You can't have a launch without...

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So I spent 2010 doing copy for 7 major launches in the IM market. Here are a few short lessons I learned that I think will be of benefit for anyone that thinks they want to have a big launch and make a lot of money just like Mr. Super Guru who charges $2K per product and makes millions each time they release something new.

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.
#launch
  • Profile picture of the author James Foster
    The man behind the Kajabi copy

    Thanks Colin. This is awesome. (Bookmarked)
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  • Profile picture of the author Ashley Wright
    I like Colin! All so true!

    Can tell you write copy btw
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  • Profile picture of the author KristofferIM
    Thanks, that was a good read. I won't be doing any big launches this year, cause that's not what I do. What I did take away from this is to use more personal branding in my marketing efforts.
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    • Profile picture of the author Colin Theriot
      Thanks for the kind words, everyone.

      Originally Posted by KristofferIM View Post

      Thanks, that was a good read. I won't be doing any big launches this year, cause that's not what I do. What I did take away from this is to use more personal branding in my marketing efforts.
      This will be an extremely worthwhile pursuit. The internet is a medium built on communication between individuals - the more your create your business to capitalize on that, the more ROI you will get out of every activity you do.

      Plus, personal branding is actually EASY, because if you're having any degree of success with IM, you're already doing something that personal branding could easily be added TO. Blogging, article marketing, posting on forums, commenting, making products, building a list - all those things you're probably already doing can all become multipliers when they're all part of a personal branding campaign.

      And by "campaign" I just mean to ALWAYS be yourself, stamp your persona on everything you produce and share, and provide multiple paths back to you and your other stuff.

      Then, when you're ready to launch something, you'll be amazed at how many people will ALREADY be paying attention.
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  • Profile picture of the author kenny44
    Great read - thanks for posting!
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    • Profile picture of the author Colin Theriot
      Originally Posted by kenny44 View Post

      Great read - thanks for posting!
      You're welcome. Glad to see you hit that target post count so you could get that sig link in there. A$$hole.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rod Cortez
    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.
    Colin,

    You certainly have a way with words. The above quote is a very accurate description of the IM market. Can I borrow it? I'll send you royalities.....

    RoD
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    • Profile picture of the author Colin Theriot
      Originally Posted by Rod Cortez View Post

      Colin,

      You certainly have a way with words. The above quote is a very accurate description of the IM market. Can I borrow it? I'll send you royalities.....

      RoD
      Thanks Rod - you can borrow it royalty free as long as you credit me. If it's something you're interested in, PM me and we can do a webinar about it for your list. The fandom dynamics of the IM market are a longtime favorite topic of mine. IM behaves remarkably like Sci-fi fandom in the 60s, D&D fandom in the 70s, and Comic book fandom in the 80s and 90s.

      It's kind of esoteric, but any smarty farties in your crowd might benefit from it.
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  • Profile picture of the author bgmacaw
    Originally Posted by Colin Theriot View Post

    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.

    I exploit you,
    Still you love me


    Exactly why I avoid 'guru' IM products like the plague.
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    • Profile picture of the author Colin Theriot
      Originally Posted by bgmacaw View Post

      I exploit you,
      Still you love me


      Exactly why I avoid 'guru' IM products like the plague.
      You might be selling yourself short. A lot of them have good stuff. Guruhood happens to the people who are best in their niche, and it happens to the people who do it on purpose. You shouldn't judge em all be the people who smuggle the influence they have.

      That being said, there's nothing wrong with finding out what people really want and giving it to them. You know how they refer to pro wrestling now as "sports entertainment"? I think of the IM guru niche as "business entertainment" - the BEST people in that class are the ones that understand you have to have BOTH. The same way wrestling is both "real" and "fake" at the same time.

      And keep in mind, the Shepherd exploits the sheep, and they still love him. It doesn't have to be a predatory relationship for it to be profitable.
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      • Profile picture of the author yankforlife41
        Originally Posted by Colin Theriot View Post

        You might be selling yourself short. A lot of them have good stuff. Guruhood happens to the people who are best in their niche, and it happens to the people who do it on purpose. You shouldn't judge em all be the people who smuggle the influence they have.

        That being said, there's nothing wrong with finding out what people really want and giving it to them. You know how they refer to pro wrestling now as "sports entertainment"? I think of the IM guru niche as "business entertainment" - the BEST people in that class are the ones that understand you have to have BOTH. The same way wrestling is both "real" and "fake" at the same time.

