The Product Launch Manifesto: Declaring War On Mediocre Launches
The Product Launch Manifesto:
Declaring War On Mediocre Launches
This post is the culmination of over 10 years of experience marketing on the Internet. And it contains my hard-won secrets to launch explosively into the marketplace and build a sustainable online business.
A word of warning though: I’m about to tell some unfortunate truths about what’s really going on in the industry right now in terms of product launches.
And while product launches are still the single best strategy for taking any online business to the next level, the days of the “easy” six or seven figure product launch are over.
We’re going to go into details about why this is and more importantly, what you can do about it. Let’s start with answering a simple question that’s probably on many people’s minds:
Are Product Launches Dead?
In my launch consulting work, I get asked this question on a weekly, if not a daily basis.
Many people are wondering whether product launches still work. It’s common at marketing events to hear people say things like…
“Product launches don’t work anymore.”
“People are so sick of product launches.”
“People are getting ‘launch blindness.’”
“People are hip to the ‘4-part video series’ strategy and it no longer works.”
While NONE of these statements are true, I completely understand why many people are thinking along these lines.
The Reason Why Launches Don’t Work Like They Used To
Most savvy entrepreneurs realize the power of having a six or seven-figure launch.
But the days of being able to “mail it in” and do 7 figures in launch revenue are over.
It’s frustrating when you see your friends and colleagues doing successful product launches while you sit there and wonder what they have going for them that you do not.
It’s even worse when you see someone who just cleared over 7-figures while selling a crappy product.
Many ambitious business owners who are already earning multiple-six (or even 7-figures) in revenue are NEEDING to have a huge launch because they are overextended in their businesses.
Their next launch HAS to work or else their business might soon be in dire straights.
In essence, they might be one bad launch away from not being able to pay their mortgage.
And then they’ll also hear behind-the-scenes that so and so’s launch bombed or failed to meet expectations and this makes them even more nervous about their upcoming launch.
This causes them to think things like:
“Is this the end of my Internet dream? Am I going to have to go back to getting a job soon?”
“Are people going to finally find out that I’m a fraud and don’t really know what I’m talking about?”
“Am I going to be able to pull off a successful product launch? There is just SO much to do. Is this even worth it?”
The good news is that you CAN still pull off a successful product launch. But the standards are a lot higher than they used to be.
And believe it or not, this is actually a GOOD thing.
You WANT to be held to a higher standard, because his will PUSH you to only put out your best work possible.
This gets to the heart of why launches generally are starting to lose their effectiveness. There are two main reasons for this:
Number 1 is Lies My Guru Told Me and:
Number 2 is Failure To Evolve
Let’s talk about each of these:
Lies My Guru Told Me
Here’s the dirty secret about the online marketing industry: 88% of the people who buy online training programs are beginners who have not yet made their first dollar online.
Survey after survey bears this data out.
Not only that, but more than half of the people who purchased during a product launch have already purchased something from a previous product launch.
They’re looking for the latest thing that’s going to lead them to Internet glory.
Until the next thing comes around, that is.
Now of course, it would be easy to put the blame directly on the customer and just say “it’s their problem” that they’re not getting results.
But here’s a seldom spoken-about truth about what that’s a drastic mistake:
The low success rate of most products is the exact thing that allows the online marketing industry to survive.
Think about it: if Jane Customer purchased a $2,000 program, implemented it, and got tangible results soon after, what’s the likelihood she’d buy the next $2,000 product everyone in her inbox is raving about?
Not likely to happen.
My biggest gripe is that many of the products that are sold to beginners are not really designed with complete beginners in mind.
While it’s true that one to five out of a 100 people who purchase online training programs will be able to figure it out and get results, this is the exception that proves the rule.
But selling a program that implies that it’s easy to get to “$10,000 a month” or “$100,000 a month” if you just use the XYZ Marketing System is not cool and will lead to drastic consequences.
Because so many customers have been burned repeatedly by the latest and greatest product that was launched, they are more skeptical than ever when it comes to purchasing new products.
This is a trend that’s going to continue if we don’t do something about it.
Failure To Evolve
The second big reason why many launches are trending downward is because of the Failure To Evolve.
If you think you’re going to do a six or seven figure launch just by doing what worked 12 or even 6 months ago, you’re in for a serious surprise.
