Celebrate with me in this episode as my husband and business-encourager asks me YOUR questions. We discuss the very twisty journey that brought me here in my business, how I plan my weeks, and how I order my coffee.
Listen in by pressing the play button below or see our adorableness by watching the video above.
You’ve put in the work to develop and create something new, something totally awesome. It may be a new design, a new line, or just a new colorway. You want your people to know about this thing, but you don’t want to feel sales-y or weird…so how do you announce your thing to the world in a way you can feel good about?
In this episode I teach you EXACTLY how to create your next launch (and I've created a Kit with all the resources you need!)
I’ve talked about launching in the past, in fact, back in episode 162, I created a checklist. To make it easy for you to find everything, I’ve gathered it all up in one place! Get the Launching Resource Guide at TaraSwiger.com/launch You’ll get the links to every episode about launches, along with the PDF schedule I created for episode 162 and you’ll get the Launch Plan I’ve created for you in today’s episode.
Before we dive into what you’re going to do, your first step is to get the right mindset. A launch is making the most of your product. It’s highlighting or featuring your product. It’s putting all your time and energy behind ONE item, so that you can really highlight the benefits of that one thing.
“But, Tara, I want to increase my sales of everything. “
Yes, and focusing on the benefits of one of your items, and giving it all the attention it deserves WILL increase sales of other things. I know this for sure, the knitwear designers I’ve worked with will launch one new pattern, but see an uptick in sales of their other patterns.
So you see that over time, as you launch new items and add more back catalog, every launch can bring in more sales.
Before we get into the steps, I want to be clear – you can launch brand-new products, or you can “launch” older items that you’ve had in your shop forever. Theses steps can be used to highlight or feature anything – the point is putting as much love and attention and time in order to market it effectively.
Every launch is going to go better if you have some channels where you’ve been consistently connecting with your ideal buyer.
That might be Instagram, YouTube, a business Facebook page, your blog, your email list – if you don’t have at least SOME people gathered someplace where they will see your message, you can’t expect to make sales – you don’t have anyone to sell TO.
Launching regularly is going to be a way to get content and consistency in those communities, so if you haven’t been showing up consistently, this Launch plan can help you start to show up consistently, but adjust your expectations accordingly – if you haven’t already been connnecting, you won’t make a sale as quickly.
(If you have no idea where or how to connect with your ideal buyer (or who that even is), head over to the Resources for this episode, and I’ll like a free workshop that will teach you more about this concept.)
Here’s your launch plan
Pick a product to launch and clarify the benefits
Create an authentic offer with a deadline.
Define your goals and commit to doing what it takes to reach them.
Go to where you have people.
Keep notes and keep experimenting.
Let’s go through this step-by-step:
Pick a product and clarify the benefits.
What are you going to launch? What does your buyer love about it? What does your need to know before she can decide? What makes it valuable? List the physical attributes (features) – how does that translate into benefits (what it means for the customer)
(I have episodes that dive deeper into these questions, they’ll be linked up in the Resource Guide at TaraSwiger.com/launch )
Think about communicating the answers both in visuals (pictures and videos) and in words – write it up like you will share it with your audience.
Don’t skip this step – really write out the answer to these questions and take as much time as it needs to clearly communicate this. This will save you tons of time later (You won’t be sitting down to Instagram thinking “What the heck do I want to say?”)
Create an authentic offer with a deadline.
So here’s the thing – you might not have naturally-occuring deadlines, but your launch is going to go better if it has a start date and end date, and if buyers have a reason to buy NOW and not later.
But this doesn’t mean you just make up a deadline or you lie about what the real deadline is. Don’t say it won’t be available later if it will be. That’s what I mean by authentic.
What I mean by offer is – what are you selling right now?
Your product + right now special = your offer.
Most people jump right to a sale or discount, “Oh, I’ll give 10% off until Friday, that’s my offer.”
Sure, you can do that, but that’s not sustainable and if you discount regularly, people will expect it and wait for it. (Think about those big box craft store 40% off coupons – do you ever buy anything full price from Micheals when you know you could wait for the 40% off coupons?)
Spend a little more time to come up with something more interesting, something with a naturally end point.
If you’re launching a brand-new product for the first time ever, your offer is simply: Get the newest thing first! You don’t need to add on anything to that offer. But when you’re launching something that has been sitting in your shop, try an offer!
Here’s a few suggestions:
A knitalong or group event for your pattern (or book or kit) at X date, so your deadline is the start of that (or the shipping deadline, if you’ve got to ship yarn)
A brand-new product that you’re offering exclusively to your list (or followers) first – the deadline is when it’s no longer exclusive (and then you launch it to others for a week or two)
Make a limited number – when the spots (or products) are gone, they’re gone.
Customize it for free for the next X buyers. (Put their name on it, or sign it!)
Give it a bonus, for a limited time (a free mini-product for next 20 purchases, a Resource Guide (aka, PDF), a free 15min consultation with you, to make the most of their product, an entry into a giveaway you’re holding with another brand). How do you know what will work best? Test it!
