I’ve been writing launch emails since 2009, but until 2013, I didn’t even know they were called “launch emails.” Maybe you don’t know that term, either? That’s totally okay.
Super scientific, right?
(This is apparently how serious things get when I’m writing launch emails)
There are all kinds of resources out there that’ll tell you how to sell your products in 11 simple steps, or which 5 power words every successful marketer uses to DRIVE MASSIVE SALES, but ehh…that’s not what we’re doing here today. This is an article about how *I* write launch emails, but instead of just theory, I’m going to give you a personal case study, too. (You’re welcome.)
Everyone loves some social proof, so here’s mine: This exact formula for writing launch emails has generated over $500,000 in revenue for my various products and services. Yay for validation!
Before we begin, let’s take a short trip to DisclaimerVille:
This launch email formula is not guaranteed to work. And it’s not going to make up for a crappy product or service offering. But it is the formula I use and have used to build a sustainable online business over the last four years, and it should give you an accurate, honest, and slightly sarcastic framework to go of off when writing your next launch email. Once we’ve identified the 7 steps, I’m going to show them to you live and in action in a launch email I wrote last year.
Ready for the exact steps (and the sarcasm)? Let’s do it! Oh, and I’ll share examples of all of the steps further down in the article.
This is where you tell a story about how you’ve launched or started something in the past and had success with it. You can’t make the success story sound too great, or it won’t feel relatable. But you also can’t share a mediocre success, because that won’t inspire your potential buyers to pull out their wallets and throw money at you. There’s a fine line when it comes to sharing a story that’s approachable but also motivating.
Next, you need to tug on your potential buyer’s heart strings a bit. You can tell another story here, something that could be your reader’s very own story, and/or you can say things like:
Again, you want this section to be something the buyer can relate to.
This is where you want to start to lead them into whatever the thing is that you’re selling. You tease it a bit, and you make sure to tie any of your stories to this impending product and how it’s going to help solve their problems (as it solved your own).
You don’t just say, “Here’s the thing. Go buy it!” No, no. You explain the value of the thing. You explain all the components of it. You show the wallet/purse holder why your thing is worth their dollars, and how much effort you’ve put into it. Sometimes, this section of the email can get a bit longer and more detailed because, again, you want to show as much value as possible.
Boom. Buy the thing! It’s normally priced at X dollars, but if you (the potential buyer) buy within a certain amount of hours you get it for 50% OFF! Or, if you buy before tomorrow, you can acquire a nice shiny surprise. Or… this is a super-limited purchase opportunity, and if you don’t buy before Z-O’clock PM EST, you’ll miss out until next year (or—gasp—forever)!
This is where you lay it on thick. You say things like:
This is the place in the launch email where you can also refer back to heart-strings-tugging story as a reminder.
Make it happen! Click this link. Pay this amount of money. Get the thing!
Okay, okay, it’s a bit over the top the way I’ve written out those launch email steps and examples.
But truthfully, this is a basic blueprint for a sales article or email that compels people to take action and buy your stuff. Strip out all my sarcasm, and this formula works.
How do I know? Because I use exactly this process every time I write my own launch emails. I estimate I’ve written 15-20 of them using this formula, and it works when you do it intentionally. Like I said, it’s not guaranteed to work (even for me!), but it’s a solid formula to get you from 0 to launch. And truthfully? I’ve never sent a launch email that didn’t result in some amount of sales.
(Note: You wouldn’t typically see the numbering in a real email.)
Some of you may not know this about me (most of you probably do), but in the five years between 2008 and 2013, I made my living wearing t-shirts. I literally sold the space on my chest as advertising, along with my ability to make videos on YouTube, share about companies on social media, and accumulate a dedicated following that cared about what I had to say.
Now, I didn’t realize it when I started IWearYourShirt, but one year into this novel idea, when I officially got paid for the 365th day, one full year of shirt-wearing, it finally hit me that people weren’t buying ad space on just any t-shirt.
People were paying me because of me personality.
It was the unique spin that I brought to every piece of content I created — my jokes, my weird sense of humor, my strange ability to remember personal details about the strangers that showed up to my daily show, my confidence.
Once I made that realization, from that point on I started to use each and every bit of my own uniqueness as leverage in my business. Not just a small amount of leverage, like say, a crowbar. But a gigantic wrecking ball of leverage that swung at every twist and turn of my career.
That wrecking ball of leverage, which was just me being as authentically me as possible, led to over $1,000,000 in revenue and countless media appearances. I’m 100% certain that I never would have had the chance to appear on The Today Show or the CBS Evening News if I wasn’t a bit weird, quirky, and silly. It’s that personality that I’ve used to bolster the success of my subsequent projects like BuyMyFuture and SponsorMyBook.
Now here’s what I want you to take away from this realization of mine:
We all have skills. We all have the ability to create. As human beings we’re all fairly similar except for one glaring variable: our personalities.
