3 Major Launch Lessons
In the summer of 2017, we launched the Action Shop and let's just say that things didn't go as planned. Things basically flopped BUT a great thing happened in the rubble: Hustle Hive Elite was born. There are lessons for both launches in this post for us all to learn from.
ICYMI: Action Shop was a digital download shop specializing in girlboss downloads to get women over the newbie hump.
Now that some of the smoke has cleared behind Action Shop, I can actually give you some BTS action on how I executed the launch and what went right and what went left. Plenty of things went both ways and as I plan other big projects, I’m taking those nuggets with me.
I'm just going to say that I have never been this glad to have something off my back like I was with Action Shop! This launch was NO JOKE and I'm so happy it's over and I can just build strategies from here on out.
Launching Action shop is one main reason why you haven’t seen a new blog in quite some time. I love writing but I’m one person. Sometimes blogging has to take a backseat to everything else going on and vice versa.
Overall, the launch wasn’t amazing and it didn’t suck either. It was exactly how I intended my first official launch to be: a test run. To dig into what happened behind the launch, I’ll separate this post into 3 sections: The good, the bad and the Ehhh. The Ehh section is what I’ll be working on the most during my next launch that could’ve ran smoother. At the very end I'll give my final thoughts and lessons.
Email list: In 2017, we consistently sent over 80 weekly newsletters this year, excluding holidays etc and I kept it rolling during the entire launch. My consistent email subscribers knew all about the launch before anyone else did and it was a major piece within my strategy. I launched to a small room but, at least I had a good email list.
Free opt in: I begin prepping for the launch pretty early and although a few things fell through the cracks, the development of the free opt in wasn’t one of them. The quick worksheet on launching wasn’t revolutionary to say the least but it did get some people on the list that I could segment and send emails to separate from the big TBH newsletter list.
Website Design: Overall, the website design flowed and I’m pretty pleased with the aesthetics of the site. It's not perfect but it's similar to what I envisioned.
Hiring a designer: I typically do all of my own designing so I designed the site but, I outsourced the design of the products and got great results! The only problem with this was, a few of the designs took way longer than I intended which threw off what would be available at launch.
Keeping up with launch week work: All of the anxiety that I had leading up to the launch reared its ugly head the week of. I let those emotions get the best of me and I barely got anything accomplished that I originally planned to do. There’s so much work that I’m still playing catch up! For my next week, I plan to have that week outlined so I don't lose valuable time keeping my head above overwhelm.
Paypal Problems: Squarespace puts your checkout in “trial” mode and you have to manually turn it off to accept payments. Of course I didn't check this setting until I realized it was on from a customer trying to place an order. I realized this after a really slow launch day of site visitors but no sales. Huge face palm moment. To remedy this, I created a short sale with a new and bigger discount coupon.
Event Coupon code: I attended and sponsored the Hustle Her Way Summit in Pittsburgh in June. Awesome! What wasn’t awesome was that the period of time I gave for the coupon code. It was WAY too long and I had the coupon code last for about a month. No urgency means no real push in sales. Lesson learned. Next time, I’ll give a week tops for the coupon code. I also wish I could’ve gotten to connect with the attendees to remind them of the code. I posted during the conference weekend on Instagram with the event hashtag but it still didn’t make much of a difference because we didn't get any sales- that's a whole different lesson post in itself with making the most of sponsoring events.
Social media: I was halfway present on Action Shop’s instagram. I'm still adjusting so the presence isn't nearly as strong as I wish it was. It became super apparent launching a new brand with how hard it is to handle so many social media pages at the same time.
Post email funnels: I spent so much time developing the emails beforehand, I didn’t spend half that time developing emails for post sales and to get the list engaged over time. I’m revisiting this soon.
With the social media and the email funnels, we could have sustain the Action Shop. Just because we didn't keep it up, doesn't mean it was unable to work. There were just so many moving pieces that were overwhelming that became a bigger burden than we anticipated, which forced us to change up the idea.
