I remember the day I realized that I could change the course of my life. It was December 26th, 2012. I was sitting on my couch recovering from my Christmas day food coma waiting impatiently for my first ever program launch to start.
Within 72 hours I had made just under $13,000 selling my first online program to an email list of less than 800 people. As you can imagine I was hooked! I couldn’t wait to repeat the process and double my results.
Since that first launch my company has generated over 1 million dollars in sales from creating and launching online programs and services.
I’ve done it all:
- Turned my unique signature program into an international license for nutritionists
- Created an online certification and private label course
- Launched low-end evergreen programs that make sales 24/7
- Had joint venture partners
- Run 6-figure affiliate launches
- Sold high-end online programs via webinars
- Run live multi-week group coaching programs
- Founded a year-long training, mentorship and mastermind program run 100% online that includes both automated and live components that sells for thousands of dollars
One thing I’ve come to realize about being in the “online world” is that there are certain truths about creating programs and launching courses that no one ever talks about.
From what to do with your kids (and partners) during program creation and launch times, to the sweat equity and tears involved, to the marketing and technology bottlenecks…I’m pulling back the curtain to share what I’ve learned over the last couple of years so you can skip over some of the stress, overwhelm and emotional highs and lows that definitely come with launching and building an online business.
Keep reading if you plan on creating your own unique signature program or launching a course soon. This is also for you if you’ve already launched and want to compare notes. I’m not holding anything back here…
WHAT IT TAKES & WHAT REALLY HAPPENS WHEN YOU CREATE & LAUNCH AN ONLINE PROGRAM.
#1. Give yourself a firm deadline to create an MVP program first (minimum viable product).
This is a big mistake I see new health experts making all of the time. They have a passion around a specific health topic and think they should create a program on it. So they spend the next 6 to 8 months pouring every single detail about that health topic into a program.
They tweak, fiddle, redo, add more content and second guess until they get bored and move onto a new project. Instead you want to test the viability of the program before spending hours creating it.
Selling your program as a minimum viable course before finishing it allows you to get essential client feedback and validate your proof of idea. Get 5 to 10 beta testers to pay a reduced rate to test your program. Use the feedback to improve it before you initiate your big launch.
#2. Having a BIG email list doesn’t equal BIG sales.
It’s a mistake to assume that everyone on your email list is interested in what you have to offer. Having hundreds or thousands of people on your email list doesn’t guarantee sales. In fact, the size of your email list is almost irrelevant – – you should be tracking your open and click through rates.
Keep this launch formula in mind when setting sales goals: The average email open to sales conversion rate is 3-7%. So if you have 1000 people on your list with a 20% open rate that means 200 people open your emails. You can do the math.
Use this formula to set appropriate sales expectations based on your list size and open rates.
#3. Offering payment plans & a risk reversal guarantee will help you sell more.
I know too many health experts who seriously undervalue themselves. They low ball their course and then feel resentful because of how much work they’ve put into it. With online programs you can charge anywhere from $1 to $10,000 depending on how much of your own personal time and energy is given.
Offering a payment plan with a money-back guarantee gives people who couldn’t afford to pay in full or are sitting on the fence an opportunity to invest. You will definitely make more sales by offering your prospects a payment-plan.
Structure your risk-reversal so you feel comfortable. You could include restrictions and terms that motivate clients to do the work prior to asking for a refund.
#4. Prioritize Your Time So You Don’t Procrastinate.
The amount of time writing content is dependant on how big of a launch you plan on having. I spend at least 60+ hours writing content just for the launch. That doesn’t include the actual program content.
You’ll likely leave the most important aspects of the launch to the last minute, like finalizing your sales page or writing your webinar. It’s in your best interest to get the things that do the selling for you done a couple of days in advance so you can get feedback and test the pages.
The sales emails, the sales page and the webinar (if you are giving one) are the most important so prioritize a big chunk of your time to getting those things done first. Posting on social media is important but not at the expense of your sales page.
#5. Your Program Name & Sales Page Headline Are Essential
Let’s start with this… your program name shouldn’t be in your sales page headline and your program name isn’t your sales page headline. The program name needs to be easily understood by your ideal client. If you share your program name with someone and their response is, “what’s that about?” then you have some work to do.
I’ve spent hours (like more than 10) working on my sales page headline. To me the headline is EVERYTHING. The point of a headline is to get readers intrigued so they can continue to read. If your headline is dull or cheesy or too long you’ve likely lost the reader.
Avoid being cheesy, cutesy, too long or too phony. Use words that your ideal clients use. No one has ever walked into my office and asked me how to get their vitality back or how to have a complete body transformation.
#6. Be Very Clear On The Problem You Are Solving
With each launch you will gain more and more clarity on the problem you are solving for your ideal clients. How? Because you will get questions, likely the same 20 questions over and over again. If you want to learn from your mistakes you’ll collect all of those questions and make sure they are answered in your sales copy the next time you launch.
The thing I really didn’t understand when I firsted starting running an online business was that I needed to chose my words carefully and repeat myself over and over again. My program (and yours) solves ONE problem. In reality, maybe it solves more than one but the client only cares about the one problem they want solved NOW.
Chose your words carefully. Clearly tell the prospective clients what problem you are solving for the them over and over again. If you can’t succinctly explain the problem and your solution you need to work on that. I’ve spent days writing problem/solution pieces before a launch so I can get very clear on how I am uniquely qualified to help my clients.
