Product Launch Plan: How to Pull Off an Explosive Launch (and Maximize Sales)
- Dries Cronje
No one told you your launch would be this hectic.
In your mind, it was a simple process.
You would tell your prospects about your excellent product. They would buy it, and you would make enough money for at least the next year.
Instead, your launch is a complete mess. Between signup forms that aren’t working, videos that aren’t streaming, and ads that aren’t converting, everything is utterly chaotic.
Signup rates are also worrying. And as a result, your fight or flight instinct causes you to freeze. And this at a time when you know you need to move to maximize results!
You now hesitate about sending that next email. Yet you need to keep your prospects engaged for them to sign up eventually.
You feel overwhelmed and stressed. You wanted to maximize your sales, but now you know you’re leaving money on the table.
All your hard work to research and create a game-changing product seems futile now. What’s the point of it all if pulling off a seamless launch is so hard?
You feel deflated and hopeless. If this is the reward for all your hard work, you wonder if it’s not better to walk away.
Should you give up on your dreams and make peace with working on someone else’s dream? Someone who can handle the demands of a modern-day product launch (or has a large team who can)?
No. You shouldn’t.
I have good news for you.
Mastering the art of the launch is about having a proven plan to overcome the chaos of those critical launch weeks.
This post will show you, in step-by-step detail, exactly how to plan a great product launch.
Before we dive into the kick-ass product launch template that we’ve prepared for you, let’s answer this important question first…
How Do You Create a Product Launch Plan?
As mentioned, we provide a time-tested product launch template below. Fill in the blanks, and you’re ready to ace your next product launch.
But if you’re going to be successful in all your future launches, you’ll be wise to understand the process of creating such a plan.
To execute a successful launch, you need certain “ingredients” that you add to your launch “recipe” at the perfect time:
1. A Product in High Demand
A product that’s in high demand is the first requirement for a successful launch.
If no one wants what you’ve created, you’ve already failed.
Seeing that you’re a serious online entrepreneur, we’re going to work with the assumption that you know your audience and that you’ve worked with them to create:
- Something that they want,
- That solves some of their most pressing issues, and
- That brings them closer to their desires, fast.
If you need some inspiration for your first (or next) product, we recommend you read The Ultimate List of Digital Product Ideas That Sell.
2. Launch Tactics
The second thing you’ll need is a set of carefully thought through launch tactics. These determine how you sell your product to your perfect prospects.
Launch tactics fall outside the scope of this post, but Jessica Glendinning wrote an excellent guide on this topic, Product Launch Ideas: How to Rock Your Next Launch. Read that post and select the combination of launch tactics that works for you, your product, and your audience.
3. Launch Messaging
You’ll need messaging that communicates with your target audience. The tactics you choose will determine the structure of your messaging — what you’ll say, and when, in your product launch strategy.
However, before you launch, you’ll need to have the story polished, the messaging written and ready, and a plan on how to deliver every piece at the perfect time.
4. Launch Assets
You need to build launch assets and have these ready. Assets include, but are not limited to, recorded videos, sales pages, email capture forms, email drip campaigns, launch affiliate campaigns, and all the necessary web graphics.
You also need to ensure the technical system that will deliver your product to buyers is working smoothly and can handle the demands of a busy period of conversions.
5. Joint Venture Partners
It’s wise to approach any launch with a network of Joint Venture (JV) partners. These are the folks who will promote your launch to their email lists in exchange for a commission on every sale they bring.
While a coordinated JV launch might not be possible for starting entrepreneurs or solopreneurs, you always need to think about building relationships and growing your network. (We recommend staying away from JV partners for your very first launch. Keep things simple, and then you can add the complication of partners after you’re comfortable launching.)
6. Ad Campaigns
If you plan to drive paid traffic to your launch assets, you’ll also need ad campaigns set up and ready to go.
During a live launch, your attention will be pulled in many directions at once. Then there will be no time to think about positioning, keywords, and managing pay-per-click budgets.
Putting it all together
Once you have all your launch ingredients ready, you need to figure out a logical and practical progression of steps in which to implement your launch.
“You need to guide your prospects through the launch journey. Their destination is becoming a paid customer.”Tweet Me
Consider each step of their journey carefully and guide them through it to maximize your sales.
You need to illustrate value, address concerns, and provide sufficient trust in your product.
Many launch experts will tell you what time frame to use to maximize conversions. And yes, listening to them is wise. But it’s much more important to do all this on a schedule that you can handle.
If you have a team, it gets easier. But still, ensure that everything is ready and all the steps that follow are doable before you proceed.
Of course, extensive experience with launches is a critical requirement for creating a bulletproof product launch plan. It’s good to think hard about the launch process and sequence. However, we don’t expect you to try and fail many times to build the necessary experience.
Instead, this post provides a proven launch template that will empower you to experience order, calm, structure, and maximized conversions during your next launch.
The Proven 13-Step Product Launch Template
We’ve split our product launch template into three progressive phases:
- Pre-launch (6 steps),
- Launch (4 steps), and
- Post-launch (3 steps).
Let’s take a look at each of these steps, in order.
