What I Learned from a $300,000 Product Launch

We launched Platform University back in January. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. I didn’t have any experience launching a membership site.

Fortunately, I had some really smart people helping me. As a result, we exceeded my 90-day membership goal by more than three hundred percent—the first week! (Oh me of little faith.)

I shared the backstory with our Platform University members earlier this month in our “Backstage Pass” segment. Usually, this is members-only content, but I thought it might be helpful as you consider your own product or business launches. (I also wanted to give you a sample of the kind of content we provide at Platform University, hoping you’ll consider joining.)

In addition to me, this video segment features Stu McLaren, co-founder of WishList Member, my partner in Platform University, and the one who originally suggested I start a membership site. You’ll also hear from Megan Hyatt Miller, the Dean of Platform University and my oldest daughter.

In this video, we share the good and the bad of our product launch, including:

  • How we determined that my audience wanted Platform University (and how you can use this process yourself).

  • One crucial item we overlooked in the pre-launch that we would never do again.

  • How we pushed through our perfectionism (okay, my perfectionism) and finally launched.

  • An idea that built instant community at Platform University—even before we opened the site.

Most importantly, we extract the lessons we learned from this launch and help you apply these lessons to your own business or product launch.

Maybe you can’t imagine a six-figure product launch for yourself, but what if you could add several hundred dollars to your monthly income—or even a few thousand? Would that make a difference? The principle we share in the video applies regardless of the level.

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Question: What did you learn in the video that you can apply to your own business? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • http://twitter.com/DanValentine Dan Valentine

    Did you give your proofreader the day off? ;)

    Love your blog!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Ugh. I had some bad code that got injected into the HTML when I converted. Long story, but it is fixed now. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

      • http://twitter.com/DanValentine Dan Valentine

        Almost there. Last sentence. ;)

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          Good grief. I’m fired! Seriously, thanks.

          • http://twitter.com/DanValentine Dan Valentine

            You bet! Please feel free to delete.

  • http://www.davidsollars.com/ David Sollars

    Michael, thank you for sharing the behind the curtain view of Platform University. Congratulations to you and your team for continuing to produce quality material and guiding Internet based commerce to a higher standard. Well done!

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      I agree David that Michael’s uncompromising commitment to quality content and delivering “wow” continues to set a high bar. Personally speaking, his efforts spur me forward to strive for that standard myself!

      • http://www.davidsollars.com/ David Sollars

        Good point Tor. Michael inspires by his genuine presence. His languaging and writing encourage us to jump into the pool and succeed. The Platfrom University is an extension of his authentic message.

        • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

          Bingo!

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          Thanks, David. Very kind of you to say.

  • JLynne

    A couple of things I took from this: 1) don’t underestimate the planning phase and 2) launch with a team. I’m starting to think about a platform launch of sorts in the near future and still have lots to learn – thanks for this Stu, Megan, and Michael.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      JLynne, great points! I completely agree with you that “teams make better decisions than individuals.” I think coupled with the importance of planning is the equally important concept of shipping.

      While I agree that planning is supremely important, I’ve known plenty of my own projects (and those of others) that have gotten mired in “analysis paralysis” because I was striving for perfection rather than planning to ship the end result!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Great summation. Thanks, JLynne.

  • http://personalsuccesstoday.com/ John Richardson

    My big takeaway is the team aspect of your launch. As a long time blogger, I tend to do things myself. I’m a one man band so to speak. Seeing the video, I realize that if I’m going to do something on this scale, it will require building a team and then strategizing the product. I would love to see a post on how you built your team, managed the costs, and focused the outcome. Bottom Line: You make this look so easy, that we don’t realize what has gone on in the background to make it a success. Videos like this are Gold. Thanks for sharing!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      The cool thing John is that I am paying them on a percentage basis, so as to minimize my upfront risk. They win when I win. We are all on the same side of the table.

      • http://personalsuccesstoday.com/ John Richardson

        That sounds like a great plan, Michael. For me, the hardest thing is to find reputable people that would fit into my budget. After seeing some of the total ripoffs at some of the conferences, (Like $6,000 to build a basic WordPress site), I always take a step back. Many of the local people I’ve approached have a limited knowledge of SEO and platform design. They can build a website, but not a brand.

