Download: MP3 (71.1 MB)


I launched Learn Lettering one year ago yesterday. It was my very first product launch and it grossed six figures in the first three days of launching.

How was I able to do this? Well, I have an exhaustive case study in e060 with all of the details, but essentially I owe it to a year of immersion in the world of marketing!

I learned everything I could. I studied countless examples from other people. I searched the web and read articles, listened to podcasts, watched videos and gleaned whatever wisdom I could from those who had been there before me.

I learned two things:

  1. How to make sure you’re building what other people want (and will pay for) and not just what you want.
  2. The absolute, undeniable power of email.

In the last episode, we looked at Getting Started With Email Marketing. Today, we’re taking things to the next level and I show you how I use email marketing to launch a product.

I share things I learned, what worked, what didn’t work, and everything from validation, to lead magnets, to what to put in your emails, to evergreen launches so that you too can nail your very first product launch.

Show Notes
  • 03:55 Sean: My first product launch was Learn Lettering—which I launched a year and a day ago. It ended up grossing six figures in three days. That’s pretty unheard of for a first launch and yet, I still figured out a ton of things sense then. I’ve learned things the hard way, I figured out when I did wrong, and what I could do better. I owe a lot of that to my research on product launches and marketing, especially email marketing. I gleaned from other people how they do launches and structure things, which ended up helping my product launch do super well. Even if you haven’t launched something before, I’m hoping you get a lot out of this but if you have, I hope you glean something from this episode that helps you with your launch.

Validating You Product Idea

  • 05:36 Terrance asks, “How do you even know you’re ready or have the audience to sell products? How do you know whether people will even buy your products?” The best way to know, although it’s not the easiest to obtain, is if people are going out of their way to ask you for something. You know they want it, it’s not guess work. The desire has to come from them. You want them coming to you saying, “Hey can you come up with a solution for this? I would pay for this.”

You can make something and want people to want it all day, but that doesn’t make people actually want to buy it.

  • 06:38 Ben: That can be difficult because when we make things—whether it’s something you drew, wrote, or apparel you created—you feel an attachment to it, it’s your baby. When you put it out there and you think, “This is the best thing I have to offer, people are going to love it,” they might love this other thing you did a few months ago that you think is just ok. If you’re too emotionally attached to how awesome you think something you made is, then you’re going to miss an opportunity to capitalize on someone’s interest in another thing you’ve made.
  • 07:09 Sean: It’s something you want to do well, regardless of what people actually want. When it comes to designs, you might have a favorite design you want to turn into a t-shirt or a print, but if that’s not the peoples’ favorite, it doesn’t really matter. I said my first product launch was Learn Lettering but actually, a couple of years before that, I did put out a shirt for sale. I didn’t exactly launch it, I just said, “I’ve got a shirt available,” and I made some sales that way.
  • 08:10 This was 2012 and I had been posting work on Instagram every day for two years. I had been showing up consistently and people were starting to take notice. They started leaving comments on my work saying they wanted to buy it as a print or a shirt. They were going out of their way to ask for it, instead of me just saying, “I made this shirt, I really want you to like it. Will you buy it?” There’s something powerful about that and the same thing was true with Learn Lettering. I was putting out work and blog posts, and at the time I was getting an average of five emails a day where people were asking me questions about lettering. How do I get started with lettering? How do I design quotes? How do I work with clients? I made a guide in response to those questions.
  • 09:15 I was putting out valuable and relevant consistently, so people started to associate me with this topic and this topic with me. They were asking me questions, I made a guide in response to those, then the guide got 200,000 views on my site in a year. I realized there’s more interest here and I could do more than just a guide. The ideal is for people to be asking you for something. You can go out of your way to uncover problems people have and create solutions to those. You can try to put yourself in the middle of those people and try to sell your product. You’ll sell your product that way but the reason Learn Lettering had such a huge success and awesome launch was because it had a direct response to the questions I was already getting from people.
  • 10:18 Ben: People have to be able to see you as a person who can provide the solution they’re looking for in order for them to ask you for things. In order for them to see you as that, you have to demonstrate you are that person by consistently putting out value.

People need to see you as an authority.