        And keep in mind, the Shepherd exploits the sheep, and they still love him. It doesn't have to be a predatory relationship for it to be profitable.
        Well said Colin!
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        • Profile picture of the author Colin Theriot
          Originally Posted by dhigler View Post

          Cult of personality. What a great song. There is already way too much muscle in this thread for me to add anything of value, so I'll just hit play on that there video and jam away. Rock on.
          Damn good song. Salient, too.

          Originally Posted by yankforlife41 View Post

          Well said Colin!
          Thanks! Viewing info marketing as a form of entertainment has increased the effectiveness of my work by huge degrees. Wrapping solid content inside an entertaining package increases the effectiveness for action-takers, and still gives non-action-ers something they like, too. It'll be indescribably better than the usual stuff they feel guilty about and return, that's for sure.

          Sort of like how action movies have a little romance, and romance movies have a little action. It doesn't try to be all things to all people, but has a primary focus, but includes a secondary focus to keep the more passive members of the audience engaged. Your primary focus should be whatever your niche topic is, but your secondary focus should always be entertainment.

          Seriously, even if all you do is share a lolcat pic now and then. Works like whoa.
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  • Profile picture of the author Brendon Zahrndt
    Cult of personality. What a great song. There is already way too much muscle in this thread for me to add anything of value, so I'll just hit play on that there video and jam away. Rock on.
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  • Profile picture of the author ArticlePrince
    How many non IM launches have you been involved with Colin? Any difference from your perspective or no?
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Mayo
    Hi Colin,
    Nice detailed post and all so true. Thanks!

    You might want to rethink your post about Kenny44. Although his post was short he did
    pay to become a War Room member and gained the right to post a signature.

    I do see where you were coming from with your reply and the one liners do
    get old at times. He may just be a man of few words or maybe he's just
    trying to increase his post count? Only Time will tell.

    Love reading your copy,
    Have a Great Day!
    Michael
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    • Profile picture of the author Colin Theriot
      Originally Posted by ArticlePrince View Post

      How many non IM launches have you been involved with Colin? Any difference from your perspective or no?
      I've written zero, but consulted on one. The difference isn't in IM vs. non-IM, but rather if it's a business built around the expertise of an individual or not. And in the cases of businesses that AREN'T built around that, they should reconsider. When you're trying to conduct business online, I think there's massive benefit from following this outline.

      Originally Posted by Michael Mayo View Post

      Hi Colin,
      Nice detailed post and all so true. Thanks!

      You might want to rethink your post about Kenny44. Although his post was short he did
      pay to become a War Room member and gained the right to post a signature.

      I do see where you were coming from with your reply and the one liners do
      get old at times. He may just be a man of few words or maybe he's just
      trying to increase his post count? Only Time will tell.

      Love reading your copy,
      Have a Great Day!
      Michael
      Thanks, Michael. You're right - time will tell. I stand by my original judgement until proven otherwise, though. There was a rash of this kind of post today, and I reported 2 others. I could have been wrong, but it doesn't look it to me. At least his posts were all unique rather than the exact same comment.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Moffatt
    While driving along the coast and checking for waves this morning I had a random thought pop into my head.

    That thought was...

    "That Colin Theriot sure posts some really helpful stuff! I need to drink a brew with that guy."

    This post just reaffirms my random thought today.
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  • Profile picture of the author donhx
    Literate, engaging and fascinating, Colin. Not a rant, but a well thought-out, useful contribution to our understanding of launches.
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    • Profile picture of the author Colin Theriot
      Originally Posted by Jason Moffatt View Post

      That Colin Theriot sure posts some really helpful stuff! I need to drink a brew with that guy.
      Well damn, dude. That's going in the testimonial file. Plus, we should totally have a beer sometime. It'll happen at some point for sure.

      Originally Posted by donhx View Post

      Literate, engaging and fascinating, Colin. Not a rant, but a well thought-out, useful contribution to our understanding of launches.
      Glad you liked it. I don't think it's a particularly DEEP analysis, but I do often have people who want to "do a launch" and have a product, but don't want to be the "face" or want go off the formula, or want to change the recipe when it already tastes so good.

      You need the pilot to be a public part of it, because when people like the launch, you want them to be able to carry that goodwill with them to the next project you do.