Unfortunately we’re taught throughout our lives that fitting in is more desirable than standing out. Yet I’ve come to find that some of the people I admire most are the people who let their personalities shine through in everything they do (I’m willing to bet you feel the same way). That doesn’t mean these people are loud and obnoxious, it just means they embrace their quirks and what they believe in. The majority of those admirable people are weird, say bizarre things, and have personality traits that don’t allow them to fit the standard mold.
I want you to figure out what I figured out: Being your authentic self, embracing what’s unique about you, and letting your personality shine through gets you way more opportunities in life. It aligns you with the right people. And it can help you make you exponentially more money.
I already knew about the wrecking ball of personality leverage in 2009, but that wrecking ball morphed into something even bigger in 2014 when I met Paul Jarvis and read his Write Your Damn Book e-book. As I flipped through the digital pages, I learned so much about who Paul was as a person.
He was vegan.
He had pet rats.
He got tattoos on his knuckles.
He made fun of himself for being Canadian.
And he cursed, a ton.
But all those things drew me in! I wasn’t reading some boring e-book, I was learning how to write from someone that seemed like a super-interesting person.
I reached out to Paul after finishing his e-book and then buying his paperback book Everything I Know. After a few random emails, we hopped on Skype. After a few times chatting on Skype, we decided to kick off a project together. Every time I talked to Paul or read any of his writing it just made me want to increase the size of my personality wrecking ball.
I already knew it could work for me, but meeting him showed me I was only scratching the surface of putting my personality into all aspects of my business.
That’s where How Dare You (our most recent project) comes in.
How Dare You is the culmination of our experiences pouring our personal brands into every fiber of our businesses. There are two ways we want to help you start building your own personality wrecking ball:
1. Free bootcamp: Sign up for our 100% free Personal Branding Bootcamp. It’s being held on January 26 at 11am PST. You’ll walk away with actionable things you can do right now to add more of YOU into everything you do. Over 650 people have already signed up!
2. Get the full Workshop: Skip the bootcamp and just jump right into the full How Dare You Workshop. A workshop that includes five video lessons, 13 additional bonus video walk-through lessons, practical workbooks (that don’t suck), bad jokes from Paul and me, and a bunch more.
The workshop is $149, BUT, we’re doing an action-takers (and rat people) discount of $101 OFF for the next week! Use the code actionarmy to get $101 OFF the workshop!
(The $101 OFF offer will go away next Friday. Poof! It’ll be gone for-ev-er.)
I want you to see the benefits of putting more of your personality into every aspect of your business. I’ve seen the amazing rewards of doing that, and I believe every entrepreneur, small business owner, and creative person can benefit from doing the same.
Sign up for the free bootcamp or buy the full workshop (at $101 OFF). Let’s put more YOU into everything you do.
Some of you reading this article may have read that exact email when it went out to my previous Action Army email list last year. And some of you joined that workshop as a result. That’s just one example of how I know this formula works.
There’s nothing fake or contrived about a great launch email. It’s just true and valuable information structured in a compelling way and offering value to your customer.
The key element you may have noticed in this example is storytelling. Step 1 is the longest of all 7, and that’s on purpose:
The more relatable you are, and the more you can make your potential buyer feel heard and understood, the better chance you have that they’ll shove money in your bank account.
If you’re looking for the perfect success story for how to dominate Kickstarter and get your project fully funded, look no further than Web Smith and Kevin Lavelle from Mizzen+Main.
Their Kickstarter campaign for an athletic sport coat (aka: performance blazer) raised over $25,000 in the first few hours and ended up netting 3x their funding goal: $54,568.
If you’ve ever thought about doing a crowdfunding project, follow every move they made (and steal with pride!). This applies to Kickstarter, Indiegogo, other crowdfunding platforms, and even product launches on your own website.
The Mizzen+Main Kickstarter project launched at 8am on a Tuesday morning. As of 1pm on that same day, it was already over 100% funded. At the end of their first day they had double their initial funding goal. Here are some of the reasons their Kickstarter project was such an “overnight success” and how yours can be too.
But Jason, I’m starting my brand with Kickstarter. I want the world to meet me for the first time through my crowdfunding campaign. WRONG. No you don’t. And you know why? Because only about .001% of crowdfunding projects have zero existing brand, launch a crowdfunding campaign, and have it turn out to be successful. You want to have a much better shot at being successful right? Work on building a solid brand first like Mizzen+Main did (two and half years of work). They have a great logo, an easy to use website, they’ve sold products and received feedback from users, they’re active on social media, and…..
This sounds counterintuitive right? You’re thinking about using Kickstarter so you can build your first customer base. WRONG. Again, if you don’t have an existing brand, your barrier to entry is huge when it comes to crowdfunding. Even the Kickstarter FAQ says that “the majority of funding initially comes from the fans and friends of each project.” If you want to hedge your bets with your crowdfunding project, and you should, build a customer base first and then use a platform like Kickstarter as a marketing tool.