  • 10:43 Sean: They’re going to ask questions of someone they see as an authority and the people they see as authorities are people that consistently put out content. You don’t even have to answer every question, you just have to answer some questions around this topic and people will assume you have the other answers, just because you show up consistently and talk about it.
  • 11:06 Ben: It’s important to note that when you first started lettering, you had quite a bit of time you were able to devote to doing that every day and it still took you two years of putting out consistent value with lettering. It took two years to start getting questions from people and seeing interest. I don’t want people to have the false impression they can just start talking about something and people will start showing up. There’s something really important about that time aspect. The longer you spend doing something consistently, especially focusing in a specific niche, the easier it is for people to trust you because they see you’re committed.
  • 11:57 Sean: I hear people say, “I started a blog two years ago and it hasn’t gotten any big requests or people asking for clients, so I guess I’m just going to move onto something else.” You started a blog two years ago but what are you doing now? You haven’t been showing up every day for two years, you just started a blog two years ago. I’m talking about showing up every day for two years and after two years, you’ll start to see the results. That’s when it finally comes to a head.
  • 12:34 Ben: That’s if you’re working as hard as Sean does and what I mean by that is, don’t compare yourself to other people, but you’ve got to realize you can’t underestimate the kind of time it takes to gain that kind of traction. Don’t even get two years into it and think, “Now people will start showing up,” and feeling bad about that. Hopefully, you love what you’re doing enough that it doesn’t matter whether or not people start coming to you with questions and you’re going to consistently do it anyway. What also helps drives that is because you love it so much, you’ll do it consistently, and because you’re doing it consistently, eventually people will start asking questions.
  • 13:33 Sean: It’s a matter of perspective too. You could say I had it easy because I was there in the early days in the lettering world. To me, it felt like other people had been lettering for years before I had. I felt like I was the late one, but then there was a big resurgence in lettering and now people think, “Sean was there at the perfect time.” Maybe I was but it was somewhat of an uphill battle because lettering wasn’t as popular as it is now. You can argue both ways, whichever way you want to make excuses. You can say, “He was there early and I’m too late,” but you’re there once the market is confirmed. If you have value to add, there’s a pool of people that are hungry for it. It’s a unique experience for you. The experiences are different.

An experience is only an excuse if you want it to be.

  • 14:38 Ben: It’s possible to show up consistently enough that you actually become a driver of that interest. Maybe the market is primed for that, with others doing the same thing and the ability to find your unique expression of that interest, but what if you don’t rely on that so much? Those pieces need to be there and there needs to be some level of interest, but what if you’re showing up so consistently that you’re driving more interest? You’re not only adding value to yourself because the interest you’re driving is coming back to you, but you’re driving interest for your industry. You’re adding value to everyone else who’s participating in that pursuit.
  • 15:29 Sean: In the chat room, Sarah says, “Being there at the ‘perfect time,’ seems so irrelevant. Painting was hot way before Picasso was alive.” I hope people get that I talk about lettering not because this is a lettering podcast, but because I find that there’s value in using very specific examples. We’re not just internet marketers who talk about internet marketing, we have real experience with a real business, trade, and skill that was built with thousands of hours of practice. I like using lettering because it’s a real example I can point to and people can replace lettering with whatever—engineering, art, photography, videography, writing, etc. At least we have something concrete you can replace.
  • 16:35 We talked about showing up every day, providing value, and being consistent because it relates to product launches. We can give you all the steps for product launches, but it’s not going to work if you don’t set that foundation and if you have the wrong expectations. I don’t want you to have the wrong expectations and think, “I’m going to break into this new industry where I’ve never written a blog post, helped anyone, or put value out there. I’m following these magic steps, why is my product launch not successful?”
  • 17:09 Ben: You always say, “I made six figures in three days with my product launch,” and every time I see that I think, “He made six figures in three days, and it took him three years to build the audience that made that possible.”