During this phase, you’ll get everything ready for the launch.
Step 1: Decide What Your Ideal Buyers Look Like
You created your product with an ideal buyer in mind. Designing a product that will sell in today’s competitive marketplace is all about answering one of two questions:
- What burning problem does your audience have that your product can solve?
- What burning desire does your audience have that your product can deliver?
Yet, even if you’re working with a good understanding of your prospects while creating your product, it still helps to build an ideal customer persona.
Brainstorm answers to these questions about your ideal customers for the product you’re launching:
- How old are they?
- Are they predominantly of one gender?
- How much do they earn?
- What are their typical thoughts about the problem or desire your product addresses?
- Would they relate to any typical experiences? For instance, writers might relate to the experience of sitting down and not knowing where to start with a creative writing project.
Don’t stop there. Think of (and write down) all aspects of your ideal customers.
What you uncover will be worth gold in getting these folks to believe that you understand them and their problems or desires. And this will allow your messaging to convert.
Please note: We’re not recommending that you niche down your market. For instance, branding your product as exclusive for stay-at-home-dads might increase conversions slightly for that specific group. Yet, you’ll exclude many other prospects who might have been interested.
If your ideal customers are stay-at-home-dads, you can adjust your positioning and messaging to appeal to those prospects without alienating anyone else.
If you need more help in creating your customer profile, check out this handy template.
Step 2: Get Your Story Straight!
Once you have your ideal customer persona, it’s time to start positioning your story.
I find it very helpful to think about marketing messaging in terms of the Hero’s Journey — the ancient template to which all great stories adhere. Think Lord of the Rings or The Hunger Games.
We can adjust the Hero’s Journey slightly for online marketing and product launches as follows:
- The hero: This is your ideal customer, not you.
- The problem or desire: There is something that the hero wants or needs.
- The mentor or guide: This is where you come in.
- The plan: This is your product — it helps the hero get what she wants.
- The call to action: This is your launch. The whole launch event is one big call to action. It has smaller calls to action built in at every stage (subscribe here, watch your next video, click here to sign up).
- Crossing the threshold and the ordeal: The nitty-gritty of the hero’s journey after they decide to embark on it. For your prospect, this journey will be working with your product.
- Reward: The payoff for completing the journey successfully. For your launch, it also helps to consider and communicate the outcome should your prospect choose not to work with you.
Think about how you can incorporate each of these points in your messaging.
For a more thorough understanding of how to use story-structure in marketing, I highly recommend Donald Miller’s book, Building a StoryBrand.
Now it’s time to consider the launch tactics that you can use to build the understanding of your prospects’ hero’s journey into a proven launch framework.
Step 3: Get Your Launch Ducks in a Row
It’s time to start building!
Now you need to write the content for your:
- landing pages,
- video scripts, and
- sales page.
You can also record all your videos now.
When you have all these assets done and ready, start building your launch machine:
- Get your landing pages set up.
- Upload all your videos.
- Ensure that viewers will be able to comment.
- Set up all the buttons.
- Ensure your email hosting is in place with all automated drip campaigns ready to start sending.
- Build your sales page.
- Add tracking code to all pages.
- And finally, ensure that the e-commerce part of your machine is set up to accept payments and deliver the product.
By ensuring that you build everything in advance here, you’re taking loads of strain off yourself later, during the launch phase.
Step 4: Tune in to the Right Channels
You need to think hard about where you can reach out to new prospects.
Will you be working with JV partners? If so, you need to start communicating with them. Explain the launch plan to them, and ensure they understand when they need to send out emails to their lists to market your launch.
And remember, you need to sell the process to your launch partners. They’re not sitting around all year waiting for you to launch your product.
Nope, they’re in the trenches, running businesses, just like you are. You need to communicate the rewards and benefits of participating in your launch. Make it worth their while.
What other channels will you target? Where else are you planning to tell new prospects about your launch? Are you considering Facebook or Google Adwords ads? This early stage in your launch is a great time to set everything up for any advertising campaigns.
Step 5: Bring the Message Home
In addition to planning how you’ll engage new prospects in your launch, consider how you’ll market the launch to your existing subscribers and audience.
If you’re launching a new product, your launch strategy to your existing subscribers or customers might be similar to that of new prospects.
However, you’ll need to carefully consider your positioning if you’re relaunching a product that you’ve marketed to them in the past. What’s different now? Why do they need to reconsider this product?
Step 6: Start Spreading the Word
After the first five steps above, you should be ideally situated to start the process of communication. And this is the last step before the launch begins in all earnest.
It’s now time for your pre-launch content to be sent out.
Jeff Walker, the widely known launch expert and online trainer, refers to your pre-launch content as a shot across the bow. While in military action, this shot serves as a warning, consider your pre-launch content as a heads-up to prospects that something exciting is coming.
This message builds anticipation and helps you set your launch up as an event from the word “Go!”.
Well done! You’ve now successfully planned the Pre-Launch phase and it’s time to start planning the exciting Launch phase.
Now we get to the thrilling part! Your launch is where the real action happens, and you stand a chance to make money fast.
