Marketing Part 2: Our open and closed launch strategy to sell Wandering Aimfully Memberships
When you make the decision to start your own business, you get to call all the shots. For us, that means selling things in a way that's compatible with the lifestyle we want to lead.
Using an open and closed launch (rather than keeping our membership open for registration at all times) gives us the ability to decide when we go into "sales mode." It puts us in the driver’s seat of when we have to hunker down and make the ask.
Having a product always available for sale can leave you in a state of selling limbo. It can feel a little like you’re hoping and crossing your fingers that paying customers will land in your inbox. Instead, we prefer putting a sales schedule on our calendar and telling people this is the time you can buy from us.
WE HAVEN’T HAD great results WITH EVERGREEN SALES
Here's the truth: we like the open/closed launch strategy over an evergreen strategy because it's what we feel most experienced in. (If you don’t know, “evergreen sales” is simply online biz jargon for saying something is always available for sale.)
With exception to one course of Caroline’s (her hand-lettering course) we’ve never seen consistent evergreen sales for any of our products. Yes, that's partially because it's our preference to do open/closed launches as we mentioned above, but it's also because evergreen sales require a lot more trial and error. Without any time incentive for customers to buy, you have to find other ways to get interested potential customers to finally take that step and make a purchase.
While an evergreen sales model sounds great in theory (getting consistent revenue), our experience has been a big spike in the beginning and crickets a few months later.
There’s absolutely an allure to passive income with an evergreen product, but it hasn’t happened for us yet, so we’re going to stick with what we know (and like).
Creating our own launch hybrid
Since 2015, we’ve used open and closed launches for BuyMyFuture/BuyOurFuture (which, if you don't know, was a bundle of all of our products.) That process was fairly efficient but I will admit that open and closed launches can sometimes feel uncertain. They can feel like there’s pressure for them to do well, since you aren’t selling all the time. Still, I’d rather have small spurts of pressure than to be constantly thinking about sales. This is also why we've decided to do monthly sales windows instead of twice a year as we did with BuyOurFuture, which will hopefully distribute a bit of that uncertainty since the sales will come through more frequently.
Here's the really cool thing about selling stuff you make: YOU get to decide how you want to do it! We like the control of turning sales on and off, but we also like the predictability of monthly income. So... why not combine the two into monthly open-closed launches? If it works, it will be the perfect hybrid for us, and if it doesn't, at least we tried and can evolve into something different.
How we’re going to run our open and closed launches
STEP #1: OPEN 30 SPOTS FOR ONE WEEK EVERY MONTH
We have an “enough goal”, which is getting 300 paying Wandering Aimfully members. However, we aren’t planning on opening the doors and expecting 300 people to pay right away (especially for something new). Truthfully, we don’t want to take 300 new customers at one time—not until we have smaller groups go through our onboarding process and join the existing community so we can make changes or improvements based on their feedback.
That’s why we’re choosing to open up just 30 spots per month with a week-long sales window. Our basic week-long sales email schedule will look something like this:
- Send a sales email on the Monday of the last week of the month
- Send a sales email on the next day (Tuesday)
- Send a sales email two days later (Thursday)
- Send a sales email two days later (yep, a Saturday)
- Send a last day (morning) and final call (evening) sales email on the following Monday
While six sales emails may seem like a lot, we don’t send your standard sales emails. Instead, we try to lead with value along with sharing stories of how our products have helped people improve their lives and businesses. That way, even if you decide not to buy, you feel inspired or motivated by our emails and not like we were trying to only push our products. Plus, we always offer a sales opt-out link if our subscribers don’t want to get our sales emails (but also don’t want to fully unsubscribe from our list).
It’s also worth noting that we don’t plan on hammering our entire email list with sales emails every month. Through the magic of Caroline's automation wizardry and our email provider Drip, we'll make sure that only NEW subscribers (aka subscribers that have joined our list within the past month and haven't been through this week-long sales sequence before) will get these emails. If you're interested in how we're doing this, there will be more on this in tomorrow's post about our marketing plan and email automation plan!
In our ideal world, the Wandering Aimfully Memberships will sell on this schedule:
- May 2 - 30 pre-order spots ($3,000 total MRR*)
- May 21 - 30 spots ($6,000 total MRR)
- June 25 - 30 more spots ($9,000 total MRR)
- Rinse and repeat until we get to 300 paying members ($30,000 MRR)
*MRR = Monthly Recurring Revenue
STEP #2: DEAL WITH CHURN AND FEEDBACK
We’d be naive if we didn’t think some people will cancel their membership. This is simply bound to happen when you sell a recurring payment product.
Since 2015 we’ve experienced less than 3% churn of BuyMy/BuyOurFuture. That’s REALLY good (considering industry average is 7-10%), but we know it will be higher with a monthly recurring membership.
By only allowing 30 new members to purchase each month, we can do our best to keep our churn incredibly low.
We’ll do this by proactively contacting and surveying our customers, trying to find out how we can be serving them better (or what we can create for them next). Also, part of our product strategy behind building the customer dashboard experience as a software product had to do with limiting churn. By organizing our content better and by creating an experience that feels interactive and customizable, we're encouraging customers to return to the dashboard, utilize our resources, and make the most of their membership—which will hopefully limit churn.
Feedback is also a big part of open and closed launches. With each new group of buyers, we hope to learn from the previous group. By the 6th or 7th launch, our goal would be to have a verrrry smooth process that makes our buyers happy and keeps them excited to pay their $100 each month.
STEP #3: INVEST IN THE COMMUNITY
Another advantage to an open and closed launch is that we can spend the time between each launch investing in our community. Rather than being distracted with marketing and selling, we can interact with our customers in our Slack community. We can answer emails from them. We can hop on Skype with them. We can cultivate a culture of thoughtfulness, inclusivity and a genuine desire to support one another. We can show up!
This feels especially important due to the fact that we're just two people and we don't want a big team. If we did, perhaps we'd hire people that could manage a more evergreen marketing strategy, but when you're a company of two you have to be incredibly strategic about how you spend your resources, both time and creative focus.
If you’re constantly in a state of selling, or being concerned with making money, it robs you of your creation time.
Our hope is that word of mouth will be one of our best marketing strategies to get more paying members, and the only way that will happen is if we can show up in our community and deliver as much personal value as possible. We're aiming for more testimonials like this one:
Like all things during this build process, we're starting with our ideal launch scenario and then we can always adapt and evolve based on how customers are actually responding. Gotta test those assumptions to see what actually works!
If you want to watch our entire meeting about marketing and launching, you can check it out here unedited!