When you’ve spent lots of time and energy creating a rockin’ online course, you can’t wait to announce it to the world. It’s your baby, and it’s ready to be born.
But wait! Before you launch, you should know that there are two ways to do it. A smart way, and an exhausting way.
Let’s start with the exhausting way.
A typical product launch is a lot like a big summer blockbuster. A movie that’s years in the making, with a team of hundreds of people and millions of dollars involved in getting it onto the big screen. On its official release date, there’s a splashy premiere, with celebrities walking the red carpet and film critics ready to give it a rave or a pan. Publicists, reporters, and stands full of fans are all there to cheer: “Hey! There’s a new movie in town!”
It can be tempting to launch your product like this, putting all your effort into a single “make or break” moment with all eyes on you. Don’t do it! Don’t let the film industry – which is, frankly, one of the most inefficient and wasteful industries around – be your model.
In one of the most notorious recent examples, Disney’s “Lone Ranger” spent approximately $175 million on global marketing (that’s in addition to the $250 million spent on the actual making of the film). But they only earned $260 million in worldwide revenue, with production costs barely breaking even and the entire promotion budget down the drain. It was a huge and embarrassing loss.
Even if you’re not operating with million dollar budgets, remember the “Lone Ranger” the next time you’re tempted to do a traditional launch. Let’s talk a little bit more about how it works so you can understand its pitfalls.
In this model, your product only makes money when you’re in “launch mode.” Because of this, continual launching is crucial.
But launching requires a LOT of energy on your part. You’re turning on your marketing hose to full blast. Coordinating with affiliates to push your product to their audiences. Sending frequent, sales-driving email blasts to your list. Doing whatever you can to push your readers to buy your new product in a short period of time.
Think of it as a sprint where you’re giving everything you’ve got. It’s a recipe for burnout.
Then, when your launch period is over, you’ll need a month or two just to recuperate. It’s about that point where you realize you have to launch – again! – if you want to continue to sell your product.
So you gear up and do it all over, followed by another burnout. There’s a lot of pressure to perform, since each launch period is the only time when you’ll bring in revenue.
Unfortunately, it’s a vicious cycle of activity and exhaustion.
If you’re a mega global conglomerate like McDonald’s, then yes, you can afford to do this. When McD’s re-introduces the “limited time only” McRib each year, they’re following the launch model, and they’re pretty good at it.
They put an incredible amount of money into a big media blitz. There are new TV commercials, partnerships, even the food packaging is redesigned to make sure every customer is drooling for a McRib.
It’s quite a lot of work for a processed pork (we hope?) sandwich.
It certainly does bring in new and lapsed customers, but it’s not necessarily a lasting effect. Once they’ve gotten their hands on their McRib, they may not come back until it reappears next year. The launch is vital to bringing those folks back again and again.
This continued effort is the type of investment only a corporation like McDonald’s can afford.
Fortunately for you, there’s a better way. It’s called the evergreen model, and here’s why we love it!
Remember the movie premiere and the McRib launch? They lack one important factor: automation. Everything has to be created and communicated in real time, requiring massive effort from many people.
The evergreen model is all about automation. It saves you time, it brings in money, and it frees you up to do more important things, like creating your next course or focusing on your customers’ satisfaction. Approach your product release with automation in mind, and you’ll be a happy camper.
Here’s how evergreen works.
- Instead of blasting your entire list during designated launch periods, you focus on creating automated email sequences that begin deploying when new customers first opt in to your list.
- Unlike the traditional launch model, where you send out emails based on YOUR launch timeline, evergreen emails are deployed on your CUSTOMERS’ timeline.
- For example, if Jessica joins your email list in May, and John joins your email list in October, they’ll both receive the same sequence of emails that guides them to a purchase. And it won’t take any effort from you, because you’ll have already written the emails and scheduled them.
