This is the product launch formula I’ve used over and over again since 2008 to generate over $3,000,000 in total business revenue.
Whether it was launching IWearYourShirt, starting a non-profit, selling my last name, selling online courses, building a software application, selling my future, or various other campaigns/ideas, there’s been some semblance of a system I use that I wanted to share.
While these steps may not fit perfectly for every business, product, or idea, I think they’re a good foundation and get you a lot further than just throwing something out on the Internet and crossing your fingers and toes.
Your 8-Step Product Launch Plan
For this plan, we’re going to pretend you’re starting a beer flavored popsicle website (obviously known as BeerSicles) that’s launching in three months.
Step one to a successful product launch: You need a realistic goal!
Every creative idea needs a goal. This may sound mundane and obvious, but there are a lot of people who start things without an end goal in mind. They think “Hey, I’ll launch this project and XYZ will fall in my lap or happen by chance.” Good luck with that.
Come up with your goal or goals, write them down, and keep yourself/your company accountable to them.
- How many BeerSicles do you want to sell in week one? Month one? Year one?
- How are you going to do those things?
- What are your plans to convert sales through your website/social media/etc?
- Can BeerSicles be sold in local stores?
- Want to be in Whole Foods?
- Want John Mayer to eat a BeerSicle while singing ‘Daughters’ in Las Vegas?
Okay, maybe not that last one. Goals are good – they keep you accountable!
Step two: Social media can help launch a product, but is NOT absolutely necessary.
The reason I’m putting social media as step #2 is not due to its importance, it’s actually a word of caution: Creating a Facebook Page, Twitter account, Instagram account, etc, seems like something worthwhile to do for your product launch. But guess what? The more social media channels you have, the more work you’ll create for yourself. Work that isn’t actually selling your Beersicles.
I’d recommend skipping social media altogether in the beginning – WHAT!? Yep. Skip it. Grab the handles/URLs for your product on these sites (@beersicles, et al) and just park them. Then, go to step #3 and do that first.
Related: Where social media can be valuable for your product launch is to make a list of existing pages/accounts that share products related to your niche. Beersicles could easily be featured on popular beer blogs, beer review sites, beer podcasts, etc. Reach out to these folks and see if they’re willing to share Beersicles through a giveaway or something fun that benefits them and their audience – get creative!
Step three: Building an email list is crucial
I always use email marketing as my first launching point.
If you don’t have an email list already, here are the next steps you should take:
- Immediately go to MailChimp (aff link) and sign up for a free account.
- Once you have a free account, use their simple form builder to create a sign up form.
- On that sign up form create a clear and simple opt-in message.
- Take a moment to customize your thank you message when someone opts in.
- Use the email form link MailChimp provides you to share with your friends, family, followers, etc.
Places you should share your email signup link:
- Your email contacts! Go to your inbox right now and email that last 50 people you’ve corresponded with.
- Text messaging! Same thing as email. You believe in Beersicles, right? Share it!
- Existing social media accounts (if you have them).
- Friends who have email lists, blogs, or websites related to product.
When you’re sharing your email sign up link, tell people you’re only asking them to sign up for this email list to give them updates on your new awesome idea. You aren’t going to spam them, and they can expect one or two updates a week for the next three months. Setting expectations makes it easier for people to give you their email address.
You’re most likely having a website built (or building one). Put up a simple landing page that directs people to sign up for your email list and tells them when your site should be launching (general timeframe is fine). Keep this simple and don’t waste too much time on it!
A couple footnotes to this step. #1 – You might want to set Calendar reminders of when you want to send emails to your list so you stay consistent. You should also set a reminder on the day of launch that tells you to share with your email list first. #2 – LeadPages is a super simple resource for creating a landing page that captures email addresses. #3 – If you need more advanced functionality with email marketing, I use and love Drip (aff link).
Step four: People love behind the scenes photos, so take and share some photos!
