Over the past two years, I’ve managed several new product launches. One in particular that I’ve been working hard with over the past few months is called Sleep Easily, which is just now starting to blast off to the moon with success. I’m recruiting affiliates left and right and we are even partnering with several Fortune 500 companies to offer the product to all of their employees. Very exciting!
Conversely, some product launches I’ve been involved with have admittedly flopped! Some didn’t even get off the ground, so they sit…80% complete. Others are pulling their weight but haven’t quite seen the traction we had expected.
So, what’s the difference? Why does one product launch take off where others fail or plateau?
My short answer is that a great product launch is a lot like a pro football player—there are about a billion pieces and parts that have to happen in perfect synchronization over time to get them there. One wrong move and they’re applying for a greeter job at Wal-Mart.
Enough with the funny stuff. Let’s get more specific.
I’d like to share 5 things I’ve learned about product launches that no one seems to want to reveal. For some reason, every product launch formula and product launch guru I’ve seen ignores these five things. I wouldn’t be surprised if these are left out intentionallyprobably because too many people will think product launches are too much work and won’t buy their products.
And, they’re right! Product launches are hard work. But, they can be extremely rewarding too when managed properly.
Tom Hanks said it best in one of my favorite baseball movies A League of Their Own when his character referred to the difficulty of playing professional baseball by saying, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it!”
Product launches are very much the same. They are “hard” and not everyone can execute a product launch successfully, especially the first time.
Here are the 5 things I’ve learned about product launches in hopes that the hard work you put into your product launch pays off:
Lost Product Launch Secret #1:
You Can’t Chase Two Rabbits
What happens when you chase two rabbits? They BOTH get away. Try chasing 5, 6, 7 rabbits, and you won’t even know which one to chase! If you’re going to go through a product launch, you must make the financial and emotional commitment up front to pour your heart and soul into this single project for the next six to twelve months.
Here is a small sub-list of three types of people who are probably not a good fit for managing a product launch:
The cash strapped – If you’re low on cash, now is NOT the time to enter into a product launch. You probably won’t financially survive the duration it takes to plan and implement a true product launch, let alone recruit all the talent you’ll need to make it happen.
The dreamer – If you’re the kind of person that acts on five new ideas every day and completes none, you are not the person to be running a product launch. You won’t be able to focus on this project long enough to get it off the ground.
The compulsive perfectionist – A great statistician and business mind, Marshall Thurber, once told me, “Marty, the currency of today’s business is SPEED!” I never forgot that message. Balancing product quality and professionalism with getting the product out the door in a timely manner is a worthy challenge to anyone. If you spend your days beating every detail to death, and revamping what you just created yesterday, you’ll never get the product out fast enough. Your competition will eat you alive and your team will grow exhausted from the repetition.
Simple Solution: Plow the road. Eliminate everything you can from your agenda so you can focus on the product launch process. Then divide your project into segments and get the steps completed with speed and accuracy. Then consider those steps complete and move on to the next steps.
Lost Product Launch Secret #2:
Chemistry is Key
Rarely will a single person possess all the skills required to conceptualize, produce and market a single product and make a million bucks all by themselves. The phrase “takes a village” applies to product launches just like most things in business. For sake of speed, experience, and sharing of multiple talents, people are partnering together to create and launch products (that are successfully brought to market) far more than when a single person goes it alone.
The chemistry you have with your partners will be key to your success in the product launch. Form the right group and you can accelerate your product creation process ten fold. Welcome the wrong people to your team and you will have nothing but toxicity, frustration, doubt, lack of completion, resentment, theft of intellectual property and process, backstabbing, alienation of friends and relatives, and certain financial loss.
Simple Solution: Since chemistry is so key to your success, my recommendation is to never go into partnership on a project until you’ve worked together on a few smaller projects. If you can’t get along on smaller projects, you will have little chance of working together in harmony toward a common goal when heavier challenges occur with a larger project.
Lost Product Launch Secret #3:
Solidify Your Technical Backbone
Whether your product is car tires or ebooks, a mobile app or a custom developed membership website, you simply must either become the person that can deliver the product or have a written plan so that someone can become your technical replacement immediately.
Oh boy, I could write a book on this one. Let’s put it this way as I take a deep breath and crack my knuckles to type this sentence…And, you can consider this an official quote from Marty Dickinson when I suggest: “You will NEVER find anyone as excited about your product as much as YOU are.”
Be realistic and ask yourself a very important question, “When this dedicated and loyal technical person disappears, (and your helpers will always disappear for better pay, greater fame, or to even go in direct competition with you) how will I continue to produce the product?”
Simple solution: Choose a product to launch that YOU can support, or at least learn fast to support, if your technical backbone jumps ship. Your only alternative is to store enough money in your bank account so that you can buy a new person’s immediate loyalty when your trusted help leaves for greener pastures.