#7. Plan To Spend 2-3 Months Preparing For Your Launch
Don’t launch on a whim!
This is one thing no one ever talks about…the actual amount of time it takes to plan and execute a 5 or 6-figure launch. We see Facebook ads promoting programs that promise a 6-figure launch. Bull poop!
There are so many moving parts when it comes to a launch that it takes a couple of dry runs with less sales to be able to pull off a 6-figure launch. I’ve never heard a single story of a first time launch generating 6-figures or more.
I’m very guilty of this… Until this year I’ve never planned out launches 3 months in advance. I’ve left everything until about 30 days before and then panicked. I kick myself after because by the time the enrollment cart opens I’m already exhausted. Don’t make the same mistake.
#8. Get Help With The Tech In Advance
Getting help with the technology is amazing, until it isn’t. Depending on the kind of launch you want to have you might need to hire a virtual assistant to help you implement some of the platforms. Always take the path of least resistance.
If you’ve never launched before or have launched but aren’t sure how to use the technology to pull off the kind of launch you want to have then make sure you have someone who can help you before, during and after the launch.
The last thing I want to happen to you is to be S.O.L. during your launch and freaking out because one of the platforms you don’t know how to use is causing you problems and affecting sales. Invest in quality tech support.
#9. On Every Launch Day & Every Webinar Day You’ll Want To Vomit And Maybe Have Diarrhea
No matter how much I love my program and how amazing I think it is I still feel super vulnerable right before a launch. Without fail I always have digestive system issues before a big webinar and always feel a little let down by the show up rate.
When you create something from nothing, like a program that never existed before you can really only feel two things… vulnerable and scared shitless. What if no one buys? What if people think it’s stupid or that I am stupid?
I’ve what if’d my myself to the point of tears. It doesn’t do any good. The reality is (don’t shoot the messenger) that people might not buy on your first launch. Some people might buy and ask for their money back. Or you might get nasty comments from people who are pissed off because, how dare you charge for your expertise, time and energy.
Such is life when you are running a business. Choose to learn from all of those interactions and use them to make you a better business owner. And if you ever puke before a webinar, it’s ok, no one can see your messy hair and puffy eyes anyways.
#10. Say Goodbye To Your Loved Ones & Showering.
I have two children. At the time of writing this they are 7 and 5. First time launching is like the first two weeks being post-natal. You have no idea what’s going on, you aren’t sleeping, you are eating at all of the wrong times, you forget to shower but know you stink, you can’t deal with family and friends, your spouse is driving you insane and you just want to be left alone with your baby AKA your launch. Right mama’s who launch?
Whether you have kids or not do yourself a favour and send this script to all close family and friends 7 days before you are about to go MIA due to your launch. I’ve used this script many, many times and it works like a charm. The last thing you want to deal with is pissed off friends who think you are ignoring them.
Hi loved ones,
Just wanted to give you a heads up that I am about to disappear from planet earth for the next month or so. I’m nervously preparing and launching my program, which I’ve worked really hard on over the last 6 months. All of my time, energy and attention is going to into making this program launch a success.
That means I might not be socializing, answering phone calls, or returning texts etc. It doesn’t mean I’m not here for you. I love you, I just need your support and understanding over the next month while I pour my soul into this launch.
Looking forward to celebrating my new program with you…
For those of you who do have children or pets… hire or ask for help. The kids need to be watched during webinars and deadline days while you spend hours answering customer service questions.
The dog must be walked during GSD days. You are NOT neglecting your kids or pets. You are hustling… and hustling includes taking care of your responsibilities, which you are doing by hiring help.
#11. User Experience Matters More Than Fancy Design
Don’t get me wrong, branding matters because it communicates what you stand for and gives people a feel for what they can expect. However, fancy design should never replace ease of use for prospects and clients. The worst thing you can do during a program launch is to have a beautiful sales page that is confusing because you have too many links leading prospects off of your sales page.
Think about the flow you want the prospect to take. How are they going to get from your lead magnet or email to the sales page with the least amount of clicks as possible. Don’t make them search for what to do next… tell them. Make how to buy as simple and clear as possible.
#12. Plan To Spend At Least 30 Hours Writing Emails
“I don’t like to write”… if this is you then I’d suggest you start looking for a copywriter immediately. If you are planning on having a successful launch and a thriving online business you are going to need to do an insane amount of writing.
My suggestion is to map out the emails you are going to send pre-launch, during the launch and post-launch. You’ll feel a bit sick about how many emails you need to write and then want to really puke when you think about actually sending that many emails to your list.
Trust me, even though it doesn’t feel comfortable to send that many emails, send them anyways. You need at least 7 touch points for prospects (other than low hanging fruit) to really feel comfortable. Some of my launches have had upwards of 26 emails sent out to various list segments over a 14 days period.
If you want max sales… send the third email on the deadline day! You can thank me later.
#13. Your Launch Results Do Not Equal Your Worth As A Person
Success or failure, DO NOT define your ability to build your dream business and life based on your launch results. Creating something from nothing is one of the hardest and most exhilarating things you’ll do in your lifetime.
You need to know that the rise to the top isn’t a straight climb. There are always peaks and valleys. It’s my belief that everything in business is just progress, never perfection. It’s all a learning exercise.
Think of every launch as progress and learn from the results, good or bad. When you do this YOU ARE living your dream life and business, all on your own terms.