Backwards Building

  • 17:41 Sean: Backwards building products is where you announce your product as if it is a press release and you’re assuming the product already exists. Pretend the product you’re building already exists and you have to write a press release for it.
    • Why should people care about this?
    • Who is it for?
    • What problem does it solve?
    • Why is it valuable?
    • Why should people be interested?
  • 18:13 Write out all of this. Write everything about it: the people it serves, what it does, how it accomplishes those things, etc. This is what I did for Learn Lettering and I did it six months ahead of the launch. I gave a case study on my 6,000 pixel tall landing page for it (Related: e060 How Learn Lettering Made $80,000 in 24 Hours With the First $10k in 30 Minutes). The landing page speaks to people. It speaks to the person who is a hand letterer and wants to make a living as a lettering artist. It talks about the problems and how I’m going to solve the problems. The goal here is for the person to be so excited that they were ready to press the buy button by the time they got to the bottom. The thing is your product doesn’t exist yet and you haven’t started building it, but you’re announcing it as if it’s built. Iterate as you go but put up as much as you can, and put it up exactly like you would launch with it.
  • 19:30 You’re making it seem like a real product, because it’s going to be one, but instead of a buy button, you have a sign up form. This sign up form does two things: gives them a free gift and says you’ll notify them when the product becomes available. You offer them a free gift, which is a lead magnet. If your product is a video course, the free gift could be a free mini video series. If it’s a tutorial, you can give them a guide or a written tutorial. When they scroll to the bottom of the landing page, they’re so excited they’d probably sign up just to hear when it’s available because they’re interested. You could do that, but the lead magnet pushes them over the edge. Not only are we going to let you know when it’s available, but here’s a free gift on top of it.
  • 20:55 Ben: In that initial ask for the email address, do you communicate that you’re going to provide even more value? With Learn Lettering, you shared a free video in one of the email campaigns you sent out before the launch. Do you want to promise them more free stuff between the time they sign up and the time it launches?
  • 21:31 Sean: First of all, it depends. Second of all, you don’t have to. Third of all, you can. Let’s say you have a video course, you could give people a free PDF guide that doesn’t have anything to do with the videos but it’s still relevant to the topic and it’s still something valuable you’re giving away. You don’t even have to say anything other than, “Get the guide, I’ll let you know when the course launches,” because they want to know when the course launches and the cool free stuff will push them over the edge. Leading up to the launch you can send them several free video lessons along the way and you don’t even have to mention that, because all you need to do is get them on the list. You could also use the video series as the lead magnet instead—“Get this free, three-part video mini series to give you an idea of what’s going to be in the course.”
  • 22:22 If you have some sort of PDF guide, plus videos, and you’re going to send emails leading up to the launch, it might overcomplicate things a little bit. At some point it’s diminishing returns if you’re like, “You get a free guide, and I’ll give free stuff along the way, and you’re going to get videos, and I’ll let you know when it launches.” It doesn’t effect the conversion at that point so as long as you have something free, valuable, and relevant, then you’re good.
  • 23:09 Backwards building basically makes a promise about what the product will be, the problem it solves, and who it’s for. This does two things: first, it lets people know what to expect. You’ve put it out there as if it exists, so if people are signing up, they would have bought it, or at least a percentage of the people that converted would have bought it. It’s a form of validation. You can’t guarantee that if a 100 people signed up for your list you would have a hundred sales. It’ll be a fraction of that but you can guarantee that fraction. When people sign up it’s confirming interest, instead of saying, “I’m going to work on this thing and it’s coming. If this vague sentence interests you, sign up.” That doesn’t say anything! You can get 1,000 people signing up with that and who knows what your product is going to be, but that’s no validation. By backwards building and putting it up as if it exists already, you’re able to validate whether people would be likely to buy.
  • 24:25 The second thing backwards building does is it sets a goal for you. You’ve said you’re going to build a product that does this, looks like this, solves this problem, and now you have to do it. You can’t build whatever you feel like building, you have a very clear goal. You know this has to solve a certain set of problems. If it’s a video course, it can consist of 50 videos or 30 videos, that part is flexible but you know you have to solve this problem. You can’t veer off of this course because people signed up for this specific thing.
  • 25:01 Ben: With the Learn Lettering video series leading up to the launch, how long was it before you started?
  • 25:15 Sean: Honestly, I think it was five days. I didn’t do it right.
  • 25:21 Ben: You waited longer than you should have to start doing it, but I admire that when you made that promise, you didn’t have every little detail as far as making the videos, how you were going to produce it, or even the landing page worked out. I like the challenge of that because it says, “I know what problem I’m going to solve and I know I can solve it, even if I don’t know how yet.”
  • 26:18 Sean: It’s like being a web developer or designer: we don’t always know every single step from A to Z, but we know that we can figure out how to get to Z and there’s going to be challenges along the way that we face head on. An effective landing page will articulate the problem better than the prospect could ever even try.

If you can articulate the problem better than the prospect can, they’re going to feel like you have the best solution.

  • 27:00 Sometimes, the feelings inside them—issues, hesitations, and fears—haven’t even been verbalized or articulated by this person. If you can do that, it will make them feel like you’re reading their mind and they’re going to believe your product is going to answer all of their questions and problems better than they could even think to ask.
  • 27:28 Ben: When I worked for a bank, I had to do sales and something I learned that was very valuable was building the customer’s potential objections into the sales pitch. It really caused us to think ahead. What might this person object to, or what hesitation might they have? This applies to your landing page because you want to imagine a person and give it some forethought. You know in general what the problems are but try to get down to the details—where they live, what kind of circumstances they’re in, etc.—that you can build into your sales pitch or your content in a way that helps them feel like you’re reading their minds.
  • 28:35 Sean: You want to know your prospect and know their problems. You should know this because the product you’re building should be a direct response to the problems they have and questions they’re asking. You should disassociate yourself from what you want to build.

