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Are you wondering how to launch your digital product when you have literally nobody on your email list or in your audience?
Today, I’m going to share with you a five-step strategy for your product launch that you can use to successfully sell your product, even if you have a basically nonexistent list.
I find that one of the biggest struggles new product sellers will experience is the fear that their audience is too small. If there is no audience, how are you supposed to make money?
That’s totally fair and a completely valid concern to have. But don’t worry, even if you have absolutely no one in your audience, there are still ways that you can make money launching a digital product.
Before taking any steps in your planning process, I want you to ask yourself this question:
Is it true that you really have no audience? Or is it just that your audience is really small?
Even if you have a few hundred subscribers, that's still not nothing.
One student who has gone through the Rebel Boss University program had less than 250 people in her audience at the time that she launched. And despite that, she was still able to make over $1,500 from launching a very inexpensive e-book that was priced under $40.
Did she strike it rich from that first launch? No. But it was STILL a massively successful launch!
So before we dive into learning about the best launch strategy to implement when you have no audience, I want you to be honest with yourself. Do you really have no audience? Or is it just that your audience is tiny? Because those are two very, very different things.
There are people with big, gigantic audiences that have zero engagement because their audience is not qualified. It's not filled with the right customers.
And then there are people, this could be you by the way, who have really small audiences, but they're niche, qualified audiences. If that's the case for you, then you can still launch.
While you might not make a million bucks, you could still make something. Just because you have a small audience does not mean it's not powerful and it does not mean that you shouldn't launch.
If you’re truly in the position of having zero people on your list, don't freak out. It's important to remember everyone starts with zero, and we’ve all been there.
Any time you look at a big shot name who's got tens of thousands of subscribers, remember that there was a time, maybe even a recent time, when they literally had not even one subscriber.
People do not just wake up one day with thousands of subscribers. Everyone starts with nothing. We are all on equal playing fields at the beginning.
For those of you who really don't have an audience yet, I'm going to give you a 5-step launch strategy that you can implement. This is the best product launch strategy for when you have no one in your audience and no one on your email list.
The first step to your launch strategy should be to find other people online in complementary niches.
What does that mean? If you don't have an audience of your own, try and find friends in complementary niches who are also serving your ideal customer.
First things first, you need to know who your ideal customer is. Right now we’re assuming that you have already done that homework, that you've already identified your ideal target customer and understand their psychographics, demographics, likes, dislikes and any other details about them.
If you don't know who your target customer is, then you are not ready for a launch strategy or to think about creating a digital product just yet.
But if you are ready and you know who your ideal customer is, your first step is to start looking for people in complementary niches who are also serving those same people.
You particularly want to try to find people that are serving the same people you want to serve with content that doesn’t compete with your own (aka, complementary). While you may not be afraid of competition, other people may not sing the same tune as you. So try to find those people who have different content than you do to avoid any potential friction or competition.
Here's an example, let's say you have a product that teaches all about car seat safety. Your ideal customer is probably people who have infants or toddlers, mostly parents with infants or toddlers. Those are people who use car seats.
Think about other people who have that same audience, which could be pretty wide if your target customers are parents with infants or toddlers.
One example could be people who blog about Montessori preschooling techniques, or bloggers that write about managing work-life balance for new parents. Their target customers are also probably parents who have infants or toddlers. But their content does not compete with your content on car seat safety.
When you’re thinking about complementary niches, try and think outside the box. Again, you're trying to find people with the same audience that create different types of content, so they're solving a different set of problems for your target customer than you are.
I recommend making a list that you keep in a central location and regularly adding to that list. I have a spreadsheet in my Google drive that I regularly add to, so that I have a comprehensive list of contacts that I could potentially work with down the line.
Now that you've begun compiling a list of people, it's time for you to make friends. Your next step is to take the list of potential contacts and befriend them. I want you to woo the crap out of those awesome people.
If you're anything like me, making friends as an adult might sound like the worst thing in the world. If you’re a pretty introverted person (like me), meeting new people can especially be super intimidating.
At first, the prospect of meeting people online seemed really daunting to me until I forced myself to do it, get uncomfortable and put myself outside my comfort zone. I did it, and it does work.
Trust me, it's not that bad even if it does feel really, really uncomfortable. I always say fake it till you become it, so even if you're super shy and meeting people online sounds like the worst thing in the world, eventually you will become it. As with anything in life, practice makes perfect. The more you force yourself to meet new people, the less difficult it will seem and less daunting it becomes.
