If you’d told Ben Dziwulski right after he did his first product launch that in a few years he’d be going through that process six to eight times per year, he would have thought you were crazy.
“I would have just said, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore. That sounds terrible,’” he says. “‘I’m going to be so tired and exhausted and stressed. I don’t think my email list can handle it. I don’t think I can handle it.’”
Flash forward three years and change, and Ben and his list are more than handling it. The last product launch Ben ran for his company, WODprep, brought in more than $52,000 in revenue — and they’re gearing up to do even more in 2019.
“We have full confidence,” Ben says. “We know that we’re going to have a bunch of launches over the next 12 months, and they’re all going to be successful to some degree. And even if there’s a flop, we’ll be able to understand why and apply what we learned moving forward.”
The power of a fool-proof product launch plan
Where is all of this confidence coming from? A handful of successful launches don’t hurt. But the real game-changer isn’t the performance of any single individual launch — it’s the underlying principles and systems that make those launches possible.
Principles and systems that Ben has incorporated into his product launch plan with help from Breakthrough Launch, the new course from GrowthLab about how to design and execute winning launches.
“That’s what’s cool about having these frameworks,” Ben says. “It allows us to keep repeating the things that work.”
Breakthrough Stats: WODprep
List size: 57,000+
Total Sales: $52,373
As for what the “the things that work” are? Ben points to two specific ideas:
#1: Writing emails that say more than just, “Here’s this course. You should buy it.”
#2: Adding upsells that give customers the opportunity to keep buying from you once they’ve decided they’re interested.
Really, though, what it comes down to is one of the most timeless principles of business there is:
Always provide value. Always.
“That’s something that Breakthrough Launch definitely taught me,” Ben says. “If you provide value throughout the launch — even for those people who have no interest in buying your course — that’s the thing that’s going to make the difference.”
“Are you really starting a business, or are you just messing around on the internet?”
The product launches that Ben and his team are running now couldn’t be a more stark contrast to the first launch Ben ran for the business back in 2015.
“There’s this very vague period where it’s like, ‘Are you really starting an online business, or you just messing around on the internet?’” Ben observes.
“My wife would come home from work, and I’d be doing funnel diagrams on the whiteboard (because obviously I have a whiteboard at my house). And she would say, ‘Ben, what are you doing? Like, what are you actually doing?’”
Eventually, that incredulity became an ultimatum. “She said, ‘Ben, you need to either get a job, or you need to figure this out really fast,’” Ben recalls.
So Ben decided to push his baby bird of a business idea out of the nest and see if it would actually fly. He decided to launch.
“I had an email list of 500 people. I stayed up all night writing this massive block of text announcing that WODprep was open for business,” he recalls. “I remember sending it to my email list: 10 minutes later, click refresh, no sales. Ten minutes later, click refresh, no sales.”
Discouraged, Ben decided to put himself — and his business idea — to bed. “I had just pulled an all-nighter and sent this email at like 6:00 AM. I was totally wrecked. I decided to just go to bed. And I thought, ‘Well, I guess I’m going to go get a job. There’s no possible way that this online business thing is going to work.’”
Three hours later, Ben woke up — and, well, not quite everything had changed. But something very important had.
“I woke up, checked my email, and three sales had come in.”
Those three sales were all Ben needed to see. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, I just made $78 on the internet. This is incredible,’” he remembers. “‘I just did a thing that made money on the internet.’”
More important than the amount of money itself, Ben says, is what it told him about what he was capable of.
“What it told me was, I can do this again.”
From chaos to consistency: “It didn’t move the needle in any way, shape, or form”
And Ben would do it again — many times in fact. But it would take a while, for one simple reason: that first launch kind of wiped him out.
“It was actually a really long time before I released another course, because it was just so exhausting,” he remembers.
Part of what made the experience of launching so draining? Not having a clear product launch plan in place.
“It was very spur of the moment. Very disorganized. Like, I have this sheet of paper with a bunch of ideas written on it, and I go through and check them off. You get caught in this cycle, where it’s like: ‘Oh yeah, I should do this.’ So you bang out an email, send it. And then, ‘Oh crap, I forgot to do this.’ Bang out an email and send it the next day.”
On top of the disorganization, there was the uncertainty of not knowing whether the things that you’re spending your time on are actually going to make a difference or not.
“I remember the actual development of the logo for [my first course] Muscle Up Madness. I would have launched at least a week or two earlier had it not been for the fact that I thought my logo wasn’t good enough,” Ben remembers. “That literally does not matter at all. If I just had plain text that said ‘Muscle Up Madness’ in, like, italics, that would’ve been just as good.”
“It literally did not cause a single person to buy the course or not. It didn’t move the needle in any way, shape or form,” Ben continues. “But I didn’t know that at the time. I had no clue what was going to move the needle, and what wasn’t.”
What Ben did know was that this helter-skelter approach to product launches wasn’t going to cut it if he wanted to grow WODprep into a sustainable business that could survive and thrive over the long term.
To do that, he needed a system: a way of understanding which tactics work and executing those tactics in a predictable, reliable, scalable way.