You can’t just build whatever you want, you have to find out what people need.

  • 29:01 You have to find out what people are asking for and if you’re thinking, “I don’t have people asking me questions,” that’s because you haven’t shown up every day for two years. You need to provide value consistently. You have to establish yourself as an authority, then people will start asking you questions. Put out an epic blog post that helps people and solves a real problem, and at the bottom have a sign up list for your newsletter. Offer them something in exchange—a lead magnet—and when they sign up, send an autoresponder email that tells them who you are, why they should listen to you, what you’re going to be providing, and when you’re going to be providing it.
  • 29:52 At the end of that email, ask them what they’re struggling with. What are you struggling with around X? X is your industry or a topic within your industry. Tell them to reply to you within that email. Filter those responses with a label within Gmail so you can revisit them. You can look at the struggled that most people have and the one that’s the most common is the best one to build your product around. You want people to feel like you’re reading their minds (Related: e099 How To Read Minds). Listen to people. If you want people to feel like you’re reading their minds, you have to answer the questions they have
  • 30:31 Often those questions haven’t even been verbalized by them. Look at the most common response from your autoresponder and position your copy writing around that. Respond to those questions and since they’re the most popular, a lot of other people are going to have them and they’ll feel like you’re reading their minds. It will resonate with them.
  • 31:00 Ben: You gave me a piece of advice that was really valuable: when someone does ask you a question, ask for clarification. Don’t let that surface-level question be the only thing you attack. Get clarification because there’s often something deeper at the root of their question.
  • 31:25 Sean: When you’re backwards building, you’re essentially putting up the blueprints to what you’re going to build. You’re not only putting it up there for potential customers, you’re putting it up there for potential competitors and that’s scary. You might think you should keep it vague and have people sign up to know the “secrets.” No one is going to sign up when you do that, they don’t care.

Your problem is not competitors, your problem is getting anyone to hear about you at all.

If you want to be heard, you have to resonate with people.

  • 32:05 You have to give them what they want to hear. You have to put it out there and get past your fears. Forget about the idea you have—other people already have the idea and they’re sitting around, thinking about it while you execute. You are going to win because you’re executing. If anyone copies you, they’re only ever going to be a step behind. If they release sooner, it’s only going to be a worse product. You don’t have to worry about that, you have to worry about people caring about what you have to put out there. They’re not even going to notice if you put up a vague little sign up page. Make a 10,000 pixel tall landing page that’s epic and acts as a press release. Backwards build this product as if it exists already and tell people exactly why they should care.

Lead Magnets

  • 33:07 Calum asks, “With Learn Lettering you gave away two free videos, what other kind of content can you give your subscribers to convince them to buy your product?” The purpose of the lead magnet isn’t actually to convince people to buy your product, it’s a step in this process. You don’t actually have to mention, “By the way, my product…” Don’t worry about that, it does it implicitly. Provide value that’s relevant and that’s all that matters. A lot of people think you have to have a whole ebook to give away, otherwise what’s the point? it doesn’t have to be a whole ebook, it just has to be relevant. It could be:
    • A video series.
    • A guide.
    • A tutorial.
  • 33:52 If you have an ebook, that’s great, but don’t put a bunch of pressure on yourself. Make something that’s relevant and valuable, then give that away.
  • 34:00 Ben: It can be sources from stuff you’ve already put out but have curated into something compact. A lot of the time, the people who are discovering that landing page and deciding to sign up for your email list may not know the volume of content you’ve already put out. Even if they’ve read some of it before, the fact you’re consolidating it and putting it into a neat package is valuable in and of itself.