Full disclosure, I’ve known Web Smith from Mizzen+Main since 2011. We met playing pick-up basketball at SXSW and have stayed in touch ever since. We’ve both had other projects, have been busy, had our own lives, but we’ve stayed connected. When the Mizzen+Main Kickstarter launched Web shared it with me and I immediately backed it. Honestly, I didn’t need any of their awesome looking shirts or the cool looking 0-5 Blazer, but I believe in Web and wanted to support him in any way I could. I’m sure Web and Kevin both reached out to their friends when the project kicked off. I did the same thing when I launched SponsorMyBook. There were about 30-50 people that I emailed before the SponsorMyBook website went live and I shared the project with them. Why…..?
A quick stat directly from Kickstarter: 80% of projects that raised more than 20% of their goal were successfully funded. By getting some early momentum it shows other potential backers that they should also back the project. It’s the same thing bartenders do at bars/restaurants. They do what’s called “stuffing the tip jar” with their own money. Meaning, it already looks like people have tipped them, so when customers come to the bar they feel compelled to tip as well. Haven’t you ever seen an empty tip jar and thought “Hmmm… I don’t want to be the first or only person to tip these people. Why hasn’t anyone else?” After that, you start to wonder about the quality of product or service they’re offering. Early momentum is key with any project launch and should be a big part of your planning.
All-too-often people start Kickstarter campaigns with incredibly lofty funding goals. $10,000, $40,000, $100,000! Kickstarter says that out of 55,815 successfully funded projects, 48,949 of them raised $19,999 or less. And out of those 48,949 projects, 41,485 of them had funding goals of $9,999 or less. As soon as your goal is over $10,000 your chances of getting successfully funded decrease greatly. And if your goal is over $20,000, your chances are extremely low. The point here is that while you may want to raise $50,000 or $100,000, you should start with the ABSOLUTE bare minimum (and I mean minimum) amount of money you need to get your project going. My good buddy Clay Hebert is a crowdfunding expert and has helped 33 crowdfunding projects raise nearly $3M. I’d highly recommend signing up for his upcoming Crowdfunding Hacks course if you’re thinking about crowdfunding.
This goes along with getting momentum and building relationships. Media folks like talking about things that are interesting. If your crowdfunding project helps them write a great story that gets shared, it’s a win for them. And, if they write about your crowdfunding project and it gets fully funded (or way over funded), they look good for writing about it early. Reach out to any press contacts you may have and share your crowdfunding project. It’s especially good timing if you do it after the first day when you have some solid momentum rolling (go get ’em Web and Kevin!).
I’ve watched countless Kickstarter and Indiegogo videos that were just plain awful. Kickstarter is not the place you should be sharing the first video you’ve ever been in or ever filmed/edited. I completely understand if you’re bootstrapping and can’t spend thousands of dollars on video production. However, you can find college kids at a local university who are budding videographers and looking for work to practice on. And hey, if you want to film it yourself, that’s totally fine, just practice, practice, practice, and practice more. Get incredibly comfortable with what you’re saying and watch your video with other people to get their real reactions. If they get uncomfortable watching you, why was it? What can you learn from their feedback? Personally, I would look at the cost of your Kickstarter video as part of the initial amount of money you’re trying to raise. If you watched Mizzen+Main’s video, I think you’ll agree that it was money incredibly well spent!
Mizzen+Main did a brilliant thing by not doing a Kickstarter project two years ago when they first started their men’s clothing company. Instead, they spent two-plus years creating products and learning along the way. I bet even Kevin and Web would admit that the first products they made weren’t perfect and needed tweaking and redoing. Whatever the product is that you’re trying to get funding for, make sure it’s something great. And like any business or product you sell, it helps if your product solves a problem.
I backed a project on Kickstarter in December 2012 and didn’t receive anything from the company behind the campaign for over 2 1/2 years. Yowzers! This seems to be a common theme with Kickstarter projects, especially tech related ones. While I was trying to be patient and understanding, I always wondered why it took so long? I never ended up getting that product and eventually asked for a refund.
It may not seem like a huge deal to make your customers wait, but I’d be willing to bet a customer that gets the product they backed in a timely fashion is way more likely to purchase more products from that company and be a brand evangelist. An example of people not being happy about waiting is the pre-funded Lockitron project. You can ruin your brand’s reputation if you don’t deliver in a reasonable schedule. Mizzen+Main delivered the performance blazer within their initial delivery timeline (even beating it by a few weeks!).
My hat goes off to Web and Kevin. Not only have they built a business doing what they love, they’ve created a loyal customer base that was primed and ready to support their Kickstarter project. Learn from what they’ve done, and don’t go all-or-nothing on crowdfunding. Put in the work ahead of time and use crowdfunding as a marketing tool, that can also generate revenue and build your customer list.