Behind The Scenes Of A Stress-Free Product Launch In 5 Powerful Lessons

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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. :)

To be fair, I had to pull a trump card when I asked Chris Brogan for a contribution. I’m a member of Third Tribe and he’s one of the co-founders. Which brings me to lesson #4.

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.

Your Turn

Have you ever launched a product? What did you learn?

Have you not yet launched a product? What other information would help you?



36 COMMENTS

  1. Good stuff as always sir!

    I’ve launched two products, and they’ve both been pretty much soft-launches to my own audience, except my last ebook which did have some affiliates, but nothing huge.

    The biggest realization I had is that launching a product isn’t that scary and overwhelming as it seems to be. There’s no need to do everything that the big guys do when you launch.

    I really like doing soft-launches to my own peeps. I ask them what’s going on, I help them and I tell them about it.

    Rock!

    • Thanks Henri! Yes, doing the soft-launch to your own peeps is a good way to get your feet wet with product launching … and it’s pretty much the most stress-free way to launch. :)

    • Henri’s being a little modest about his success there – at least in terms of value. I look forward to reading the e-mails he sends. I think it builds a really good rapport with his readers (and me!) The launches may be “soft” but there’s hard value in the content. It seems like an effective strategy.

  2. Hi there,

    Usefull and intersting ideas. I hope in nearest future I will use some of Your ideas in my first A-class product launch.
    I’ve got a question about Third Tribe, what are the other benefits to join to the group of bloggers and marketers? Meetings, Q&A calls, networking…..

    Thanks for answer :).

    • Awesome Adrian! Let me know how your product launch goes. As for Third Tribe: it’s really all in what you put into it. I, honestly, don’t go there enough. I’ve been a member for about 4-5 months and use it sparingly when I want to get some clarity on an idea … or to contact somebody that is difficult to contact otherwise. (I’ve used it 3 times for that so far.)

  3. I´ve launched my new blog recently… I know it´s not the kind of product you are talking about here, but I did my homework and while I was just writting the content (and not posting yet), I was connecting with people and leaving thoughtfull messages around.

    It turned out that I started to receive some feedback as soon as I started posting, which is amazing for a newbie like me.

    I´ll be all over an official product lauch in the near future. But not before growing a readership and knowing more it´s needs and wants.

    Thanks Karol, you´ve been a great source of inspiration and information!

    • Fantastic Marilia! A blog is a product. :) Although launching a blog is a different ball game than launching a downloadable or physical product. Congrats on launching and on the fact that you’re getting good feedback!

  4. Thanks for the open blog post. I really appreciate your honesty and authenticity. Your point about not taking NO personal was a good reminder as I prepare to launch my manifesto next week. I just found your blog yesterday and already you have added value to my life. Thanks!

    Byron

  5. Great advice! I’m working on launching a project (nothing for sale or even download), and I know that for it to be successful I need to reach a lot of people.

  6. Hey Karol,

    It seems like the universe is screaming at me to work on my product launch which I conveniently am. First this morning I read Dave Navarro’s 10 tips for writing a sales page and now your post :). I wanted to ask you a question about the affiliates. How far in advanced did you reach out to them? I’m planning to launch my product in October. Fortunately, all the people I’ve interviewed are people who could be solid affiliates and I plan to pay out a high affiliate commission. Just curious about how far in advance to reach out.

    Also, I’ve heard one thing with affiliates that’s useful is to pre-write all the sales content for them, so they can just send it out to their list without them having to do any work(any suggestions around that).

    -Srini

    p.s. I’ll shoot you an email later today about the product itself.

    • I don’t pre-write sales content for affiliates, because I’m not interested in just affiliate sales. I want affiliates who believe in what they’re promoting enough to write their own review/interview/etc.

      As for how far in advance: for October, now is a good time. :)

  7. Thanks for the insight Karol, your wisdom and inspiration have motivated me to strive to launch my own info product by the end of the year.

