What does the word “launch” mean to you? James and Ron ensure we’re on the same page. [03:28]
Launches are valuable for a number of reasons. Just look at the big players… [05:38]
There are three common reasons launches fail. Knowing them is part of knowing what’s needed for success. [11:29]
If you haven’t got enough eyeballs, you’ll have trouble hitting your target revenue. [18:04]
Ron lays out the three main sequences of a typical launch campaign and what they involve. [23:12]
Is there a recommended period of time you should keep your cart open? [27:04]
How many emails can you send on the last day without becoming a nuisance? [28:00]
This is the kind of team you could likely need for a launch. [28:45]
So how much revenue can you realistically expect from your efforts? [31:03]
James is upfront in this episode: launches are not his area of expertise. In his book, Work Less Make More, he devotes a whole chapter to why he doesn’t do launches. He does recognize, however, that they are an important part of the marketing puzzle, and are quite effective for some people. That’s why he’s brought on an expert, marketing strategist Ron Reich, to tackle the subject.
Ron has been involved in some huge launches. He ran launches for a mutual friend of his and James’s, Ryan Levesque, and he runs his own launches very successfully.
Getting to the meaning of “launch”
But what is a launch, actually? People in the online marketing space typically associate launches with the likes of Jeff Walker and Marie Forleo, who Ron has worked with. They think of a launch as someone releasing a $2,000 program once or twice a year, bringing in a lot of affiliates, and then not selling anything else for 10 months.
That is one type of a launch, says Ron. And as a business model, he’d consider it marketing malpractice. It works for Marie Forleo and Jeff Walker, and a select other few who Ron can’t recall at the moment.
That’s a promotion, right, asks James?
It is, says Ron. And not a good business model.
Some people think they can do one promotion a year and live off that, James says. They quickly become exhausted and desperate.
What Ron would call a launch is really just a marketing event that happens in real time, with a beginning, middle, and an end. So you could call it a promotion, you could call it a campaign.
So there are big Jeff Walker, Marie Forleo type launches. And then you could have a clinical launch, a marketing campaign, that might just be two or three emails where you’re doing a flash sale. A lot of people do live webinars.
A live webinar promotion, some emails, an invite to a special masterclass, and the offer of some kind of product – that would check the box for what Ron considers a launch or promotion.
What makes launches so valuable?
There are quite a few reasons, he says, that launches are valuable. One is the idea that people don’t like to be sold to, but they love participating in events. So if you can create an event around what you’re doing, that will get you attention, that will allow you to make more revenue than you would otherwise.
Ron is also a fan of what he calls a promotional rhythm, a launch rhythm to your business. Because you need to be relevant and up to the second with your content, and with the light you’re flashing to the marketplace with your regular content machine. And launching is really just flashing an even bigger light to get even more attention.
All of the biggest players are doing some kind of launches on a regular basis – Russel Brunson, Tony Robbins. You can look beyond the online marketing space and see big companies like Disney, Apple and the video game industry.
“People just want the latest, greatest thing, and the way to get that attention really is with a launch.” – Ron Reich
People want the latest, greatest thing, and the way to get that attention really is with a launch. And launches create the momentum that is such a powerful force in business. Those are the reasons Ron believes launching should be a part of everybody’s business to some extent.
Why do launches typically fail?
James was going to ask Ron what traps to avoid with launches. Ron has anticipated that and gives three reasons launches usually fail.
1. There just isn’t desire. Marketers and business owners, says Ron, don’t really create desire. They essentially just tap into the desire that’s already there. And oftentimes, people are selling something that the market doesn’t want. So step one is pinpointing the market need. In marketing terms, you’re looking for a message-to-market match, and even something beyond that. The deeper you can get into a desire, the better off you’ll be.
2. The second reason a launch falls flat is because the product isn’t coming across as new and different and exciting. Some people will launch the same thing over and over, with diminishing returns on each launch. Your product has got to be new, and different, and relevant and timely to what’s happening in the market.