        The old adage, you have to spend money to make money, is certainly true. It’s just finding the right people, with the right knowledge, to bring the project to success.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          You might think about advertising on your site. The people you need might already be members of your tribe.

          • http://personalsuccesstoday.com/ John Richardson

            That’s a great idea, Mike. I honestly had not thought about that.

          • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

            I’ve gotten most of my people this way.

    • http://workoptions.com/ Pat Katepoo

      I’m with you, John. The “team aspect” hit me between the eyes the most, too, after viewing the video inside Platform U last week. Like you, I’m a solopreneur, but need to break out of my pattern of doing it all myself (most of the time), to scale a sizable project. Like your suggestion for the follow up content–perfect for another Backstage Pass segment.

  • Pingback: What I Learned from a $300,000 Product Launch | Pastor Leaders

  • http://www.michaelnichols.org/about Michael Nichols

    This is helpful, Michael. Stu and Megan did a great job with this video. Love learning from you guys. Enjoy your week.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Michael, I think the thing that is so amazing to me is how generous Michael and his team are sharing their knowledge and expertise with all of us. It’s humbling to know how much they invest in us – the content consumers!

  • Nathan Artt

    One of the things that stands out to me the most is the level of ownership that your team has in this project. I love that they felt comfortable enough with you that they can freely talk about the times that they had to manage you, as much as how you were managing them. The team aspect is so apparent here, and its refreshing to see a leader who has so much trust in his team, and vice versa.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Nathan, I’ve had the opportunity to witness that give-and-take between Michael and his team on a first-hand basis as they addressed onsite issues that popped up at the SCORRE/Launch conferences respectively.

      As a third-party observer, I can tell you that the dynamic exchange I witnesses was very healthy and productive for a couple of reasons:
      1. There’s mutual, bi-directional respect between the team and Michael;
      2. They all want to exceed the expectations of the end user.

      I don’t know about you, but I’ve worked in command-control corporate cultures that were the exact opposite of how Michael engages his support network.

      Michael’s successful model starts with a leader who’s committed to lifelong learning and not afraid to surround himself with the best people.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

        Thanks, Tor. You are kind to mention this. I do have a superb team. I am so grateful.

  • Nathan Artt

    One of the things that stands out to me the most is the level of ownership that your team has in this project. I love that they felt comfortable enough with you that they can freely talk about the times that they had to manage you, as much as how you managing them. The team aspect is so apparent here, and its refreshing to see a leader who has so much trust in his team, and vice versa.

  • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

    I love the point about responding quickly to the needs of customers or issues as they arrive. That is a recipe for success that you have demonstrated repeatedly! I love being part of Platform University – awesome content that is much more expansive than the great content we get here on your blog!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Tor. This is what makes it worth it!

  • Dave Unger

    The video was so dense with content that a very important take-away almost got away from me, namely always script your video content to make sure you hit all of the points you are trying to make. Be intentional about your video content. Use authentic words but don’t rely on extemporizing. Your audience and your platform deserve your best. Write, edit, and rehearse before the camera starts rolling.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Great point Dave – I think a critical key that Stu made in the video is the importance of tonality and “voice.” I worked in TV & radio news for a decade before I transitioned over to corporate communications.

      I can tell you that if the script is not written in the voice of the reader it tends to come across as stilted and forced.

      The best news anchors I ever worked with wrote most of their own news copy or relied on their executive producer who “knew” their voice.

      • Dave Unger

        Have you seen it work well when writers produce content that the speaker edits prior to rolling the camera?

        I’ve been given copy prior to speaking engagements, said “this is too ‘not me’ ” made some revisions, and had the net result work well for everyone.

        I just don’t know if that is typically a waste of too much time. Perhaps the more efficient approach is to have assistants provide bullet points but let the speaker write the copy.

        • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

          Dave, I think it depends on the situation and the speaker’s ability. The news anchors I mentioned would describe themselves first as storytellers – so writing is part of their DNA.