Can you skip this step and just focus on highlighting one of your normal products, nothing special, without a deadline?
Absolutely! In fact, that’s just good marketing – in between launches with deadlines you can just focus on a product at a time for 2-4 weeks! But try some special offers, once a quarter or so, to experiment with what works!
Before you’re done, write out the offer and deadline, as you’ll explain it to your customer. If this is new, it can feel awkward to communicate, so you’ll want to clear on your words before you start posting about it. (Avoid over-explaining yourself)
Define your goals + commit to them
Why are you doing this? What do you want?
It is really easy to get excited about a launch and half-way through just feel tired of it all.
Having a clear vision of why you’re doing this and what it’s bringing to your business can keep you going when you get sick of talking about the same thing.
Take time to think about WHY you want to do this.
What do you hope to learn? How will this impact your business? Why does that matter?
What is the deeper reason of why you want to grow your business?
How long will this launch period last?
Are you willing to go all in and commit?
Committing to a goal means that you’re going to do the work to make it happen, and then you let it go. Go all in on the work, the planning, the implementation, the experimenting and trying things and showing up, and let go of the results. Y’all tell me you’re afraid of committing to goals because you’re afraid of failure, or letting yourself down. But committing to a goal doesn’t mean you can NOT FAIL, it means that you are willing to keep working when it doesn’t happen right away. You’re not going to give up. But you gotta let go of “what if it fails”. So what? You’ll still be loved, you’ll still have a business, you’ll still be worthy, but now you’ll ALSO have all this data of what works and what you need to do in order to see real results.
Show up where your people are.
Now it’s time for what you probably think of as launching – the actual marketing!
The good news is that you already have a ton of the thinking done. Now it’s just time to plan it, schedule it and implement it.
First: Identify your channels. Where are your people?
I’m going to talk about marketing channels here (reaching OUT to people), but before you do that, you’ll want to make sure that offer is on your website, explained clearly, highlighting the benefits and sharing social proof when you have it. (Do you have happy customers? Pictures of people using your product? Use that on your offer page. This may be a sales page, or this may link to where they buy (Ravelry, Etsy, etc), but you need it all in one place.
When it comes to sharing the message, define where exactly you’ll post (don’t leave this for later, write it all out so you can schedule ahead of time, if possible.
My preference for where you spend your energy:
Your email list (unlike social media, you know your subscribers will have the message delivered)
Facebook Group (going Live)
Instagram + Instagram Stories
Facebook Business Page (going Live)
Anything else – post on YouTube, mention it on your podcast, share it with specific people or groups.
Got your list of where you’ll show up? Next is to decide WHEN and how often and then plan it.
I’m going to assume you trust me and you really want to go all in, so instead of telling you how to think about it, I’m going to treat you like you’re one of my Starship Captains and I’m going to tell you exactly what to do, ok?
(This is what we do in the monthly Group Coaching – this is directly from a recent coaching session)
In your launch week:
Send 3 emails:
Announcing the offer, with the list of benefits, mention the deadline, link directly to the offer page.
Share a customer photo, testimonial (or a test-knitter’s project and feedback, if you’re a designer). If you don’t have a customer story or testimonial to share, talk about your inspiration, with an eye to the benefits for the buyer. Include a direct link to the product and explain the deadline clearly
Warning! Deadline is today! Grab it here (keep this short, include a direct link to buy it.
Post on Instagram daily (or sub in your FB biz page – better yet hook them up so an IG post goes right to your FB page)
Post the announcement of the offer
Talk about one of the benefits (close up of the product, if applicable)
Share a customer story or testimonial or project
What inspired you (with a focus on how that impacts the buyer)
Benefits + discussion of value
Go Live at least twice:
Warning! Offer is ending!
If you’re launch is more than a week (10-14 days is a good length for most of my customers), add in an email between 2 + 3, where you talk about your inspiration or the benefits, and keep posting on IG daily (or each weekday) – share your process, your studio, your experience. When people buy or start to receive their thing, share every one of their posts and if they’re not posting it (yet) thank them on Instagram Stories.
So that’s your plan!
You may not have all the channels I’ve listed here – don’t let that stop you! Take you what you do have and apply this to your channels. Like I said at the beginning, if you haven’t been consistent or more than 100+ people on any platform, you can still absolutely follow these steps, but expect it to increase your connection, not necessarily make sales.
Next up. you’ll need to actually WRITE the content and take the photos for the platforms YOU have, and schedule it when you can (using your email software, or an app like Buffer or Later for Facebook and Instagram) and add the live elements to your calendar.
Your launch is going to be less stressful if you know what to post, when, and it’s all in one doc.
Not sure what to write and include? This is the kind of thing we work on the Starship. For more on that, check out the Launch Resource Kit – I’ll share the free podcast episodes that are related, and I’ve linked up to the Masterclass where you can learn how I can work with you to help you develop your most effective launch.
Show up, take notes and keep experimenting.