      You need the launchpad because if you have a bunch of people come to your party and they can't get in the house, they'll just leave. No party. No nothing.

      You need mission control because when something goes wrong - you need it fixed fast or your momentum is lost, reputation ruined, opportunity squandered, attention wasted, etc.

      You need a rocket of a product because if it's a stinker, you've just created and motivated an ARMY of pissed off patrons to bitch about how terrible you are, and by wasting their time and money in a grand fashion, you've motivated them to do so.

      And finally, you need the fuel because best way to get people to want to see a hot new movie is to SHOW everyone the line of people wrapping around the block waiting to buy tickets. People often ask me how you can get social proof when you don't have testimonials before the product is released. That's how.

      Anyways, thanks for the kind words, and my mother will be pleased you noticed my literacy.
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  • Profile picture of the author paul wolfe
    Colin

    Really good thread.

    Got a question for ya....I know you were (are?) a faculty member of Stompernet, I subscribed to The Net Effect for some time and often re-read it and noticed your name on some of the articles.

    Have you worked with Andy on any of his video launches - and if so, did you script any of the videos? Or does Andy do that?

    TIA.



    Paul
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    • Profile picture of the author Colin Theriot
      Originally Posted by paul wolfe View Post

      Colin

      Really good thread.

      Got a question for ya....I know you were (are?) a faculty member of Stompernet, I subscribed to The Net Effect for some time and often re-read it and noticed your name on some of the articles.

      Have you worked with Andy on any of his video launches - and if so, did you script any of the videos? Or does Andy do that?

      TIA.

      Paul
      Hey Paul,

      Thanks for the compliment. Actually, I never was faculty for StomperNet. I was the only regular staff member to be published in the magazine while it was being published, afaik.

      I was chief marketing copywriter under Andy while we both worked at StomperNet from mid 07 to late 09, during which I wrote almost all the readable copy for almost every launch we did within that frame (plus all the affiliate promotions and blogging). The writing for launch stuff is collaborative though and lots of people have their hands on it, but I created the drafts that got tweaked.

      Since I left Stomper, I've done copy work for both of Andy's 2010 launches, Video Boss and Kajabi. Enough about me, let's answer your question. In all cases I've worked with Andy, he scripts his own videos. Everyone on the project gets to offer input and feedback at the script stage, but it's pretty much largely unchanged.

      Also, the "plan" for the content is all him, too. We start from a mindmap which has literally EVERYTHING in it, and he's the one who makes that. So most of the writing I do on his projects is just coloring in the coloring book he provides.

      For the projects I've worked with him on, if you can watch it, Andy wrote it. If you can read it, I wrote it. That will be true like 95% of the time or better. I say that because a launch is a big monster and sometimes other people write different bits as needed, etc.

      Andy's awesome though - I consider him a great personal mentor and I wouldn't have the career or income I have now if I hadn't met him. He's the guy who told me I should try writing copy, lol.

      Plus, everything I know about writing videos and things for myself and other clients, I learned working with him on all those projects, which is probably around a dozen or so by now. The launches I work on now myself are basically just an ongoing refinement of the process we started with in the StomperNet days. Same formula over and over.
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  • Profile picture of the author paul wolfe
    Oh - and plus 10 to BG McCaw for posting Cult of Personality. This is a great tune - awesome bass line!
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  • Profile picture of the author rcritchett
    Very Awesome, particularly the part about a name and a face! Thanks for this!
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  • Very very accurate.
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  • Profile picture of the author Alfred Shelver
    Colin, I am glad you are getting some time off and are posting again. You weer always one of my favorite WF posters because anything you wrote stretched my intellect in a good way.

    Thanks

    Cathy
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    • Profile picture of the author Colin Theriot
      Originally Posted by rcritchett View Post

      Very Awesome, particularly the part about a name and a face! Thanks for this!
      Thanks! After checking out your site, I can see how this info will be particularly useful to you. If you make use of it, be sure and let me know!

      Originally Posted by Cathy Shelver View Post

      Colin, I am glad you are getting some time off and are posting again. You weer always one of my favorite WF posters because anything you wrote stretched my intellect in a good way.

      Thanks

      Cathy
      I'm glad to be off too. I'm actually kind of semi-retired at the moment. But I'm happy to have this particular phrase because intellect stretching is a great way to sum up what I try to always do in anything I write.

      After all, we have to make room in there for the ideas I want to give you.
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