My Worst Launch: and why you shouldn't quit launching

In this week's episode of Chill & Prosper, we are talking about launch failures!

I’ve had them (many times) and I see people quit their business after a particular dismal launch.

If you love launching, you need to listen.

If you HATE launching, you definitely need to listen!

I talk about ...

  • My launching mistakes
  • Learnings for your next launch
  • Simplifying your offer
  • Pricing and deadline mistakes


Hey gorgeous. Today we are talking about launch failures. This is a topic that is so dear to my heart because I see so many people have bad launches or less than spectacular launches and it really derails them, but it absolutely doesn't need to, okay? I want to offer you some reassurance, I want to offer you some real talk, and I want you to get back onto that launch horse as soon as you can. So I consider myself someone who's a bit of a born marketer. I started my first business at nine. I was selling bracelets around town and something happened actually during that launch, my first launch, that actually did create a lot of damage for me, which I'll talk about in a sec...

Just to also give you my launch credentials, I have been full-time in business for over a decade. I've launched things, I've launched books, programs, courses, all sorts of things. I've had good launches and bad launches. I've probably made, 13, $14 million worth of stuff online, so I know my stuff, but also I have made pretty much all the mistakes as well. So you're in the right place, whether you're in your first launch or you've been launching for a long, long, long time.

First of all, let me tell you about that mistake that I made at my very first launch at age nine. I was just a real creative kid and I loved making things. And I also love the idea of business. I loved reading the Baby-Sitters Club books as a kid because I loved the fact that they made their own money and they had their own business, and that was really my only example of what it would be to have your own business, because I didn't have anyone in my life who really had a business. I didn't see it on TV, except for bitchy women in Dynasty and things like that, but I knew that I was just really creative and I had a desire and hunger to share that.

My neighbors were selling these bags of wetsuit remnants, like wetsuit material, and it was fluorescent because of course it was the 80s, and I would buy bags of this stuff from them for $2, which at the time was actually quite a lot of money when I think about it. And I would make these bracelets, friendship bracelets, and then I would ride around on my bike and I would just see kids and I would ride up to them and say, "Hey, do you like my bracelet?" And they'd be like, "Yeah, it's kind of cool." and I'd be like, "Would you like to buy one?" and then I would sell them for $2.

And I did the same at school, I would sell things at school. I was just thrilled to do this and to have this business, and I remember at show and tell I stood up and I showed this to my teacher and everyone, and I was like, "Yeah, I've got this business." And then my teacher was like, "Huh, so how much are you spending on your raw materials?" And I was like, "$2." And then he was like, "How much you selling your bracelets for?" And I was like, "$2." And he was like, "So you're making no profit." And I remember feeling so ashamed in that moment because I felt like, oh my God, I'm so stupid, and I'm so dumb with numbers. And my face went really red and I just felt like, oh my God, I'm not good at this.

I honestly see most people, when they are launching something, they have this origin story around their abilities. It could be their creative abilities, it could be their... for me, I just thought, "I'm so stupid with numbers. I'm not good at numbers." And even now to this day, whenever I have to calculate something, I will pull out the calculator on my phone because I do not trust my own brain for it. And also I'm just not good at numbers on the fly, but I think so many of us, when we launched something, we've really got to heal that part of ourselves that feels stupid, that feels like we're going to make mistakes, and that no one wants to hear what we have to say or that everything has to be perfect. So that's always the first place to start when it comes to launching anything is really heal that inner part of you that needs to be healed, or that says, "This is stupid," or "I'm not good at this."

                                                Here's all the Denise real talk... your first couple of launches are not necessarily to make money. And you might go, "Well then why do I even bother?" Okay, when you're first launching something, there's a lot of stuff that has a lot of moving paces, right? You have to do payment systems, you have to hook up stuff, you have to overcome your technology, you have to do some branding, you have to put together what you're selling in the first place. And every element of that will face its own resistance.

