With spring launch season upon us, one of the classic mistakes I see over and over again is attempting to launch without a plan.
From experience, I know that the launch plan is the foundation of any successful launch, and taking the time to build it properly is always worth your time.
Now, there’s a ton of advice out there that seems to contradict this approach. I’m sure you’ve heard advice like “build it and they will come” or “just start simple.” And yes, I DO often recommend launching a minimum viable version of anything new.
However, moving ahead with a minimum viable version of your offer doesn’t mean that you should launch it without a plan. The launch plan is key to a successful launch and needs to be done before getting into action.
Here’s my take on what you need to include in your launch plan — and why having one is so critical to the success of a project.
Why Having a Launch Plan Matters
Like so many other things we do in our businesses, not having a plan can create a variety of issues. In a scenario where we don’t have a launch plan, those issues can quickly make things go off the rails.
Some common issues with not having a launch plan may include —
You don’t have any idea what you’re actually launching.
While you may have already nailed down the basics of your offer, a huge part of the launch plan is determining the details of your pre-launch process as well as exactly what’s in your core offer.
Without a plan, it’s entirely too easy to forget about things like early bird incentives or bonuses until the last minute. This often leads to overcomplicating things or overdelivering because you didn’t have the proper time and space to plan.
Your launch never actually happens.
Without a clear plan, it can take too long to get from idea to execution and your launch date quickly slips further and further out.
By creating a launch plan — even a simple one — it’s easier to commit to a timeline and start working through the steps towards launch. Without a launch plan, your “launch” may end up just being an idea that’s waiting for action.
You miss out on key things you wanted to include.
When you don’t have a launch plan, you may find yourself in a situation where you’re so busy trying to plug all the holes (created by your lack of a proper plan) that you miss out on opportunities that could have helped you get better results.
Missed opportunities may include securing affiliates, referrals, finding new traffic, and more. Once you’re launching, your lack of capacity means you don’t have the time to add anything extra on the fly.
Your launch fails to deliver the results you want.
When we see launches that fall flat it comes down to one or two key things — either the offer isn’t clear or the audience wasn’t there to buy. Both of these can be directly tied back to the launch plan.
A big part of the planning process involves nailing down the offer and making sure it’s crystal clear, both to your team and to your potential customers. Creating a launch plan allows you to think through how you’re going to get eyes on your offer and ensures that it’s understood by your potential customers.
So now let’s talk about how we actually build a launch plan!
Building Your Launch Plan
If you’ve ever done a launch, you know that there are a ton of moving parts that need to be cared for. And if you’ve never done one, all the more reason you need a launch plan!
To ensure you don’t miss a thing when creating a launch plan, you’ll want to start with nailing down the big pieces:
- When do you want to open your cart?
- When do you want to start delivering your course, program, or service?
- What’s the basic structure of your offer?
Once you know these things, you can work backward to determine some other key factors such as:
- When do you want your cart to close?
- When do you want to start promoting your offer?
- Do you need a pre-launch period? If so, when does that start and stop?
- What needs to be created? What can be repurposed?
- What existing audience will you launch to?
- Do you need a new audience as well?
After you’ve answered all of these questions, you can start breaking down the execution into actual tasks that will need to be completed for the launch plan. This might include putting together a social media plan, creating graphics or videos, writing copy, building an email sequence, and much more.
Also, keep in mind that creating your launch plan is not a one-time event. It’s something that you’ll revisit and update as you work towards your launch date. Having this document in place from the beginning will help keep you on track and make sure your launch goes off without a hitch.
Fail to (Launch) Plan, Plan to Fail
When creating your launch plan, keep in mind that most launches are going to include three main phases.
This is where we ramp up to our open cart by warming up any current audience and find new audience members who are primed to buy our offer.
This is when the offer is actually available to purchase and the main focus is on converting lookers into buyers.
This is where we actually deliver whatever was included in the offer. Depending on what you’re delivering, that phase could be quite extensive or as simple as a few emails and links.
Your launch plan should focus on creating a full and complete task list and deadlines for each phase as well as details on how to move from one phase to the next.
One of the most important aspects of a launch plan is to make sure you have time built in for testing. This should include landing pages loading correctly, testing out different sequences, seeing how social posts or paid ads perform and more. You need to leave time to tweak and optimize as you learn during the launch.
Your launch plan starts with just a few key dates but evolves into a detailed task list for each phase that has both milestones and specific deadlines for each item.
Need a Launch Plan? We Can Help.
Launch plans can seem daunting, but they’re an essential part of any successful launch so their importance cannot be understated. With a little pre-planning and effort, you can create a launch plan that will make your launch easier than you imagined.