The best thing that you can do to start befriending these complete strangers is start sending DMs on Instagram. I’ve personally found Instagram is better than email. It seems like a more direct line to that person, whereas email is more formal and often gets ignored.
DMs are also usually answered in a timely manner, too. So simply start by replying to Instagram stories. If that person is active on Instagram, the best thing you can do is just reply to something they posted on Instagram stories.
You can also just send them a message in reply to one of their posts or start commenting on their posts. They’ll start to see your name and eventually, after the third, fourth or fifth time they see your name, they're going to recognize you as somebody who has engaged with their content in the past.
Eventually you will send them an email. But you want that email to come after you've already engaged with them on social media.
The good news is that email addresses are really easy to find these days. Now Instagram business profiles usually have email addresses right in their profile.
Do a little bit of digging to find their email address, and then send them an email and be sure that you reference any communication with them that you've had up until that point. Maybe you replied to one of their Instagram stories and you had a little bit of a back and forth, so reference that so that they remember that you're not some stranger.
In that email, you should also invite them to continue the conversation in a coffee chat. A coffee chat is basically a chat online and usually happens over Skype or Zoom. In a coffee chat, you just chat over a virtual cup of coffee (or you can have an actual cup of coffee if you want) and you can use it as an opportunity to get to know that person.
Keep in mind that the point of these coffee chats is not to plan a collaboration or ask for anything in return. Don't go into a coffee chat with any ulterior motives of how you're going to leverage this person to grow your business.
A coffee chat should just be for you to get to know that person's likes and dislikes in their strategies as a business owner and what upcoming projects they have. Share a little bit about yourself because the point is you want to establish a connection and relationship with that person.
Now that you’ve connected with this person and are beginning to build a potentially beautiful relationship, you need to offer that person value.
The most important thing to remember here is before you ask for anything in return, you should be ready to give, give, give.
Throughout this whole process, you should be continuing to woo your new friends and offer them value because down the line you’ll be asking for something in return. You want them to think of you as a person who has helped them out so they'll be more likely to say yes when you ask them for a favor.
So what are some easy ways that you can offer value?
Are they hosting a webinar shared on social media? Are they asking for engagement on a social media post? Well, you know what to do. Engage with their content. Figure out ways, even if they're teeny tiny ways, that you can offer them some form of value.
They will remember this and will be much more likely to return the favor to you when you do come around and ask for that favor yourself.
Step 4 is where we start getting to the good stuff. If you don't have an audience of your own you're going to need to work with other people, which is why I recommended in steps 1 to 3 to start building relationships with people in complementary niches.
Next, you’re going to need to give those people some sort of incentive to help promote your product. And that's where an affiliate program comes in.
While you are building relationships with these people, you should also be working on developing your product and your affiliate program. I want to emphasize that technically you don't need to have your product officially launched yet, but it may be hard for you if you haven’t since a lot of people will not agree to partner with you unless you've validated your idea, proven that it works and demonstrated its value for your target customers.
So, what is an affiliate program? Essentially, an affiliate program is a means for you to reward people financially for any referrals that they make to your product.
Each one of your affiliates will have a unique affiliate link, and every time someone purchases your product through your affiliate’s link, they will earn a commission from those referrals. The affiliate link basically helps track where sales came from.
Related: Grow Your Email List
Commission structure for affiliate programs vary widely and it's ultimately up to you how much you want to offer your affiliates in commission. But my advice for you is if you want people to passionately participate in your affiliate program, you need to offer them an enticing incentive package. If you don't, what's their motivation to promote?
If you're worried that you're giving away too much money, that's a very common feeling to have. But remember this, the customers that you get through your affiliate links would have never, ever found you if it weren't for this friend of yours. Instead of thinking about how much you have to fork over in affiliate commission, think about how much you’ll earn that you wouldn't have earned otherwise without your affiliate program.
Depending on the price of your affiliate or of your product, I recommend a 40% to 50% commission. My commission packages have typically been around 40%.
If you have a lower-priced product, let's say it's a membership that’s $19 or $29 a month, your affiliate commission package would probably be less, maybe 30%. It would also usually be a recurring commission package.
In order to effectively execute an affiliate program, you’re going to need some different technology.
There are lots of options out there for you to explore, and I certainly can’t tell you about all of them. But here are some good tech options that you can start looking into.
1. SendOwl. It’s super basic, really inexpensive and it works decently well. Decently because it's not the best thing in the world, but it is budget-friendly and it works well if you’re selling one-off digital products like eBooks and printables.
