You did it! Your brand-new product or service is ready to go. Now … what’s your product launch plan?
(Cue record scratch …)
When most people think of their product launch timline, they think in terms of the first definition in the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
Launch: to throw forward, hurl.
In this article, though, I’m digging deep into the definition of the word and highlighting a completely different approach.
Launch: to put into operation or set in motion, initiate.
I’m about to show you a very simple sample launch plan you can follow.
Because your first launch of a new product is all about setting things in motion. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
Planning a product launch? Think of your new product launch as a “first draft” and keep it simple so you can get your new offer out into the world. Use my 3-stage product launch timeline!
What is a product launch?
A product launch is a moment in time when you put your offer — your product or service — in front of an audience of prospective buyers.
It’s also an event!
The best product launches feel like a party. You let people know about your launch in advance to build anticipation. And you have a memorable time while it’s happening.
And … truth be told … you’re a little bit exhausted once it’s done. Just like when you throw a great party.
More on how to avoid total exhaustion in a moment. 🙂
Related: How to Build Your Business Online, The Ultimate Guide
Launches and stress go hand-in-hand, but they don’t have to.Planning a product launch? The best way to reduce stress is to keep things very simple, especially the first time you launch a new offer.Click To Tweet
The step-by-step product launch plan and timeline here is perfect if you’re launching:
- An online digital product
- A new online course
- An online coaching program
- A new online service
Ready for your sample launch plan?
The three main product launch plan steps are:
- The pre-launch step: preparing for success, including “warming up” your customers and creating the launch marketing materials
- The launch step: keeping the energy high as you promote, answer questions, and provide customer service
- The post-launch step: reviewing results, making changes, and planning for the future
In this article, we’re going to cover a “minimum viable approach” to these three product launch steps.
If you want to know how to launch a product using a simple product launch timeline — even if you’ve never launched an online offer before — you’ve come to the right place.
This new product launch plan is easy to implement, even for a first-timer.
My goal is to help you build a simple, doable product launch strategy — a sort of product launch plan checklist you can use as a guide.
You can always add complexity later after you’ve been through the launch process a time or two.
By the way — there’s a lot to coordinate when you’re planning a product launch, even a simple one. The product launch plan template in my New Product Launch Strategy Builder PDF will help you keep it all organized.
It’s free! Register below and I’ll send it to your inbox.
How to plan a new product launch: An easy product launch timeline
The first time you launch a new product — especially if you’ve never done it before — the process might feel overwhelming and confusing.
In the sections that follow, I’m offering a new product launch strategy that’s sustainable and easy to follow. I’ll outline a handful of things you’ll want to do at each stage of your launch to maximize your results and minimize any feelings of overwhelm.
If you’re planning a product launch, I urge you to keep it simple. Grab your calendar so you can map out the stages onto the coming weeks and months.
Plan your work, and work your plan.
Putting together a product launch is a lot of work. Don’t try to do it all at once!
Start with one important decision …
Planning a product launch? First, fill in the blank: “My product will go on sale on this date ____”
The first thing to do in this sample launch plan is to decide when your product will go on sale.
I recommend you choose a time at least a month out from today’s date — the more time you have to plan and prepare, the better.
Use the time before your launch to grow your email list. The more people you send your offer to, the more sales you’ll make.
For more on how long to keep your product on sale, see the first part of the Launch Stage below.
Once you’ve chosen your dates, start working on the Pre-launch Stage of your product launch plan.
Related: Minimum Viable Product Examples: Build the Core of Your Online Business This Month
Stage 1: Pre-Launch
The pre-launch stage has two main objectives.
- To begin “warming up” the prospects you’ll make an offer to
- To prepare all the marketing materials you’ll use during the launch
MINIMUM TIME NEEDED FOR THE PRE-LAUNCH STAGE:
We’re keeping things simple here, so I recommend taking the month before your intended “on sale” date to do the steps in this section.
Here’s what to do during the pre-launch stage …
1. “Warm up” prospects with content that anticipates objections
As you’re mapping out your product launch timeline, I want you to think about all the reasons your prospects may decide your offer is not for them.
What might make them not buy your offer?
It’s not easy to anticipate objections!