So let's say for example you're launching a course, which I know not everyone is, but it's a really good way to think about it. To launch a course, you've got to create the content in the first place, which is going to bring up its own stuff around imposter syndrome and "No one's going to want this," and "Everyone knows this already," and "It's not original enough." You're going to have to fight you're over-delivering stuff. Like, "It's not enough, I have to put in more. I have to put in more bonuses. I have to convince them to do it. I have to be overgenerous," which backfires, trust me. I did a whole episode about refunds, about how sometimes you can put too much in and people ask for a refund because they feel like they can't do it all.

You will have to overcome your text off. So at the start, when you might not have budget to do it, you'll be up at three o'clock in the morning, trying to connect your payment system to your website, to however you're hosting your course in the first place. You're going to have to probably do all your own branding yourself and you're going to bring up some stuff, "Oh, I can't use this picture, I need to lose 10 pounds first." To even get to the launch stage takes so much overcoming of resistance, ask me how I know all of this. And then you're going to have to ask people to buy from you in the first place. The first time you do it, not only do you have so much to overcome and all your demons and all your, "No one likes me," and "No one's going to buy this," blah, blah, blah.

You probably don't have a big marketing list. Maybe you don't have a ton of people on social media, you don't have a lot of people on your newsletter list, so the first time you launch the numbers are just not necessarily there to get all of the sales that you want, and that's a harsh truth. But if you can overcome your resistance to doing all of those things and to create an asset for yourself, it actually does not matter how many people buy. It does not matter, it's absolutely irrelevant. That first launch and the first couple of launches you do, are not to make sales, they're to overcome your resistance. They're for you to create an asset that could potentially pay you millions of dollars for years to come.

So, let me tell you, I'm sure my friend isn't listening to this, but even if she is, I love you... So when I was doing my first Money Bootcamp, I did the first version of it myself using my iPad to film, and I propped it up on an ironing board and I just wanted to do it. I actually didn't even have the whole course finished when I sold that first version of Money Bootcamp, but I knew that if I sold it, I roughly knew what was in the course and I would create it as I went, and so I did. I did the sales video and I did week one lesson, and then I was like, "You're going to get every week lesson on Monday," and I created the handouts Monday morning because I needed that accountability to get it done. So that's what I did the first version of Money Bootcamp.

Second version, I was like, "I really need to make this a little bit nicer," so I hired a hotel room with a friend who also wanted to finish her course and together we hired a video guy and then we proceeded to sabotage the crap out of it. One, we got really drunk the night before, super drunk. So when the video guy turned up, we were like, "We're so hung over, we can't do it." And then we just hadn't really done a lot of preparation for it, but I knew that I was just going to do it anyway. So the camera turned on, and I just had to wing every lesson. And I roughly knew what was in every lesson, but I just made it happen.

My friend though, was so blocked and resistant that every time... and she's a very confident person... every time it was her turn to get on camera, she would burst into tears and she would say, "I'm terrible at this, I suck at this, this is a story bad. No one's ever going to buy this, this is horrible." And so she'd have a bit of a meltdown and then I'd go, "Okay, cool. It's my turn now," and I would just do the video and it wouldn't be perfect, and then she'd go, "Oh, you're so much better at this than me. I'm never going to be able to do this," and I just did it anyway, and I launched it.

I think I was getting a very small amount of people joining. I had five people join the first time, then 11 people, and then 20, and then 40, and it just got bigger and bigger. It took her another like five years to finish her course and to launch her course because she was so blocked around, "I'm not good at this. I suck. Nobody's ever going to buy this." But between that day, and when she launched her first course, I made hundreds of thousands of dollars and helped hundreds of people before she even got started. So, you have to start. You have to get started and you have to do it now.

It's never going to be the perfect time to do it. Never, ever, going to be the perfect time to do it. You have to start now, even if you get one person. Even if you get zero people, you're not doing it for that sale, you're doing it to overcome your resistance and to create that asset. I actually did my first course in 2009, it was called my Raw Brides Transformation Plan. It was my very first business, because I went on a raw food diet for my wedding and I lost a bunch of weight, and so I was like, "I'm going to teach this. This is my business," and it wasn't. So I created the sales page, I did the payment systems, I created the course, whatever. And I had one person on that course and I had live calls every week and she turned up to every call and I'd be like, "Oh my God."

