Today I’m getting real about something that makes me feel INCREDIBLY vulnerable. Mostly because I don’t read a lot about this from other people. I’m going to share what you do when your launch fails.
Recently, I re-launched my email course, Own Your List, and it totally failed to meet my expectations. I want to share my own personal thoughts on this and on why I think this happened so that I can help YOU succeed with your launch. Or so you can get back up on your feet if and when your launch fails.
Listen to Episode 91 – When Your Launch Fails
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When Your Launch Fails
In the podcast episode, I share all the nitty gritty about the background from this course, how it started as a terribly named course (How to Build an Authentic Email List) that didn’t sell well and was built on one password protected WordPress page. It had good content, but I clearly had NOT taken enough courses to see different ways to build them or what should be included.
Now, 18 months later, I updated the course to a full video course built on full course software on a webpage dedicated to courses. (See my course site here!) I had some reservations about rebuilding, just because I never validated this idea in the first place to see if it was something people wanted when I created it the first time.
It was really important to ME to redo the course into something I was proud of, and I stand behind the content. It’s pretty stellar. But in the back of my mind, I knew that I was again creating something that people didn’t necessarily say they were NEEDING. And I decided to build it anyway.
That’s the back story.
In a ten day launch, I added about ten people to the course. My goal was to make $5000. And I fell super short of that. Clearly.
SO WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THAT?
I’ll share what I did and what I suggest YOU do at the end, but first: let me help you avoid getting to the point when your launch fails.
How to Avoid a Failed Launch
VALIDATE YOUR IDEA
Before you build a course or write a book, you should first do the best you can to make sure that people can and want to buy it. If you still want to create it even without validation, realize that it’s a passion project and you’re doing it for YOU.
Tips for Validating Your Idea
- Do NOT just present your idea and ask if people will buy it. They will likely say yes because of the psychology of wanting to confirm. Ex: Would you guys be interested in buying a course on email lists?
- DO ask more targeted yet open ended questions to help you see what people DO want. Ex: What are you struggling with the most right now in terms of connecting with your audience? <- Email is really about audience connection, but this question will help you find out if your audience is more concerned with blog traffic or email subscribers.
- DON’T try to convince people of what they NEED. In the above example, maybe people NEED to be concerned about email as much as they need to be concerned with pageviews. (Or MORE.) You aren’t likely to convince them of this, as least not in order to buy your course. Maybe over time. But not in a launch.
- DO hang out in your own and other Facebook groups and see what questions people are asking related to your potential topic and how popular the threads are. How many people have issues? Are there easy answers that people share in the group? Do you NEED a course or book on this topic?
- DO create a survey asking about what people are wanting to learn this year and what price point they want to pay.
- DO get some of your people on the phone or a video call to ask about their struggles and pain points.
- DO give people a choice. When you narrow your idea down (doing the above things) then you can ask if people are more likely to buy A or B. Do NOT do this at the very beginning.
- DO presell. I know some people say not to and that’s totally okay. But as long as you are up front that it’s a presale, this is a great way to see who is interested in buying your course before you invest the time and the money to DO it.
PLAN FOR YOUR AUDIENCE’S BUDGET
This is really a part of validating that idea. If your people cannot afford the price point that you were planning, you should really reconsider.
Tips for finding your audience’s price point
- See what they have bought from you in the past. Was it a $200 course or a $20 product?
- Know where they are in their journey. Are they just starting out? Are they five years into building a business?
- Consider your niche. Are you in a niche that helps people MAKE money? Is this a hobby?
It’s also important to note that people may SAY they can’t afford it, but what they MAY MEAN is that they have the money, but not for your particular product. Really hear what they mean, not just what they say. I had some people say in the follow-up survey that they didn’t have the money, but that they were interested in my one-on-one coaching, which has a high price point that might exceed the cost of the course, depending on the option they choose.
COMMUNICATE THE BENEFITS AND FEATURES
When you are selling, you need to show people the benefits (the transformation that will occur as a result of taking your course or buying your book) and the features (the details about what exactly they will get). Typically, the benefits sell a course. But I know that I am not alone in being a features girl. I look for how many modules, how long it will take to complete, and the exact subjects. I totally skip all the long sales page stuff with all its benefits.
