When you run a launch, stakes feel remarkably high.
You want your launch to do well. You want to make a whack of money. You want to impress your list.
(And maybe also impress the people in your life who have their doubts about whether you’re going to go anywhere with your business. Perhaps. Maybe.)
You want your launch to succeed, and you don’t want to screw anything up.
But there are a lot of moving pieces to a launch. And you will screw some of them up, especially at the beginning.
As you run more and more of them, you’ll screw up less and less.
But you can also screw up less by avoiding rookie mistakes.
I’ve taken the liberty of explaining 13 of them here, so your next launch can make more money.
Mistake #1 – No “warning” about the launch.
Putting together a product, class or new service and getting all the launch details in order at the same time creates a lot of balls to juggle. Sometimes, so many that it doesn’t occur to people that they need to give their list a heads-up that something is about to be on sale.
Launches without that “heads-up” step can take your audience by surprise – and that can make them start to tune-out your promotion. There was no moment for them to build anticipation – just a “buy now!” out of nowhere.
Do something (anything!) to give them that advance warning. Yes, it can be a perfect sequence of strategically designed pre-launch content. But it can also be as simple as a day-before-launch email that says “something’s coming”. It doesn’t matter what it is – just make sure it exists.
Mistake #2 – Too short a launch window.
First-time launches can be daunting to those who struggle with a fear of selling, and one of the ways that comes out is with a short launch window.
The intent is pure – “I don’t want to promote for too many days or people will get upset!” – but a too-short window means that potential buyers don’t have a chance to think through whether or not they want to buy.
(Ironically, the people who “will get upset” get just as upset with a short launch window. If they hate the idea that you are selling something, that has nothing to do with you.)
Too short a window can also be a problem with higher-priced items – people need to think through whether they’re ready to make that kind of investment, or they may need to move money around, or wait till payday. If you’re selling something with a bigger price tag, it’s even more important you don’t cut things short.
Mistake #3 – Too long a launch window.
Launches are all about keeping sustained attention throughout your promotional window. That becomes harder to do – and requires more finesse – the longer you make that window.
Think of your launch like a movie or a book – pacing is everything. If the storyline feels like it’s dragging out forever, with too much time between noteworthy events, you’ll tune out. The same thing happens in a launch.
If you must run a longer launch window, you can work around this by making your pre-launch and launch emails noteworthy. You’re interrupting people’s day with an email, so make that interruption worthwhile. (For example: you could include “training” inside your launch email sequence.)
Incidentally? My longest launch window had over 3 DOZEN pieces of content – no joke. The way I handled that was to make 90% of them educational enough that even non-buyers wouldn’t get sick of them – or, I banked on the fact they’d forgive me.
Mistake #4 – Not mailing on the last day.
If you’ve taken any launch training, you probably know how important it is to mail on the last day, so this one will be obvious to you.
If you haven’t, here’s why: The majority of your buyers will buy in the last 24-48 hours. This is just as true offline. (Malls on Christmas Eve or Valentine’s Day, anyone?)
People forget, procrastinate, or get distracted throughout your launch. And we’re talking about guaranteed buyers here – the people who say to themselves, sometimes out loud, “Oooh! I’m gonna buy that.”
If you don’t email on the last day, you will lose a hefty portion of those “guaranteed buyers”. If you happen to be one of those people who feel weird emailing on the last day because you’re afraid it feels pushy, remember that. Someone told me once that they never email on the last day. Her reason? “People are grown-ups. They’ll remember.”
WE ARE NOT GROWN-UPS. WE’RE TALL TODDLERS.
(Oh, and it’s generally a good idea to mail twice on the last day – once in the morning, once in the evening. Because forgetfulness, above.)
Mistake #5 – Over-reliance on social.
Social media is one of the easiest places for people to tune out your promotions. The algorithms are rapidly evolving to make sure that even people who like your Facebook page or follow you on Instagram see less and less of your content.
This is especially when the content is promotional, and especially when you’re not paying for boosts to your content. If you want your promotional messages on social media to be visible, it’s pay to play from this point out.
Should you promote paid offerings on social? That’s your call, from both a branding and a financial standpoint. But if you do promote on social, don’t expect the same kind of response you’d get from a dedicated message to your email list. (Unless you’re investing money in ads or boosted placement. Then you’re dealing with a different story.)
Mistake #6 – Launching the same product again too quickly.
Let’s say you have a list of 5000 people. You launch in January, and sell 250 units of your thing. (Good for you! That’s 5% conversion, and a whack of money.)
Now, it’s April, and you could sure use some extra cash. So you start thinking that the January launch went so well that you can just launch it again!
If your list has grown a lot over those few months, it might do very well indeed. But if it hasn’t… chances are that your sales will quite low. Scary low.
There are a number of reasons why this doesn’t tend to work. Maybe people tune it out the second time because it’s the same thing too soon. Maybe the number of people who said “I’ll get it next time” is too few. Maybe your first launch did so well because it was your very first product, and that gave you a bump in novelty from your list.
Re-launches need a lot of time or a lot of list growth. Both is better.
Mistake #7 – Too many options on the sales page.
When it comes to that final part of the sales page where you ask people for money, their primary decision is “Do I want this or not?” That’s one decision, and it’s a whopper.
When there are multiple options on the sales page for different products, packages, bundles, payment options – that now becomes a set of several yes-or-no decisions.
If that decision is easy, it’s not a big deal.
- Small, medium, or large? Now I’m just deciding on quantity.
If that decision is complicated, it’s now a big deal, indeed.
- A 4-week class?
