Launch Debrief: Emergence
If you consider yourself a thought leader, an author, or are looking to launch an online program for your business, you may want to read on and get some insights into what a launch of a new program is like.
This post is partly for transparency, and also to act as a baseline for any future launches on the same product, as oftentimes you will see people share what did not work at the start of their launch journey after the success has come - not while the success is building.
I have always believed that lessons learned are incredibly valuable, and the great lessons are from both what worked and what can be improved. Guess its an ingrained change management thing.
Aside from the business results, I want to talk about some key considerations if you are planning a launch of anything.
In this post, I want to cover the following:
- Leveraging a book
- Starting with the audience you've got
- The importance of support structures & what types you need
- The importance of your technology partner through a launch.
- Launch results
- Summary of high level lessons (scroll on down if you want to skip the deets)
For context, this is not the first time I have launched a program, new service or product, but the environment in which I launched this was very different.
Leveraging a book.
The Words The Caterpillar Ate is my second book, and my first personal development book. Emergence is the program that leverages this book - a six week group coaching program that focuses on reframing your values and value.
When I launched and wrote my memoir, Awkward is the New Brave, some advice I got right at launch was "have something else to sell" because people are in buying mode.
I really had nothing with that first book until a few months after it was published as I tried to figure out what that something was from my life story. I had been very skills-focused previously, and it was different from my focus on business programs for mothers.
So - that was the first lesson from my first book I knew I wanted to build upon with book two - have a program or something to sell.
The Words The Caterpillar Ate had stronger sales off the bat than Awkward is the New Brave, however, the timing of the launch for The Words The Caterpillar Ate is my first lesson learned for this launch - and I'll talk about that in support structures. I had put The Words on preorder when I did my TEDx talk, so my launch date for the book was fixed.
Book related program - keep it simple
It can be easy to complicate the program related to your book, but really - the key is to keep your program simple and focused on the lessons, the tools, and the outcomes - very much following the hard work that has already gone into your book.
Believe it or not, these principles apply whether you have a memoir you wish to leverage, or a personal development book.
The key is to include links to resources or a free opt-in or talk about your program inside your book before it is published.
To see an example of how both books are leveraged, you can look at the following link:
On to the next point
Start with the audience you've got
I am yet to have success with Facebook or google ad campaigns for launches.
Budget constraints are the main one, and personally, there is this push and pull between what I know and believing sometimes someone else knows more than me and will get a better result. This does not mean I am ruling out using someone in the future. I know there is a period of testing with ads, and it can take some time.
If it is your first launch of a product - I would save your ad money for now, or DIY as part of your learning process and go for as many organic wins as you can.
The audiences I leveraged for Emergence are as follows:
- Facebook (personal)
- Facebook (business)
- Instagram (business)
- Email List
I have less than 2000 on each channel. As my dad would say its quality not quantity.
Email lists cost money - fact. It is not a space to brag about the size if the size is not the right fit.
Audience Lesson - Where I would leverage
I would leverage Youtube, as despite the teeny tiny numbers on my youtube channel, I still get leads generating from that pathway, and I actually really love youtube.
I did not have a content strategy in place for Youtube to support the launch of Emergence, however, the good thing is that once you film your content, weave in SEO and load and launch your videos - it really can be the gift that keeps on giving leads.
Lesson - Track Your Organic Leads if you Aren't running ads
As I started gaining organic leads for Emergence, I would research the lead and pop a post-it note on my wall with where the lead had came from if I did not know.
This can help you determine where to focus your time, effort and energy in sharing content with the right audience. If you can, I would even suggest profiling your organic leads some more. See what they comment on, what they are interested in, and if they are the right fit.
If they are not the right fit, there is a good chance you need to tweak your messaging - visual and copy, so make a mental note and look at how you are languaging.
If you want to know how to get started with leads, check out this post here
I attracted 15 organic leads for this launch, and I must share that I really cleaned a once decent list down to around 80.
Some online launch leaders will say not to launch until your list is a certain size, but that is where I would say rules are meant to be broken, and there are great benefits with launching small - it's easier to manage if something is off technically. Bit like falling over in front of a small group vs. being on stage and tripping up in front of a crowd of 1000.
I would say just start and get proof of concept
The Importance of Support Structures to Your Launch
So this is where behind the scenes the sweet as custard turned to mustard. Dates you are launching and what else is on your responsibilty plate matters.
Support structures are super important for your launch, so here is a little timeline of what happened.
✅ Do a TEDx - Book goes on Preorder with a publish date of 22 November 2022
✅ Awesome book publishing consultant, and awesome editor. All tickety boo.
Between May and November 2022...
✅ Book is written - lessons from launching book one with no budget are applied - great results.
😳 Not enough PR was done for the book by yours truly, really tight timelines.
22 November 2022
The book launches well. Hits the best-seller category. Exceeds copies sold compared to the first book.
My husband leaves to go to Darwin (I live in Perth) to grow his empire.
I take all four kids (two mine, two his) to live book launch event
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, end of school-term activities happen
Do not have a PR plan in place - this needs to start three months prior to copies being released to the general public. Release your advance reader copies first.
This starts to turn to shit, behind the scenes basically.
