1. You can't have a launch without a PILOT: If you think making those kinds of products and those kinds of numbers ONLY has to do with the quality of the product, you're deluding yourself. IM is a cult of personality, and at least 70% of the active customer base across the market are basically fans and collectors, not business people in any position to fully use any IM product.
To that end, you can't have a launch go huge when no one knows the "pilot" - there needs to be a face, a name, and a reputation of some kind. It doesn't matter if that rep comes entirely from the affiliate email that sends the traffic there. But there MUST be a person behind the product if you want it to truly resonate.
Plus, as a bonus, if the product flops, people will still remember the personality involved, and as long as you don't rip people off, no one knows what sold and what didn't. Your rep will carry over from launch to launch... but ONLY if you focus on yourself as well as the product.
2. You can't have a launch without a LAUNCHPAD: Every single launch I've ever done has had technical issues. Some catastrophic, some just speed bumps. But your tech needs to be in place, redundant, tested, and tested again. Then, when you launch, watch it like a hawk, because tests only tell you it's not broken YET.
Don't skimp on tech tech you need either. Find out what the best guys are using and use that. If they're using it, it's because it hasn't broken yet. And if it can take what the guru guys can throw at a launch, it can take almost anything below that.
You need a site for the product, you need a place for the prelaunch to happen. You need a place where people can watch and comment and follow and share. PLUS, it doesn't hurt to have a non-launch related site that will allow people to dig even deeper and deeper if they DON'T know the pilot.
3. You can't have a launch without a ROCKET:The rocket is the product itself and if it isn't so awesome that it can FLY, it's not going to generate much interest. It's got to be sexy, it's got to be deluxe, it's got to WORK. It has to actually take people from where they are to where they want to be, and it has to be safe and sleek enough for them to want to spend the dough for a ticket to ride.
Launches are for rockets, so if you've got a rowboat, don't bother. The primary function of a "launch" vs. a regular product release is because you're trying to STEAL attention from other things - you want to make a splash. The reason you want your product to be the best ever is because even for the people who don't buy it... they'll be MAD they didn't. The halo lingers and every badass product your name is connected to builds your rep. See above re: Pilot.
PLUS: You MUST remember that you want your rocket to be round-trip. You're not launching garbage into the sun. You're transporting PEOPLE, and you need to bring them where they wanted to go AND be able to bring them back because... you want to launch them again and again. Your best customers will buy everything you make as long as you give them the best ride they can get.
4. You can't have a launch without MISSION CONTROL: You have to get help that knows what they're doing. And it takes a LOT of people and a LOT of stuff to put one of these things together. It's not the people you see on the camera, and not the faces you see on the box.
It's the programmer that can FIX or BYPASS your broken cart process on launch day. It's the writer who can generate creative ways to capture and recycle all the user-based feedback into a deadly targeted salesletter as the launch unfolds. It's the affiliate manager who is on the phone and cracking the whip to get people to promote because damn it all, we have a ROCKET here!
Everyone shows up to the launchpad to ride the rocket or at least watch it fly - but behind the scenes, in the bunkers are the nerds and engineers and masterminds who are making it all happen. Your team is vital, so don't skimp there either.
5. You can't have a launch without FUEL: You might have thought I would have referred to the traffic generated in a launch as "passengers" but the fact is the people you attract that DON'T end up buying can be even MORE valuable than those that do. Because that DESIRE is a fuel that burns like a nuclear reactor.
You need to give them a place to stand and talk and plead and rant and rave. We normally do this by having a sexy free prelaunch and letting people comment and driving them to share stuff. Of course, we GIVE them all kinds of things designed to set them aflame...
But if you don't harness them and put them to work, they burn out and you get nothing. Put them on display, put the kindling out and IGNITE their passions, then stoke them. Let everyone see, and then the people who CAN buy will get infected with that enthusiasm, and unlike the majority, they CAN get satisfaction... by buying.
Anyways, there's my rant. That's what you need to have a launch WORTH doing. That's a career-making launch. That's a guru-making launch. That's what it takes if you want to be an astronaut - The elite - the right guys with the right stuff...
Lots of people WANT to be an astronaut and they DREAM of having a launch, but they see those other ones and don't realize what goes into it. It's not ACTUALLY rocket science... but you DO need to have all the stuff before you can pull it off.
If you want to do a launch in 2011, I hope this helps. If you WATCH any launches in 2011, look for these things, because everyone that pulls it off will have had every bit of this in place. Maybe you never noticed, but that's how it is when all this stuff works right. It fades in the background, and everyone just watches the launch in awe, and they're in envy of the people who get to take the ride.
Maybe next time, little guy. Maybe next time.
P.S. I chopped off the end of my finger while cooking a New Years dinner side dish. I'm taking some very good painkillers for that. Typos or offense can be attributed to that, or the fact that my primary hand is bandaged like a mummy.