2. Teachable. I really like Teachable, it’s another budget-friendly option (but less so than Send Owl). It’s more versatile than SendOwl, more functional, and works really well for courses and eBooks.
3. Gumroad. Also a budget-friendly option, and has some decent functionality.
4. ThriveCart. ThriveCart is the most versatile of this list, and also the most expensive. It’s also my personal favorite. While the other platforms have you pay monthly fees, you can get ThriveCart with a one-time purchase. It has amazing affiliate functionality, beautiful shopping carts and checkout forms, and works well for all my products and on any website. If you have it in your budget, I highly recommend ThriveCart if you’re starting an affiliate program.
The best thing you can do moving forward is explore all of your options – what works for me might not work for you.
But whenever you are shopping for technology to sell your digital product, make sure you think about the question of: will I want to have an affiliate program?
Even if you don't have a big audience, you should probably plan to have an affiliate program. It's a great way to grow your audience by leveraging other people's audiences, and you won't be able to do that unless you have the technology to do so.
So you have found your new friends and you've started to woo them. You've offered them value all the while you've been working on developing your product and the affiliate program for your product.
Now it's time for you to share this opportunity with your new friends. It's time for you to invite them to join your affiliate program and actively promote your product.
It's really important that you don't just sign people up for your affiliate program and expect them to do all the work, that's not going to work that well.
It’s entirely your responsibility to enable your affiliates to be successful. So how can you do this? There are a lot of different strategies and options to make sure your affiliates are as successful and engaged as possible.
I recommend anytime you are launching a product that you have some kind of free event, like a webinar or a five-day challenge. Invite your friends to use their affiliate link to promote the free event.
They can share information about your free webinar or your free five-day challenge with their affiliate link. Even though they won’t earn a commission on the free event, if somebody who goes to your webinar from their affiliate link buys your product, that person will still earn a commission. Or if somebody joined your five-day challenge through an affiliate link and then bought at the end of the challenge, the affiliate will still earn a commission on that.
The cool thing is that your affiliates will actually be more likely to actively share something that's free to their audience, rather than a paid product. When they share a paid product, it's sales-y and they run the risk of losing their customers.
You can also offer to host a Joint Venture (JV) event for your affiliates, which is when you host an exclusive event (like a webinar) for your affiliate’s audience.
Nobody else is going to be on that webinar besides their audience, and because of that it may have a higher conversion rate.
I got my start with JV webinars by joining up with someone and hosting a webinar exclusively for their audience. When I had a really tiny email list, the only way that I grew it was by leveraging other people's audiences with JV webinars.
The cool thing is that I would do those JV webinars and my affiliates would walk away earning several hundred dollars in commission. The best part? They didn't have to do any work.
You do everything when you have an affiliate program. You carry the brunt of the workload and that's the way that you enable your affiliates to be successful, whatever event you decide to do in whatever way you decide to do it.
You also need to support your affiliates with all of the resources that they could possibly need, so you need to not only tell them how to sign up for their affiliate link and walk them through step-by-step how to use it, but you need to give them swipe copy for every email, premade social media images, and create a promo calendar so they know what to do and when to do it.
Keep in contact with your affiliates. You should be sending them regular emails and messages so that they know what's going on. You can even give them rewards and consider a leader board to make it fun for them.
The most important thing to keep in mind is your affiliates are busy. They're promoting their own stuff. So you should expect to be doing the bulk of that work to make sure that your product is selling.
At the end of this experience you want your affiliates to walk away with a positive feeling, like they barely had to do any work and still made a lot of money. Then they’ll be interested in continuing to work with you in the future.
Step 1: Find people in a complimentary niche.
Step 2: Befriend those people. Woo the crap out of them.
Step 3: Offer value to those people.
Step 4: Develop an affiliate program for your product.
And step 5: Pitch those affiliate opportunities to your new friends and enable them to be successful with your support.
Now that you've done these five steps, you should be enjoying some nice growth in your business. Not only did you make new friends, which is a huge deal, but you also are growing your list and you're growing your list with qualified buyers.
These are people that would have never, ever found you if not for your affiliates. Whether or not these new audience members buy now is irrelevant. It's great if they buy now, but if they don't, they're still on your list and you can always pitch them later.
Remember that sometimes people need to hear about your product multiple times before they feel ready to commit. And the next time you launch, you’ll have a lot more people on your list and more success!