One way to do this is to think about both their external and internal reasons for not buying.
External reasons to not buy:
- “I don’t have time to use the product or service”
- “I don’t have money to spend on this offer”
- “My spouse or business partner won’t support this”
Internal reasons to not buy:
- “I don’t have the discipline to make this work”
- “I’m not 100% clear on my next step and I don’t want to make a move until I know exactly what I’m doing”
- “I don’t think I’m smart/young/fast/hard-working/___ enough”
Your job during the pre-launch stage is to publish content that reassures potential buyers about anything that might stop them from giving your offer a chance.
Your job, as you’re planning your product launch, is to stop those objections before they happen!
Examples of perfect pre-launch “warm up” content:
- A live social media interview with a customer who shares how they spent a few hours learning your process and saw a difference right away. Message: you don’t have to spend much time to see improvements.
- An email newsletter article that shares a quick and simple solution that’s related to your offer and that people can implement now. Message: anyone can do this!
- A blog post that details the money saved when you invest in a solution similar to your offer. Message: this is a worthwhile investment.
- An interview with a past customer who took a chance with your offer and got great results. Message: this works for anyone, including people just like you.
4 steps to planning your pre-launch content:
- Make a thorough list of all possible objections, both internal and external.
- Put it to one side for a day.
- Revisit the list and decide which internal and external objection seems the strongest.
- Create content to meet those two objections and re-assure potential buyers. These three magic words help you write sales copy that calms objections.
2. Prepare your marketing materials
For this step, let’s think about launch content as what you’ll serve up during the launch period to keep interest in your offer at a peak.
People are busy, so it’s best to serve up content in a few different places and formats. Remember this important truth:
No single person will ever see all your launch content. So don’t be afraid to repeat your message frequently throughout the launch.
Create lots of launch content! But let’s keep it simple since we’re building a minimum viable launch.
YOUR GOALS FOR THE PRE-LAUNCH:
- Pre-create at least one piece of regular content that will serve as your launch announcement (webinar, blog post, podcast episode, video blog)
- Pre-create daily posts about your launch on your most-active social media platform
- Pre-write your launch emails
If you have a segmented “interest list” of people who have already expressed interest in your offer topic, you can email them more often.
If you don’t have a segmented list, you’ll email your whole list — but include a link where they can opt out of launch emails so you don’t annoy them.
At the end of this pre-launch stage, you’ll have a warmed up list of people to talk to about your new offer, and a hopper full of great launch content you’re going to publish during the launch.
It’s best to test your product launch plan
A reminder: It’s essential to test every step in your purchase process before you make it live during your launch. This is something you should complete by the end of the pre-launch stage.
Bonus points if you can have a neutral party — like a friend or loved one — check it all.
- Have them click through and check the links on test emails
- Ask them to review any sales or checkout pages to let you know if anything is unclear
- Watch over their shoulder as they review your marketing materials and talk about anything that seems confusing
You’re loaded up and ready to go. 3-2-1 …
Stage 2: Launch
The launch stage is all about energy — the energy you express in your marketing materials, and the personal energy you have to maintain.
The launch is the heart of your product launch plan! Here’s how to maximize your results …
MINIMUM TIME NEEDED FOR THE LAUNCH STAGE:
Launches are physically and mentally tiring. And since we’re aiming to keep the energy up from start to finish, I recommend running them for less time than you may think.
Aim for a launch period of 4-7 days.
Try to avoid ending your launch on a weekend. You want interested people to see your reminders that your launch is wrapping up, and people often don’t look at their inboxes over the weekend.
Here’s what to do during the launch stage …
Announce (with a BIG splash) that your product or service is availableOnce your doors are open, seats are available, or your product is finally for sale, it's time to throw the internet equivalent of an opening night party.Click To Tweet
There are many ways to do this, and it works best if you make the announcement in more than one space …
- Host a webinar and announce that doors are open
- Feature a LIVE event on your most-popular social media platform
- Send out an “it’s available” email
- Announce it with a long post on your most popular social media platform
Give people a reason to act now
Interest in your new offer will peak during two points of your launch:
On the first day, when those who have been waiting to buy scramble to grab your offer.