I kind of pretended there was more people in the course. I'd be like, "Hey, I'm sorry. I got a question earlier from Jessica, and Jessica asks, 'blah, blah, blah, blah.'" So I've actually seen people who got one person on their course, and then they refunded them and just went, "I'm not going to run it." You know what? You can repurpose that. Run it as if there are thousands of people watching, thousands of people on that course, because then you have done it. You will have done it, and then you could create an asset that goes on forever and ever.

That Raw Brides Transformation Plan with one person on it, it cost me more to create the course than I did to make the money back on it, and I never ran that course again. So was it a waste of time? No! I learned how to create a sales page. I learned how to hook up payment systems. I learned how to run a tele seminar. I learned the technology. I learned how to create a logo. I learned how to just do all the million and 50 things that you need to do to launch a program. So remember, it is completely irrelevant how many people you get on your course, especially if you're creating a brand new asset that could potentially pay you for years and years and years and years to come.

I'm going to take a quick break. But when I come back, I'm going to tell you about some of my launches that were really bad, even after that first one. So it's not like I had one person on the course, but I still screwed up my launches. I'm going to be sharing it all, so I'll see right after the break.

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Hello, my name is Dana Myocardium. I live in Romania and I help my clients get featured on podcast interviews. I'm a daydreamer, wife, and mom of two kids. I'm reading [inaudible] was recommended by Secra. This book really helps me tackle my mindset issues, mainly how to overcome imposter syndrome and the fear of being criticized. When you show up knowing that there's someone out there that needs to hear your voice and your message, you won't feel like an imposter. What I also love about this book is that you'll learn to choose the best model for you, and that is the one that works for you because children or it's all about giving you more time with your kids, not less. I really recommend this book, if you want to start, grow or scale your business.

Okay, welcome back. As I said, I've done those launches where I had one person on it, and then I had my launches with just a couple, and I screwed up 1,000,050 times, but I want to tell you about a launch that I did a couple of years ago that was unexpectedly bad, and not for the reasons that you think. I'll just say it, I'm not going to be coy about it, I have my Money Bootcamp and it's been running for almost a decade and I've had thousands and thousands of people through it. And I have a motto, actually, that all roads lead to Bootcamp. And that is what I do, all roads lead to boot camp, but you might not have been around or seen that I used to have another couple of courses.

I had my Manifesting course and I also for a while had my Money Archetypes course too, and I love Money Archetypes. I'm certified in the method by Kendall SummerHawk, but every time I launched it, it just didn't hit those launch results. And so I want to share all of those lessons because I think it's got some really juicy lessons for everybody.

The first time I ran it, we actually had 300 people join and it was over $300,000 of revenue. Now you might think, "What? That sounds like an amazing launch," it was, and I was like, "Oh, this is so cool." But actually I expected a lot more than that. It started with a quiz where people could learn what their money archetype was, and we had 40,000 people do that quiz. And I was like, "Oh my God, this is going to be our best launch ever. This could be our first multimillion dollar launch." And it really didn't. That 300 people you might think, "Oh my God, Denise, I would die for that." It really didn't convert as well as I had hoped.

Then we launched it again and I thought, "Oh my God, it's going to be amazing." We actually had less revenue, so it was $250,000. The third time I launched it, it was $90,000. Now you might think, again, I don't want to sound like a douche here, it's a lot of money, I totally get it. But remember, I'm all about being transparent, and for my list size, our results should have been way, way bigger. I tend to aim for a one to two percent conversion rate for my launches, and this was way, way under it, this was 0.3, 0.4% conversion.

Why did that happen? Again, the numbers might be very different to your launch, but I just want to share, because I think you might learn something about your next launch too. So first of all, it was a very unclear promise and very unclear messaging. I love personality tests. I love to learn about myself, but I didn't really have a clear promise. I was just like, "Hey, learn about yourself and your prospers and more."