“Oftentimes, the marketing challenge is coming up with that better wrapping paper.” – Ron Reich
The good news, Ron says, is that oftentimes the core product can be the same. Dan Kennedy talks about the same piece of candy with a different wrapping paper. Often the marketing challenge is coming up with that better wrapping paper.
And when it comes to relevance, there’s the idea of emerging, converging trends – what’s going on in the world right now that you can tap into as a reason why now is the time to buy your program?
Ron gives the example of his super client, Luisa Zhou. Luisa has combined the corporate fear of redundancy with the rise of the coaching industry to encourage corporates to quit their jobs and become coaches or consultants. There’s always going to be something going on in the world that you can tap into, to kind of make your launch relevant.
“You can basically penetrate layers of social reach, by being hyper-relevant.” – Ron Reich
You can basically penetrate layers of social reach, by being hyper-relevant, says James.
3. The third mistake people make with launches is not having enough people to hit their revenue numbers. If you reckon a three to five percent conversion rate for a launch list, a $3 million launch is wistful thinking for a 200-person list.
Some people, however, are surprisingly successful with small lists, James points out. It depends on what you’re selling, and for how much, and how many you need to sell to call it a success.
Absolutely, says Ron. He actually shows people how to make $50K in 50 days, and it’s simply a matter of selling 10 $5,000 programs. So with a bit of traction, you don’t need tens of thousands of prospects to hit some good numbers.
The three main sequences of a campaign
So you’ve got the angle, says James, and you’ve got a database, or you’re going to create one through some buzz. Obviously, it’s a real-time campaign. So there’s layers to it. What are some of the key elements?
There’s three, Ron says, inspired by Jeff Walker.
1. First is one he enjoys, a sort of brainwashing sequence. It comes before the official event and constitutes a kind of indoctrination period, where you’re selling people on you and on your idea.
The pre-selling phase, says James.
Exactly, Ron says.
2. Then there’s the pre-launch phase, typically some kind of educational event. And that has three stages – you want to show your prospects opportunity, possibility and certainty. There’s a lot of leeway on how you do that. A three-part video series is a classic example. Challenges are really common. Many of Ron’s clients are having success with five-day, three-day challenges. Sometimes just one webinar could be your educational event, or a really awesome report that leads people to a phone call.
3. Then you open for business, that’s your open cart period. That process is quite formulaic. Towards the beginning, you want to show urgency – doors are open, you’ve got to buy now. You want to show social proof, case studies and the like. You want to win people over with logic – overcoming objections as part of the open cart period is important, doing an FAQ type email or a Q&A where you can address objections. And then towards the end, that’s when you lean on things like scarcity, urgency, doors are closing. That’s why oftentimes people see most of their sales happen on the last day.
The good thing about open cart is it’s pretty templated. The real work is in the pre-launch process and coming up with your idea.
Now you might be wondering – what should you do? A three-part video? A webinar or webinar series?
Consider two things, says Ron. First, what is good for you? What modalities are you really, really good in? If you’re a great writer, you might base your launch on that really awesome special report. If you’re good at video, do video.
Second, what is your audience used to? Ron has a friend whose audience is bloggers. So it would make sense for him to have more written content.
Another factor might be what’s working in the marketplace. If challenges are popular, you can either do the same, or set yourself apart by doing something different. That’s where some art of strategy comes in.
How long should you be open?
And is there a rule of thumb for how long you should keep your cart open, asks James?
If you’re selling a digital product that doesn’t require sales calls, says Ron, something that isn’t high-end, five to seven or eight days is the sweet spot.
For a higher end program where sales calls make sense, Ron typically recommends 10 to 14 days. People will need more time to think, more education. And you need time to actually execute the sales call.
It’s the last day – how many emails do you send?
Now, one of James’s favorite questions would be, how many emails do you send on the last day?
Ron would suggest one email to everyone and one more email to just the people that have clicked the email.
A bit of segmentation, says James.
That’s what Ron would do, yeah.
James is definitely a low-hype marketer. He does releases as opposed to launches. He plays with the long game in mind, and he doesn’t really want hyped-up buyers. He doesn’t want refund requests, and he doesn’t want drama.
