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I'm Mara — I help creatives create and launch digital courses and profitable products. I love chatting about online marketing, design and goal setting!

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Pre-launch Secrets with Amanda Warfield: How to Create Buzz, Make $$$, and Get Ready to Sell!

Amanda Warfield

Listen on: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher 

Pre-launching a course is one of those things that can have a HUGE impact on your success, but so many people skip over it entirely. On this Create a Better Course podcast episode, my guest Amanda Warfield joined me to discuss creating a successful pre-launch runway for your next launch. Amanda is a content marketing and launch strategist, author of the upcoming book Chasing Simple Marketing, and host of the Chasing Simple Podcast.

She’s an expert at helping creative entrepreneurs uncomplicate their businesses and marketing. When we first met, we immediately bonded over pre-launch marketing and its importance to successful courses – and that’s exactly what we talked about in this episode! I’m sharing some of the big takeaways in this blog, but don’t skip out on listening to the full episode, because Amanda shared so much fantastic advice during our conversation.

In this episode, we talked about:

  • Why pre-launching is important
  • The basics of pre-launch runways
  • Each phase of pre-launch and what you should do
  • Amanda’s tips for pre-launching with less stress
  • Segmenting your pre-launch email marketing
  • How to identify your launch VIPs (and how to treat them)
  • Launching to a small audience
  • Live launching tips
  • Amanda’s upcoming book (and how she’s managing writing an ENTIRE book!)

Why you should pre-launch

Pre-launching is a super-important step that prepares potential students to buy your course. If you don’t spend a fair amount of time building up excitement and anticipation for your launch, it can feel really abrupt to drop people right into a buying decision the first time they hear about your course. Amanda talks about a lightbulb moment for one of her clients – they realized that you can’t just drop a new offer on clients and expect to get a ton of sales just because you’ve done all the work to put together a product. Sometimes that’s how it looks to us when we see other people launching and having so much success, but what we didn’t see was all the work they put into their launch for three or four months leading up to the official selling period. We’re seeing the tip of the iceberg on everything that led up to that launch. 

It all starts before the sales page

The sales page is just an endpoint. It’s still a super important part of your launch, but everything else that comes before the sales page goes live helps set you up for a successful launch. If you drop someone onto the sales page without any prep work, they might buy your course. But getting a lot of traction with a course launch alone is really rare, and most people won’t be ready to buy when they’re put on the spot. A surprising amount of helping someone figure out if they want to buy your course is done before they ever get to the sales page, and it’s not even necessarily about selling! It’s about helping people understand the problem you serve and understand whether or not your course is the right one for them. 

What’s a pre-launch runway?

A pre-launch runway is everything you do to take your audience on a journey that leads them right up to the moment of your launch. Even though you’re not actively selling during the pre-launch, there’s still significant work to be done! Your audience has to go from “problem unaware” (not even knowing how to put their finger on what’s missing in their business) to “solution aware” (understanding how your offer will help them solve their problem.) As you ramp up to launch day, you have to take them from “offer aware” (knowing what you’re selling) to buying your course. The pre-launch runway is the overarching timeline of slowly laying the groundwork with potential students over time, so they understand how you can help them long before you actually launch. 

Pre-launch runway phases

So, what does a pre-launch period actually look like? Amanda and I have both had plenty of clients who want to launch in two weeks, and that just doesn’t work for most people. Sure, you could get your course materials together and live for purchase in that amount of time, but when you cut out the pre-launch, you won’t see as many sales at launch. You’ll have many more people sign up for your offer if you put in more work beforehand. Let’s look at what Amanda suggests for building a pre-launch runway.

1. Breadcrumbing

The first thing you should do is move your timeline wayyy back (like 12 weeks back from your launch.) Even though that sounds like a lot of time to work on a launch, during the breadcrumbing phase, you’re just slowly dropping pieces of content that start building up the value of your course. Start talking about the thing you’re thinking about creating and build content around that topic. You don’t have to worry about being sales-y; focus on educating people about the problems that you’re going to help them solve once you launch your course. If you mention your course, you can point people to the waitlist – but mostly, work on building content around the things they struggle with and start to point toward a solution (which, spoiler alert, is going to be available in your course!)

2. Pre-launch

The next four to six weeks are all about telling people you have a course on the way. Now that they know there’s something they could be improving for their business, you can offer a solution. Keep sharing useful information in your content, but start pointing people to the course waitlist and build up some hype for your upcoming course as the place where you’ll lay everything out that can help them accomplish their goals and overcome their problems. You’re still not selling the course yet, but you’re letting people know it’s coming soon.

3. Visibility booster

The week before you launch is when Amanda suggests doing a “visibility booster.” You could do a private podcast, a Facebook challenge, or a webinar. Whatever you choose should get you out in front of people, talking about your course and building engagement and excitement. Wherever you’re already promoting your business – whether that’s YouTube, social media, blogs, or podcasts – show up there often and use this week to highlight your visibility booster.

4. Launch week

After all that pre-launch runway, launch week is when you open the cart on your course and start hard selling. Since you’ve put in so much work to prep your audience for your upcoming course, this week should be the cherry on top of all your marketing efforts. Even though it’s the big, final sales push, it won’t be the first time people hear about it or get excited about it. Since they’ve already been getting excited for weeks, you’ll have higher sales than you would have by dropping the course on them without notice.

Tips for smoother launching

Of course, even with a long pre-launch runway, so many little marketing pieces go into each launch! Sometimes it can feel a little chaotic – everything can feel last-minute and like you’re trying to rush every email, podcast recording, or blog at the same time you’re trying to sell. Last-minute things always come up during launch, but a pre-launch runway can help things feel much calmer. During that time, you can also pre-write all the emails and content you want to use during the launch. Taking care of all those launch materials in the pre-launch phase takes off so much of the sales stress so you can show up and actually sell to people during the sales period. During the launch, note what’s working, what you had to tweak in the moment, and what needs more work next time. Every time you do a launch, you can repeat what works, make improvements along the way, and refine your process.

Want to hear more launch advice from Amanda Warfield?

Listen to the full episode for the entire discussion, and check out her book, Chasing Simple Marketing. You can also find Amanda on Instagram, her website, or the Chasing Simple Podcast.

Links mentioned in this episode

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