How to Plan a Successful First Online Launch

online launchIf you’re like many clients who come to us, you’ve got a great idea for a program, course or product and you want to launch it online. You’ve seen many other entrepreneurs launch their thing, you’ve heard countless success stories, and launching looks like your ticket to finally making big bucks online without trading hours for dollars around the clock.

The good news is, of course it is possible to have successful launches and create a successful online business. We’ve had the opportunity to support many clients with thriving online businesses at Solamar. But it isn’t as simple as it appears from the outside looking in and there are many misconceptions about what it takes to actually pull off a successful launch.

There’s a lot going on behind the scenes, so I’m going to pull back the curtain a bit to provide some helpful insights for planning your first online launch.

Gain Some Experience First

It’s important that you gain some experience working with clients one-on-one before you attempt to launch a course or group program online. That may seem obvious, but many subject matter experts attempt to jump right into teaching without getting a good feel for how to connect with the people who will be learning from them. Some people want to avoid one-on-one client work because they’ve bought into all the hoopla about group programs. However, we’ve found that rolling up your sleeves, doing the work, and first gaining experience with your ideal client lays the groundwork for creating valuable programs that resonate with the ideal customer for your online offer.

Start Early

Another issue that’s common among entrepreneurs is that they have an idea and they want to act on it right away. Many come to us, starting from scratch, and they want to launch… yesterday!  And while we’re excited to jump on board and help them make it happen, we’ve found that the most successful launches, by far, happen when you start planning far in advance — the earlier the better.

A simple first launch can be pulled off at the last minute, but why do that to yourself?  You’ll have a better overall result and less disappointment if you start planning, educating yourself, conducting  research, and building towards your launch months in advance.

Share Relevant Content

Something we advise doing as early as possible is to begin sharing content that’s specifically relevant to the product, course, or program you will be launching. For example, if you are a professional organizer and you typically share general content about organizing but you want to launch an online program that delves into the connection between clutter and stress, clutter and money struggles, or clutter and health issues, begin sharing content months in advance that specifically addresses those particular issues. Start generating interest in the topic you’ll be addressing in your program and your audience will be more receptive when the time to launch comes.

Build an Email List

Building your list is the most critical step in planning your first online launch. The sales in your launch will come from your email list, so this is not a step you can afford to skip or underestimate its importance. Having a large social media following helps, but there’s no denying that the highest conversions will come from your list.

For a successful launch, you’ll need to begin building your email list as far in advance as possible — at least six months. Provide a free gift with a follow-up nurture sequence, and then send a weekly email. Let them warm up to you and get to know, like, and trust you and you’ll experience better results.

Create a Project Plan

Do some digging to determine what you really need to pull off your launch. You may need support with strategy, graphic design, technology, copywriting, advertising, and launch management. You may need to upgrade your email marketing system, set up a shopping cart and payment processor, or build a membership site.

Talk to a trusted colleague who has launched online to get the inside scoop or hire a consultant or company like Solamar to help you properly plan. Create a project plan, checklists, and calendar that cover the big picture, including launch dates, budget, tasks, necessary team members and tools, map out the design and copy, and more. Once you put it all on paper, you’ll better understand what needs to happen.

Set Realistic Expectations

There’s certainly nothing wrong with dreaming big, but when it comes to online launches, we often find ourselves counseling clients with unrealistic expectations. Yes, there are outliers with “six figure” first launches, but they are generally online entrepreneurs who have already experienced success behind the scenes, are well-connected, have huge budgets, and have been building their audience and nurturing their list for awhile.

So when you’re calculating your possible return on investment, know that the numbers for your first launch may be lower than you want but you can build and grow from what you learn. There’s no magic number, but you should not expect to convert more than 1-3% of the people on your email list. As a rule of thumb, take the number of people on your email list, multiply that by 1% and multiply that number by your product price to figure out the revenue you might expect from your launch.

Keep it Simple

Maybe you’ve heard of popular launch formulas that call for a series of highly-produced videos and lots of affiliates promoting for you. And if that’s your goal, we’re here to cheer you on and we have tons of experience making it happen.

Yes, the big launches you’ve seen can produce big results and there are proven aspects of launch formulas that you can incorporate into your launch to experience success. But when you’re just starting out, keep it simple. For your first launch, don’t overcomplicate it. Go with the minimum viable option to drum up excitement and education your audience, and you can always add more sophistication later.

Make a Strong Offer

What you’re offering should be clear and compelling. Make sure people know exactly what problem your product, course or program will solve for them. Define the topic that speaks to what they need based on your understanding of your audience. Let them know exactly what they are going to be paying for and what will be included. Provide incentives for early enrollments with limited-time bonuses they won’t want to miss. Create a strong pitch and a persuasive sales page that captures their attention gets them to say “yes!” The stronger your offer, the more successful your launch will be, so make sure you are excited and your ideal customers will be excited too.

The bottom line is planning a successful first launch isn’t easy. There are a lot of moving parts and you’ll need to prepare for a healthy dose of stress and somewhat of an emotional rollercoaster. Your best bet is to minimize your uncertainty with proper planning, investing in the right support, and being patient with yourself. Success is possible if you keep an open mind and you’re willing to do the work.

Want help planning and pulling off your first online launch? Give the team at Solamar a shout.

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