Lost Product Launch Secret #4:
Credibility is Crucial
If you think people were skeptical of buying things online in the 1990’s, just multiply by 10 to realize how much more skeptical people are today! Not so much because of fear of having their credit cards stolen like the paranoia of yesteryears, but for fear of the proposed solution just not working.
Again, I’ll use the example of Sleep Easily, which is an audio program that guides you through the process of re-teaching your body how to fall asleep without sleeping pills or hypnosis.
Now, if I was to tell you that “Marty Dickinson” has just devised some sleep aid thingy to help you get to sleep better and faster, what would you say? You’d probably fall off your chair in laughter. And, you would have every right to! I don’t have the slightest idea where to even begin to formulate a method to teach people how to get to sleep.
But, if I was to partner with a 30-year licensed psychotherapist, who has created his own sleep method that he’s used to treat patients with severe insomnia and even returning soldiers from war with PTSD, and the method has been independently clinically tested, I’m betting that would change the conversation quite a bit.
Simple solution: Know what level of credibility your audience expects to see before they make their decision to buy and feature that credibility prominently at the beginning of your sales page.
Lost Product Launch Secret #5:
Email is Your Sleeping Giant
I could easily extend this blog post into 20 or more things I’ve learned about product launches. Maybe a product launch in the works (haa)! If I had to choose any one reason most product launches fail, I’d have to pick because people are just not willing enough to do what it takes to get enough targeted traffic to the product website.
Here. Let me prove to you how this is true.
I’m sure you’ll agree that the good majority of people (probably even you) refuse to hire professional copywriters and, instead, try their hand at their own sales copywriting—even without investing in learning how to write effective sales copy.
So, their conversion rates are destined to suck to begin with. And, there’s just no changing their minds. They’re not going to pay people $10K and up (what pro copywriters deserve) to produce real copy that sells.
With that said, what hope would anyone have of executing a successful product launch?
The answer is BOATLOADS of targeted traffic. And, I mean waaaay more than you think you need to get the sales you want because your conversion rate is so low.
Inside the free, Level 1, members area of this website, is a tool I had produced several years ago. It simply calculates the amount of visitors you will need to bring to your sales page in order to generate the amount of revenue in sales you want, given your current conversion rate. The formula and further discussion of its use can be found in my second co-authorship of Web Marketing All-in-One for Dummies (Wiley 2012).
For example, if you want $100,000 in product sales, and have a puny .25% conversion rate (meaning for every 1,000 visitors to your sales page you get 2.5 sales) and get $50 in revenue per sale, you will need 800,000 visitors to your sales page!
Yes, you read that correctly…800,000 visitors!
That’s a lot of facebook posts, Twitter tweets, and Pinterest pins my friend.
The reason I’m making the remark “email is your sleeping giant” is because email is still so effective today. Here, I’ll prove it…
Did you check your email today? I’ll bet your answer is yes.
As long as that statement is true, email will always be an effective marketing tool when performed properly. But, most people are attempting to negate this powerful generator of targeted traffic by trading in their e-newsletters like a used station wagon from the 70’s in favor of a more sexy social media campaign featuring funny photos of cats and captions.
The emails that should generate the best conversion rates of all are those you send to your own opt-in list. So, you should always be actively building your own list.
But, my suggestion for you goes much deeper. Explore avenues beyond your own established list by getting mentioned in other peoples’ emails to their establish lists. I’ll have to make another blog post about how to do that someday as it’s definitely beyond the scope of this post.
Hey, you want an email shocker??
One product launch I’ve been working with involves the owner buying an email list (I can see you cringing now) and sending unsolicited emails, 50 per day, to a very specific targeted list of professionals.
Think it doesn’t work or you’ll just get put in jail for life? Think again. This happy fellow has sold 107 seats to a professional two-day workshop in Las Vegas…at $1,000 a pop using this strategy! All from targeted, unsolicited, emails.
It’s all about how you construct the emails folks.
In contrast, I’ll also mention one instance where, against my suggestion, a client paid a 3rd party emailing company a few thousand dollars to send an email to what they called a “permission-based” email list. The 3rd party emailed his promotion to 20,000 on this list and got ZERO (yes, you read that right…ZERO) sales.
Proof there is a right way and a wrong way to take advantage of outgoing email of any kind.
If you STILL don’t believe me about how powerful email is still today, follow anyone that has implemented a coordinated product launch or Amazon book launch. The process is always the same. Get all your Internet marketing buddies with large lists to promote your Internet marketing product to their lists within the same 48 hour period. Pretty simple. It works and it has worked for years.
All you have to do to have a successful product launch is get a bunch your industry buddies together and have them all send emails out to their lists to promote your new product on a certain day. Email works.
So, those are my 5 Lost Secrets of Successful Product Launches. Chase only one rabbit, choose partners with good chemistry, invest in your technical backbone, up your game in the credibility department, and get reacquainted with using email for your product launch.
Include those five components in your next product launch and I’m just going to bet you will have a higher potential for success.