- Or a 4-week class plus a private Facebook Support Group?
- Or a 4-week class plus a private Facebook Support Group plus a VIP day plus a live event? Oh, and how would I like to pay?
Now your buyer has to decide on a bunch of different things with different features and benefits, and whether or not they want or need them all…
…and it’s just easier to decide not to buy. It avoids the potential regret of “missing out” on the other options.
Keep it simple. If your buyer has to put significant thought into your options, that’s not good for sales.
Mistake #8 – Launching to a cold list.
Fallen off the face of the earth for 3 months or more? Your list is officially cold. If you don’t already have a lot of name recognition and affection, a good launch is going to be hard to pull off.
It can happen, yes. But I wouldn’t bank on it.
Spend a healthy amount of time warming up your list again before a launch by sending them the kinds of emails they expected to get when they got on your list in the first place. That could be weekly for four weeks. That could be every other week for six weeks.
It doesn’t matter how you warm them up – just warm them up. Let them remember who you are, and let them see that you’re back to business as usual before you hit them up for money.
Mistake #9 – Setting the price too high.
For a buyer to consider a price to be “too high”, one (or more) of the following things must happen:
1) Your positioning has to be “off”. You’ve set a big price tag without doing a good job of selling the value.
2) Your pricing is based on YOUR perceived value. You’ve set a big price tag because you just know it will be so worth it for people. But the people don’t see it the same way.
3) Your branding/reputation doesn’t support the price. Your audience sees the price tag, sees you, and doesn’t feel like it’s a match.
4) Your pricing is based on what YOU want the pricing to be. You want to sell your product for [insert price] because, well, because.
A few other notes on pricing:
- If you want to SELL a $500 class… you have to make a class that’s clearly worth $500 to the buyer. You cannot simply “price it high” because you want to make the big bucks.
- “Too high” is not remotely the same thing as “expensive”. My Stuart Weitzman flats are expensive. So is a house. The price is not “too high” just because it happens to be a large number, provided it falls within expectations for what that kind of thing should cost.
Mistake #10 – No scarcity/urgency component.
When you launch something, you must draw attention to a valid reason people should buy NOW. You need to light some manner of fire under their ass. If you do not light said fire, they will say “Oh, I’ll get that later.” (Spoiler alert: Nobody gets to it later.)
Scarcity (limited quantity) or urgency (limited timeframe) can be scary for some sellers. So they don’t incorporate either of those components, and they wonder why launch sales fall flat.
The answer is that there was no reason to buy NOW. You need to have a reason. Whether it’s a time-limited discount, or you’re about to raise the price, or there are limited time bonuses, or the product going off the market – if you don’t have one of those, it’s not a launch, or even a promotion. It’s an “awareness campaign.”
Mistake #11 – Not encouraging questions.
No matter how much information you put on your sales page, more people than you can imagine simply won’t read it.
They’ll get to some point on the page, and they’ll start skimming. And these people are BUYERS, not tire-kickers. The number of heavy repeat buyers that email me asking for details that are right there on the sales page would surprise you.
And that’s great. I’m more than happy to answer people’s questions about the products I’m selling. And I encourage it in just about every email I send during a launch.
People skim. Or they don’t skim, but they don’t pick up all the data. Or they read very carefully and forget half of what they read. (Three-quarters, if you’re me.)
If you do not encourage emailing in with questions, people who have them aren’t that likely to go out of their way to contact you, and simply won’t end up buying. You have to take leadership and keep offering the opportunity to get in touch, over and over again, so they have something to respond to.
Mistake #12 – Not running the sales page by someone.
There’s a lot of work that goes into writing and setting up a sales page. If you’re the only one doing the work, you’re simply not going to notice things that “don’t work” in your final draft.
It’s just like a book – you don’t proofread it yourself. You give it to someone else who can look at it with fresh eyes.
It’s easy to make mistakes on your sales page that can weaken it or make it confusing. After a while you lose your objectivity. You don’t see that this section looks out of place, or that your description of something is unclear, or that you repeated yourself (again!) in the middle of the page.
It’s great if you can get a marketing consultant or copywriter to look at your sales page before it goes live. They’ll fix a lot of rookie mistakes for you, but it’s expensive.
But even if you asked your best internet friend to give it a once-over, they’ll catch plenty of things for you. Find someone – anyone – to look at your page and give you feedback on anything that doesn’t make sense.
(Caveat: Take specific “preferential” feedback with a grain of salt. You’re not asking them if they LIKE the sales page, you’re asking them if they UNDERSTAND the sales page.)
Mistake #13 – Becoming a basketcase mid-launch.
Launches feel weird when you don’t have experience under your belt. If you don’t know the patterns of how launch sales work, you’ll start freaking out.
But launches are a crapshoot. You never know how they’ll turn out, and you’ll never know exactly why they did really well or really poorly, unless you made a major error.
Sometimes you’ll get a big spike of sales on your first day, and sometimes you’ll barely sell anything. That’s normal. The first day is a weird one, like a coin flip.
Most of your sales won’t happen until the last two days. That can be scary if you don’t realize it. You’ll spend 75% of your launch cycle not knowing how it’s going to pan out.
If you stress about this, it will shake your confidence. And that will come through in your promotional emails if you’re writing them in real time. Your buyers need to see that you’re cool and collected from the beginning of your launch to the end.
In reality, your sales will be what your sales will be. You never count your money while you’re sitting at the table. Don’t worry about the final number when there’s still time running down on the clock. Go play Catan with your kid, or have a cocktail, or take a hot bath.
Or all three.
(That’s what I do, at least.)
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