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A comprehensive guide to launching your product, service or offering

Monthly party for patients at the Mountain View General Hospital, Tacoma, Washington
Photo from The Creative Commons

What does it mean to launch?

This is when you put your offering, product or service into the world. It usually involves some sort of hoopla to get people excited about what you’re doing.

When I was trying to plan the launch of Coaching Practice in a Box I made myself crazy. I couldn’t see around having to do an official launch, but every plan I came up with felt awful. I kept revising my plan, circling each time closer to what I really wanted. Then I’d wait a couple days, decide to scratch everything I had planned and start over. Again, I would circle closer to what I really wanted then start the whole process over again.

My coach gently prodded me to make a plan and send her the schedule. I tried, but couldn’t do it.

That important question came up–was I resisting because I was scared or was I resisting because it really wasn’t the right thing to do? Since EVERYONE else did a launch, how could I expect to birth my baby without one?

Basic launch recipe: the essential components

This is what I was looking for as I was floundering around trying to figure out what to do. I’m always looking for the perfect marriage between common sense business principles and following my original and unique vision.

To launch, you need to have:

1. Something to launch 

This can be anything from a blog post to a longer program. Anything you want to roll out into the world and let people know about is something that needs to be launched. For the purposes of this blog post, we’ll focus on things you’ll be paid for. The basic principles apply regardless of what you’re working on.

2. A way to tell people about it

You need to know who the right people are for your product. Then you need to tell them about it. There are approximately 1 zillion ways to go about this. Decide what method you want to use based on your personality and taste, the flavor of your offering, and the level of support you have in your business.

3. A way to take payment  

You need a way to take their cash. This probably means PayPal. I use eJunkie for products. When I’m taking money over the phone or in person I use Square. It also means you need a process. Go through this process yourself a few times to make sure it’s easy and makes sense to the person buying it.

Launch ideas 

Here is a short list of launch ideas for you to riff on.

Give something away 

That could be a taste of what you’re selling. For example, I could have given away one of the meatier chapters in Coaching Practice in a Box to give people a taste of the quality and depth of content. I considered giving away the entire Website, Zero to Done section.

Or it might be something peripherally connected to what you’re selling. For example, I considered doing a free call or email series about getting 3 new clients. I also considered creating a pdf and webinar for the 5 steps to setting up your coaching practice.

People often do a free preview call. They promote the heck out it for a couple of weeks to get as many people signed up for it as possible. Then they do the call and make a short pitch at the end or in follow up emails. Some people pitch the whole time and that’s just annoying. But this isn’t a guide to an annoying launch. It’s a guide to an effective and authentic launch.

Throw a party

This is like a grand opening party that retail stores do. They put up balloons, have entertainment and give stuff away. To do this with an online business, use a live service like Livestream or do a live webinar and gather prizes from people that you can give away. Add a social media component to this to generate more interest and participation. People often get drunk during these live things. It’s a little bit disconcerting to see people in front of a computer screen drinking it up, but if that fits your personality, drink it up baby!

How to decide what approach to take for your launch

Consider your options, stalk your online heroes and peers, then stop it.

Get quiet and soften your awareness. Ask “What wants to happen here?” Consider the soul of your offering and ask it how it wants to be born.

When I did that for Coaching Practice in a Box I saw that it wanted to be personal and spread slowly over time. No party, no fancy hoopla, no free taste. Personal and intimate is the way I roll the best, so this is the path I chose.

I decided to invite people personally to check it out. Then I told the coaches in my coaching clinic. Then I added an affiliate program. That just means that if you refer people to purchase it, you’ll make some cash for sending them over. I initially rejected the idea of an affiliate program because if seemed too internet-markety. But then I realized that it’s a natural support for something that I want to grow primarily based on word of mouth marketing. Then I asked my colleagues and friends to talk about it on social media.

Then I sent one email to my e-letter list and I hit my sales goal within a day.

Checklist

There are a lot of project management systems available. My favorite is a shared Google Doc. Keep a list of everything that needs to be done with the initials of the person responsible next to each task. Like this:

  • Finish sales page SWY
  • Create a badge SWY
  • Proofread MS
  • Format testimonials DCY

It’s extremely low-tech yet effective.

Jonathan Mead at Paid to Exist has a great launch checklist for you to follow. Click here to check it out.

 

Now, you. What advice or questions would you add? Let’s chat in the comments.

14 Responses to A comprehensive guide to launching your product, service or offering

  1. Cathy Sykora December 10, 2012 at 11:59 pm #

    Sarah, I love it….be ready to take money! That would be #2 right after…have something to send them:) Thanks for a nice blog and the added bonus of the 40 step checklist! ~Cathy

    • Sarah December 11, 2012 at 2:40 am #

      I know, Cathy!
      It’s all Captain Obvious when you see it like that, but when it’s swirling around in the freak out of your brain it’s a different story.

  2. Mindy Crary | Creative Money December 11, 2012 at 1:01 am #

    Such a nice, straight-forward, no-nonsense list! I really appreciate you going through this because I am planning a launch in 2013 and it was nice to see all of the considerations in one place, along with some super-helpful links as well. Thank you!

    • Sarah December 11, 2012 at 2:41 am #

      Fantastic! If you’d like a semi-neurotic view of what it looks like to prepare for one, you can scroll through my last few posts. :)

  3. rebecca @ altared spaces December 11, 2012 at 2:29 pm #

    I’ve been thinking about you! It is so great to hear that you reached your sales goals EASILY. This helps me. Thank you for writing this.

    • Sarah December 12, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

      You betcha, sweet pea. Use this post as a springboard to launching your upcoming programs your way.

  4. Christie Halmick | Jewels Branch Creative December 11, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    Once I got past the “#1 Something to Launch” hurdle the rest of the process has felt very good to me! I really resonate with the “What wants to happen here?” birthing approach to launching.

    • Sarah December 12, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

      Yeah. That “something to launch” part is kinda key. And overlooked when it comes to business design and creation.

  5. Pam Pearson December 11, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

    I like that your solution is simple and focuses on the basics! Sometimes I over complicate things and then get nothing done. I also believe in having realistic expectations and being willing to change my expectations for the right reasons. Following through on something when it doesn’t make sense anymore is worse than changing direction. I’m going to bookmark this for my upcoming launches. Thanks!

    • Sarah December 12, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

      Oh, for sure. I love that quitting is a viable option. Follow through for the sake of follow through isn’t very valuable.

  6. Jenn Burton/ HaveHimYourWay December 12, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

    I love this breakdown. I love the part about getting quiet. It is so easy in business to get caught up in the noise. These are awesome strategies!

    • Sarah December 12, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

      Yep. Thanks Jenn! Look around, stalk your peers, then stop that shit and go inside. :)

  7. Heather Thorkelson December 12, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

    This is a great breakdown for anyone headed for their first launch. So many people miss the boat on point #2! They don’t know who they’re selling to and they don’t reach that audience with their marketing!

    • Sarah December 12, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

      Yep yep yep. For sure.

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