Slow & Steady Wins

  • 35:19 Stephanie asks, “What would an appropriate roll out schedule look like for a product launch?” Ideally, you want to be seeding the product name and concept half a year to a year ahead of time. Not two months or a month out! I did half a year with Learn Lettering, but with my book, The Overlap Technique, it’s been over a year. However well the book does when I launch it is because it’s something that’s been seeded for such a long period of time. Think about the number of people that are going to be at the magic number 7 once I launch (Related: e153 The Magic of 7). I could have done it in three months and released it then but the number of people that have heard about it, known about it, and cared about it would have been a lot smaller.
  • 36:25 Slow and steady wins. You want to get it out there as soon as possible, put out the backwards building press release page, start capturing leads, and then send out valuable pieces of content along the way. I’ve got my Value-Based Pricing course coming up and I’m working on gearing up for the launch, but in the meantime I’m producing valuable content to people that are subscribed (Related: e145 Getting Started With Value-Based Pricing, e146 Attracting Clients and Positioning the Conversation Around Value, & e147 The Nuts and Bolts of Value-Based Pricing). I’m releasing that valuable content—videos and articles—as campaigns. I’m sending that manually to the people who have subscribed and then I go back with an auto responder series. I take the newest campaign and I put it at the end of the autoresponder so every three days people get a new piece of content from me.
  • 37:40 Once we get close to the launch, I plan to stop the automated stuff for everyone and send out a three to five part series that leads up to the launch. That’s something I can reuse later. I would recommend having an average of five to seven emails in your launch sequence. The first one gives them the lead magnet and lets them know what’s coming next. You could even be as aggressive as every single day because if this is relevant to someone, they’re going to be hungry for that content. They’re to read it somewhere else or they’re going to read it from you, so don’t be afraid to send every day if people are really interested.
  • 38:52 If you want to ramp up to an actual launch, not an Evergreen launch, then I would space it out a little bit—send every three days and right before the launch switch to every day, three to five days before the launch. This spreads the content out a little longer. With Learn Lettering, I sent every day for five days before and it did really well but there were people who had been subscribed for six months, and only got something for five days leading up to the launch. That’s not ideal, you want people to be getting things throughout.
  • 40:05 Ben: What if you’re worried you’re not going to have enough content to send something to everyone every three days for six months?

You’re not going to just have content, you have to commit to making content.

  • 40:19 Sean: Put it up sooner and commit to making something. At least try to make something once a week. If you’re passionate about this topic and have a course or product around this, ideally you should, at the very least, be able to repurpose some of the content from your course as a newsletter you can send every week. Keep it fresh in people’s minds. I’m speaking more in ideals, what I want to do, and what I’m trying to do here because I’m not perfect at this. Honestly, I’m doing too much stuff to do anything as effective as it can be right now. It’s been more than a week since I sent out anything new on the Value-Based Pricing list, which isn’t ideal but I’m resting on my laurels a little because I do have the autoresponder campaign. New people are coming on and they’re getting emails, just the people who have been sitting there aren’t getting anything new. I need to step up my game a little bit with this launch but I want to help people with the ideals here.
  • 41:42 Ben: For Value-Based Pricing, you chose a specific color as a theme color for that product. Would it be valuable to your subscribers to put out a blog post or make a video talking about that color, why you chose it specifically, and what it means to Value-Based Pricing? Just as an exercise to help people think outside the box when it comes to coming up with content.
  • 42:06 Sean: I think you could put a spin on that, make it relevant, and make it valuable. That’s creative, I like that.
  • 42:16 Ben: I want to encourage people to think outside the box and not feel constrained to a specific kind of content they think their audience is looking for. Look at the fringes because you can grab some of that stuff and build it back toward your product.
  • 42:33 Sean: Depending on the price point of your product, you’re going to want to give more education leading up to it. If you’ve got a $29 product, you could send three emails and be just fine. People don’t need that much coaxing or education to spend $29. Look at someone buying a car—they’re researching all kinds of things on that car before they make at $15,000 or $20,000 purchase. They’re learning and educating themselves, and you can do that for them. You can get them to the point where they’re ready to drop a large sum by educating them more. If you’ve got a $500 product, you might want to send more than three emails to warm people people up a little more.
  • 43:25 Show them that you have a lot of value to provide. If it’s $1,000, or $5,000, or $10,000, it’s not proportional because at that point, you’re reaching a different audience for whom $10,000 isn’t a lot of money. If your product is $500, you should probably do seven to ten emails and if you want to have three to five emails gearing up for the launch, work your way backwards. A month or two ahead, start thinking about how you want to space them out and what times you’ll want to send them out.

The more expensive your product is, the more education and value you want to give people before you try to close the sale.