The kind of team you’d need for a launch
And James doesn’t want to build a team just for a launch. He’d rather not put in the effort a launch requires, when it comes down to it. But he’s different from many people in that he’s established, and has a great database with channels to reach people, like the podcast. So it’s important for me to bring on guests who can add a different flavor to what he can teach.
While on it, though, what kind of team would you need to assemble and what sort of energy requirements are there for a launch?
The thing that takes the most time and energy, says Ron, is really creating the marketing material – the copy, the content and so on. And this is true for a first-time solopreneur launch or for a multi-seven-figure launch.
In earlier stages, you can typically do everything yourself. And it would make sense to learn the skill of talking to your audience. And you’re going to have to spend some time writing those emails and creating your webinar outline and things along those lines. Ideally, you’d be doing that, and maybe have a VA to help.
Then if you’re more established, doing multiple six or seven figures in revenue, you might look at getting a project manager type person. Then someone to help with the copy could be an add-on bonus, if writing copy is not really your jam.
What are the real monetary numbers from a launch?
The last question for James is just a bit of math. He’d love if Ron could get real: what do launch revenue numbers really look like?
How much of it is cash collected versus potential installments? Is it before or after refunds? And what sort of refund rate might one expect? And what kind of percentages or overrides go to launch managers or copywriters, or additional support or server bandwidth and stuff? What could someone potentially be left with from a total revenue, as a rough ballpark?
So many factors, says Ron. A big question, however, is, is it an affiliate launch? Or are you launching to your own existing audience?
James doesn’t do affiliates. So it would be far more profitable.
A house launch, then.
A lot of big marketers, says James, will do an internal house launch first and try to pull the value out of the market, then get the scraps with the other players. That’s a strategy.
A winning strategy, Ron says. And again, when you’re creating house launches, there’s no reason not to do some kind of house promotion.
James agrees. Occasionally he does a mild promotion or a release of something.
Do house campaigns on a regular basis to your people, says Ron. That’s going to be very profitable for you.
To answer James’s real question, big launches with affiliates will typically project a $5 million, $10 million, $3 million launch. Ron would not do that.
Some people, if there’s a $2,000 program, and they might have a payment structure, say a million dollars, they’d need 500 sales of the program at $2,000. So what somebody would do is, let’s say it’s a $2,000 program, or $1997 program, if they pay in full, and then if they do payments, it’ll be a 20 percent premium on that.
So what some people do, honestly, a little behind the scenes, say they make 200 sales by paying full sales and 300 on the payments, they would actually project. They would say that they did a $1.2 million launch.
What other people might do, which is a bit more honest, is account for bad debts, and maybe some refunds. Typically, says Ron, there’s that 20 percent bad debt, meaning you could sell maybe the million-dollar launch.
And then as far as affiliate commissions, typically it’s about 40 percent. And for bigger launches, 10 percent of the projection will be devoted to prizes and the like.
You’ll end up with about half, says James.
And then you would have team expenses, etc., etc., etc., again, for these bigger launches, Ron goes on. So for a million-dollar affiliate launch, you might collect $400,000 or $500,000.
Affiliates are a marketing cost, says James. You’re buying access to people you wouldn’t get access to, selling more than you would sell in total. It’s like a retail store, where you might pay $100 for a drill that cost $12 to make.
The way to look at it, says Ron, would be, in three months, you’re going to get $400,000 in extra revenue, you’re going to grow your email, and you’re going to get 500 $2,000 customers.
That grow the email part is a huge factor, James says, because that gives you lots of future house opportunities.
Ron has probably enthused some people to give launches a go. James will say, it’s worth getting someone who has done it before to help you and avoid all the big pitfalls. If you want to get in touch with Ron, it’s easiest to email, [email protected]. And you can go from there.
Enjoy the inspiration and support of other thriving entrepreneurs inside the James Schramko membership
Liked the show? Enjoy all the episodes when you subscribe on iTunes