesh.)

On this topic, one of the questions that I get asked most frequently is the following:

“Can’t I just put it in my store and have people buy any time they want?”

The “it” they are talking about is their thing. Their course, their ebook, their membership program, their whatnot.

Can they avoid the whole scarcity debacle and say, “BEHOLD! My thing!” and put it in their store and leave it there forever?

Let us discuss this today.

First, a brief definition of terms.

The types of products we are talking about today are ones that, theoretically, could be taken away. If you’re putting a novel into the Kindle store, you are obviously not going to make it available for 10 days and then take it away again. If you are introducing a new line of soap, ditto. So what we’re talking about are things like information products, courses, membership sites, and the aforementioned whatnot.

If at any point during the reading of this article, you look at me quizzically and say, “Uh… why would I take it away?” then I am not talking about you. You may continue reading because I am smart and funny, or you may go away and come back tomorrow where there will be something new to read here.

For the purposes of this article, we’re going to take some liberties with the definition of both “evergreen” and “product launch”.

In this article, when we say “evergreen”, we do not necessarily mean that the offering will be permanently for sale, or has no timely elements. For the purposes of this article, when we say evergreen, we mean:

“Once this thing is out in the world, the general public can buy anytime. They can buy today, they can buy tomorrow, they can buy four months from now. At least for the foreseeable future, I have no plans on taking this thing away.”

In this article, when we say “launch”, we do not necessarily mean the first-time release of a brand new offering. For the purposes of this article, when we say launch, we mean:

“This thing is not available all the time. There is a window during which it is available for purchase or registration. At the end of that window, availability will be taken away, either forever, or for a while.”

So, to recap. Evergreen means “buy whenever”. Launch means “there is a window and it closes”. Got me so far?

OK. Now let’s look at why people like each option.

People like launch because, when it works, it’s a whole lot of money at once.

People like evergreen because, when it works, people buy all the time.

Launch = holy mother of God, that’s a lot of money!

Evergreen = look! money dripping in every day! ka-ching!

Now let’s look at why people DON’T like each option.

People don’t like launch because:

  • It’s a lot of work.
  • What about people who don’t buy at launch? What if people don’t have the money at launch? What if they’re on vacation? What if they’re at the hospital with their mother getting her hip replaced? What if they need some time to think?
  • Isn’t launch exhausting?
  • What if it doesn’t make any money?
  • Launching seems like something you can suck at.

People don’t like evergreen because:

Blah blah blah, drippy drippy drippy WHERE’S MY BIG PAYDAY?

Still with me? OK.

Ready for me to tell you what to do now?

Awesome.

There are three reasons to put this category of product out into the world.

  1. To make money. Ideally, lots of it.
  2. To add to your general feelings of comfort, security, well-roundedness and stuff.
  3. To provide credibility to your brand for other reasons. (Speaking, coaching, etc.)

If you are in category 1, you have two options.

  • A: You can launch it and take it away, either temporarily or forever.
  • B: You can launch it at a discount and put it in your store, evergreen, for a higher price.

If you want money, there is no non-launch option.

You know how they say, “Put it in your store and you’ll make money every day”?

Or, “If you only sell one copy a day, you’ll make $Blah,blah,blah a year”?

This, like communism, works on paper but not in practice.

The reason people buy during launch is because there is a good reason to buy during launch. There is a reason to buy right now. Even if that reason is “look at this shiny object, perhaps I will part with some of my money now”, there is a reason to buy RIGHT NOW.

That is what drives the majority of sales. Not in launches, not on the internet, but in life.

Take away the reason, you take away the sales. Boo.

If you are in category two, you also have two options.

  • A: You can lightly launch it at a discount and put it in your store, evergreen, for a higher price.
  • B: You can just stick it in your store and link to it every now and again. (You could also buy ads.)

In this case, a mini-launch is nice because it brings in a little money at the beginning, but more importantly, it draws attention. Then all those people who are going to be buying while you sleep? They will now be aware of the product’s existence, thereby increasing the likelihood they will buy it while you sleep.

(I am still looking for a way to get people to buy while THEY sleep.)

