The key to a successfully executed launch relies on well-thought out launch planning. Online launches are complicated with a lot of moving pieces. If you don’t create a launch plan it’s likely something will be forgotten or remembered too late to be implemented.
Sometimes it’s the most important thing – like figuring out how customers are going to pay you. As crazy as that sounds, setting up payment options has been forgotten on more than one launch I’ve been called in to rescue at the last minute.
In addition to keeping track of everything that needs to be done, a complete launch plan is going identify where you might have holes in your skill set that need to be filled – and give you enough time to fill them.
What a Good Launch Plan Should Include:
A plan for when to do what: your timeline
The first step in planning a launch is setting up the timeline. Without a plan it’s easy to look at the current date, estimate how long you’ll need to finish all the tasks and choose a random date in the future when you plan to launch.
Experienced launchers know to start with the end in mind. They figure out when they want their course or program to end and work backwards from there, keeping in mind major holidays, potential political events (like elections) or other things that might distract people from following the launch to its conclusion.
Once the end has been decided, it’s fairly easy to work backwards to determine when the course will begin, when the cart will open, and when the pre-launch marketing materials need to be released. The plan is born.
Once there’s a rough timeline in place it’s time to start plugging in the tasks to see if you have enough time to get everything done. Think of this as a launch readiness audit. The more complete the task list, the more solid your plan will be, so try to list out everything that will need to be done, whether it’s by you or someone else.
A plan for when to set up what: your launch technology
The first few times you launch it’s likely there will be pieces of software you need to purchase or set up. Because many of these softwares and platforms are paid via monthly subscription, it’s a good idea to add them to your timeline when you know you’ll be ready to use them. If you sign up for something with a high recurring fee months before you’ll need it, it’s money wasted. Too often the first thing a new launcher does is go out and sign up for all of the different pieces of technology they know they’ll eventually need. They may pay for that software for many unnecessary months just because they didn’t have a plan for when it would be needed and purchased.
A plan for when to create what: your launch content
Launches require a lot of content. A lot. There are emails to write, landing pages to design, and the pre-launch marketing materials to create in addition to whatever you want to put on social media. Keeping track of it all is much easier when you have a plan in place.
A plan for where to track what: your launch links
As the launch begins to develop, you’ll be creating copy, graphics and links you’ll want to return to again and again. Keeping all of those pieces of collateral in one place makes it easy for everyone to find what they need without digging too hard.
How to Create a Comprehensive Launch Plan
There are many ways to create a launch plan, from free, do-it-yourself programs like Google sheets and docs, to fancy project management software.
The way you design your launch plan should be determined by two things:
- The way you think
- What you’ll actually use
The way you think
There are so many ways to set up launches, with several types of software completely customizable for any type of launch you can imagine. Some, like Trello, are clear, and simple and are designed for visual thinkers.
Others, like Asana, Clickup and Teamwork, are more robust and tend to attract people who think in a linear fashion.
What you’ll actually use
When you create a launch plan, it’s really important not to let the plan’s creation get in the way of the launch itself. Don’t let the endlessly customizable features of the bigger platforms fool you. Often the more comprehensive something is, the harder it is to set up and maintain.
Choose the easiest way to create your launch plan that you can, especially when you first start out. I love Trello because it’s quick to learn, easy to manipulate, and can be made more complex if you need it to be down the road. I love it so much that my group program includes a customizable launch plan template created on Trello.
Google spreadsheets linked to Google docs work great, as does a simple pdf, fill in the blank planner. The last thing you want is a beautiful plan that takes you days to create and hours to work with – you have more important things to focus on than the plan itself. Don’t get so deep in setting up the plan that you don’t execute it
Customizing a Launch Plan
Now that you’ve figured out that you need a plan and how you’re going to create it, it’s time to start mapping it all out.
As you look at your timeline, make a list of the pieces of collateral you’ve already got that can be re-used, and what will need to be created from scratch. Whether it’s emails that need to be written, landing pages that need to be created or workbooks that can be refreshed and reused, Identify what needs to be done, who will do it and how long that will take.
Once that’s done, take another look at the timeline and see if it’s still doable. Can everything be done in the timeline you imagined? Will you need to hire people to fill in the gaps for things you don’t do? Will you be working 24/7 to get it all done?
If the answer is yes, it’s time to regroup. Maybe the timeline needs to be pushed out a bit. Maybe there are some tasks that will need to wait until the next launch. Maybe you’ll need to hire some help.
Launch Plan Examples:
Want a little help figuring out how to set up your plan? I have two options available to help you out.
The Launch Checklist
The Launch Checklist is a one-page pdf I created that very simply lists various tasks required for launching. All of the steps to a launch plan are laid out. It’s simple to follow, and the lack of detail appeals to people who have launched before and just need a reminder of what they need to consider when setting up a new launch. Best of all, it’s free!
The Launch Planner
My comprehensive Total Launch Planner & Guidebook is a 27-page,in-depth planner that not only takes you through all of the parts of a launch, but also provides links to articles that will take you deeper into each part of the process. The planner not only shows you the steps involved in launching, but also explains what they are.
The beauty of these two planners is that they are easy for anyone to understand. There’s no tech to figure out, nothing complex to learn. Simply print them out and get to work.
Implementing the Plan: Launch Groups
When it comes to implementing your launch plan, you’ll often find that there is power in numbers.
Consider teaming up with one or more people who are also working on launches so you can increase accountability, ask questions, and bounce ideas off of each other. If you pair yourself up with other people who’ve launched before, you’ll all benefit from the experiences of each other.
Consider putting together, or joining, a launch mastermind. Masterminds are different than an accountability group as generally the people in a mastermind are experienced and help to counsel each other. More than just providing accountability, masterminds tend to include things like hot seats where all the people in the group take turns focusing on one person’s launch and how it can be improved. Masterminds are often paid programs.
Group coaching for launches
Group programs designed for launchers can be another way to get your launch done faster, easier and with some social interaction. While these are typically paid programs, having someone to guide you through your launch plan, answer your questions and make sure you’re getting all the work done in a timely fashion can make all the difference between saying you have launched, and saying you’ll launch someday.
If you’re interested in a group program, you may be interested in my Get Launched! 5-week Bootcamp. It’s a very small group program designed for extremely dedicated online business owners who want to get their launches done in 5 weeks. Invitation to join is by application only, so if you’re interested, let’s set up a time to chat.
Using the Plan to Improve Your Next Launch
When your launch is over, it’s easy to want to just plow ahead, deliver the content and never look back. Critical to the success of your next launch is completing a launch debrief as the last step in your launch plan.
Your launch debrief should include notes on the entire launch. At the very least ask yourself (and any team members that helped you):
- What worked?
- What didn’t?
- What would you like to try next time?
- Did you have enough time to execute the plan properly?
- Then, round up your numbers and get them documented either at the end of the plan itself, in a debrief document, or in a spreadsheet you create.
You’ll want to know things like:
- How many emails you sent, and what the response to them was
- What questions got asked over and over again that could be added to an FAQ document next time
- Did your landing pages convert well or do they need to be changed
- How did your social media posts do?
- How many people consumed your pre-launch content?
Make your answers the conclusion of this launch plan, and you’ll have a starting point for the next launch that will make the whole process easier.
Above all when you create a launch plan make sure you keep up with it. Update it regularly, make it a living breathing document rather than the ideal you didn’t follow. Don’t abandon it halfway through, stick with it. Break it down into manageable chunks. Use it as a way to document the process. Your future launches will be bigger, and better based on the strength of your launch plan.