I just wrapped up a soft launch for our Leveraged Business Accelerator programme and I have to say, it was tough!!! So let’s talk about successful program launches, are they necessary and is there really a product launch formula.
I’m basing this short episode on questions I’ve been getting about audience building strategies and successful program launches. I’m busting the myths about what it takes to launch your program(me) successfully or whether an evergreen strategy is better for some of us.
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I don’t usually subscribe to the whole launch strategy approach – perhaps because it’s quite alien to the B2B consulting game. But I could see many successful launches happening so decided in the end to stop I holding back.
Before, I told myself I couldn’t compete, because I wasn’t ready or that I was too busy to do a whole launch thing and because I didn’t want to be juggling balls! Watching and being involved in a few, it seemed that what it took to have successful program launches!
Back around this time last year, I had just finished writing my book. I embarked on planning for the podcast and designing the mentoring programme that goes with it.
You see, I’ve been super busy all of last year building the runway for my new Leveraged Business Accelerator that was much more aimed at solo professionals and the small business owner. So a launch did seem appropriate.
Plus, I get a lot questions from clients who work more B2C and want to know about product launch formulas – how to bring their program to the right audiences and how to close the sales.
So I felt I should give it a go myself, right?!!
If you listened or watched my webinar-podcast I did that released on New Years’ Day (multi-format: YouTube video version, podcast episode and blog article), you’ll have followed the journey that culminated in a very productive 2020 for me personally, despite special circumstances.
I was just starting to put together the structure and materials together for the Leveraged Business Accelerator programme when Covid-19 hit. Over the months that followed, everything felt less predictable and everyone felt very uncertain about the future.
Even though I knew books, podcasts and online learning don’t require anything face-to-face – and that the programme would be an online and virtual experience – I did wonder if people’s focus would be elsewhere.
In the UK, I could see many people in the consulting, coaching and practice-based professions feeling confused and concerned. Client work was cancelled (including my own corporate clients), face-to-face work wasn’t possible, people were being laid off, kids weren’t in school, and families were feeling the strain.
I had to wonder who was going to spend money on a programme amidst all that uncertainty?
My target market were small business owners and many were falling fast into dire financial straits. Even though I knew I could help them, I convinced myself it wasn’t the time to launch LBA right now, and I waited to see how things progressed.
Yet, I could see many successful program launches happening, but again, I held back (doh!). I told myself I couldn’t compete, I wasn’t ready, I was too busy! And me, super organised, an e-learning specialist with content that was market-ready!
Can’t believe I made this about me and procrastinated. Definitely a case of imposter syndrome and/or perfectionism creeping in there – aha.
Anyhow – I kept the faith.
I knew my methodology for turning businesses around works really well. On the consulting, tech and mentoring side, I’d already helped both organisations and small businesses get unstuck, break through bottlenecks, fix what’s not working and create more leverage for long term sustainable growth. And from the coaching side, I understood the common frustrations and the mindset, marketing and money solutions. If I wasn’t ready now, I never would be.
Anyway – I launched.
Well, it was definitely more of a soft launch than a big song & dance, but taking action really helped me focus in on what’s important to my clients to the people I most want to help. So I knew my launch content was good. But would anyone spend money on a program?
Actually – lots of people. People know they have to pivot, they have more time and they have more urgency. So despite the dire circumstances, we did surprisingly well.
Nonetheless – it was a struggle.
I didn’t have a successful program launch in the sense of a 6-figure launch. I didn’t hit my numbers, which isn’t a bad thing because it was a stretch and we realised we needed more lead in time and a bigger audience.
What I learned is that although the book and the podcast were doing well, and I’d set LBA at half the usual price point, my list wasn’t nearly big enough to launch something right out of the gate.
I learned a very important lesson about successful program launches. And that’s a great win! I used the formula, yet there were many other factors at play that influenced the resulting numbers.
However, I’d argue that having successful program launches isn’t just for those who have a big list and want to claim they had a six figure launch. It’s about making sure you have the financial runway to build an audience of engaged and responsive people, and the capacity to deliver after people have bought.
None of the product launch formulas will work if you can’t invest time and money in making sure everything goes smoothly before, during AND after.
And the expenditure as you grow your business is pretty scary if you’re not sure you can guarantee a win.
However, from what I know talking with people in my strategy calls, many of you are cutting off your own oxygen supply. Either by bootstrapping or not getting the mentoring you need to succeed.
There are great formulas for successful program launches – but there are no shortcuts.
You can’t bootstrap and expect to reap the big bucks. It’s actually MORE stressful trying to get your product to market on a shoestring! And you can’t ‘go it alone’ and not expect to fall over a few times before you get things lined up.
My own problem with this launch – and why I took the “so-called” soft launch approach – is three-fold:
1. I don’t actually like the launch model
2. I tried to take a short cut.
3. I tried to run before I’d walked.
There’s a reason many people decide NOT to run this business model especially after trying it and having it flop. Because so much rides on it.
I’m not convinced the usual launch strategy of challenges and bootcamps is always the way forward. People are tired of that model – they want connection not content.
The better approach and one I’m sticking to is outreach.
Think about how quickly you can build rapport and form a bond with someone in person or even over zoom. Sending out a series of “nurturing” messages via email is never going to come close to a real conversation, right?
When you can see or hear the other person, the connection happens way faster because there are all kinds of visual cues – body language, intonation, eye contact (if you look at the person or the camera when you’re talking of course!), studies have proved that they all “nurture” that sense of trust.
When you’re working at the high-end – that is you’re charging 2k for your programme not selling a $97 course or membership, your time is best spent reaching out to your target audience, sharing great content, growing the relationship and building trust.
Conversation is key.
If you can have one consultative session with a potential client for your programme and through that dialogue, they have an ‘aha’ moment, it’s creates a bond. Because you’re able to shine a light on what’s been a blind spot for them, you have instant credibility.
When you show up for your perfect people, they show up for you!
Plus, it means you’re able to pre-qualify everyone who joins you in the programme. When you just persuade through your launch content, you never really know who you’re going to get or if they’re a good fit for what you do and how you work with people.
So, whether you’re launching a programme or just trying to sell a high-end one-to-one service, your sales process may need some tweaking.
People are struggling with energy, focus, motivation. They’re full of anxiety, questions, dilemmas. They may still need what you offer, but reaching them, keeping their attention, and getting to a ‘yes’ that feels good for you both, means you’ll have to pack way more into a launch strategy than may have worked previously.
When you offer connection human being to human being, you won’t have to do a lot of extra nurturing and follow up to get people to come to a decision to sign up with you.
It’s why I believe moving everything towards the invitation to talk – to have a real conversation – is the winning model for building the relationship needed for people to know you, like you, trust you, work with you.
People do NOT want yet another launch.
I believe what people want most is clear direction and real connection. So my advice is this: show up for your people not your launch plan.
It could be just the ‘aha’ conversation you need!