    Being new to the blog-o-sphere it will be hard to reach out to folks who don’t know me from Adam and doing all of this stuff for the first time, but at some point you’ve just got to take the leap of faith…thanks for the nudge :)

    A quick story for anyone struggling to leave their day job (as I plan to, but have not done yet) The final straw that motivated me to take steps toward leaving the corporate world…I was dreaming out the window one day at lunch and started thinking about the people at my work that I respected most, the VP of engineering, the President of another division…Those guys are the cream of the crop, but honestly in 23 years when I’m 50, I will feel pretty disappointed if I’m only as successful (financially, spiritually and culturally, etc.) as those guys…So if chances are they are as good as it gets “here” then I need to get out ASAP if I want to lead a truly Ridiculously Extraordinary life.

    Just my 2c

    • Thanks for your comments Jeremy. It’s definitely more difficult starting from scratch without a built in audience … but it’s also pretty much the only way to start. :) So take solace in the fact that 99% of us started at the same point as you.

  8. Hey Karol! long time no see!

    You produced some nice stuff while i was gone, i got some reading to catch up to :).
    After a long term vacation to hungaria im quite relaxed.

    I am currently working on a Internet book, and your tips sure come in handy!

    Thought of starting out a blog aswell to cover everything, But im just a bit insecure about traffic when it comes to those things.

    Henk.

  9. Hi Karol,

    Thanks for this post. I’ve been taking myself entirely too seriously and forgot that I was supposed to be having fun and enjoying working with like-minded folks, instead of being stuck looking for the *perfect* idea.

    Now to get to work!

  10. Karol–it’s great to read this behind-the-scenes info as I’d love to be able to launch something of mine…. it’s nice to get that look behind the curtains and see how you planned it all. Two thumbs up!

  11. “Lesson #3: Send short pitch e-mails.”
    Also sending emails to people you actually know, because if you just send it to people who you have their email, but aren’t really in touch with then they will probably just hit the spam button.

    • Thanks Peter, but you’re partially wrong. As mentioned, 8 people who I never contacted before contributed. Although I contacted another 10-20 people who didn’t know me and didn’t respond.

  12. I’ve found that #3 is really key! I’m always happy to help out someone else by doing a write up on my site if the product is somewhat in line with the content of my site. At the least I can help put it out on twitter. It really is amazing what you can get if you just ask!

    • Yes! I’m attempting to get more people to take this advice. I love to help, but it’s hard to figure out where to help or what to help with when I get a 1,000+ word e-mail. The request gets convoluted. Thanks Adam. :)

  13. Great points Karol.
    I have personally never launched a product, although I did launch my ebook (free copy) so I guess that sort of counts/
    I think point 5 is a good point to carry across the entire IM arena because its business, not personal. I know I for one tend to forget that a lot.

    Came over from Glen Allsops recommendations.
    (hahaha – I just realised the post in question at Viperchill was taking about the power of the ‘mention’ hahahaa SEE IT WORKS :)

    Awesome Karol

  14. Wow I don’t know how I missed this article but I really liked. Product launches are something I’m still learning a great deal about (and honestly I’m still building my reader base, since my blog is still new). I believe they will be key for me going forward, since I’m quitting my day job and will eventually rely solely on my income generated online.

    I’ve been on the Warrior Forum for a couple years now and read a few launch strategies. Some of it seems overwhelming to someone new-ish like me. One of the initial keys seems to be developing relationships (either via your “list” or related bloggers, Twitterers, other connections, etc). Get yourself out there!

    Incidentally, thanks for making your Manifesto free. I enjoyed it a lot. And it fits in very well with your key blog point of ‘inspiration’. For what it’s worth, you’ve inspired me.

    • Thanks so much Jack! The most important part of a product launch is the launch part. :) You’ll learn a lot more launching your own product than by reading about it. Even from someone who has launched a bunch.

  15. Great advice on launching a product especially a free one. I like to split the definitions of a paid product and a free product by calling the first a product launch and the second a content launch.

    I would add just one bit to Lesson #1: Know exactly what you want from the launch: Don’t be married to the outcome. Frequently things don’t go as you planned them or imagined them in your head. If you’re married to the outcome you can become disheartened whereas keeping your mind open you can quickly make adjustments to your launch to keep it on track.

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