In this episode, I’m teaching you how to debrief a launch in your business. If you’re not 100% clear on what I mean by this - don’t worry! We’ll talk about what it is, why you should do one, all the STEPS, and I even have a new resource to share with you — a ready-to-go Google Doc template of my ACTUAL launch debrief process that you can use as your starting point!
Whether you’re just getting started and debriefing your first launch EVER, or if you’ve been in business a while and are already doing some version of this (even just in your head!), I’m going to show you how to do this FOR REAL and effectively for your business. I love this kind of stuff and can’t wait to dive in!
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What Is a Launch Debrief?
My definition of a debrief as it applies to business is basically a breakdown of what happened in a product or service release or a sale in your business. Essentially, it's a breakdown of what happened, what worked, what the numbers were, the data points, screenshots, and things like that. You could debrief a new digital product, release a Black Friday sale, a mastermind door open and close period, launch a course, launch a membership, launch a new service—it could be ANYTHING.
So you're putting into writing (and maybe a video), about what happened during this specific period, whether it's five days, whether it's 10 days, you can include the pre-launch, post-launch, all of it. What happened and what level of detail you do will depend on exactly what it is, as well. For example, a debrief on a Labor Day sale or a Valentine's Day sale on your preexisting course might be smaller because you’re putting less effort into it. That would be different from a launch debrief after you release a new service or a new digital course and promote it heavily.
3 Reasons I Recommend Every Business Owner Have a Launch Debrief
The most common thing I think that most business owners do is we do all this prep-work, then we launch, then we think “YAY - I made this much money” or “ooooh - it didn't go the way I hoped” and then you move on. Then, the next time you go to promote that same product or launch something similar, you don't have any points about “why” a launch was good or bad in a helpful way. Which brings me to my first reason…
1. A debrief is a gift to your future business.
A launch debrief is a way to learn. When you’re in it, you might think….
- “of course, I’ll remember that doing a giveaway before the launch started was a good idea”
- “of course, I’ll remember that I often get bummed out and worried on day 4 of the launch”
- “I shouldn’t do such a significant discount next time”
Whatever the thought you had during the launch… you think you’ll remember but you probably won’t. We are forgetful as people. So the idea behind a launch debrief is that we write it all out so that we can reference it later. Or maybe you grow your team and you’ll be glad you wrote it out so that someone you hire who you don’t even know yet can reference it later.
2. We can’t grow and improve unless we look at what worked and what didn’t at both a micro and macro level.
Another way to look at this is that a launch debrief allows you to compete with yourself and iterate. You literally can’t do that if you don’t remember how it went and if you don’t give yourself feedback. If you don't give yourself feedback. I believe that we don’t want to just go through our business doing the motions, we want to deep dive into things. As business owners, we should be getting into the weeds to find answers. That’s where you’re going to see really good business growth.
I get asked all the time about things like my launch strategy and how I plan launches, how I plan my podcast content around launches (which is something I cover in Podcast Success Blueprint), but I get asked that question a lot, and this debrief is one of the things that I would say I'm doing to help launches go better every single time.
3. HONEST debriefs allow us to not feel crazy.
There are so many highs and lows in business in general, not to mention during a launch week. And in my experience, we often only remember the highs. Looking back at things that were documented during or after the launch can help us not feel so crazy when things happen again because we remember better.
I’ll give you an example of what I mean here. For one of my last template launches/sales, I was super discouraged on day one. Like so discouraged. I did not make many sales on day one, which was not what I expected. Eventually, the launch picked up and I ended up right at my goal, but at first, I was so bummed and was questioning everything in my business. Then, when I looked at the situation in more detail after the launch, I realized that the first day was slower because people needed to LOOK at the new templates. I hadn’t been sharing them much before the launch. Because of that, I believe that people were still deciding what to buy on the first day.
During that particular launch, I tried to do it without a sale as well, and I actually added a sale on day 2 (and honored the sale price, via a refund, for people who bought on day 1) because I realized I wasn’t incentivizing people to buy IMMEDIATELY.
