Nobody wants to launch to crickets. But if you skip the important stuff before launching your next big thing, you’re more likely to hear awkward silence than the cha-ching of your PayPal account. So do yourself (and your sanity) a favor and follow these 5 essential steps before you launch.

Do your market research early.

Without adequate market research, your launch is doomed to failure from the get-go. So many people create a product in their head without making sure that someone actually wants to buy it.

I hear freelancers who say, “I want to create a course” – but they haven’t researched whether their followers want to buy a course. Perhaps they want a group program, a book, telesummit recordings, or even an awesome app.

Just because you want to make a course doesn’t mean your community wants to buy a course. So look beyond what’s in your head and take the time to find out what people want.

How do you do market research? Here are some easy things you can do right now:

  • Do 1-on-1 interviews with your favorite clients and ask them what would be the perfect solution for them.
  • Create a survey with SurveyMonkey or Google Forms and send it out to your people.
  • Read comments and reviews of competitor products.
  • Search and read comments in business and niche Facebook groups.
  • Compile a document of all the questions you came across and look for a themes

Run a beta test.

Now that you’ve figured out what people might want, make sure that whatever you plan to launch actually works. You can do this by beta testing your course, program or product.

Take a small group of people through the experience. This can be a rough draft of what you want to launch, but I prefer to offer something that’s complete. Everything from the launch tools to the course modules to the email sequences is already set up.

You can offer it for free or for a smaller fee, but I like to do the full fee because I’m testing whether people will pay for the final product at this price point. Also, you’ll be more involved in the process now because you want to be actively testing and gauging if people really understand it or if they’re getting hung up. With most online programs, you’ll be less involved later on (if at all), and that’s the beauty of passive income.

Round up some testimonials.

Customers love social proof. It’s a big motivator in helping them decide to buy from you.

Having social proof from beta testers and thought leaders in your industry will help you sell what you’re launching.

Are your beta testers trying out your offering for free? Make sure you get a testimonial from them, either in the form of a quote or a case study. People buy when they know it’s a tested program or product, so adding testimonials to your sales pages (at minimum) is really important. You can also use them as image quotes to help promote your launch when it goes live.

Thought leaders can be anyone who adds clout. So if Oprah thinks you’re awesome, you gotta use an Oprah quote. Or even Taylor Swift if she’s out there singing your praises.

But thought leaders don’t have to be as magnanimous as all that – they can anyone who really believes in what you do and can speak to your expertise. These can people you’ve worked with one-on-one. Say you’re a coach and you’re turning your signature service into a group program. Clients who have worked with you directly can speak to the quality of your service, and these testimonials can be applied to your group program launch.

Not sure how to get testimonials? No prob. Here’s how.

Find your launch partners and supporters.

Collaborating with other people will not only get you in front of other audiences, but it will help you get support from other people.

Is there someone you’d like to collaborate with in advance of your launch? Maybe there’s someone you’re dying to host a webinar with, or a popular blog you can’t wait to guest post for. Don’t reach out to them about it just yet.

First, you’ve got to get on their radar. Start by promoting and helping them now. Retweet them, comment on their blogs, sign-up for their newsletters, follow them on social media, etc. You don’t want to be like, “Hey, you don’t know me, but I have a launch coming up, so can you spread the word?”

Also, keep a list of pre-written tweetables handy so that when people are ready to help you promote, you can make it easy for them to create buzz around your launch.

Always make sure you give before you ask. Think through your launch strategy now so you don’t miss out on killer collaboration opportunities later.

Grow a targeted list of people who want what you are launching.

Once you’ve done your market research and beta tested your offering, you want to make sure you have a list of people who will be ready to buy when you hit the go button on your launch.

Having an email list doesn’t mean your community will buy. I’ve seen people launch with lists of 3,000 or more people, only no one needed what they were selling. So while they had a large list, it wasn’t the right list for thing they were launching.

All’s not lost though. I’m currently doing a launch with client who took her big list and created a very targeted segment for her launch. She ran an opt-in just for this particular segment, and anyone on her current list could sign-up to get the freebie. This way, she could target exactly who would be interested in her launch and only promote to that segment.

She also ran Facebook ads for the opt-in to grow her list with even more people who would be interested in her offering. When it finally came time to launch, she had a list of 2000 qualified leads and sold 300 spots.

So don’t press your luck by launching to your entire list. Figure out whether your current list is the right audience for what you’re selling or if you need to start building a more targeted list now.

Do your homework BEFORE you #launch! Farideh shares the 5 steps you must take. – TWEET THIS!  

To recap, your pre-launch prep should include:

  1. A survey to find out how your community actually wants to learn from you
  2. At least one round of beta testing
  3. Getting social proof from all the right people
  4. Flattering the peeps you want to collaborate with by promoting their content
  5. Seeing if your current list is the right fit for the thing you want to launch

What other pre-launch steps would you add to this must-do list?