Step 7: Perform a Launch Machine “Oil Check”
By now your launch machine should be pretty much built, with all moving parts in place.
Now it’s time to check that everything is working correctly. Go through the whole customer journey and ensure that everything works:
- Are all your pixels and tags installed where they need to be?
- Are your automated email sequences set up and ready to fire for different types of prospects?
- Do your email forms and landing pages work correctly?
- Are all links in emails working?
Think everything through carefully.
Save yourself from looking like an amateur after hitting the send button by really taking your time now and ensuring everything works 100 percent correctly.
Step 8: Launch!
This is the big one… The point of no return!
Are you ready?
It’s time to launch.
You can now send out the first launch email by turning on your autoresponder series.
Ask your affiliates to start sending traffic to your launch funnel.
Get going with those paid ads.
Spread the word on social media and ask influencers whom you’ve developed a relationship with to share the message.
Whatever launch tactics you decided on, start them now. You’re well prepared and ready to start helping your heroes to accept the call and cross the threshold to their better futures!
Step 9: Stay on Your Feet
Mike Tyson famously said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
Once your launch is running, this might be the case for you. Entrepreneurs often get punched in the mouth. It comes with the territory.
Anything can happen, so expect the unexpected. If something doesn’t work, fix it!
If something changes, roll with the punches baby. Now’s your chance to show the world that despite things sometimes not going according to plan, you can handle anything!
Do you know an experienced entrepreneur you can lean on in tough situations? Or do you have entrepreneur friends who “get it”? Sometimes just being able to ask advice can calm your nerves and help you do the right thing.
Step 10: Engage in Conversation
One characteristic many of the most successful launches share is high levels of interaction between the entrepreneur and her audience.
During the launch, your most important tasks are:
- Chatting with your prospects in the comments sections of your videos and other content,
- Answering questions on social media,
- Replying to emails with product questions, and
- Chatting with people via live chat on your website.
The first reason for this intense interaction is to convince as many people as possible that they can trust you, and that your product will help them.
You’ll also get to see the questions and objections people have. You’ll then have an opportunity to address these in the remaining emails of the launch.
You might even add bonuses or extend guarantees. Perhaps you can offer a webinar near the end of the launch to address some of the specific objections that you uncover?
“Interaction with your prospects will often help you understand how to increase conversion rates.”Tweet Me
Your plan is shaping up nicely! You have the two initial launch phases all planned out, but don’t stop now… Let’s plan out the final phase of your launch.
Okay, so the launch is done, the money is in the bank, and you truly rocked it! Well done.
But now what? Your job isn’t done. It’s only just started.
Step 11: You Got Them. Now Keep Them!
You can’t stop communicating the benefits of using your product now.
Many prospects are quite nervous after signing up for an expensive product. The hero has just crossed the threshold, and now you get to embrace your role as the mentor.
Don’t go all quiet now. Keep communicating about past student successes. Show them that transformation is possible. Inspire your customers to take action and use your product.
Entrepreneurs destined for great success genuinely care about the transformation of their customers.
Step 12: Step Back and Score Your Launch
It’s time to do a debrief of your launch. How did you do?
What worked well? Analyze everything and determine conversion rates.
Did your list grow? Did you sell more or fewer than you hoped? Were your ads more expensive than anticipated?
Go through the product launch plan and score every part of the process.
Measure first, improve later. While everything is still fresh, put in the time to ask some tough questions about your launch.
And be honest. The results won’t be available to the public. It’s just for you to score your efforts and improve over time.
Step 13: What Would You Do Differently Next Time?
After considering your launch’s facts and stats, let the results simmer in your mind for a while.
After a couple of days, your subconscious has likely come up with several ideas for improving the results next time. It’s how the human mind works. We always find a better way.
Be sure to jot these down — if you don’t, you’re going to kick yourself in a month or three. Ensure you bed the lessons down while they’re available to learn.
Okay, good job! If you’ve read this far, tap yourself on the shoulder, because you clearly take your launches very seriously. Before we part ways, please read the final section below, because all the preceding advice falls flat if you neglect the important point we discuss below.
Your Launch Will Only Be as Good as Your Product Launch Strategy
The feeling of overwhelm isn’t fun. And this is more so when there’s a lot at stake.
The very last time you should feel overwhelmed and desperate is while you’re launching a new product.
“Launch time is the time to feel excited, in control, and on top of everything.”Tweet Me
Thankfully you now have a proven product launch template to use.
Are you feeling all fired up and ready to launch something new? Maybe you can even consider relaunching one of your existing products to see if you can sharply increase conversions?
Don’t ever forget the incredible power of a well-executed launch. It has the potential to change your company’s entire future in mere days.
So, take some time out somewhere today, and decide what you can launch soon. Then, plan that launch down to the very last detail.
All that’s left after that is to execute your plan with calmness and precision.
Take your time with this even if it takes you months. When you do eventually bring that carefully curated product to market in a well-planned way, the results will be stunning!
Every explosive product launch begins with a winning product. If you’re struggling to create products that sell, download our Income and Impact guide to find out why you’re products aren’t selling – and what to do about it.
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