(Post is only current as of July 2013! Even though the tools have changed, the process is still very similar to what's listed below!)
Several years ago I was DYING to launch something but didn’t have a clue (or so I thought) about how to do it. 1 year later, I was neck-deep in the first Rich, Happy, and Hot B-School launch… and then went on to manage other online launches for LKR Social Media.
What I discovered is that the process of launching was a lot like all the projects I’d produced for video game and film/tv companies offline.
You start with the creation and work backward. Kind of.
So – I made the leap and FINALLY developed my first product (an ebook called The White Space Solution).
After that, it took me another 6 months to release the first round Fearless Launching.
In between, before and after, these 2 projects, I’ve launched almost every type of product you can sell online – kindle book, physical product, info product, group coaching program, live training course, and of course ebook.
Today – we’ll start with this end piece of the launch puzzle – DELIVERING YOUR GOODS TO YOUR PEEPS.
The Usual Suspects
Here are some of the common tools you may have heard you need to deliver your product or service to the people who hit buy now.
- email marketing service
- some alternate real-time way to communicate with the group or your customers
- a membership area
- membership plugin or some way to protect said membership area
- an online “place” to store files
- an online “place” to house videos
- online community or Facebook group or regular ole forum
- a service to help you run live calls or webinars or chats with your customers
But do you need all of these all the time? No.
The trick is knowing what to use when.
I’m a fan of the simple setup or the minimum viable product. This is partly because I’m lazy and partly because I know that like most humans if you put too many ingredients in a recipe, there’s a higher likelihood of not following the recipe exactly and ending up with a janky result.
Seriously – I am the person who searches for recipes or workouts or anything starting with “easy”.
I make sure I don’t have an out – or I didn’t know how to do it excuse.
I’ve found this is especially true when you are starting out or launching something for the first time. It’s too easy to say something like – “Oh well, that’s too hard, I can’t do that, or I don’t know anyone who can help me do that.”
Less is actually more for me most of the time. Plus – I’ve found that it gets me there faster.
The Power of Mostly Working Backwards
I work backward – well mostly. I like to figure out the details from the end of a process all the way to the beginning.
Actually, in all honesty, I figure out the end first as much as I can, then I jump to the beginning and move towards that fully figured out an endpoint.
(Stick with me, it will hopefully make sense in 1 second.)
So – before we get into the details of how to launch something… let’s start at the delivery of your product. And for the sake of this article, I’ll use the word product to mean whatever it is you’re launching, selling, or offering to your audience.
Ok – let’s get to it.
I love the launch. I do. But what I’ve come to realize is that it’s not how fancy your videos are or how often you tweeted your sales page, how many sales you made or didn’t make.
It’s how you follow through and deliver that amazing thing to the people who take you up on your offer that really matters.
Too many times I’ve witnessed products that don’t deliver the way they promised or in a way that makes sense at all.
Tell me this – What’s worse than spending all your energy on a launch only to deliver a shoddy, messy, late product that you get a high % of refund requests for?
Pretty much nothing.
Take it from me – start at the end – and you won’t miss a launch step.
My first product and first official launch (for myself) was an ebook called The White Space Solution.
I did a lot right and wrong – from launch through how I set the product delivery up – but of course, since it was my first – I expected the hiccups and knew how to get back on track quickly.
Delivery was straight forward…
- Create a downloadable pdf. Check.
- Email your customer as soon as there is a successful sale with a link to download. Check.
If you want to protect the book or limit the number of downloads, you can use a service like Gumroad. I used E-junkie because it was cheap and easy to set up.
Pre-Infusionsoft, here’s what I did and used:
- Someone purchases via E-junkie and then pays through PayPal
- Paypal integrates with Aweber
- Customer is added to your customer mailing list
- Customer is automatically sent email thanking them for purchase and directing them to a download page.
- If customer purchases the full version, they are also sent login information for a password protected page holding additional material related to the ebook.
Now that I use Infusionsoft – the set up has changed slightly, but not much really…
If I could do this launch all over again (or when I relaunch the product – hint hint) I would have created an email autoresponder series to remind people to download their purchase, give feedback, and engage them so they can become active members of your community.
Don’t leave it at 1 “thanks for your purchase – here’s your link” email. It’s like a dead-end purchase. You gotta engage so that you can provide those people with something else in the future.
Strive to write 3-5 emails spaced out over the first month of their purchase.
Another thing on my CBB list – create an online space or group for White Spacers to get to know each other – which is now something I’m considering doing as I update that ebook and put together a real learning space for people who purchase the book.
Live-ISH online training program
Fearless Launching is live-ISH. That means that training videos are already created but they are released weekly on a specific schedule. At this time you can’t purchase the product whenever you want.