Leverage this first-day interest by offering a “fast-action bonus” that’s only available to those who make a purchase during the first few hours or the first day of the launch. Keep it simple! You could:
- Invite fast movers to a private group Q&A call
- Add a bonus product to their purchase
- Extend the service you offer to give them a better experience (giving them more in-depth help)
On the last day is the other peak interest time during a launch. People who have been undecided realize that the opportunity is about to go away and they scramble to grab your offer before they lose the chance.
Leverage the last-day interest by sending multiple reminders — at least three. Make even more of a fuss than you did on the first day of launch.
Planning a product launch? Ramp up your self-care!
Here’s an element of your product launch plan that most people don’t talk about …
To keep your energy high, any new product launch process should include extra self-care time for you. Launches can feel like you’re riding an emotional roller:
I got a sale!
Uh-oh, sales have dried up …
I got another sale!
Sales are slower than I expected …
Two more sales!
How come people have stopped buying?
… and on and on.
I have managed and witnessed dozens of launches — from tiny to quite large — since 2010. And every single one of them delivered a ride on the emotional roller coaster.
For example, here’s the shape of the earnings graph from a recent launch along with the thoughts going through my head during each moment. This is very typical!
If you want to come through your launch with your good humor intact, plan to run it during a time that you can take good care of yourself.
Make sure you are stocked up with healthy food. Be extra careful to log off and get enough sleep each night. Keep a group of people close by (even if virtually) so you can talk with someone when you feel stress creeping in.
YOUR GOALS FOR THE LAUNCH:
- Leverage peak interest times on the first and final days to maximize your results
- Maintain your mental and physical health by including self-care in your routine during the launch
Stage 3: Post-Launch
Whew — you made it! I hope that the new product launch ideas above helped you to have a successful launch — and you survived it and are feeling good about your results.
If not, don’t worry — launches get easier the more you do them.
Over time, the jangly nerves and roller-coaster emotions of a launch become familiar and they don’t bother you as much.
Let’s do some post-launch debriefing, shall we?
MINIMUM TIME NEEDED FOR THE POST-LAUNCH STAGE:
I recommend spending a few hours doing this review of your product launch plan. Give yourself a day or two of distance between the end of the launch and your review. Just don’t let too much time pass — you want this information to be fresh in your mind.
How to review the results of your product launch plan
I’m a big believer in tracking your efforts and your results, especially if you plan to launch this offer again in the future. You can do this in a notebook or a document, or if you’re a spreadsheet lover, that’s even better.
Make a note of these aspects of your product launch plan:
- Launch dates
- Date, time, place, content of launch “first-day” announcements (example: Tuesday morning launch email; Tuesday afternoon Facebook LIVE video; Tuesday late afternoon Facebook post)
- Launch reach: approximately how many people saw the launch announcement on Day 1?
- Date, time, place, content of other launch promotions (example: Wednesday morning FAQ email; Wednesday afternoon Facebook LIVE video with current customer)
- Total sales per day (read this to boost conversions)
- Total conversions (percentage of people who purchased out of the larger list who heard about the launch)
- What went well
- What to change for next time
- Self-care rituals that helped
It may feel a little silly to do this tracking at first. But it’s an important step in the new product launch process: You have to track where you start if you want to improve.
When you’re in the launch phase, you’ll get some feedback from your audience.
- “You’re sending too many emails.”
- “I’m not interested in this.”
- “This is confusing and I don’t need it.”
Some of this will help you improve your launch, and possibly your product — and there’s some feedback you can safely ignore.
Watch the video above to see which is which, and to get some extra coaching from me on your launch process:
- Negativity bias, and how to sidestep its effects
- Launch challenges and what to do about them
- How to have healthy boundaries as you build your business
Subscribe to my YouTube channel to get all my videos hot off the digital press!
Launches: The first one is the toughest
If you’ve made it through every step of your first new product launch plan, congratulations. You’ve joined the ranks of launch veterans!
To help you plan your new product launch strategy and apply everything you’ve learned here, grab the FREE launch planner I created for you below.
Editor’s note: This article was first published on May 16, 2018, and has been updated with the most-recent best practices for new product launches.