What used to happen was that someone would initially launch a product and it would do pretty well.
Then, this expert would use that momentum to get more partners and do a BIGGER launch the following year (of the same product), and an even BIGGER one the year after that.
Lately, however, many entrepreneurs who have previously launched a product successfully are finding out that the follow-up launches are not doing as well as the initial ones.
This is because they’re not evolving: both from a marketing and a product standpoint.
They’re not convincing the audience that this version of the product is NEW and DIFFERENT than the one(s) that came before it.
So whether you’re launching something new or you’re planning on re-launching something you’ve released before, it’s critical that you put some serious effort into making sure your audience can tell that your product is not just the same old same old they’ve seen before.
And Now For The Good News…
If you’ve been paying attention, then you might have figured out the path to having a home run launch and building a sustainable, successful business.
Typically, what happens is Jane Customer buys a product, does not get any results, then buys another product.
The entire online marketing industry is in some ways a house of cards that depends on this reality.
So what would happen under this scenario:
Jane Customer buys your product, gets great results, then buys more of your products.
That would be cool, wouldn’t it?
This really is Business 101 and how we all should be selling.
Now if you can stand out and be one of the few entrepreneurs that really delivers the goods, and if you play the long game, then you’ll eventually be the only game in town as everyone else’s business who is following the unsustainable “sell to beginners who don’t get results” model collapses.
That would be alright, but what would be even BETTER is if the true mission-driven entrepreneurs among us decided to RISE UP together and declare that they are no longer going to launch mediocre products or tolerate those who do.
This would be a true paradigm shift that changes the industry.
This would be a game-changer.
And I for one think it’s time to declare war on Launch Mediocrity and build the businesses that we’re truly capable of building. Below you’ll find my prescription on how we can do exactly that.
3 Steps To Winning The War On Launch Mediocrity
There are three things you’ll need if you want to have a 7-figure launch in the near future: 1) An Astonishing Product, 2) Astonishing Marketing and 3) The Astonishing Connection.
Let’s talk about each of these:
Product Astonishment: Is Your Product Launch Worthy?
The word “astonish” means to fill with sudden and overpowering surprise or wonder; amaze.
Now and in the future, the only products that are going to do over a million dollars in sales and more importantly, sustain that trajectory and momentum are the ones that are truly amazing.
Quite simply: you need to be producing not just the best product you can put out, but the best product that’s ever been put out in your category.
Does that sound like a tall order?
Well it is.
In a recent conversation with my friend Danny Iny he pointed out that with the rise of companies like Masterclass.com, Coursera, and Udemy the idea of online education and learning is becoming much more mainstream.
So instead of dealing with the “niche” buyers we’ve been dealing with for years, we’re encountering more and more mainstream buyers.
Think about how mainstream buyers purchase.
More specifically, think about the type of marketing that the most successful products in existence use.
With many of them, the answer is not much marketing at all: the product itself does all the work.
Here’s another example: think about most of the things you own. I’m willing to bet that you did not end up buying them from watching long sales videos or webinar presentations or being “sold” hard on them.
More likely, they came because they they were recommended by friends.
As I take a look around my own environment I can attest this is true. I’m typing this on MacBook Pro because in 2011 ALL my marketing friends kept reminding me about how much better Macs were than PCs and that I had to switch.
The Garmin racing watch on my wrist was recommended to me by my super personal fitness trainer, Ollie Matthews.
The stand-up desk I’m using is a Varidesk. I’m using this brand because I posted on Facebook a little while ago about how I wanted to graduate to a standing desk and asked for recommendations.
It’s no coincidence that that the MacBook Pro, the Garmin racing watch, and the Varidesk are all world class products.
This same holds true for online training programs as well.
A great example of this comes from my friend and client Todd Herman. In December 2015 Todd launched his Flagship 90 Day Year Program. Of all of the “big” online training programs out there, I believe this one is the very best.
This is the program that has more documented success stories than ANY other online training program. It also has the won the Stevie Award two years in a row for the Best Leadership & Skill Development program and the independent ROI Institute has also conducted an audit on the program and determined it to be the most online training program with the highest success rate.