So I learned from that for the future because I wrote it down, and notes like this can help me not feel crazy the next time I decide to launch a template if day one ends up being the lowest day of the launch.
2 Rules for a Launch Debrief
These are the rules I live by with my launch debriefs and I think you should live by them as well. The reason for these rules is that a launch debrief only works if we put the effort into it and we help make it work. This is something that you do during or after a launch, and yes, it's going to take some time but it’s so worth it.
First, you have to be able to be HONEST in it, which means you need a version that is only for you.
You need a version that isn’t going in a Facebook group, that isn’t being shared with your team, and that isn’t something you’ll talk about with your biz friends. You need a version that is for YOU and you alone, so you can be as open and as raw as possible.
In my business, I have a folder on my Google Drive in my “internal projects folder” that is only shared with myself (my team is not on it), and that’s where I keep my “Launch Debriefs” folder. I do share parts of the launch debrief with my team, but I also like to go super super detailed and personal in my main debrief and share stuff that I’m only ok with me seeing myself.
My recommendation is that you also do that. Start with a version for you only, and then edit it to share with your team or wherever else you might want to. I do an [external] and [internal] version.
Second, you need to do it fairly quickly after your launch (and DURING IT) for the feedback to feel accurate.
Again - we’re forgetful! If you want to backlog a launch debrief with just the data, you can do that. But the part where you’re writing how you felt about things and little things that went well and didn’t, you’ll forget it all if you don’t fill that out immediately after.
I’ve had some launches where I’ve checked in every day of it in my launch debrief doc to write notes about that day of the launch and I’ve found those debriefs in particular to be SO helpful later on (go figure!).
How to Create a Launch Debrief
So now I want to talk about the debrief itself and what kind of stuff you want to include. If you want a DFY template - I’m selling my EXACT launch debrief template for just $7 here! It’s based on EXACTLY what I've done in my own business for 8 years and is delivered as a Google Doc so it’s extremely easy to use! It’s 5-6 pages and trust me - it’s way easier than trying to do this from scratch!
Step 1. Data Collection
In my launch debriefs, I go over things like:
- Total customers
- Where people found me
- Payment plans versus pay in full purchases
- What I feel like worked and what didn’t work
- What I’d change next time
- Anything disappointing
- Anything thrilling
The list could go on and on and on! Personal;y, I love to start with getting all the data entered into this form (or paste screenshots) from my email software and data from my cart software. I will also include data from Facebook if there were paid ads!
I also want to mention - you don’t need to do all the data analysis yourself. If you do have a team this is a great place to get some help gathering initial data. For smaller launches DIYing makes sense, but when you are dealing with more than 50 customers, I’d say getting help will save you a ton of time!
Here’s what I’d recommend getting your team member(s) to gather (or gathering yourself to start):
- Total customers
- How many customers did each payment plan variation
- Where everyone found you (this should be required on your cart software in my opinion!). In Thrivecart, you can add this as a required question before they buy.
- Where people are located (most customers for me are US based, but I like to note international students as well so I can keep time zones in mine for coaching calls).
- Top-performing and lowest-performing emails (I add screenshots to my launch debrief for this!)
So that is just some of the data you’ll want to start with, that again, you can get help with gathering BEFORE you start the process of debriefing. Ideally, have your team member gather this data as soon as the launch is over and then send it to you so that you’ll have it ready to go when it’s debriefing time.
There are technically some other data points too that you could have someone else gather, like which days were the highest and lowest in the launch and things like that. But, I personally like to look at all of that myself in ThriveCart to really feel like I can analyze the whole picture.
Other financial data to collect in your launch debrief:
- Total revenue (Cash in door - either pre or post processing fee)
- Total revenue (Coming later if all payment plans fulfill)
- For a membership, you may want to look at the expected yearly revenue on the monthly payments
- Launch spending (what did you buy that relates specifically to this launch?)