- From Jessica and John’s point of view, it will feel like you’re emailing them organically, not as part of a sales-driving launch. They’ll feel good about the information they’re getting because they’ll have the illusion that the emails are being sent by you in real time, with content tailored for them.
- This process lets you reach new prospects whenever they’re interested in your product, not just when you’ve decided it’s time for a launch. That’s the benefit of evergreen. It’s always on, so you’re always poised for new customers.
In addition to automation, the content of your emails is key. You won’t be sending full-on sales pitches from day one: “HEY YOU, BUY THIS NOW!” Instead, you’ll warm up your new prospects – over a period of time – with relevant content and thrilling information. (Read more about wooing your customers instead of hitting them over the head.)
But first, before you start sending ANY emails to your list, we recommend signing up for Patrick McKenzie’s unmissable, comprehensive training course about lifecycle emails.
The course is full of solid tactical advice to help you acquire opt-ins and create an effective email sequence that sells. Each chapter will leave you thinking either “Why didn’t I think of that?” and “I wish I had known that sooner…” Take a look.
Here’s how you’ll run your fancy-pants automated email sequence.
- For most products, you’ll create a 6-8 email series that automatically deploys new content to each person on your list. The sequence begins when they first sign up.
- Your first few emails should be more content driven, providing interesting insights to the reader and proving your value and expertise. The level of “salesiness” can gradually increase throughout these emails.
- Then, around email 3 or 4, you’ll include a strong sales pitch focused on the one particular product you believe is most relevant.
- Followed by a few more content-driven emails…
- Followed by a second sales pitch. That’s it!
(Need to grow your email list before you start your evergreen sequence? Check out our delicious list growth strategy.)
Automation is the key to evergreen success. There are a few things you can’t automate fully as you sell your product, such as compelling new blog posts and email blasts from affiliates. But the email sequence is your foundation, and you can write it, set it, and forget it with – shameless plug – a platform like Summit Evergreen.
And yes, you can still have a spectacular launch moment when you first release your product – why not celebrate that special occasion with a big splash? – but you don’t have to keep repeating it in order to continue selling.
Convinced yet? Here are even more ways the evergreen process can work for you…
- You don’t have to split your attention to focus on a new product. You can keep selling all of your products at any given time when your emails are automated.
- You can sell products that are technically “old” because they’ll always be new to someone, and this process makes them feel fresh to your opt-ins. (Just make sure you’re updating the copyright date on your product to match the current year. Outdated copyrights can be a big red flag for a buyer.)
- Once you start automating, you won’t want to stop. See the time-saving effects when you automate other standard operating procedures like your refund process; upselling, down-selling, and cross-selling and your yearly McRib delivery. C’mon, it’s pretty tasty.
- Continuous revenue, or, as it’s commonly called: passive income. This is probably the biggest selling point for most people.
- Evergreen products tend to follow the 80/20 Rule, or “Pareto Principle,” which states that about 80% of the effects stem from 20% of the causes in a variety of different scenarios. When you go evergreen, you can expect approximately 80% of the revenue with only 20% of the effort of a traditional launch model. Not too shabby!
- One of our favorite benefits of evergreen is customer satisfaction. This is so important!
When you embrace the evergreen model, you embrace the idea of selling on your customer’s timeline, not yours. You make it easy for people to get on board, not neglecting them for a month before your next launch period starts. Plus, your pre-written emails can be optimized over time as you figure out exactly what your opt-ins are looking for.
So, you’re ready to put your product out into the world. Which direction will you go?
Would you rather get stuck on a never-ending up-and-down roller coaster of fluctuating revenue and misspent energy with the launch model?
Or, would you rather send every new email subscriber on a proven purchase path that brings in consistent revenue with minimal effort by going evergreen?
Even if you like roller coasters (who doesn’t?), the answer is clear: evergreen wins!
Kick launching to the curb! Sign up for your free trial of Summit Evergreen and explore our super cool automated email and content sequencer. (It’s fun!)