This option works particularly well for lower priced products. If your product is $50, this can work.

If your product is $2,000, I wouldn’t recommend this, UNLESS you’re planning to slash the price on Black Friday or something. Then everybody looks throughout the year and says, “Gee, $2000. I sure wish I could afford that.” They put pictures of you and your product on their vision board and when you put it on 50% off sale in November they say, “See? Manifesting works!” and give you a thousand dollars. Yay!

One thing to remember, though, is that if you do this, you MUST have a link on your navigation bar that is called Store, Shop, or Products, and this product must be there. You can’t have it on a random page. You would think this would be obvious. You would be wrong.

If you are in category three, you can do whatever you want.

It doesn’t matter because you don’t care anyway.

BUT! If you are heavily invested in selling your coaching, mentoring, servicing, speaking, or interpretive dancing, you might want to avoid a launch. When you don’t really give a hoot if they buy the product since you’re only doing it for the cred, a launch draws attention away from what you’re really trying to sell. Boo.

Ready for the Executive Summary?

Great.

If you want money, you launch.

If you want the coziness of occasional drip sales, you go evergreen.

If you don’t care, it doesn’t matter.

There. Wasn’t that easy?

 

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.

Pay Your Love First

Recently I wrote an article about having two projects that compete with each other – one pays the bills (if only barely) and the other one is The Big Thing For The Future. This piece wins the award for most emails telling me I’m reading your mind in a totally creepy way, and I got some amazing comments from a lot of people.

In case you need a refresher, we compared your project that pays the bills to dating a rich guy named Bob. Your project that you love and has more long-term financial potential was dating an artist named Mike.

So, Bob and Mike.

One of the key themes that came up on the Bob vs. Mike issue was time.

“I want to give more resources to Mike but I can never find the time.”

“It seems like, just as I sit down to spend time with Mike, Bob wants something.”

“I think I could get real traction with Mike if I could give it a big chunk of time.”

(These are the emails I get, by the way. People actually referred to their projects as Bob and Mike, because my life is completely awesome.)

If this is you, here is my advice. I have ruthlessly stolen it from the financial management community.

Pay your love first.

If you are not yet ready, willing, or able to break it off with Bob, but your plan is to ultimately run away with Mike, you must spend time with Mike first. He gets first call on your time. Even if it’s only a little bit each day, or a little each week, or you have to do one chunk on Saturday or Monday, you must hang out with Mike first.

This is for two reasons.

One, psychically, you need to put your best self where it matters. You must plant a flag in the ground and say, “This? THIS is where my heart is.” The dating analog is that even if you’re spending your whole day with Bob, call Mike as soon as you wake up and tell him you love him. Or devote all of Saturday morning. Or give him the first hour of every day. Mike needs to know you care, and YOU need to know you care.

Two, you will always find a way to fit Bob in. When something, or someone, pays your bills, you always find a way to do what needs to be done. Nobody just forgets to go to work. Nobody says, “You know, I really should go to the office today, but I’m plum beat. I’ll make it up to them tomorrow.” But PLENTY of people do it about the things and people they love.

You have to give your love project first call on your time so that it doesn’t fall off the radar. The dating analog on this one is that you’re always “forgetting” Mike, “too tired” for Mike, or even “too guilty” for Mike. You think that, since you’ve been neglecting him for so long, he’s going to need more time than you have.

No. Stop it.

Spend time with Mike FIRST so you know you won’t bail when you’re tired and foggy later. You’re not going to forget about Bob. He pays your mortgage, obliging fellow that he is.

Where to find the time for this:

If you work from home or in your own office, consider giving Mike your first full hour. Yes, I know it seems like you don’t have time, but I’m writing this in bed, on my phone, with my eight-year-old sitting on my back. I have promised you an email, and you’re going to get an email, even if I have to do ridiculous things to make it happen.

If you can’t do an hour, do a tiny slice in the morning and set your alarm for a handful of updates throughout the day.