The magic of this Launch Plan is that it gives you specific tasks to do that will then give you data about what works in your business, but the only way to get those benefits is to TRACK what is working.
After you’ve got it all planned and written, use the spreadsheet included in the Launch Resource Guide to track the outcomes of the actions you’re taking.
Each year on my birthday, I look back at the past year, and at past birthdays, and try to make sense of it all. So today I'm going to share the big lessons of this last year, and well, the last 35 years.
Are you making decisions based on this week or next year? Do you have patience or are you going to quit if it doesn’t all turn out like you want in three months? This is another tough-love episode where we make your biz a little more sustainable by looking at the big questions.
As your business scales up, the problems and challenges you encounter scale up as well. Is this a sign you should stop? (Hint: no!) In today's episode, I share a business principle about growth and how you can use it to stay on the right path.
This question seem like a big one, with a million answers, but the truth is, you can narrow your focus on just four levers to create massive growth in your business. In today's episode I'll discuss these four levers and how they impact your business growth.
Last week on the podcast, I shared an interview I did with Blair Stocker at Craftcation. Although I played it cool in the show notes, I have been a HUGE fan of Blair's, for years. The same is true for this week's podcast guest, Kim Werker. I remember the first time I connected with Kim was when I commented on her Flickr (!) photo and SHE COMMENTED BACK. I was so excited! We eventually became Twitter friends and real-life friends. Ah, the magic of the Internet!
I share this with you because as grateful as I am for Internet relationships, I’ve become increasingly aware of how dangerous (to your business growth) they can be.
You feel like you know the person you’re reading and watching. And if they’re being honest and authentic, you probably do know them a fair bit. (The best part of being myself (and not a fancier, more “together” version of myself) online is that when I meet up with Internet acquaintances, we always fall immediately into fulfilling conversations.)
As for you, if you're building a business, you want your own audience. So not only are you a reader and fan of Internet businesses and blogs, you also want to figure out how they're doing it and how you can do it and gather your audience.
This leads, naturally, to a lot of comparison (What are they doing? What am I NOT doing?!) and that naturally leads to some misconceptions. Misconceptions not just about the individual you're reading (which is inevitable!), but misconceptions about what it must be like to have an audience, especially a big one.
I come across these misconceptions all the time when I talk to makers who are working to grow their audience. These fallacies are sneaky, because they present themselves as facts, and these “facts” distort reality and practicality, which leads you to make mistakes as you build your own thing.
I want to break down some of these myths, so that, instead of focusing on the size of your audience, you can shift your focus to making your business profitable and serving the audience you do have. (Which is the surest way to grow your audience – a happy customer talks about you!)
Here are some of the myths and misconceptions of what it's like to have a big audience:
1. A big audience = more money.
Not necessarily. Not unless you are selling that audience what they want to buy. For example, if you create amazing free content that Pinterest loves … but it's aimed at other crafters (and you sell finished goods), well – that's not going to increase sales.
You won't believe how many makers have this problem, so please remember: Your free content (blog, newsletter, podcast, whatever) has to be aimed at the buyer of what you sell!
2. Anyone who has it together online must have a giant audience.
For example, I have, by comparison to many of my peers, a super small audience. When I quit my day job, my yarn company just had over 300 subscribers to the email list. And this is where 80% of my sales came from.
Currently, traffic to my site is about 1/10 of most of the teachers I talked to at Craftcation. And yet, this little business is paying 100% of the bills for my family.
3. At a certain point, you'll be happy with your business.
I want to let you in on a secret: you can be happy with your business as soon as you decide to be. Seriously.
If you wait to have X sales or Y subscribers to be happy … you won't be happy when you get there, you'll be on to the next big number goal.
And that's good and natural, that's part of growth. (You know I'm a huge fan of goal-setting!)
But you don't have to wait until you reach that goal to build a business you like, and to like the business you have. You can decide right now to enjoy the work of where you are. You can decide not to sacrifice what matters most to you, at the altar of growth and numbers.
I've met miserable people who have giant audiences and national press. I have met adventurous makers who have tiny audiences and are enjoying the process. There's no outside metric (money, sales, pant size) that's going to make you truly happier.
There's a big difference in being happy about your business growth and being happy in your life.
Life happens no matter how big your audience is and no matter how many people love your work. As long as you're waiting for your business to satisfy you, you're going to feel unsatisfied. And that unsatisfied, grasping feeling? It comes across to your audience. It affects your productivity.
Take a minute to recognize the assumptions and myths you’ve been believing about what it means to have a big audience. Check your goals and your actions: Are you taking your business in the direction you want? Or are you doing things you think people have to do to be “bigger”?
Don't let these misconceptions cloud your judgement and impact your decisions. Decide to love your business (and, well, yourself!) where you are. (And if you can’t, change something.)
Be grateful for every single customer and subscriber, and work hard to delight them.
Wanting a bigger audience isn’t a bad goal, but it’s not the only way to measure growth. Be sure you focus and measure the things that most matter to you and a business you’ll actually enjoy working in.