          One thing I have found about the approach you describe is that it’s always easier to edit content than it is to generate content from scratch.

          Talking points are okay to start with, but I don’t think editing something that’s been written for you is a waste of time – the end product is usually better. IMHO :-)

          • Dave Unger

            “The news anchors I mentioned would describe themselves first as storytellers – so writing is part of their DNA”
            That kicked off the hamster wheels in the back of my brain. Very thought provoking.
            The logical conclusion is that successful content delivery requires the combination of good content and good delivery. That’s hardly a revolutionary thought. But I never put it in the context of a news broadcast before. In order to get an audience to return each day, they need to receive enough value each time to repay their investment of time and/or money. It might take many interactions to bring a new person into one’s tribe but relatively few missteps to lose them.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          Until I started working with Stu, I didn’t think it was possible. But he captured my voice beautifully.

          • Dave Unger

            Wow. Having someone who can come along beside you and write in your voice makes for an incredibly powerful team. That’s got to be hugely beneficial to you in terms of helping you reach more people and go deeper without consuming all of your time. What a blessing.
            That highlights the wisdom in a comment you made to someone recently suggesting they advertise on their existing platform if they are looking for a web designer to help them. Partnering with people who are already part of your tribe must help make it much easier to remain true to your own voice and vision rather than having an outside contractor try to steer you down a different path that matches their own experience or inclination.
            Stu is clearly helping you take what you already do extremely well to a whole new level.

      • http://JonDHarrison.com/ Jonathan Harrison

        When the script is overwrought or disingenuine, it really stands out. I have seen the worst of this happen in front of a teleprompter during live TV. It is sad when the message is lost due to dissonance between the speaker and the words.

        • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

          Spot on Jon!

    • http://JonDHarrison.com/ Jonathan Harrison

      Really well said Dave – this is great advice.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Yes! Dave, The great thing about Michael’s and Platform content is that is well prepared, but it doesn’t look “over-prepared/produced” or stale— sometimes when people prepare then can loose some of the conversational/authentic vibe in their material— I love the combination of well prepared and authentic/genuine!

      • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

        Thanks, Barry. I hadn’t made that distinction but that’s what I am going for.

  • http://smallbusinesstalent.com/ Stephen Lahey

    This tone and content of this video just exudes integrity. I especially appreciated the reality check you offered RE the time needed to do what you’re teaching. I’m already running two businesses, so I’ll have to think carefully about that. Time to think about priorities.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Awesome comment Stephen – I think integrity and authenticity are at the heart of everything that Michael and his team do! BTW, I applaud your dedication and commitment to running two businesses – it makes me tired just thinking about that prospect!

      • http://smallbusinesstalent.com/ Stephen Lahey

        It helps that I don’t need a lot of sleep, Tor. Lol!

  • http://www.producewithpassion.com/ Dan McCoy

    As a perfectionist I often used to wait for “just right” to launch. Once I learned to just get it out there and fix it on the back end, it’s amazing the results. The best thing you said in this video was “It’s easy if you are a perfectionist… you forget all the positive response and focus on the negative” My friend, actor Glenn Morshower says, “There’s a reason the rearview mirror is 8 inches long and the windshield is 6 feet long. Honor the past as an education of what to avoid but always look forward.to what is to come.”

    PS – Just left Franklin, TN. Love being down there and will now be about 4-5 x a year with my marketing coach. Got to do some running while down there. Fun! Someday it would be an honor to run a few miles with you :-)
    -Dan McCoy http://www.techsubluxation.com

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Dan. I like Glenn’s advice about the windshield and the rearview mirror. Brilliant! (I’m totally going to use that.)

      • http://www.producewithpassion.com/ Dan McCoy

        Steal away – He would consider it an honor. Here is what he posted on his birthday.