I love Sacred Money Archetypes, I think it's an amazing course, I think Kendall has created an incredible program. I'm a very proud, certifiee/licensee, but when you're launching something, you have to be so super clear on what that promise is. A confused mind says, "no." And I often find that when people launch something, it's just a very vague promise of like, "Oh, you'll look and feel better," or "It's a great community." It's just super, super vague. That might've worked a couple of years ago when online courses were new or people were really excited just to join and learn something, but now you have a lot of competitors in that market, and also people are bombarded with messages all the time.

So when you are launching your thing, be really clear on what it is that they get and try not to go for very vague kind of stuff. One of my programs that I launched was called the Inspired Life Formula, very vague, inspired life. Oh, you get an inspired life. It just didn't really have a real punchy kind of outcome. So, try not to be everything to everyone and really knock down to what is the promise that you're going to deliver in your course or your program or your book. If you can get specific about it, the better. Get really specific about what that is, because that was a big mistake when I was just like, "Hey, learn about yourself and your money personality," and didn't really elaborate on that. I just thought it was enough to attract people like me, who just like learning about themselves.

Another mistake that I did was that I over-complicated the pricing and the deadlines for this course. I had actually had multiple deadlines. I did a webinar where I had a deadline on the webinar. Then I had an early bird price with another different deadline, and then I had a full price deadline, and it was really confusing for people about, "How much does it cost? And when is the deadline?" And so again, a confused mind says, "No," every single time.

If you can be very, very clear on how much your program costs and what are the deadlines around that, do you have an early bird deadline? Do you have bonuses that go away? Just be very clear on what that is. I also found that the pricing for this was a little bit confusing when I have my program of All Roads Lead to Bootcamp, my motto, bootcamp for me is $2,000, and I priced this program at $1,000, which was neither here nor there. So I found that people were, $1,000, was a lot of money, it was too expensive for them and people who had bought my Money Bootcamp, it felt like it was too cheap to give value to them. So again, they were confused. They didn't understand what the value of the program was or anything like that.

Another mistake that I made actually is that I was promoting too many things at one time. Back then, when you went to my website, it's like, "Oh, you can buy my books. Oh, you can buy my Manifesting course. Oh, you can buy my Money Archetypes course. Or you can buy my Money Bootcamp." It was really confusing for people what path that they should take. Sometimes you need to reduce the amount of options that you give to people. It's okay just to say, "Hey, here's where you go," or, "Hey, I've got this one thing," and not let people kind of get an out on that. I knew that to get the true value of ongoing support and work on my Money Mindset, that my Money Bootcamp was the place to go. So I was kind of giving people an out by really heavily promoting some of my lower costs programs.

So now we have a simple rule, we just promote one thing at a time and it's also really, really clear for people how they can work with me. They come and they join my Money Bootcamp, that's it. So even though again, you might think, "Oh, Denise, I'd love to have that problem, you actually made money on all of those launches," it was a really, really valuable lesson.

And here's a bonus tip for you around this. Sometimes you can over-complicate things and try and make them way too sexy. So I learned this the hard way. I upgraded my branding, I made everything really sexy and really cool, and it was just so beautiful. Every time I looked at it, I'd just get a little hot zing. But what I didn't factor in was that my conversions actually went down and it was because people were too confused about where to click, I had all these bees and all these cool things and people are like, "Oh, do I click on the bee?" My buttons were too clever. It was like, "Yes, I'm ready," instead of just, "buy here."

Sometimes you can really make things too sexy and cute, and actually over-complicate things, so simple is best. Start with what you've got right now. Start with the branding that you have right now. Sometimes you can over-complicate things and just actually confuse the crap out of people. I'm sure I've made heaps more launch mistakes. As I said, I over-complicate things all the time, I try and be too generous and stick too many bonuses in, I psych myself out by thinking it has to be perfect, I did the unclear promise, over-complicated the pricing and deadlines and things like that. I promoted too many things, I've made so many mistakes, but what I've done really well as someone who's just launched again and again, is I've just done it, I've just done it.