The benefit is why MOST people buy. They want to know what will happen as a result. They will start out stressed and confused and finish your course with an exact strategy that’s easy. That is how you need to present your course in terms of benefits.
Be sure that you are accurately presenting BOTH. I missed out on some sales by not letting people know that every video had an audio MP3 for those people who don’t want to watch. I also didn’t explain fully why my course was different than my book, Email Lists Made Easy for Writers and Bloggers, which is only $4.99. (The difference: monetization is not included in the book, but plays a significant role in the course. Among other things.)
It’s important to think about whether or not you have a sales copy problem as well. You can always improve and work on this, so print out any copy you used in email or watch back your video to see what you said and how you could sell better.
TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE TIMING
When I started doing what I’m doing now almost two years ago, the webinar space was much less crowded. I had 200 people sometimes show up for a live workshop. My attendance and registration this time were MUCH lower, I think because of the crowds. There are also way more courses, and a lot of people communicated that they already had too many courses to go through.
While many people are still having success with webinars and with courses (and it’s still not too late to start), it’s MUCH MORE CROWDED. That means you have to do more work to stand out and succeed. Just keep in mind the context of what’s going on in the space that you’re in. It matters.
What to Do When Your Launch Fails
Those are some great ideas to avoid this, but if your launch DOES fail, here are some things you should do afterward to recover.
WALLOW A LITTLE
I really do think it’s important to spend some time mourning or being bitter or angry or depressed. I feel depressed whenever I finish ANY project, whether it was a raging success or not. Give yourself some time to complain to a friend or just be miserable. But no more than 24 hours or so. Then get up and do the rest of these things.
RESET YOUR LANGUAGE
Stop saying that it failed. Say that it failed to meet your expectations. When I started talking to friends who are NOT in this space about my launch, they were blown away. “You just made money doing WHAT?” was a common response. It IS pretty awesome that I can create something online once and sell it again and again. It was amazing to get some emails during a night out with friends, letting me know I just made money while having dinner. Give yourself grace.
EVALUATE FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE
I knew almost immediately WHY my launch didn’t work well. I identified those four things up above pretty quickly. You may have some insight right away into what went wrong.
ASK OTHERS TO EVALUATE
I created a super quick, three question survey asking why people didn’t buy, what would have made them buy, and what they WOULD be interested in. Those three questions alone tell me so much! I did a random drawing to give away one spot in the course to the winner. Then I followed up and offered all of those people a free copy of my book Email Lists Made Easy for Writers and Bloggers as well as a coupon code if they DID want to buy the course. I also let them know about my coaching packages (though there is a wait list).
One great thing about creating something is that you can keep on using it. My course does rock. And I have a few ideas on how I can continue to get revenue from it in the coming months and year. I’m not sure if I’m going to do a bigger joint venture launch in the later part of the year because of how low the response was. I’ll share more about how I plan to use the course in the future, but for NOW, you can check out the episode I did last week on repurposing content to see how I’ve done this in the past (not a launch failure, but just a repurposing).
Don’t give up when your launch fails. Don’t. Learn lessons. Get up. Keep moving in a forward direction. There are so many lessons to learn when something fails to meet your expectations. If you give up on something, you’ll never learn the lessons and get better.
Have you had a launch that failed your expectations? Let’s talk about it in the Facebook group. It’s a safe space, I promise.
Links from the episode:
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Michele Spring says
Love this Kirsten. Coming from someone who’s launch also just failed, I felt a lot of the same things you did and went through a lot of the same steps. But what’s the phrase? “Fail fast and fail often”? I feel SO proud of myself for actually MAKING something and failing than just sitting on my butt thinking about making something. You should feel the same way – your course so far has been super helpful to me and full of a ton of great content. So any launch failure is definitely not from a lack of awesomeness 🙂 You’ll get it figured out!
As you plan for your product and strategize your launch, make sure that there is a nice fit with the rest of the company’s products.
Varsha Vanjani says
thanks for sharing
Food Blog says
You’re absolutely right about learning from the lessons rather than just seeing yourself as a failure. Keep up the good work!