Take photos of the things you’re doing and create some buzz. Maybe you picked a particularly weird beer you love? Share a photo of it. Maybe you’re trying out eco-friendly popsicle sticks? Share a photo of al the popsicle stick research you’ve done. Get my drift here?
Use content to keep people interested and engaged. Continue to share your email signup link along with your photos. Again, use existing social media accounts to share if you already have them.
NOTE: Do NOT oversell people signing up for your email list and social media accounts. Pick one of those items here and there, and often times share content without it.
Step five: How to launch a product and have other people help do the dirty work
Find people who write about whatever you’re doing. Since you love beer, you probably follow some people on Twitter/Instagram or read beer blogs from people who love beer as much as you do. Reach out to them and ask them if you can email them some inside info on a new cool beer idea you’re launching. When you email them, don’t pitch them, just share the idea, ask for feedback, and ask if they’re interested in trying your product before anyone else. Offer to send them some of your delicious Beersicles before anyone else.
Especially do this with people who have passionate followings. Look for bloggers who write about beer and get lots of comments on their blog or interactions on Facebook/Twitter. Has someone ever written about beer on Mashable or other tech blogs? They’d love to know that you’re using the Internet to sell an innovative/new product. The key is to continue to build relationships that can help you on launch day.
TIP: Create a Google Spreadsheet and add columns like Name, Email, Twitter, Facebook, Blog Link, Website, Did I Email Them?, Did They Respond?, Do They Want More Info?, Do They Hate Me?, Do They Love Beer?, What Kind?, Will They Help At Launch Day?, Sign Up For My Emails?, etc. This is a separate list that you should be diligent about keeping track of because these folks will be integral in sharing your idea at launch. For some ideas, you won’t have influencers, but you might still want some press from certain publications, so use the same techniques.
Step six: A good product launch gets talked about
Speaking of press, reach out to local press outlets. Most people ignore local press because they want the big dogs like The Today Show, Good Morning America, etc. What you don’t realize is there’s an entire network behind the scenes that’s owned by a lot of the same people. Maybe you don’t know local press folks in your area, but you can watch the news and see if they’re on Twitter or visit their website and see if they have places to submit news/ideas. Local news wants to talk about cool stories in their area.
Use that to your advantage and give them some advance notice, but not too much so they forget about you. I recommend 1-2 weeks before launch trying to reach out to local media and see if they’ll do a story on you/your business (remember to pitch the local angle, even if it’s an Internet business!).
NOTE: One of my local spots from Jacksonville got shared across 54 other local news stations in the following two weeks. It gained more attention than one big network story could with way less effort on my part.
Step seven: Starting talking and promoting!
Listen, you love your Beersicles business, right? Are you excited about it? You’ve invested a ton of hours? Don’t be ashamed to promote it!
Start some serious marketing ONE week prior to launch. Give people an exact time to look forward to. I personally like 10-11am, but you can choose something that works well for you. Make sure you share that launch time with all your networks, email list(s), etc. At this time, you should have a landing page or something simple up on your website that tells people the time of launch.
Don’t forget your email list gets first dibs, so make sure they know you’re launching at 11am to the public, but they’ll know at 1030am because they’ve been loyal subscribers. People loving being the first to hear about new ideas!
Step eight: Use this product launch formula and launch…
Launch that sucker! Make your website live, send out your email to your list(s), contact your influencer list, Tweet it, Facebook it, Instagram it, make sure local news knows today is the day, yell out your window really loudly, et al.
Undoubtedly something will break or not work, be honest about it with your audience and update them accordingly. Be ready all day launch day to answer questions, fix orders that get placed wrong, walk someone through a simple process that a 4-year old could do, etc etc. Then, keep the ball rolling. Keep updating people, keep sharing content, keep working hard and don’t give up if you don’t make $1,000,000 in your first week.
Work towards those goals you set for yourself/your business and make new ones along the way. Hopefully this product launch process will help you with your next project or idea.
Shout out to Ilya Poltavets for making a video version of this simple 8-step product launch formula!
(footnote: beer flavored popsicle inspired by hyppo ice pops)