If you're interested in what it takes to launch a product successfully or just want to get behind the scenes of my own product launches then this is for you.
Launching a product is fun, it's exhilarating, but it can be stressful. Unless you do it my way. ;)
Over the past 10 years I've done a lot of product launches. This year I've done 3. How To Live Anywhere (twice) and, most recently, my Manifesto: The American Dream Is Dead (Long Live The American Dream!).
You might think, "Wait, your Manifesto is a free download, how is that even a product launch?"
The truth is I spent more time orchestrating or thinking about how to orchestrate the launch of the Manifesto than I did on How To Live Anywhere. From a revenue standpoint there was a 5 figure difference (i.e. the free Manifesto made $0, obviously), which brings me to launch lessons #1 and #2.
Launch Lesson #1: Know exactly what you want out of your launch.For the How To Live Anywhere launch I wanted to get closer to helping 100 people achieve Freedom, generate revenue for my business, and increase my blog's audience. All of those goals were reached quite successfully. Over 1,000 new Freedom Fighters in the first week of launch!
For The American Dream Is Dead Manifesto I wanted to create something that would inspire lots of people and increase my reach on the Internet. Obviously it's a little too soon to tell exactly how far and wide it will reach and measuring impact (besides number of downloads) is tough, but the message is evergreen. An evergreen message means the Manifesto should spread for years to come. If you enjoyed it please share it on Facebook, Twitter, and via e-mail. :)
Launch Lesson #2: It's not how much work you put in that determines how much you make.To launch How To Live Anywhere the second time I used one strategy: affiliates. And even more than that: people I already had relationships with. That's a pretty easy launch strategy and I spent less time on that launch than on the Manifesto launch.
It goes something like this: "Hey [Name], I'm launching [Product] soon. Here are the details. Interested?"
When you're dealing with people you know there's not much more to it than that.
It's only when you're branching out to do joint ventures with people you don't have a relationship with that it takes lots of effort.
I made a conscious decision to make the How To Live Anywhere launch stress-free. I actually didn't even work for the 3 days leading up to launch day. :)
On the flip side:
I mulled over multiple strategies for launching my Manifesto. Obviously I couldn't use affiliates since it's a free download. Yes, I could have an affiliate program that pays 25 cents (or whatever amount) for each download someone sends, but that's not something I was interested in.
I brainstormed various ideas with my Mastermind group.
What I ultimately decided on was to get a lot of people I respect to contribute to the launch day article. The benefits of that would be 3-fold:
1) Launch day wouldn't be just about me and my product. Contributors would get exposure to new audiences as well.
2) Readers would have lots of different perspectives to read from lots of amazing people.
3) Contributors would be more invested in my free launch. Maybe they'd spread the word, maybe they wouldn't, but at least it would be on their radar.
I also wanted to include 1-3 contributors inside the Manifesto. I chose 3 very well known people, all of whom had built multi-million dollar businesses. Two of them I had never connected with in the past, and I didn't get positive responses.
Derek Sivers, on the other hand, not only responded, but his response fit perfectly in with what I was writing. I couldn't have scripted it better if I tried and he didn't even have a preview of the Manifesto to read. It just fit. I don't believe in magic, but sometimes things just fall into place. :)
Lesson #3: Send short pitch e-mails.I set aside about 2 hours one day and contacted over 50 people asking for a contribution to the Manifesto launch using the 5 sentence e-mail rule. People who already know me probably expected this, but I was putting the 5 sentence rule to the real test by using it with lots of people who I had never corresponded with before.
Based on the fact that the launch article contains 24 responses (+1 inside the Manifesto), you know I had about a 50% acceptance rate. I only had 1 outright no.
8 of the people who contributed I had never corresponded with before. Lots of people who I had corresponded with before never replied to my e-mail. :)
Lesson #4: Be courteous, but use whatever resources you have available to get what you want.I'm not a member of many "clubs" other than Third Tribe. And while I didn't really use that to my advantage for the launch like I should have, I did use it to get through to Chris Brogan. Being that he's an in-demand speaker, best selling author, and prolific blogger ... and being that I'd never corresponded with him before ... I did what I had to do. (If you've read the Manifesto, that might sound familiar.)
You probably have some trump cards in place somehow, somewhere. They might not be readily obvious, but they're there. Use them.
Lesson #5: Don't take a "no" personally.You're going to meet with some resistance on your launch no matter who you are. Maybe even from friends and acquaintances. It's not personal. Sometimes promoting something or contributing to something just doesn't fit with a person's schedule.
There are a lot of people who I hoped would contribute to the Manifesto launch, but they didn't. There are a lot of people who I hoped would promote How To Live Anywhere, but didn't. That's OK. Dealing with this rejection helps if you don't seek validation from others, but from yourself. (Easier said than done, I know.)
I know people are busy, and I don't hold it against anybody just because they don't want to promote something of mine. No worries, you know? :)
Bonus Lesson: Don't put in work where you don't have to.
What I mean by that is busy work. Scrambling to send lots of e-mails to people to get them to promote your stuff isn't usually worth the effort. It's definitely not worth the effort if you don't already have some kind of previous relationship. That said, once your product is live, do send an e-mail to whoever was a part of it.
Have you ever launched a product? What did you learn?
Have you not yet launched a product? What other information would help you?