And here’s the real kicker…
Todd launches this program twice a year and generates multiple millions in sales each time with direct referrals from his satisfied customers as his primary traffic sources.
He also does NOT do reciprocal promotions.
Meaning, a huge portion of is traffic is coming from people who loved his program so much (and got great RESULTS from it) that they are happy to tell their friends and audiences about it.
While some of Todd’s partners are now established “players” in the industry (who got to that point in large part due to Todd’s program), most of them do NOT have huge lists but are still able to generate $2000 sales because they believe so passionately about the program.
The 90 Day Year is the definition of a “launch worthy” program.
It gets excellent results for people and will for years to come.
Another great of example is my superstar client Denise Duffied-Thomas. For the last five plus years she’s built her “Lucky Bitch” brand into a global enterprise and she’s just getting started.
Her core program is her Lucky Bitch Money Bootcamp, which shows women entrepreneurs how to release their money blocks and reach their full potential. While there are countless other programs on this topic, I’d be surprised if any of them generate the types of tangible results that this one gets.
To date, the program has over 4,000 successful graduates and has hundreds of documented cases studies. These type of results helped Denise have her most successful launch to date just a couple of months (over $750,000 in revenue).
And similar to Todd Herman’s model, over 80% of Denise’s affiliates were successful graduates of her program. Just like Todd, creates genuine raving fans by getting her clients transformational results.
It’s another textbook example of a launch worthy program.
If you want to have a million dollar plus product launch (and sustain that success), then you need to make sure your program is launch worthy as well.
Of course, that’s just part of the game. Because of all of the “noise” out there, you need to do everything in your power to make sure your astonishing product really stands out.
In other words, you need to astonish with your marketing as well. Let’s talk about that now.
In our ever-changing marketing climate, you must always be using the best marketing strategies and tactics available to you if you want to have a monster product launch.
With launches, there are certain strategies based on deep seeded human psychology that never change.
They’ve worked for years and years and will continue to work for years and years.
Tactics on the other hand are always changing.
There are certain tactics that worked years ago that simply no longer work today.
The good thing about tactics is that they are relatively easy to understand and implement.
Strategy on the other hand has more nuance to it.
Strategy can make or break your launch. A solid launch strategy falls into the “simple not easy” category. At a high level, a successful product launch consists of three elements:
- The Right Offer
- To the Right Audience
- At The Right Time.
(Note: I wrote a PDF titled the 7-Figure Launch System that goes over these elements in much more detail. You can check out that PDF here)
Top level marketing is important because with very rare exceptions, products don’t sell themselves. As a professional marketer, I believe marketing is both awesome and necessary.
Problems arise when you only focus on marketing to the detriment of the quality of your product.
But if you have an awesome product that truly makes the world a better place, then in my opinion you have a duty to sell your product as hard as you possibly can.
Just make sure you keep your integrity intact when you do this 🙂
After reversing engineering hundreds of the most successful product launches ever, I’ve developed a proven framework for nailing your launch strategy every single time. I call this the Excalibur Launch Method.
While I don’t have space to go into all of the details of the Excalibur Method in this article, it’s something I’ll be sharing much more details about in the very near future. Stay tuned.
So far we’ve discussed two key components to a 7-Figure Product Launch: an Astonishing Product and Astonishing Marketing.
The third component is the Astonishing Connection. Let’s discuss that one now.
The Astonishing Connection (A.K.A. The Non-Scalable Launch Opportunity)
To say we live in a very interesting time right now is an understatement. With technology changing drastically and many online marketers being inspired by the latest Silicon Valley IPO or acquisition, it seems that creating a “scalable” business is all the rage.
Scale, scale, scale.
Scalability is where it’s at. Some people think that if you don’t have an offer that can scale, you don’t have a real business.
And thanks to the current technological climate, never in human history has it been easier to scale a business (in theory) than it is now: we’re able to reach millions of people at time through various social media platforms, talent at all levels has never been more accessible, and developing custom software has never been easier.
This rapid-changing technology has lead to the ultimate irony: because we are so overwhelmed with technology the things customers crave the most are the human connection and genuine experiences.
In other words, we want things that don’t scale easily.
This is why in the near future the winners of the launch game are going to be those who best create a true human experience for their audiences, both in terms of their marketing and the way their audience consumes the product itself.