Enter Breakthrough Launch. By implementing lessons from the course, Ben and his team have gone from helter-skelter scramble to focused, strategic product launch machine. Ben points to two strategies in particular that he says he will be integrating into his product launch plan from here on out:
#1: A better, smarter email funnel
#2: Amplifying launch performance with upsells
Upgrade #1: A better, smarter email funnel
The first area where Ben made some major overhauls to his launch approach: his sales emails.
“Before, we were beating customers over the head,” he remembers. “Here’s my course and here’s why it’s awesome. Here’s my course and here’s why it’s awesome.”
Post-Breakthrough Launch, though, Ben shifted to a more nuanced approach.
“Now, the flow is more like:
- Here’s my course and why it’s awesome.
- Here’s a story about someone who took my course, and by the way, it’s awesome and you should buy it.
- Here’s three books you should read, and by the way, if you’d like these books, we applied the same methods in our course, you should buy it.”
This more nuanced view of funnel design comes straight out of the Breakthrough Launch playbook.
In the course, we explain that while email funnels might seem complicated from the outside, when you dig just a bit deeper, you realize: all email funnels are made up of the exact same 8 types of emails. The secret is how you mix and match those different types of emails to work for your launch and the story you’re trying to tell.
The email Ben mentioned with the three book recommendations is an example of email type #4: the Lift email. It works to be a sort of “breather” for your audience. You’re not trying to change their lives; you’re just trying to provide a little bit of value and remind them, Hey, you can buy my course if you’re interested.
That lift email was a top performer for WODprep — a fact that Ben attributes directly to the fact that selling kind of wasn’t the point. At least, not the sole point.
“It’s not pounding them over the head, ‘Buy my course, buy my course, buy my course,’” he says.
This is where the idea of providing value throughout the launch — actually making the launch itself valuable, rather than just telling people about the value they’ll get if they buy your course — becomes absolutely critical. Because an added bonus of the value-first approach to sales emails is that it keeps readers engaged — even if they have no plans whatsoever to buy the product.
“We just launched a course for how to do a pullup. Not even a CrossFit pullup, just a normal strict pullup. That’s the most basic movement I’ve ever tried to launch,” Ben explains. “There were tons of people on my email lists that are like, ‘I can already do it, I don’t need help with this.’”
“But they’re still on my email list. They didn’t unsubscribe. They still responded to some of my emails,” Ben continues. “And it’s because we provided value through the launch itself. It wasn’t just this annoying launch. It was more of like, ‘Hey, here’s this offer, but then also here some interesting facts, here’s all this good knowledge that even if they don’t buy, they can take and apply to their own training. And there’s value there.”
Upgrade #2: Amplifying your product launch performance with upsells
The second tweak that Ben and his team made to their launch process: adding upsells — an additional offer that you give to customers after they’ve decided to buy the main product you’re offering them — into the launch flow.
“That took us way too long to implement, but thanks to Breakthrough Launch kicking me in the butt, we’ve started to do upsells on the past three launches.”
Upsells are an example of what, in Breakthrough Launch, we call Launch Amplifiers: next-level tactics you can add to your launch to make it even more successful.
Some beginning entrepreneurs get nervous when you talk about upsells. You’re already taking a huge risk by asking people to buy something from you in the first place, the thinking goes. Are you really supposed to jump right in before the sale is even closed and ask them to buy another thing?
But as Ben points out, a lot of that anxiety stems from a misunderstanding of what the goal of upsells actually is.
“There’s this preconceived notion that upsells are so scammy. But that’s like saying, ‘Launches are so hard,’ or ‘Launches are so annoying.’ They’re really not — if you know how to do them the right way.”
Again, what it comes down to is keeping the focus on providing value to your customer. They’re already sold, they’re interested in your first offer — can you provide even more value by offering them another product that’s complementary to the one they already want?
“I just say, ‘Hey, you just bought this course. That’s a great decision, I think you’re gonna love it. I wanted to make you a special offer where you can join this course that’s normally closed, but you can join it now if you click below, and it actually pairs really well with the course you just bought. If you don’t want it, just click no thanks. But if you do want to just click yes and we’ll automatically add it to your order.’”
And the thing about upsells? They work. Since Ben and his team started incorporating one-click upsells — making another compelling offer right on the back end of the first offer — their launch revenue has increased by around 20%.
“Is that high pressure? Is that going to make you feel yucky? No, it’s not,” Ben says. “And do people buy? Yes, a lot.”
What’s next for WODprep: Keep repeating the things that work
With the frameworks from Breakthrough Launch fully integrated into his launch process, Ben is looking forward to what the future holds for WODprep.
“Our goal is to run between six and eight launches in a year,” he says. “Maybe more.”
And where that thought might have filled Ben with panic once upon a time, now there’s just confidence — and curiosity about what else is possible.
“We understand how long the launch is, we understand roughly how many emails we’re going to send out, we understand the framework of the emails and what really works,” Ben says. “So we go into each new launch thinking, ‘All right, when we do this launch, we’re going to use what we’ve learned from previous launches — and then we’re going to add maybe a slight twist, just one layer of complexity, and see what happens then.’
“We’re able to slowly but surely stack complexity into the launch. But it all starts with this base framework and knowing: these are the things that have to be there.”