The 4 Commandments of Launching a Program

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I have been seriously pushing my edge as of late. I’m no longer drafting along behind (if you’ve read my Copycat, Copycat blog you’ll know of what I speak, but… essentially it means I’ve stepped out fully on my own.)

Pushing edges is damn scary. In fact, I’ve had moments of such utter terror that it’s hard to put into words. (Or to breathe.)  I recently launched a piece of my soul and heart’s work out in to the Big U(niverse) in my Story Shape Shifting & Memoir Writing Program. “Hallelujah, Holy Shit… Where’s the Tylenol?” I’ve felt nauseous with elation and anticipation and, of course, a sprinkling of fear and a whole lot of self-doubt. I’ve also felt moments of such intense connection as I’ve interviewed candidates and have felt as if nothing I’ve ever written or offered has felt so divinely inspired or so in line with everything I believe and in how I see the world.

I promised that I would write a blog about how to launch an offering in more depth, but what I’ve realized is: I DON’T KNOW and IT DEPENDS. I’ve come to understand that launching is no different than anything else. It’s not about following a bunch of rules – send 3-4 emails to your list offering a preview call, ask affiliate partners to mail for the preview call, get people who sign up for the call into the “bucket”, send 8-10 emails to said bucket, blah, blah, blah… My tribe isn’t a frothy liquid sloshing around out there.

Rather, launching is about following my intuition and my feel good.

I know how to market, it’s what I did for many years, but when I started asking the question “Does that feel good?” The answer was a resounding “no.”  Bear in mind, this is no judgement on folks who follow the traditional methods of marketing – the traditional methods feel good for some, they’ve felt good for me at times, but in this precise moment they just don’t.

This blog isn’t intended to give you a five-part plan on how to launch. Instead, I want to share the psychology of launching your heart’s work into the world through a series of analogies.

I recently had a catch-up call with my dear friend, Amy Ahlers, and was whining about how unbelievably hard it is to launch. After a deep belly howl of true understanding, she apologized for laughing and listened to my fears. You see, I’ve helped Amy to launch Visionary Ignition Switch with Lissa Rankin, Find Your Calling with Lissa & Martha Beck, TWICE, not to mention helping dozens of other clients launch their big offerings out into the world. I’ve been on the back end many times – creating squeeze and sales pages, inputting bucket emails, building campaigns in Infusion Soft, noodling launch strategy and managing the customer experience. I know this process like the back of my freckled hand.

What I didn’t know, and the reason for Amy’s conspiratorial guffaws, was how tender it feels when it’s something you yourself have created and is something that is so near and dear to your heart. I imagine it’s akin to what a young guy must feel when he’s pined after a girl for years and finally gets the nerve up to ask her for coffee. Well, okay, maybe these days he texts her, but that doesn’t work for my analogy because it’s not as scary. No, in my analogy he’s loved her since they were two, he’s never had a single thought of another girl in his entire life and he has to ask her out, in person, just hours after a particularly grievous bout of acne and an outbreak of herpes simplex 1 on his lower lip.

That’s about how vulnerable I think one feels when they launch. Or… at least, that’s how I feel.

If the by-now-pockmarked-boy-asking-his-love-to-coffee analogy doesn’t work for you, how about this one: Project Runway! If you’ve seen the show then you’ve watched the designers running through Mood, jumping over Swatch the dog, sewing like the wind back in the work room, being snarky with their peers, trying to “Make it Work,” and showing their work to Heidi, Zac & Nina.  Well, I’ve done that behind the scenes work in terms of launching. I’ve shown up and sketched, found my fabric, pieced it together into something I believe is beautiful and shown it to a few people. Upon launching, however, it feels as if I’ve made it to New York Fashion Week and now I have to show it to the masses.  So, here’s what I’ve learned along the way; my commandments, if you will:

  1. Be Willing to Be Authentic: Listen to that Inner Voice, the one that never steers you wrong. Listen to the signs from your body, that’s your true north. From creation to debut, allow yourself to be completely 1000% authentically you. Let your offering come from your soul – tell us what you believe, tell us story, speak to us, and follow your feel good and intuition. Create something that you would sign up for in a nanosecond. If it doesn’t set you on fire and feel joyful, you likely haven’t hit the mark yet.
  2. Be Willing to Play: If you don’t put yourself out there, you’ll never know if you’ll succeed or not. My amazeballs friend, Mike Robbins, who was drafted by the Kansas City Royals wrote about this in his book Nothing Changes Until  You Do in an essay called “Swing Hard (Just in Case You Hit It)”.  In this piece Mike writes about a peer, Geoff, who went on to play professionally who “never stopped swinging hard, and throughout his very successful major league career, he got quite a few hits (1,293 total) and hit a lot of home runs (221 total). He also struck out 1,186 times.”  Geoff never would have hit 1,293 balls without being willing to strike out 1,186 times. You have to be willing to put yourself in the game and play.
  3. Be Willing to Listen & Tweak:  When I first launched my Story Shape Shifting program, I’d given folks a ridiculously short span of time to sign up. It’s a high-end, platinum program that requires commitment and I barely gave folks time to tap in to feel whether it was right for them. After a bit of feedback and listening on my end, I moved the start date a month forward to November 20th, which gave both me and my clients space. It felt so good to listen to that feedback and make a decision I knew was right.
  4. Be Willing to Let Go: This is a tough one. There’s a lot of attachment that comes when you’re putting your heart out there. You’ve likely invested months of blood, sweat and tears into something you believe in infinitely more than Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. Don’t intend to fail, but be willing to let go if it’s just not working. If it no longer feels fun and you’re finding yourself longing to drink Jim Beam out of a Dixie cup every night, it may be time to let go and try something else. Or… it may be time to look at the energy you have around your program. Or… it may be timing.  Allow yourself to really tap in and feel into what you know is true, whatever that may be. And… letting go isn’t just about letting go of your launch, it’s letting go of attachment to outcome. You’ve likely done everything you can do, allow yourself to sit back and enjoy the ride. (I’m so thoroughly enjoying this ride now that I’ve released my attachment.)

I’d love to hear your experience with launching a product or program. How did it feel for you? What were your results? Did you enjoy the process or is there something you would have done differently if given the chance? Any tips for our launchers out there?

With love & Black Pearl Oolong in my Dixie Cup,

Melanie

2 replies
  1. Avatar
    Chara says:

    Melanie, nice article. I am in this right now, and it does feel totally vulnerable. My experience is more about the technological fear given that this is my first launch and my systems are new to me and not really all in perfect order. So it goes. It’s a STEEP learning curve. I don’t have anything to add to your wonderful tips, but I appreciate them.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Melanie Bates says:

      Thanks so much, Chara! I feel you on the technological fear – in the beginning Google and instructional videos were my best friends. And… a lot of trial and error. Wishing you such success on your launch – you’re doing amazing work in the world, love.

      xo
      Melanie

      Reply

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