Essentially, the Non-Scaleable Opportunity is happening right now. Specifically, here are four things your audience is looking for:
1. Communication With The Expert
Your audience wants to talk to you!
Therefore, providing opportunities for them to interact with you will be a huge benefit. There is an art and science to providing certain access to you (but not too much) in an effort to maintain your positioning.
Some of interactive strategies you might consider looking into for your next launch include Facebook Live (and other live streaming); live (NOT recorded!) webinars; and Q and A calls during the product fulfillment stage.
2. Communication With Your Team
As audiences become more sophisticated they typically need more information before making a purchase. Which means they often want to talk to someone before investing in a new program.
While having an FAQ section on your sales page is better than nothing, ideally you’ll want to set up a way for prospective customers to actually get their questions answered by a real live person if they have them.
The two best ways to do this are by providing a live chat function on your sales page and also giving people an opportunity to book a call with you or a team member if they have questions.
When done right, providing live chat and live calls both increases your sales conversions and better serves your audience. Just don’t be a sleazy person that tries to sell your program to someone who it’s not a good fit for.
Lots of people are nervous about how the online game is changing so quickly. I’ve talked quite a few high-level people who are genuinely nervous about whether they’re still going to have a business a year or two from now.
One of the best ways to ensure your business is ready for the long haul is to provide a genuine community experience for your people.
The key here is the word genuine.
It’s one thing to provide a Facebook group for support as part of your program (or even during the pre-launch stage), but it’s quite another to make that Facebook group such an awesome place that people never want to leave.
Creating this type of community is not exactly easy. It does require a certain type of person to manage a community and keep it engaged. But doing this will set you up for years to come.
Coaching and one-on-one support is something that consumers of courses and educational programs are looking for more and more these days. You’d be wise to figure out the best way to provide additional one-on-one support for your audience.
Now, you don’t need to promise to personally coach everyone who goes through your program just because they paid $2000 for it. The key is to figure out a model that works for you. Here are some ideas to get you started:
A) Provide weekly or bi-weekly group Q and A calls.
B) Assign customers who are going through your program a coach, who can provide them one-on-one support. This one is resource intensive but does usually lead to a very high success rate.
C) Provide additional one-on-one support for an additional price (either as an add on to the current program or as an additional high-end offering).
D) Provide one-on-one support (either from you or a team member) within your support community.
E) Once or twice a month provide “office hours” where customers can call you and get 15-minutes of laser coaching.
Communication with you and your team, providing a community, and offering coaching will go a long way towards creating an astonishing connection between you and your audience.
It just so happens that all of these fall into the “hard to scale” category. However, if you’re willing to provide these features you’ll be well ahead of your competition and your business will be built for the long haul.
The Cream Rises To The Top: Will I See You There?
Alright, we’ve covered A LOT in this post. We started out by discussing why launches don’t always work as well as they used to and the risks the industry faces if self-serving entrepreneurs continue to launch mediocre product after mediocre product.
I then argued that because of this current state of the industry, right now is a great opportunity to stand out in the marketplace and have a monster product launch IF you can pull one off in a way that truly astonishes your audience.
This means combining first and foremost an Astonishing Product with Astonishing Marketing and an Astonishing Human Connection.
I truly believe that in the next couple of years (or even earlier) the cream WILL rise to the top.
The “winners” of the product launch game – and the online game in general – are going to be the mission-driven entrepreneurs who have products and programs that truly make the world a better place.
The winners are going to be the ones who put their customers first.
The losers are going to be the ones who prioritize making money and their own ego gratification above what’s best for their customers.
Which category do you want to fall into?
Most likely you want to be in the winner category.
If that’s the case, then I invite you to really spend some time upleveling everything you do in your next product launch.
Seek to ASTONISH your audience at every turn… find out what the market truly needs and then provide that to them with the best marketing material possible.
If you do this, you’ll be rewarded very handsomely.
Not only will your customers thank you, but your back account will as well.
The time to catapult to the very top of the industry is now.
I hope to see you there.
Thanks so much for reading this post. If you found it insightful and if you can think of anyone who might benefit from this content, please SHARE it and help spread the word.
That would mean a lot to me 🙂
Talk to you soon.
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