Three Lessons on Launching from the Human Cannonball

by Laurie Foley on August 5, 2012

You’ve been working on it for months. You’ve been writing, sweating, recording, transcribing, formatting, building sales pages, creating autoresponders, testing it all out, and wrestling myriad other technologies. You have probably shed a few tears. You’ve been counting down to launch day.

Like the human cannonball, you load all that you’ve got into the mechanics of your launch and you light the fuse.

KA-BOOM! You are shot from the cannon, flying through the air, exhilarated, and thrilled that you have shipped. Your very dear thing is available to the world.

And then…. fzzzzzt….. Crickets. Nothing. One or two people bought it. Or, Lawd-help-me, no one bought it.

What happened? What went wrong? IT WAS A GIANT CANNON, wasn’t it?!

Well, yes. But only to you.

To the rest of the world, it was a snap of a twig or a faint pop-gun. Or maybe someone just blowing bubbles with gum.

We live in a very, very noisy world. What sounds like a cannon to you – your cannon – simply isn’t a cannon to everyone else.

So what happens now, after your cannon is shot but no one turned to look?

Truth: most people get discouraged and even sad after a launch. Understandably so. All of that energy is draining. A post-launch letdown feeling is totally normal. Be gentle with yourself knowing that an exhausting or disappointing launch can be turned around into future success.

What can we learn from a launch that is a fizzle? Let’s go back to the circus and the human cannonball.

1. The circus tells people to expect the human cannonball long before they arrive.
The human cannonball act is a central feature, even a peak moment, of the performance. Circus goers expect the boom. How can you get the word out in advance that people can expect a boom from you at some point?

Here are a few ways to prime expectations for a boom:

  • Create a first-to-know or pre-sale list for your upcoming launch.
  • Start hinting about it on social media with a specific date set for the big reveal.
  • Launch your item seasonally or even once a year so that over time, people will know that it is coming.
  • Blog about what is coming or create a series of pre-launch videos so that people are excited to learn the background info that will create an appetite for your product.

2. The ringmaster tells everyone in the audience, “Ladies and Gentlemen, direct your attention here, please!”
There is quite a lot of chatter and anticipation as the ringmaster explains the drama that is about to unfold but he is commanding in his request. This part is tricky for solo practitioners because attention is a very scarce commodity. The ringmaster is a showman, and the audience is primed. Never underestimate the power of those factors. You too will benefit from being very specific in asking for attention.

When it’s time to direct attention to your launch, try these techniques:

  • Ask your peers or your mastermind group if they will help you spread the word of the launch. No pressure, but if they usually love your stuff, then they will likely be happy to share another great product with their audience. If you have even a half-dozen other people sharing what you are doing with their social networks on launch day, it can make a big difference between a pop and a boom. (Want to know what can inspire people to share your stuff? When you share theirs… Reciprocation is a powerful motivator.)
  • Create an affiliate program to offer a thank-you commission to those who help direct attention.
  • Use every channel at your disposal to get the word out – and post it multiple times with helpful adjunct info each time. Only sending a link to the sales page to your email list one time or only posting it once on Facebook is definitely not going to create a boom. Make the info around the announcement generous and rich.
  • Tell inviting stories as part of your launch. Stories draw people in and make them want to know more. You may not be a showman in a velvet jacket and a top hat but you surely have compelling stories.

3. Survive the launch so that you can stand up and wave to the crowd.
Part of the excitement of the human cannonball (or any other daredevil stunt) is seeing the performer rise up from their landing, no matter how clumsy or inelegant the shot – or the landing – might have been. You too must rise up and learn as quickly as possible from the launch experience. If you crumple in a heap for too long after launch day, then you are missing vital opportunities to keep campaigning for your product. The final day of sales is very often the most active day so pace yourself to take advantage of that phenomenon.

If you’ve completed the whole launch cycle and sales were still disappointing, then there are other vital questions to ask:

  • Did you communicate the offer to people who actually want what you are selling?
  • Did you share the offer often enough for your ideal clients to have a chance to notice it?
  • Did your sales page convey the benefits clearly?
  • Were you credible with your experience and testimonials?
  • Do you need to do more to build your ideal audience before you try this kind of launch again?
  • Did you make a strong offer that is obviously desirable and has a price that feels aligned with the value?

What you hear as the boom from inside the cannon will never be as loud to others but you can improve your chances of turning heads with a strategic approach and your own resilience.

Popcorn, anyone?

What other launch strategy suggestions do you have? How have you mustered resilience after a tough launch?

photo credit: wolfsavard

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Stacy August 5, 2012 at 11:09 pm

Great post, Laurie!! The thing you mentioned that I see most often in my client’s launches is what you said about promoting it multiple times… I think because we’ve been working so hard behind the scenes before a launch, we forget sometimes that people haven’t heard about it. Most people are not sitting on twitter or fb 24/7, so the likelihood that someone will see the one tweet or message you send is pretty low. If you feel like you are promoting too much, your peers/mastermind groups can let you know, just ask. 🙂
Hope you had a great weekend, Laurie!

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Laurie Foley August 6, 2012 at 12:27 pm

So true, Stacy! I *love* what you are doing at http://ethicallaunch.com/.

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Karen August 6, 2012 at 10:30 am

You hit a bull’s eye with this article for me Laurie! And made me smile in appreciation for the wisdom 😉

I’m going to go implement some of your tips now!

hugs, Karen

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Laurie Foley August 6, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Yay for implementing! You’ve totally got this, Karen.

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Janice Masters, The Everyday Joy Coach August 6, 2012 at 7:43 pm

Laurie! Homerun! I agree with everything you said in this article. One of the things I personally LOVE to do is create ‘buzz’ way ahead of time. When we can position people to be interested in ‘what the heck is she up to?’ they’ll ‘stay tuned’ as I ask them to. Great stuff! ~Jan

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Laurie Foley August 6, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Thanks, Janice! Yes to buzz – it makes a huge difference.

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Karl Staib August 6, 2012 at 10:46 pm

Launches aren’t easy, but that’s why we do them. I love how you say to create annual events of their launch. Sometimes it takes awhile to build trust. We can’t expect to get it right the first or even second time. Launch and look at went right and wrong. Do more of what went right the second time. It takes a lot of patience, but if you love the topic then keep at it and you will find that buying sweet spot.

Great post! We all have to remember that it takes time to get our offer just right, so our “ideal people” buy like crazy.

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Laurie Foley August 6, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Couldn’t agree more, Karl, especially about trust taking time.

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