4 real-life lessons from our digital product launch
2020 has been called a lot of different things (and with good reason). But for Kane and I, we have decided it’s our year of 'uncomfortable action-taking'.
For us, that’s meant carving out time to work on things that have been on the back burner for years and being willing to be complete beginners again.
Earlier this year we launched our Lead Magnet Toolkit. At the time, we weren’t sure how people would respond given all that was going on in the world, but we felt our product could be a helpful tool for small or emerging businesses, so we went for it.
This isn’t a post about how we made a gazillion dollars off our product (I wish) but more about some of the lessons we learnt along the way. My hope is that it will inspire you to take some uncomfortable action in your business too.
Because, whether you want to launch a new product, podcast, lead magnet, website or even a whole new business, you could come up with hundreds of excuses as to why it’s not ready yet.
- It’s not the right timing
- I’m so busy
- I need more content
- I need more followers
- I haven’t got [thing you think you need to launch] yet
- It’s not perfect yet
- XYZ Brand just launched something similar
You get the idea. But, today I’m going to let you in on why I think the best time to launch is yesterday, and the next best time is right now.
Lesson #1: Nothing beats real data from real customers
Whenever you launch anything new, you have so much to learn about what your customers want and need from you.
Sure, you can survey your ideal customers and do market research, but until you’ve actually launched the thing, you’ll never really know whether you have a winning idea. You should never skip out on the research (that’s so important) but remember that even if your customers say they would buy and engage, it doesn’t always mean they will.
We knew that other brands had successfully launched similar products to ours, so we had proof of concept, and our customers had told us that they wanted to create their own lead magnets. But we still had a lot of unknowns we needed answers to.
For example, we didn’t know how much it would cost us to make a sale. And we didn't know how our customers would fair DIYing their designs—would they be able to get the results they wanted? We only learnt those things by launching our product and getting real feedback and data.
By launching sooner, you get the real data and feedback you need to answer those big questions, like—
- Is it the right price?
- Is it worth the time?
- Is it profitable?
- Do my customers understand the value?
- Does it get my customers results?
Between customer feedback, google analytics, hotjar screen recordings and facebook ads results, we gained insights into our customers and their buying behaviours that we wouldn’t have uncovered from surveys or market research.
Lesson #2 Launch much sooner than you think
We could have spent extra time making more templates or finessing words and designs. We sure wanted to.
It got to a point where we were proud of everything we had created, and even though we had some hunches about what could be improved, we wanted our marketing to be informed by data from our customers. So we just launched.
"If you're not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late." — Reid Hoffman, Founder of LinkedIn
Odds are that you’re going to tweak and change your offer based on feedback anyway, so you need to focus on the essentials. Ask yourself—
- What do I really need to be able to launch? What are the essentials?
- What don’t I need to launch?
- What would this look like if it were easy? (This one is from the great Tim Ferriss and his book Tribe of Mentors)
Investing a lot of time and money into nice-to-have but non-necessary tasks could mean that you end up wasting a chunk of time and money. That doesn’t mean you should launch something you’re not proud of, but it does mean toning down the perfectionist in you and being ok with a B+ instead of an A for your first attempt. Launch, listen and refine as you go.
Lesson #3 Shit will hit the fan. How you interpret it matters
A few days after we launched, an email hit our inbox telling us that our cart was broken. Honestly, it was embarrassing that something so fundamental wasn’t working. But we had tested it! Our friends and family had tested it. It was working. But, there was a bug. And, as is the nature of bugs, this one was rather annoying.
But it wasn’t the only thing. We had a troll on facebook telling us our designs were ‘amateur’ (thanks pal), rising facebook ad costs, customers who couldn’t open their files and some broken links. It was a very small percentage of people, sure, but those little things can accumulate to shake your confidence.
That’s why how you interpret these not-so-ideal scenarios matter. You can adopt a fixed mindset and see each setback as proof that you’re not good enough, or you can adopt a growth mindset and see each hurdle as an opportunity to learn. The first mindset will cause you to retreat and stop trying, the second will help you adapt and improve your offer for the better.
Maybe you guessed that we chose to opt for the latter, and you'd be right. Armed with our data, screen recordings, feedback and list of bugs, we fixed and relaunched. I have no doubt that there will be more hurdles, but they’ll be lessons to learn too.
By the way, you can learn more about a fixed vs. growth mindset from the amazing Carol Dweck if you’re interested.
Lesson #4 Great feedback will fuel you
At first, people were buying, and the only feedback we were getting was the kind above— y’know that stuff was broken. As you can imagine, that’s not so motivating. We had a few positive comments here and there, but we needed to know that our customers were getting some wins too. That was the whole point of our product.
So, we reached out to ask for feedback. I felt my heart skip a beat when I hit send on that email, half anticipating a slew of hate mail. But instead we got the opposite.
We heard some amazing success stories. People were getting results. They were creating new and amazing resources for their customers. And they had great ideas for improving our product too. That feedback was so important to our motivation. I’m so glad we took the time to ask, and so grateful to those who took the time to share their experience with us.
Although it can be daunting, gathering case studies, testimonials and proof that your idea is a good one is incredibly important. The good ones will keep you motivated and can be used in your marketing. And the 'room for improvement' ones ensure you're creating stuff your customers really want.
The first stage in any new project is always just understanding if it’s viable, if it’s profitable and if it gets the results it’s supposed to.
That means being open to feedback, taking some risks and being willing to adapt, change and grow. That stuff is hard. At least, I know it is for me (hey, ego 👋) But it’s the fastest way to turn your little idea into something that your customers love to bits and that you’re insanely proud of.
So, are you up for a little challenge? If so, I want you to work out how you can launch that new idea that’s been on your mind in the next 14 days. Create your minimum viable product. Get it out into the world. And improve it along the way.
If 14 days is way too scary, set any bold timeframe you want, and get to it.
Feeling extra bold? Tell me what you’ll be launching and when in the comments below, or send me an email to let me know what you’re up to! I love hearing from you.