Email Content

  • 44:37 Moataz asks, “How much of your sales or the response to what you put out is related to the quality of copywriting in your emails?” You could have a crappy product and a good marketer could still sell it. You could have a fantastic product but if you’re not marketing well, telling the right stories, or hitting people at the right time with the right response to the questions they have, you won’t be able to sell it. It has such a huge amount to do with how well you do in sales and how much of a response you get to your emails. Does that mean you have to be an all-star copy writer? It doesn’t! Let’s be honest though, if you’re a fantastic writer, it’s going to help, and if you’re a good story teller, it’s going to help, but it’s nothing you can’t get to with practice.
  • 45:38 The most important thing is giving people what they’re looking for. You have to listen to them, ask questions, and purpose your content around what they’re looking for. Take the answer to their question and wrap it in a story that relates to them. As much as possible, don’t just make up a stories, but it’s going to be even more impactful. I would encourage you to go through your course with someone in your target audience. Give it to them for free, get their feedback, get to know their problems, and get a testimonial or a case study out of it. Do that beforehand and you’ve got a story. If your audience is interested in hand lettering, say, “I want to tell you a little story about my friend Brendon. Brendon is a 24-year old designer in Philadelphia and he’s been freelancing for…” I’m making this up but you’re already interested. Find a story where people can imagine being in that person’s shoes.
  • 46:53 Ben: When you make someone else famous, I think people feel that for themselves. People like to feel famous. Obviously if you care deeply about whatever you’re making, you can have a lot of things to say about it so my question is, as it relates to copy writing, is there an appropriate length? If I see an email and the copy is relatively short, I feel like that person didn’t have much to say about it and therefore doesn’t know much about it, but if it’s too long, I’m not likely to read all of it. Maybe the key is to have a really good hierarchy. You’ve got to not only provide value in the copy itself, but imagine a skimmer only reading the headings. Can someone read the headings, bolded phrases, or block quotes and still come away feeling like they’ve received something from someone that really knows what they’re talking about?
  • 48:29 Sean: I like the formatting idea—telling stories with headlines—because that’s what we try to do on my site. We try to reach people at different levels that might want to skim or read in full by telling stories with the headlines, phrases we bold, and what we pull out in block quotes. If you have plaintext emails, you can still do this even without the typographical hierarchy because the way you break up your paragraphs serves the same purpose. What words are you starting new paragraphs with? How often are you starting new thoughts? As for length, I personally have more of an appetite for longer-term copy because I want something of substance. That’s why we have long podcasts here, there’s plenty of 20-minute podcasts, but I want to get to the meat of things.
  • 49:21 I don’t do interviews here because you spend the first 20 minutes getting to know someone—unless they’re famous—and then you barely touch on the five common questions that you ask everyone, and then it’s over. I want to get to the deep stuff. To me, if someone has a 200 word email, it’s like, “What?” Once you get beyond 1,000 woods, it can be difficult to keep people. On one hand 700 to 1,000 seems like a sweet spot, but really make it as long as it needs to be.

If you’re saying the right thing to the right person, the length doesn’t matter.

  • 50:22 They’ll read a tweet, a blog post, or a book—it doesn’t matter. If it’s relevant and provides value, make it as long as it needs to be. Don’t add extraneous stuff but if it needs to be longer, don’t do the message a disservice by shortening it to an arbitrary number that someone on a podcast told you.

Evergreen Launches

  • 50:47 A lot of people will do a product launch that’s only open for a certain amount of time. They do this to create urgency and/or to put a cap on it. Maybe they’re doing something with each person that purchases and they only have so much capacity. I personally like Evergreen launches. Right now, you can buy my Learn Lettering course, it’s not closed and you don’t have to wait until the next season it’s open to be notified. The reason people do that is it allows them to launch. Every single time they launch, they close it down, build up a list, do a series leading up to the launch, and they get a big spike in sales. It makes sense but using autoresponders, you can essentially do mini launches to people all day long, every day. They sign up and get the same emails you sent out for your first official launch, although you might have to change some of the copy if you say an exact launch date or anything like that.
  • How to Create Urgency
  • 52:06 One of the reasons a lot of people like to do these closed-down launches—“Only open so long and then it’s closed!”—is because they’re trying to create urgency. You can create urgency but limiting availability. You can say, “Only 100 seats!” but if it’s a digital product, that false urgency doesn’t work. You can’t say,“There’s only 50 video courses!” What are you trying to pull? It’s got to be real.
  • 52:35 Ben: What that means is they’re only going to give away 50 because they want you to buy it now.
  • 52:39 Sean: If it’s physical and limited, it makes sense, otherwise don’t create false urgency. Another way to create urgency is discounts. I don’t like this way of creating urgency and I’ve talked about why I’m raising the price of the Community membership before and how I made an extra $25,000 in a weekend by raising the price (Related: tv034 Having the Guts to Never Discount Your Products).
  • 53:11 Ben: To clarify, you’re not talking about the price you launched Learn Lettering with, you’re talking about when you do a relaunch. I think about how terrible it is for a follower, who is so loyal to you that they jumped on the first opportunity to support you by buying at full price, to turn around six months or a year later and sell it for less to people who aren’t as loyal. I hate when I buy something at the store, then I go back a week later to find the product on sale.
  • 54:15 Sean: Imagine you buy an ebook from someone, then two weeks later it’s 50% off or they bundle products and discount them all. I don’t call that the discount bin, I call it the middle finger bin because that’s what it is to your past customers. I hate discounts and I don’t use them to create urgency. Something you can use to create urgency without discounting your products is giving a bonus and limiting the availability of the bonus. When launching, open up a window for the extra bonus with purchases made in the next 48-hours.
  • 55:03 Ben: Do you also automatically give that bonus to people who have already signed up on your list?
  • Limit Your Links
  • 55:10 Sean: Yes. You add that to your course, send out a broadcast, and give it to the people that are already signed up but limit it for the new people. Also, the few links you have in your emails, the more likely it is that someone will click the one you want them to click. Do the work of figuring out what that is and link to that. I send out shownote emails with tons of links but those are references, it’s like Wikipedia, but when it comes launches and you want to be effective, put fewer links as a rule of thumb.
  • 56:20 Ben: When I was doing web design, one of the first questions I would ask is, “When a new visiter comes to your website, what’s the most important action you want them to take?” I asked a client what kind of customer they saw coming to their site and they went on a 20-minute description of every single type of person that could exist.
  • 56:49 Sean: It’s like a bulletin board at a local place that has 300 things pinned on it, pinning another isn’t going to make someone do one more thing. It’s going to make it that much less likely that they’re going to do anything. Clear that bulletin board and put up one note right in the middle, what are people going to read?