There are 2 launches per year (roughly), there’s a live Facebook group for the current students, a membership area that drips out content throughout the 6 weeks of the course. I’m available for questions. I usually schedule a few office hours live calls during the course.
Like I said – it’s live – ISH.
What I use to run this program now (as of 2016)
- membership area made by OptimizePress
- Wishlist Member membership plugin
- Facebook group
- Gotowebinar for group calls and office hours
- Infusionsoft to send emails to members
- paid Vimeo account
- Amazon S3 for video, mp3, and pdf storage
Wishlist Member for membership plugin – protect a whole separate site or individual pages, drip content to go live on specific days. There are other plugins that are free – but I never liked them and didn’t find them easy to use. Many technical VAs know how to use Wishlist Member and it’s easy to do a basic membership area for a beginner. Love them.
Gotowebinar – is an easy solution for webinars and group calls. I know it’s not free, but it’s fairly easy to use a service that integrates with Infusionsoft using a free plugin. I like things that integrate well – and that is easy to use!
What I used to run the program the first time around:
I didn’t have anything fancy the first time around – no membership area or plugin – I didn’t even have a Vimeo account. I had all of my videos as unlisted youtube.com videos.
The live group training program
The Fearless Launching Mastermind is a program I run after Fearless Launching – for anyone who’s been through the program. I do it as a bridge, continuation, and more focused group coaching program for graduates of Fearless Launching and it’s application only.
There is no program content – everything is delivered via live calls over a specific schedule.
The only requirement – a way to communicate live and by email to your students.
My bare-bones setup for this group coaching mastermind is:
- Conference line – Freeconferencecallhd.com
- Google Drive – allows members to share their work with me, get private feedback, and plan their launches
- Dropbox – store all calls or downloads on dropbox and share inside the group – also create a folder for members to upload their “stuff” for you to review
- Facebook group – for announcements, community building, and Q & A
Email delivered course
One of the first free offerings I ever created was called the Life Workout ecourse. It was very much in the same vein of The White Space Solution – and very general personal development type of course (part of the reason you probably have never heard of this offer!).
All you really need to deliver this type of product is:
- an email marketing service like Aweber, Mailchimp or Infusionsoft. Take your pick and they all work. If you’re just starting out – try Mailchimp. I love their email templates. It’s easy to set up and it’s free up to 2000 people!
- a fully written out email sequence loaded into your email marketing service. This starts with a customer welcome email and ends with the call for a testimonial, feedback and “how’d you do?”
The only consideration is to make sure you can automate the emails, so when people buy, they automatically get added to the correct – which we’ll cover in the online tools integration article coming soon!
Working with LKR, I’ve had the pleasure of launching different types of products and was extremely excited to tackle a physical product.
I worked on every part of the process – from the creation of all the content to the packaging and printing to the distribution. And learned a ton in the process.
Here’s what helped – working with a full-service fulfillment and printing company (Disk.com). Hiring a designer to pull together a cohesive layout and design for the workbooks was critical to the final product.
But having that full-service company that created the proofs for the books, making changes we couldn’t anticipate until we saw it in our hands and then ultimately getting it to our customers – that was invaluable.
Advice: Find a full-service printing and distribution company – or just use Disk.com.
Delivery requirements: in a perfect world, you’d have a finished product ready for shipping, but sometimes (usually) there are delays… do your best to make sure people don’t wait TOO LONG…
When creating a collection of physical workbooks, we made sure that printing was nearly done before offering ANYTHING to anyone AND we did a very small run of the books to see if it was something they wanted in the first place!
Things we should have clarified earlier – our refund policy and process! Knowing the who and how to handle refunds and returns is important with a physical product. You must be prepared for even 1 refund.
If you’ve been used to just issuing a refund and removing access to your digital programs when people want a refund, get ready.
You’ll need to go a step further and make sure there’s a clear return policy – let people know what address to return to – and how refunds are handled.
Disk.com handled all printing, shipping, integrated well with Infusionsoft, accepted the few returns we had, and also informed us when it was okay to issue refunds.
Again – I can’t stress enough to try to find a company like this who is used to working with online companies…they did so much more than what’s listed above which was especially helpful going into a totally new process and type of product.
As with all the other types of products – communicate everything from updates, bonuses, and delays – especially when selling a physical product.
Now that you’ve seen a handful of products and how they’re delivered – you’ll likely see there’s a lot of overlap.
Once you know exactly what you are delivering and how it will be delivered, make your list of must-haves. Once you have that must-haves list cut back to the bare minimum.
You can always add-on optional pieces once you have the basic service/delivery set up:
- The community – a simple Facebook group
- Live monthly calls
- Membership area with additional content and alternate formats of the product
The only trick is this: only commit to delivering what you know you can deliver. Don’t try to go that extra step to be fancy or measure up to what you think your product should “look” like.
Before you get to work – forward this post to one person who might need help setting up their product!