        Good morning, afternoon, and evening to you all. Yesterday, was a day of celebration from midnight to midnight. Thank you very much for all of your birthday wishes. Today, I begin my 19,725th day on earth. That is 54 (years) x 365 (days) + 14 (leap years) + 1 (today) = 19,725. I wake up with optimism every day, and today is no different. I am excited about the year ahead. I decide in advance that …the enevitable result is good. Though life includes hills and valleys, because that is its nature, I stay commited to rolling with the punches. I made a vow years ago to wake up feeling new and refreshed each day…leaving yesterday where it belongs…in yesterday. I say this at all of my seminars…there is a reason the rear view mirror in our automobile is 8 inches long, and the windshield is six feet long! This provides us with clear evidence that our focus needs to be in today. If not…we crash into things! It serves us best, when used as a point of reference for how far we’ve come. I am grateful for all of my yesterdays. Yes, even the really painful ones. For they have collectively created the wisdom, clarity, and precision with which I am able to move through life…today. Happy April 25, 2013. Enjoy its one and only appearance.

  • http://JonDHarrison.com/ Jonathan Harrison

    wow…it is becoming more and more difficult to wait to join Platform University…I have several open engagements closing in 4 months, freeing up some personal bandwith, but this is causing me to really examine other possibilities.

    • http://www.joyjoyg.com/ Joy Groblebe

      Don’t wait Jonathan! You will love it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/dianne.drinkard.9 Dianne Drinkard

    I got some great takeaways from this video!

    1. Properly execute the planning stage, a well planned launch experiences less glitches, and helps you see forward.

    2. You can’t do it alone, find the right team!
    3. Don’t be overly perfectionistic, which I often do.
    4. Script your talking to include all the points you desire to emphasize and not leave anything out. I tend to talk off the cuff a lot, so this was an important tip for me.
    Time to go find my team…thanks for the great video and tips!

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Nice summary Dianne – I think you touched all the bases in the video!

  • Daniel Decker

    Love this video and seeing how Platform U all came together. Amazing. Michael’s content + Stu’s outstanding strategy and craft = wow. : )

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Stu is pretty amazing to work with. I’ve had a blast!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I agree, Daniel. Michael and Stu make a great team, as well as Megan, Joy, Brian, Dean, and so many others. The synergy is something to behold. I try to stand as close as I can in the hopes brilliance is contagious. :)

  • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

    Megan’s comment stood out to me the most—and stepped on my toes!: Starting is the most important thing. If you wait for everything to be perfect, it will never get done. (she’s rather brilliant, isn’t she?)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Yes she is—though I maybe a little biased!

  • http://www.smartbusinessrevolution.com/ John Corcoran

    Wow, this is really impressive Michael. I watched the launch of Platform University closely and hope to join it in the future, after I wrap up some other membership sites I am a member of right now.

  • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

    This was a helpful video!!! In the future I might consider having a membership site.

  • Vikki Ellison

    Thank you so much for posting this video. I am developing products for a launch that includes books and ebooks. Will you share your thoughts concerning self-publishing?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I have elsewhere on my blog. You can search for the phrase in the search box.

      • Vikki

        Thank you!

  • Robert Andrews

    Thanks for the info. I’m really excited about taking my blog to the next level with a podcast. Today’s blog all of your blogs was very helpful.

  • http://www.danielsanchez.com/ Daniel Sanchez

    On Platform University do you get access to all the content from the past or is it just the content that is published within the months you subscribe?

    • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

      I’m not a member yet but have a friend who is. He said you get all of the past content with the membership.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

        You do right now. But that will change at some point in the future. Eventually, new members will have to pay for the old episodes, just as the members did at the time they were released. Thanks.

        • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

          Thank you for clarifying that Michael. It’s good to know.

  • http://davenevogt.com/ Dave Nevogt

    Awesome that you are partnering with Stu. He’s got a great mind for business.

  • Matt

    Did I miss it, or did you give the name of the forum plugin you are using?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      We are using Mingle. Thanks.

  • http://www.andytraub.com/ Andy Traub

    Glad you said yes to the dinner Mike. Two great men and your sharp daughter means you’ll be providing value for years to come.

  • http://zadokministriesinternational.com Lovelace St John

    Thanks Michael, I have been learning a lot from your posts

  • http://www.thelifetrend.com Curtis Thomas

    Michael, I greatly look forward to the day when I can go through the courses. However, this only gets me more excited! Thank you for sharing your expertise. It is highly appreciated!