I just had a launch in my business! It was a multiple five-figure launch with even a five-figure day. It was exciting, exhilarating and exhausting! This launch felt like a total win. But, I have a confession. The first time I launched a product, it was a total flop. I did a lot of things wrong, which led to me hardly selling anything. I’m sharing what I learned from this failed launch to help you avoid my mistakes.
And no, the failed launch was NOT my template shop! It was a digital product (of premade brands) that you’ve probably never even heard me talk about because it was such a long time ago! I’m going to share what I learned from that failed launch and how I fixed it when I launched my template shop years later.
LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE NOW:
Let’s go back to that first launch… I only sold two. YEP, TWO sales. And neither of those two sales were when I launched, they were both months after my “launch week”. At the time (and still now), it didn't feel detrimental. I recognized that I was learning and growing. And I knew that even this seeming "failure" would teach me how to successfully launch a digital product when the time came again.
When I first launched my template shop in 2018, I KNEW I was creating something people wanted and needed, I had a plan for how to create it, market it and sell it, and I made 5-figures in sales in the first week. Last month, I launched four NEW templates after the others had been for sale all year. This time the launch was about twice as big as the first time I launched the templates.
What I Learned From my First Launch that Flopped
1. No one wanted what I was selling (at least not from me).
The first point I want to make is that no one told me they wanted premade brands from me. I was just doing something I thought people might want without any market research. Now that’s not to say people didn’t want that product; they just didn’t want it from me. At this time, there was no need for me to have a template shop yet either. There wasn’t a need for me to have any products. I needed to stay service-based. I see this same mistake WAY TOO MUCH in the online business world.
People launch products and try to move into the “one to many” model before they’ve mastered the 1:1 model. I see it a lot with designers who make website templates before they’ve built up the demand. I see it with coaches who create courses before they’ve mastered 1:1 coaching. It’s a problem because people see other people doing well in the “one to many” space and they want the same success. However, they do it before they are ready, and usually, the product is going to flop. (Speaking VERY generally here! I know there are always more unique cases.)
Before you make your service into a product you need to:
- Master it by your own definition; whatever that means to you! I don’t think it’s a certain number of clients or anything that specific. You just need to feel like you’ve got this thing generally DOWN!
- Create a demand for your service. When I launched these pre-made brands, I didn’t have a huge demand for branding as a service. Yes, I did well in my business. But, there wasn’t a demand I couldn’t handle. If you compare that to when I launched the website templates, I was booked out months in advance and turning people away DAILY who wanted to work with me. I needed a solution to reach more people and I knew the demand was there for my work.
- Build credibility. A great way to build credibility is through 1:1 work. When you turn 1:1 work into a product and no one sees you as super credible yet in that field, you’re going to struggle to sell it.
So, if you have a product you’re planning to launch soon and I’m bumming you out with this first mistake I made, I want to say I’m sincerely sorry! But, I really do include this for your own good.
It sucks to work really hard on creating a product, spending tons of time and energy on it only to have it flop because you weren’t “there yet”. So if this is you and you dream of moving away from services to the “one to many” model, my encouragement is to focus right now on becoming AMAZING at the 1:1 work. Then, do the “one to many” model later!
2. I didn’t have an audience to sell to.
This one is so important! Again, you can be successful with a small audience when providing 1:1 services; however, for digital products, you need to have a larger audience to sell to. When I launched my pre-made brand shop, my Instagram for my business was brand new, I didn’t have an email list, and I didn’t have any real plan for promoting. I was quite new to actually marketing my business in other ways besides word of mouth. Whew, sounds like I was off to a tough start right?!
In general, I didn’t really THINK about marketing for that launch. My mindset at the time was “create it and they’ll come!” When I launched the premade brands, the people I was launching to who could want them was a VERY small amount of people. I probably had about 200 or 300 Instagram followers and about the same on Facebook. But, many of those people were friends and family or people I knew from high school and college. It was not a group of people ready to buy from me. If we compare that with my first template launch, I had a loyal tribe on social media and my email list who wanted what I was selling. And that’s not to say that tribe was huge! It wasn’t, but it was a group of people who I could market to and who many of them I KNEW wanted what I was going to sell. It was amazing seeing it happen! Because again, my first template launch was over 5-figures and it was from many people who either wanted to work with me 1:1 but couldn’t because I was booked up or wanted to do a template in the first place and go the DIY route and were grateful for the shop because of this! It was so cool to watch it happen.