  • 57:53 Brookes asks, “What sort of balance should I be striking between providing value in a newsletter and advertising/selling something new?” If done right, you can sell in every single email. Provide value to people and then pitch a product at the end. Don’t be afraid to sell. If you’ve done the work to create a product—you’ve figured out what people’s problems are and solved them—it’s your duty to get this product in people’s hands.

If it’s going to save people time or if spending $30 is going to allow them to make $30,000, you’re doing them a disservice by not pitching your product.

  • 58:44 That’s doesn’t mean only send pitch emails, let each email be value in and of itself. Make sure they can take away value whether they clink a link or not, then up-sell them or pitch them on a product that’s relevant and related. Don’t feel bad about that at all.
  • 59:04 Ben: People don’t like the words, “pitch,” or, “sell,” because there’s so many bad examples of selling something that exist out there. There’s so many bad experiences that people have had and they associate those negative experiences with those terms. Do whatever you need to do—find another way to describe what you’re doing. I love the way you said it, you’re doing them a disservice if you’ve made something that will solve their problem and you don’t give them an opportunity to get it. Some people need what you have so badly that you need to hold their hand and help them get out of their own way so they can get what you have and make their life better. Find away to get past that icky feeling. Find a way to disassociate what you’re doing with the negative associations people have had, because what you’re doing isn’t even in the same league as those other experiences.
  • 1:00:13 Sean: In the Community chat earlier I said, “If you haven’t left an iTunes review, it would be a huge help,” and I posted a link right there. I had been asking them questions while preparing for this show, I was providing and creating value, so that’s a great time to ask someone for something.

Don’t be afraid to ask for something, especially after you provide value.

