How To Launch A Product Before You Build It

Marketing, Strategy

Last week, over in the membership, I had an unexpected gap in our schedule to fill. 

After a brief moment of panic, I realised I had an opportunity to put myself under a bit of pressure to create a tool and a training session that’s been floating around in the back of mind for ages. 

“Why not do it live?”, I thought. Does that idea fill you with horror? If so, read on…

Confession: I’m a huge procrastinator. I NEED deadlines and a little bit of public accountability breathing down my neck to really make me deliver. 

Sometimes, the right kind of self-imposed pressure is good, but here’s the thing. You have to accept that the thing you are going to produce or launch isn’t going to be perfect. It’s going to be Version 1.0. It’s going to be a beta version. But it’s still going to help people.

In marketing terms, this is called a Minimum Viable Product. In fact, every single theme, course, membership, webinar I’ve ever launched has been a minimum viable product. 

Sure, it has to meet certain standards, but putting an ‘MVP’ out into the world lays a solid foundation that starts bringing you an immediate return. 

And when I say return, the payback can come in many forms. Yes, you might be able to pre-sell a new product at a reduced price and get some cash coming in, but you’ll also spark interest, create excitement, get immediate feedback and be seriously motivated to take your product or offer to the next level.

Getting off the ‘perfection treadmill’ and just shipping something is the fastest way to bootstrap a new product. 

Last week, I created a new tool – The Marketing Masterplan Assessment. You can answer 10 quick questions and receive a copy of your personalised marketing action plan, so that you know exactly what to do next for your business. It’s designed to help you get unstuck.

The tool isn’t perfect. The training wasn’t perfect, but it was a damn good start and I’ve already started refining it. And the best part? That tool is ALREADY helping people. Sometimes we just have to get over ourselves. 

Over this week, I’ll be exploring the different ways you can use the ‘minimum viable product’ concept to create new content for your business and get it out into the world fast. It might be a lead magnet, a course, a downloadable or even just a blog post that you’ve been sitting on. 

It doesn’t matter what it is. The process is the same. Done is better than perfect. 

Researching out loud

When you’re cooking up a new product, it’s tempting to keep everything under wraps. I know I have a tendency to want to wait until my new idea is fully thought out before talking about it in public, mostly because I don’t want to come across as half-assed, but also because committing to something publicly means I don’t then have the option to back out. 

And a tiny bit of me thinks…what if someone steals my idea before I’ve even created it?

When it comes to launching ANYTHING – whether that’s a new product, service or even just a blog post, talking about it as early and as often as possible is vital.

Firstly, you want to make sure that you’re creating something that people actually want. 

When I created my first course, I finished the beta version without doing a single bit of research. I surveyed my audience almost as an afterthought and from their answers, quickly realised that my possible purchasers had pain points that I hadn’t even covered. 

Secondly, inviting your audience to become part of the creative process, creates excitement and buy-in. When the time comes to actually launch, you’ll already have willing buyers who will want the product that they asked you to create.

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Pre-selling your product

If you’re someone who needs a hard deadline and public accountability, then pre-selling your product, before it’s even built, is a serious motivator. 

This approach works really well for courses and workshops. You can create a ‘taster lesson’ and detailed outline to let buyers know what they will be getting, and create the actual course or workshop content on the fly. 

If you’re planning a course, you can drip out your lessons weekly, for example, and create each lesson as you go. If you’re planning a workshop, you might create a live challenge or workshop event, and turn the live recording into a saleable product. 

Typically, pre-selling usually involves offering your product to your audience at a discount. They’ll get a bargain and you’ll get instantaneous feedback which you can use to improve and refine your product. 

It might sound like a risky strategy, but you only need to stay one step / week ahead of your students or buyers. The beauty of creating ‘live’ is that you’ll be getting content requests and guidance from your audience, meaning that the training or content you produce is going to be perfectly tailored to your audience in real time. 

It’s the definition of working smarter, not harder.

Refine and review

The beauty of creating your product on the fly or pre-selling it at a discount, is that your audience is going to be tolerant if your product isn’t perfect. 

That’s why it’s often called a beta launch. My top tip is to be completely up front with your audience that you’re creating and testing a new offer. Not only will that manage their expectations, but it will also create loyalty and encourage your early adopters to feel personally invested in your success. 

Some of the best feedback I’ve ever had has come from beta version testers of my courses and products. 

Make sure you get formal and informal feedback from as many early buyers as possible. You’ll need their testimonials and case studies later on to build trust and inspire buyer confidence when you do a full launch.

Don’t forget to collect social proof by screenshotting positive comments from your social media community (but always ask permission of course).

Relaunch with confidence

If you’ve done your product validation properly and conducted your research and your beta trials publicly, then you’re likely to have a pretty warm audience, who already understand what you’re about to sell and are ready to buy it.

That’s the beauty of pre-selling. It gives a natural excuse to create content around your new product without feeling pushy.  

If you ran a free beta course or tested your product with just a handful of people in exchange for their feedback, then now is the time to build loyalty by offering them an exclusive deal or rate that they can lock in forever. It’s the best way to thank and motivate your already loyal audience.

Also consider setting up an affiliate programme for your beta testers. If they love your product and have helped refine it, they will want to share it with their own audiences. 

Look for other natural partners who you might share an audience with but who you don’t compete with. Having affiliates on board for a product launch is the easiest way to reach more people who are likely to be interested in your offer. 

Once you’ve got a beta test under your belt, and got some affiliates on board, take your time to plan your launch carefully. 

I like to start promotion with 2-3 weeks to go before a product goes live. It’s also important to consider which kind of event is going to work best for your audience. An Instagram tag and share campaign? A webinar? A 3-day challenge? It really does depend on the nature of your product.

If you’re thinking of launching something new, you can access my Pivot Your Business course for just £1.

Learn how to niche your product, launch it with confidence and use my 6 week Launch Roadmap to get your new offer out into the world!

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