If you work better in big chunks, find two chunks throughout the week where Bob is not allowed. Schedule your Mike time just like you schedule your Bob time. If you think you can’t do it, tell yourself you have a medical emergency and you CANNOT let other crap bleed into your medical appointments. (Incidentally, you really want at least two chunks. Momentum, baby. Two times two hours is usually better than one times four hours.)

Hey, remember when you first fell in love? Remember when “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” could stop you from giving the object of your affection the very best you had and more? Remember how you always found a way?

That time is now. Pay your love first.

 

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.

I would like you to imagine something for me. It won’t take long.

Imagine that you are a sample distributor. You give out samples. That’s your job.

To be more specific, you give samples of the same thing, in the same place, every day. Let’s say you give out soft drinks in a promenade outside your cocktail bar.

You’re a fairly charming person, and your soft drinks are quite nice. Maybe you make a new little soft drink cocktail recipe every day – today it’s something with rose hips, tomorrow it’s bing cherry, that sort of thing. Your sample table is a pretty cool place to be, so you have amassed a bit of a following.

Every day, when you get to work, there’s a little crowd of people waiting for today’s creation. And honestly? It feels pretty cool. It’s a wild feeling, having all of these people waiting for today’s creation.

Are you with me? Do you have the picture in your head?

After you’ve been doing this for a while, you start paying attention to people’s feedback.

They say particularly nice things when you put a garnish on the drink, for example, so you start doing that more. They seem to like smaller glasses, so you spend some money on glasses they like more.

But then some of your people DON’T like the smaller glasses. They preferred the bigger ones. And some people don’t want glasses at all – they want paper cups so they can take your samples with them. Having to stand there and drink your cocktails is getting inconvenient. Could you put them in a to-go cup?

You run the to-go cup idea by a few people and in general, they balk. That would be terrible for the environment. If you put your samples in paper cups, they couldn’t, in good conscience, drink your samples anymore. So some people are saying that if you don’t use paper cups, they’re leaving, and others are saying the opposite.

After a while, it’s becoming a fairly complicated endeavour. You used to stand outside and give people tasty sodas, and you got to be creative and dream up cool cocktails, and it was very rewarding.

Now the garnishes are expensive and the glasses were expensive and the paper cups will be expensive and there’s an environmental turf war outside your little booth. A lot of people are yelling at you that you should be doing it this way or that way. It’s getting difficult to parse through the opinions and the threats and ultimatums and just make some complimentary cocktails.

At least once a day, somebody gets mad enough that they storm off in a huff. They tell you they’re leaving and they’re never coming back.

“I’m never taking your free samples again!”

It’s a pretty apt description of content marketing, don’t you think?

I was at a content marketing conference this week, and this is really the picture that came to my mind. Create increasingly better samples (blog posts, list incentives, content upgrades) so that people allow you to send them free samples in the mail (join your list).

The safest position to be in is having an astronomically huge crowd checking out each day’s new sample (traffic). Then get as many of those people as possible to give you their address so you can personally deliver them your free samples.

They never have to do ANYTHING to get these samples. You give them free, forever.

The operating principle is that if you’re giving away enough amazing samples to enough people, some of those people will come to your bar sometimes.

I don’t really know if we can do anything about this trajectory. I don’t know if we’d want to. I like being a content marketer, so I’m not really inclined to change things.

But there is one little takeaway I want to leave you with today.

“I’m never taking your free samples again!” sounds really silly.

If you are a content marketer, you probably get emails from people saying they didn’t like this post or that post or this one point, or that one word.

From now on, I want you to think of these emails like people taking time out of their day, SPONTANEOUSLY and UNPROVOKED, going up to the cocktail lady and saying: “I prefer a little less mint in my free drinks.”

You probably get emails from people saying they’re on too many mailing lists.

I want you to think of THESE emails like people taking time out of their day and saying “I’m getting so many samples from so many people, I’m exhausted from all the eating and drinking I have to do.”

You probably get emails from people telling you that if you don’t do a certain thing, they’ll unsubscribe.

I want you to think of THESE emails like:

“If you don’t agree to my terms, I’m never taking your free samples again!”

If that’s not the funniest thing you’ve heard in a long time, you’re not paying attention.

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.