Launch partners: I contacted bloggers and other small business owners to act as launch insiders and partners- GREAT IDEA. What fell through was the amount of communication between them and I, which funneled from the communication between my designer and I. I started a Google Group (bundles email communication as a thread in Gmail) and since no one knows what Google Groups even are, there was a learning curve. The bloggers were supposed to receive free products for their help getting the word out but, some of the sheets weren’t completed in time for the launch = very little pre- promo.
The bad and ehh sound super scary and they were BUT, I picked up on my mistakes early.
Now the 3 major lessons from the sections above:
Give yourself time for ish to hit the fan:
It's probably going to happen. Hardly anyone has a completely smooth launch. Something might happen with your laptop, your audio might be too low on your video etc. It's less stressful when you give yourself some extra time when you plan and execute. You probably need a few weeks longer than you think you need especially, if you're a one woman team if something runs off track.
Do heavy research:
One reason why I love the Action Shop site is because I literally logged on different similar sites daily finding cracks in their strategy and copy that I could fill on my own site. Nothing or no one is perfect but when you can tell where someone else dropped the ball, it makes it a little easier.
Recognize where you need help:
As I look back, I wish I would've outsourced social media and a little of the marketing strategy. I had tons of ideas but not enough strategic moves and hands on deck to execute.
We don’t learn ANYTHING if we don’t try anything:
I learned about my strengths and weaknesses while launching and guess what? I don’t let mistakes stop me. I get better and better each time. And it rang true with the launch of Hustle Hive Elite.
The Action Shop had its short term life but something became so apparent after that launch that couldn't be ignored: people were having a hard time figuring out why we branched off into a separate brand just for digital downloads. I was reading She Means Business by Carrie Green at the time and was learning about how she began to grow her brand and how her best idea ended up turning into the Female Entrepreneur Association.
I was so inspired by her story and I knew that something had to change about Action Shop but what? The content was great but the disconnection from TBH wasn't. It was torture building another set of social media with the others still in infancy stages and it needed to become a lot more passive if I was going to be able to sustain it and other streams of income.
I had the idea of adding a subscription component with accompanying videos into the Action Shop but it was built as an online store and Squarespace isn't the best platform for building a reoccurring business model without a bunch of other programs in place.
And then it hit me: a monthly membership option with digital resources and monthly videos could all turn into one platform underneath the TBH brand and Hustle Hive Elite was launched in October 2017, just a few months after the Action Shop was taken down.
Here are a few lessons from the launch of Hustle Hive Elite
Launch a beta group
Instead of spending a ton of time, energy and cash to get HHE off of the ground, I put a ton of time into launching a very lean program that wasn't full of content, yet. I spent close to $1000 launching Action Shop because I spent a lot of money into developing the content and hiring a designer. With HHE, I advertised a beta program that would cap at 10 members. Once the members were inside, I was able to gauge the interest and build more content based on their needs.
A well-planned launch sequence
I knew I only needed 10 sign ups to make the group successful and we got them a few days early! The mesh up of content within the newsletter, live videos and content spread across the TBH channels for over a week, filled the program. That launch was probably the most smooth one I've ever had! The only problem with it was that it was super labor intensive and so recreating it was a ton of work so we've gotten better at passively promoting it and less hands-on approaches.
When people purchased from the Action Shop, all they got was a "thank you for your purchase" email and everyone went their separate ways. I didn't want that to be the case with HHE. So far, we've offered free strategy sessions, a free website audit, a free "Good Morning, Boss" mug and multiple classes.
Long story short, launching Action Shop was a huge learning lesson in itself but because of it, Hustle Hive Elite is much stronger than it would have been.
If you're ready to take your blog or online business up a notch, we're also looking for new members inside of Hustle Hive Elite! We have monthly masterclasses on the topics you need to master your brand online for only $27/month!
Author: Shay Duriel Davis, the Creator of The Bronze Hustle and Hustle Hive Elite