So, that was the second big mistake I made with the flopped launch — I was selling to a small audience who again, didn’t want a product from me yet.
3. There was no lead-up to the launch.
In the first launch with the premade brands, I had absolutely zero lead up! All of a sudden, I had a product I was trying to sell. Some of you might be reading this list and you’re thinking “Man this girl doesn’t know anything about marketing!” And some of you may be making these same mistakes. But, you’re right I wasn’t focused on marketing AT ALL with that first launch, and it showed with the results I created. I just put the launch out there randomly and unexpectedly. So, it’s no wonder that the two sales I did make took months to happen because the small audience I did have needed time to get to know the offering.
To compare that to my first template launch, I talked about the product for MONTHS before launching it. I surveyed my audience. I talked to people who specifically wanted that product from ME.
Can you see the big difference in these 2 comparisons?
The first launch, I did not promote it at all. The second one, I talked about for months and talked WITH potential customers too. Amy Porterfield who hosts the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast says you need a 90-day pre-launch period before launching your product to get people all ready to go! Talk about it before you launch, this helps get people ready to buy it and excited about it.
4. I promoted softly and not very much.
This feels so crazy to me looking back on, but with that first-ever launch I posted three Instagram posts and told some of my past clients and that was IT. How did I expect to sell from that?! It was a huge mistake. You have to overshare about your offer and remember that not everyone sees every email you send or every social media post you write. And, hopefully, you’re adding new people to your audience frequently who won’t know your offering yet. So, you’ve got to keep telling people! To compare that to my first template launch, simply put… I talked about it a lot. I still think I could have benefited from talking about it more. In my recent launch, I talked about it A LOT more. And this marketing shows in early sales!
5. I just put the product out there with no real plan.
I created the products, I put them on my website, I posted about them. And that was it! Again, a total lack of marketing. And also a lack of insight that people didn’t want a product from me. But, I also just didn't have a game plan and system for delivery. This is why after I did make those two sales, I took the offering off of my website because I realized I didn’t actually want to do it. I wanted to keep doing custom work, not a product for branding. And, in an effort to keep my offerings as clear and minimal as possible, it was helpful to have LESS options for people to choose from. I made the mistake of having zero game plan for any of it. Compare that with my first template launch and my second, I over-delivered in every possible way. I had a plan. I had a process for HOW people were going to use the product. What my role would be, how I would help. Everything! It was planned out and what needed to be automated was before I even launched.
The 5 big mistakes I Made with my flopped launch:
- No one wanted what I was selling (at least not from me).
- I didn’t have an audience to sell to.
- There was no lead-up to the launch.
- I promoted softly and not very much.
- I just put the product out there with no real plan.
And, I think those are in order of importance. The BIGGEST mistake I made was not recognizing that people didn’t want a product from me yet. Because even the other problems being fixed or better doesn’t change things if no one wants it.
Questions to ask yourself before you turn your services to a product:
- Do people want that product from YOU right now? Not, “do they want it in general”, but do they want it from you?
- Do you have an audience to sell to? Are there people in your tribe who could be interested in this offer? Ask yourself “Does my audience want/need this?” and even more than that “Are they willing to pay for it?”
- Have you spent ample time in the pre-selling process of promoting it BEFORE it’s for sale? How are you going to market it? Do you have a promotion plan? Do you have a plan and automation and entire set up for delivery?
Be people-focused, not profit-focused. I think that’s the BIGGEST reason why launches fail. When you’re selling because you’re hoping to find something “easier” than the 1:1 work. Or hoping to SOLVE YOUR PROBLEMS, you’re doing it wrong.
Focus on what people actually want from you at the point you are in your business journey. Just because you don’t launch a product now, doesn’t mean you can’t ever do it! But, don’t make the mistake I did of trying to move to products too quickly, when I wasn’t ready and when that wasn’t what people wanted or needed from me!