I've said, "Here's the thing, and I would love to share it with you. Here's the thing, buy it. Here's the thing, even though it's not perfect, here's how I can help you." And I've just done it again and again and again and again. So if you've had a million bad launches, you can learn from all of that. You can learn from all of it. You can write about it, that can be a chapter in your book. You could do a whole speech around what you've learned from your failed launches. But the important thing is that you just dust yourself off and do it again because somebody really needs to hear from you, somebody really needs your thing. And if all you do is say, here's my thing, and here's the link to buy it, that's enough. You can over-complicate it later. You can make it sexy later. You can put the bells and whistles on it later, but you probably don't need to.

All right, I would love to hear from you. My social handle is @DeniseDT all over the inter webs. I would love to hear about your failed launches, even just to say, "Hey Denise, I've screwed up. I hate launching, but I'm going to do it again. I'm going to launch again," Because that's all it is. That's all businesses is, is just doing it again and again and again and again and again and again and again, even when you don't feel like it, because eventually those "no's" will turn into "yes'" and every single sale is just proof that somebody needs you, that's okay. I'll be back with my final thoughts right after this break.

Hi, Denise. I just wanted to share something that happened with regards to Lucky Bitch. We started reading it and wrote down my ideal day and part of the ideal day was that I was about to get on a plane to run a retreat. The next day, someone inboxed me and asked me if I could create a retreat for them for eight people for September. So yeah, really exciting. It hasn't panned out as we'd hoped because of all the crazy restrictions and stuff like that, but it was something that I called and obviously things were out of my control, but I just wanted to share that with you. It was absolutely amazing. My

My name is Robin McNeil and I'm a leadership coach from Kelowna, BC, Canada. I read Get Rich Lucky Bitch, and this book changed my life and my business. Denise, I was never one for manifestation, but you gave such easy, actionable steps that I could follow, and let me tell you, I have surpassed my goals. I reached my 10K month and I'm on track to be a multi six-figure entrepreneur this year. I really truly believe that your steps helped create the dream that I've always wanted, so thank you.

Hey beautiful, welcome back, and here is my final message for today. I have an affirmation that there's always more money. There's always more money. And I have to say this to myself whenever I have that feeling of lack of, "Oh no, I had my chance," or, "Oh no, I've already bought something for myself. I'm not allowed to do it," or seeing opportunities, and I just say that there's always more money. There's always more money.

I actually started saying this really early on in my life at school, but I didn't use it around money. Mine was always around there's always one more bobby pin. There's always one more hair pin. And it's because I was a dancer growing up and I was always going to Eisteddfods and things like that, but there wasn't always a lot of money for things like hairpins. So sometimes I'd be like, "Oh crap, I need a hairpin," and I'd go, "There's always one more hair pin. There's always one more bobby pin somewhere around, I just need to find it."

And there always was, and you could say, "There's always a coin at the bottom of your bag. There's always an extra hairpin when you need it. There's always another pen." I used to turn up sometimes for class and I wouldn't have a pen and I would try it. I'd just be like, "There's always a pen somewhere," and I'd look around and I'd go, "Oh, there it is in the corner of the room." So I started doing this way before I turned it to money, but it still works. There's always more money. There's always more clients.

Maybe you've lost an opportunity recently, you can go, "There are always more ideas. There's always another idea." You will never run out of ideas. You'll never run out of creativity. Maybe a client asks for a refund. Maybe it didn't work out, or a client defaulted with you and you feel really disappointed. Oh my God, there are billions of millions, thousands, hundreds, how many clients do you need? There's always more clients. So if you can just turn that around for yourself this week and see where you're feeling that lack, see where you're feeling the lack of enoughness. Yeah, try it. There's always more. Okay, gorgeous, chill and prosper, go forth, chill and prosper. Peace out for me and I will see you on the next episode. There's always more episodes by the way. Okay, bye.

About the Show

Chill & Prosper is your weekly dose of money mindset, marketing and humour from best-selling author and entrepreneur Denise Duffield-Thomas.

Denise's philosophy is that there is ALWAYS an easier way to make money and that's what she's here to help you do. Each week, you'll get actionable advice to help you make more money, with less work. There's no need to hustle - let Denise show you how to embrace the Chillpreneur way.

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