  • 1:01:04 The Rule of Reciprocity: you give and people feel obligated to return the favor (Related: tv022 The Rule of Reciprocity).
  • 1:01:12 Ben: Brookes’ question almost sounds like, “In how many emails should I provide value? In how many emails should I ask for something?” but really, you want to think about it as you’re going to provide value every single time that audience member interacts with your content.
  • 1:01:37 Sean: Imagine someone has a problem—a headache, infection, etc.—and they need a solution. They’re going to find a solution because they have to, they don’t want this chronic pain anymore. They’re looking for a solution desperately and if you, the person who has this product, are not selling them on your product, you’re making them do more work to go find a competitor who can hopefully solve their problem. You’re putting a credit—Magic of 7—and then you’re not closing the deal. You’re not helping them actually solve the problem. You warmed them up and you primed them, but you didn’t close it. What I mean by saying you’re doing them a disservice is that you now just put the burden on them. They have to go do more research to find a product that’s actually going to solve their problem. That’s why you should be pitching.
  • How to Keep Your Emails Out of Spam Filters
  • 1:02:38 Stephen says, “When are too many images or poor product photography bad? How do I stay out of blacklists and spam filters?” Poor product photography is just bad. Pay a photographer to get some good photos of your product.
  • 1:03:05 Ben: Would you say it’s better to do a good job verbally describing your product and having no pictures than it is to have poor product photography?
  • 1:03:19 Sean: At least get it to 90%. If you can’t hire a photographer, do your darnedest with what you have. Try to get a good background, lighting, and edit well. Do as good of a job as you can if you can’t hire someone. If it looks like crap because you’re using your flip phone or something, don’t even bother. Care about your products and care about the photography. Hire a photographer. Let’s put products aside for a second, if you’re trying to present yourself as a professional, don’t take a little selfie photo. Pay a portrait photographer a few hundred dollars to take some nice photos of you to use as your avatar.
  • 1:04:08 To the other part of his question, “When are too many images bad?” you’ve got to have substance and content in your emails. It’s just like SEO, you’re not going to rank well if you’re page is just a bunch of images. You have to write content—something searchable and humans/search engines can read. When it comes to email, you need substance. If it’s all images, it will look fishy because that’s what a lot of spammers do. They use images with text in them, to say the things that would otherwise get them in the spam filter. It looks kind of sketchy when all you have are images. When you’re releasing a product and you want to show different angles of it, you can have six or more pictures, as long as you have some text around it. For the most part, don’t send all image emails, try to send text.
  • 1:05:05 Ben: The most important thing is the copy. Don’t think about the images as the focus, think about the text as the focus and the images as a tool you use to highlight the text, the same way you would adding a heading or italics.
  • 1:05:30 Sean: 3 Steps to staying out of blacklists and spam:
    • Let people know what to expect, then send them what they expect.
    • Let them know when to expect it, then send it when they expect it.
    • Don’t send emails to people without setting expectations and don’t send emails to people who haven’t given you permission.
  • 1:05:59 This was a conversation going on in the chat room where Sarah said, “‘Before launch emails’ always feel spammy, even though I get the importance of consistency to have a great launch. What frequency is ideal? And how do you present a product from different angles to avoid sounding like a broken record?” Terrance gave the example of, “My store is opening in 6 months! … My store is opening in 5 months! …” Then Stephanie says, “Kind of like good Kickstarter product launches go? I would get emails about the process and product development, etc. I always found then very interested and liked getting those kinds of emails.”
  • 1:07:10 In response, Moataz, speaking as a subscriber, said that if you’re providing value he would gladly like to see those before launch emails because he’s hoping there will be a blurb about the launch—something relevant or behind the scenes. Something that’s more than just, “We have a product coming,” but it has a story angle to it. Like you said, Ben, talk about the color or why you chose the branding. If it’s a Kickstarter, talk about the development process. You might think that’s unrelated and all people care about is the final product but people are interested in the behind the scenes stuff. Look at documentaries or behind-the scenes for movies—people love that stuff. They eat it up! Rather than just showing the finished product, show the blueprints.
  • 1:08:15 Ben: There are so many examples out there of people who are launching products that you can tell by the way they talk about it in emails leading up to the launch, they’re just trying to build buzz. If your focus is on providing value every time you send something out vs. building as much buzz as you can before you launch, then you’ll be golden.

If you’re truly focused on providing value, you won’t have to worry about whether or not you’re coming across as spammy.

  • 1:09:19 Sean: They’ll look forward to it. On Twitter when people are always reposting the same site over and over again with the same landing page, same message, and no added value—that looks like spam! The same goes for email. Don’t keep sending the same thing or reposting the same thing. People are always saying to tweet more at different times so people in different timezones don’t miss it but I don’t care. You could say someone in another timezone didn’t see it because they follow 1,000 people and they do’t go back in their stream far enough, but those aren’t the people I want to reach. I don’t care about the people who try to follow 1,000 people—you can’t follow 1,000 people! Dumbar’s number is 150 close relationships. Even if you extend that to acquaintances that you kind of know, it’s not 1,000!
  • 1:10:24 You can’t follow 1,000 people so if people are following me and they miss a tweet four hours ago because they have a ridiculous amount of tweets to go through, then they don’t care about my tweet enough. I care about the people who follow a reasonable amount of people that they can actually process and I’m important to them. They care about my message and what I’m putting out there. I don’t want to spam that person because they care enough about me to not follow everyone else that’s adding to the noise, so I don’t want to repeat my message, even if they’re the minority.

Instead of being a broken record, put out new content around the same topic that teaches something.

  • 1:11:14 Teach something new and you automatically have an excuse to talk about the same thing again. I can talk about Value-Based Pricing all I want, as long as I come out with something new—new podcasts, new articles, new videos, etc. I’m teaching people and it’s promoting my stuff.