- The copywriter who wrote the sales page
- The designer who designed the sales page
- Gifts for customers
- Giveaway spending (if applicable)
- Any contractor you paid JUST for work on this launch
- Advertising costs
- If there’s a software you bought to use during the launch only but maybe you’re stopping with
Depending on the style of launch
If you hosted a webinar, you’ll want to include data like how many people registered, how many attended live, and how many attendees bought during the webinar and after the webinar. If you did an Instagram live, how many people watched? Did it contribute to the success of the launch? If you did a private podcast, how many downloads and subscribers were there? If you had email list growth, how many people were on the waitlist? Finally, if you ran Facebook ads, what was the conversion rate and/or click-through rate?
Step 2. Analyze the data.
Now it’s time to analyze the data! This is going to look different for each type of launch and launch debrief. For example, as you guys know, I have a course I do launch debriefs for, and then I have template releases and template sales. Every launch debrief is a little different as to what I care about (and therefore what it includes).
Even as I look over my own debriefs for past launches, I notice a huge trend in my own debriefs in that every one of them is slightly different in what I did/didn’t do based on my current NEED around that particular launch. This means that:
- Sometimes, I did a day-by-day analysis in real-time.
- Sometimes, I include screenshots of the email data and info under each email about how I think it did.
- Sometimes, I’ve kept the launch debrief more over arching about the whole experience, others have more details.
- Sometimes, I add lots of links and graphic screenshots, other times I keep the analysis high level!
Truly, I’ve had 3 page debriefs and 10 page debriefs. It really depends. My recommendation to you would be to do what you need. The template you’ll start with if you buy my debrief template is 5 pages! But you may not use every single part every single time and you may also choose to add in your own things.
Step 3. Create Your Launch Debrief
The first thing you need to include is WHAT exactly was the offer. For example, it could be “I was selling X at 20% off for 5 days). You may include the dates, the price, that kind of thing.
Then, I like to include a general description of what happened and what I did (either overarching or broken down day by day).
Next, I like to include a section on what went well and what didn’t go well. For example, “The giveaway was amazing and brought so much traction” or “I felt discouraged on day one and I should’ve posted on Instagram more”. My advice here is to take your time and expand well on each thing! Remember that this is a gift to your future business!
Next, I love to have a “takeaways” section. In this section, I’m kind of summarizing the data and reminding myself for next time to do (or don’t do) these specific things. For example, “I loved ending the launch in the afternoon instead of midnight” or “I felt like the sale was too long because I was exhausted”.
At the end, I like to include all the screenshots. Generally, I like to include screenshots and links that are helpful to reference later on in the actual doc, but if you have a TON you can also consider creating a separate drive folder as well. I will include launch graphics or even a reel I felt performed really well.
Lastly, and this is new, I will create a video going over everything for myself. Sometimes it’s easier for me to talk it all out than to type out all of my notes. My one for the Black Friday launch was 20 minutes (not short!). It really was just for me talking about the sale, and I had the debrief and screenshots pulled up, and I paused and restarted as needed. I talked through what I was feeling, what worked, what didn’t, what I want to remember, etc. I will be referencing it and rewatching it before this year’s Black Friday sale!
After Your Launch Debrief
Once you're done with your debrief, if you're doing an internal and external version so you can share it with your team or someone else, you can duplicate it and make those two versions. Again, it can also just only be for you. And if you do have a team you're sharing this with, you could have a whole meeting where you're debriefing the launch together, or you can even make them a loom video about it so that you never even have to do the actual meeting.
Then, the next time you're doing a sale or launch of that product or a similar product, you can open it up and remind yourself what worked and what didn't. You learn from the wins and you learn from the mistakes, and your launches get better every time.
Grab My Launch Debrief Template Here
If you’re ready to start doing this (and I hope that you are because it’ll make a BIG difference in your business), you can grab my launch debrief template for an insanely affordable price here. Once purchased, you can keep reusing it in your business over and over again. Grab your copy here!
February 13, 2024