November - January 2023
I am running my business, doing end-of-year kid stuff (dance/basketball/school) etc. I have never solo parented four children for 10 weeks straight during school holidays before. Generally, I do not do launches during school holidays, however, I was going for New Year and a Global audience.
I think, with the solo home load, I would keep this as a rule (ixnay on the auncheslay) or budget in extra help. Or I go somewhere (Like and island with wifi) and Mr W does 10 weeks solo 😉.
I do not have living parents to help out. Step mumming, for me, can be HARD during school holidays, and I am sure it is for my stepkids and my bio kids, too.
During this phase, I start to discover that my online service provider has major shortfalls and realise I am going to have to migrate EVERYTHING. Cue swearwords. More on this under technology partner.
The good things I did to mitigate this included:
Had a project plan with tasks already from my prior launches to follow
Taking all four kids camping, and working early in the morning while they slept
Using play spaces like Rebound (a trampoline park) to work while the kids played (bit of a pattern here)
Taking myself on a solo date night each Tuesday which sometimes involved working on Emergence content for a few hours while I ate a steak in peace.
Hired a coach to help keep launch tasks on track (and my sanity)
Remembering that I am good under pressure and taking one day at a time
Switched over to Kajabi, which was a complete lifesaver and the most easiest build I have ever done. I had my funnel set up in less than a day.
Lesson: I would have the following support in place:
Book PR for pre-launch & change the actual release of the book
Not launch at that time of year considering the other obligations.
Home support or more work/play planned - possibly camp for longer. That was actually one of the best things I did in the lead-up to the start of the program.
The Importance of Your Technology Partner for your Launch
To get the elusive funnels set up in the past, I have used and tested many platforms over the past 10 years.
Wordpress and all its associated hosting and plugins
Due to covid and the US/AUD dollar situation, in 2022, I decided to move from Kartra to groove. They had a great lifetime deal with many promises, that at this stage, still have not been delivered.
It was in December as I was tracking the progress of my funnel, that I discovered some major shortfalls - namely, I had no visibility of a lead progressing through a funnel. There were no analytics or insights, and therefore I could not make informed data-based decisions. Groove are still relatively new to market, however, they are yet to deliver on what they said, and this, for me, is a problem.
I knew I wanted to see the data, so this was the catalyst to migrate over to Kajabi.
I had been on the fence with Kajabi because of the price - they are not the most affordable of the all-in-one platforms, but I gotta tell you - I am a convert.
I used their 30-day free trial to launch Emergence, figuring if no sales eventuated, then there was no harm. If sales did eventuate, Kajabi would pay for itself, and that was a good financial target to set.
An important one I think, if you want to move to an online offering is: how many programs at what price point do I need to sell to cover my costs?
Anyway, I love that my change background helps with decision-making criteria - especially with Technology and choosing to migrate.
Lesson - know what you are actually investing in with technology
I do not have to worry about plug-ins, security issues, deliverability, connecting this page to that page in a funnel etc. It has saved me time and headaches by investing in Kajabi - honestly saved my butt.
Also, it's perfectly fine to build the funnel before you build your actual site.
Launch Results - Emergence Program
I had four people purchase the program. My list size sat at about 80, and I had 15 new leads from organic posts on Instagram, Linkedin, and Facebook.
This revenue covered the cost of Kajabi for around six months, which is enough time for me to launch and grow again.
Three were paid in full at the early bird price, one on a payment plan at the increased price, and a change to US currency.
The clients who converted have all been prior clients or participants in other programs. This, for me, shows that relationships matter, and take time to build.
The payment plan purchaser decided the program was not for them and asked for a refund - to be expected.
3 x $397+GST AUD
1 x $497 USD (on payment plan) Refunded
Total = $1191 + GST
Lesson - starting small is great if you cover your costs
This approach helps to beta test your program, and then improve it - which is what I will be focusing on next.
I want to get the front-end funnel converting better, which means more marketing content, and eventually run some ads. It is so important to remember that testing and tweaking are part of the process - and it is so easy to throw the business baby out with the launch water if you think you need X number on the initial launch of a new program.
OVERALL LAUNCH LESSONS LEARNED
So to sum up the high level lessons - here goes...
1 - Timing and your support systems (personally and professionally) matter. Be sure to check your responsibility load and agree these up front.
2 - Test your tech BEFORE you launch to see it can deliver what you require, and think about longer term, not just short term cost savings.
3 - Leverage Youtube. Your channel size is not an indiciator of your conversion potential.
4 - Relationships win the marketing space. Keep sharing what you are about. I have two really big passions with the same audience. Keep your message focused and clear.
5 - Time is a luxury - give yourself more of it in the prelaunch phase
6 - Kajabi Do not let a system price scare you away from making a launch easy.
7 - Small is mighty - you can launch before you are ready, and don't be afraid to test out expert guidelines
8 - Keep testing and tweaking before you throw it all away.
Anyway, I know this is a really long post, but if you are a thought leader, and thinking of launching an online program (DIY or Group Coaching), I trust you found this helpful. This is not the biggest launch I have done, but is is one where I really have had to think about how my support requirements have changed.
Feel free to reach out if you'd like a free resource to help you make that all important tech decision.
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