On the Connection Revolution team, Kyeli does most of the writing and I do most of the marketing. So, even though Kyeli was the mid-boss of the 2nd Annual World-Changing Writing Workshop (WCWW2), I was in charge of most of the launch plans.
Here’s the behind-the-scenes story of the WCWW2 launch, and what I learned from it.
I hope that the entrepreneurs among you will learn something useful, and the rest of you will enjoy this peek behind the curtain. And the beautiful charts and graphs. (:
A big investment
We invested $10000 in the WCWW2. Most of it went to paying our speakers, and some went to our support team: our audio editor and our transcriptionist. As a comparison, we invested $6000 in WCWW1.
Everyone waits until the last minute
Most of our previous launches had followed a pattern: A surge at the beginning, a slump in the middle, and a surge at the end. Previously, the two surges had been about the same size, so I was very worried and stressed on 5/16 (the second-to-last day of launch) when we hadn’t broken even yet.
We were completely unprepared for the magnitude of the last-day surge. It was more than double the # of people who signed up on launch day, and it was larger than all the people who signed up during the previous 8 days combined.
The “trickling in” people are mostly people who sent payment plan requests on the last day of launch, and it took some time to work out the details. (That’s largely why we didn’t close registration the day after early bird.)
I’m not exactly sure when a last-day surge is likely, but next time I’ll skip the dire predictions of not breaking even. I’ll have faith, and I’ll hang in there until the last day has passed.
The Premium offer (green slice)
10% of our registrants bought the Premium version. If you don’t count the people who were in WCWW1 (who had no need to get Premium) and if you don’t count the people we offered partial scholarships to (who probably couldn’t afford Premium) then it’s 14%.
That was lower than we expected, given that we were offering WCWW1-in-a-box for the kind-of-ridiculous price of 2/3 off.
I’m curious as to how we could have made it a more compelling offer. We went as low on the price as our hearts were comfortable with. Could we present the offer more effectively? Did people think it would be too repetitive? Maybe it’s just that people who want a live version want a live version, and people who want a home study want a home study, and a similar premium offer would be more effective with the WCWW2 home study. In other words, it’s better to offer a premium apple next to an apple, rather than offering a premium orange next to an apple.
The scholarship contest (blue slice)
This year, we did the scholarship contest before launch, not after. I think this was a good idea, because then everyone knew whether they were getting a scholarship or not. We offered partial scholarships to many of the people who didn’t win. Many accepted, and our intuition says that very few would have been able to attend at full price.
Last year, some of our most engaged students were the scholarship winners, and I expect the same this year.
Sophomores (orange slice)
We offered a $100 loyalty discount to all our students from last year, and 15 WCWW1 students came back for WCWW2. Not bad!
But given that we had over 100 students in WCWW1, and hundreds of downloads of the WCWW1 home study, we hoped maybe 20 or 30 of them would come back for WCWW2.
Perhaps it’s because a workshop can either be newbie-friendly or build upon previous material, but not both. We created WCWW2 to be newbie-friendly, so maybe WCWW1 alumni didn’t want to take another newbie-friendly workshop.
I’ll send a survey to the WCWW1 buyers who didn’t buy WCWW2 and give them some tickyboxes plus an “Other” they can fill in. Maybe I’ll learn something.
Last year, we got 33% of our sales through our ambassadors, and this year it was 50%. Of the ambassador 50%, here’s the breakdown:
2 of our speakers account for the two big slices. Another 2 of our speakers account for two of the smaller slices. The last 2 speakers didn’t get a slice at all. Next time, we’ll talk about promotion up front when approaching each speaker. It’ll be way less awkward and way more effective.
Of the 10 smaller slices, 2 are this year’s speakers (as we mentioned), 3 are speakers from WCWW1, and 3 are bonuses in WCWW2. 3 are just regular (read: awesome) people.
The main pattern I see here is:
- Tweets get almost nothing
- Blog posts get a trickle
- Newsletters do pretty well
- A series of blog posts and/or newsletters does the best
On the low end, I think only 1 ambassador got a sale by doing nothing but tweeting.
On the high end, I want to take a closer look at the two biggest slices. The orange slice came from a single newsletter sent to over 25,000 people. The blue slice, which is bigger, came from Mark Silver, whose list is 4 times smaller, but who ran a very effective campaign. The campaign: Two mentions in weekly newsletters (one before registration even opened), a guest post by Kyeli, and a “today’s the last day” email reminder, as well as occasional tweets sprinkled in. Also, Mark’s list is very responsive because he’s built up a whole lot of trust over the years.
The emotional side of the launch
This was the most stressful launch we’ve ever had. It was even more stressful than Profitable Idealism. After talking about it a lot, Kyeli and I have figured out why.
- Poor planning. We thought we’d have plenty of time since we were outsourcing the audio editing this year, and that’s so time-consuming. But we didn’t account for the time spent managing our support team (I think Michael Gerber has a name for that error), we didn’t work steadily enough in March and April, and we didn’t allocate quite enough time to get everything done. Two more weeks would have made the difference between crunchy and spacious.
- Unrelated family drama. We spent two solid weeks dealing with a family crisis. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, you’re in good company — we only talked to like 3 people about it. Everything turned out great, but it was mega-stressful. It not only took up a lot of our emotional energy, but also took a lot of our time talking about it and dealing with it.
- Unrelated money drama. Similar story, different topic.
- Role reversal. This was the first project on which Kyeli has taken the lead. It was very challenging for both of us. It was challenging for Kyeli because she felt a heavy, stressful burden, and it was challenging for me because I like to forge ahead. I ended up stepping on Kyeli’s toes several times, and we had a lot of conflict. We improved a lot, and I’m sure it wouldn’t have been as bad if we weren’t also stressed out by the other 5 things, but it was rough.
- Kyeli’s knee. Not long before launch, Kyeli injured her knee. Her right leg has been in a brace since then, and she’s been using crutches to get around. It’s added a lot to her stress level, and it’s made it harder for her to write since she can’t get comfortable. It’s also been challenging for me since caretaking doesn’t come naturally to me.
- Critical reliance on the outcome. We have a $12,000 loan coming due soon, and, because of other issues with our financial situation, we were relying entirely on WCWW2 to be able to repay it. It’s from a friend who believed in us and our business three years ago, so it was very important to us not to let our friend down. Given that we hadn’t even broken even on the day before the last day of launch, we were totally freaking out. (It all worked out okay due to the last-day tsunami.)
In the future, we’ll do better by leaving more time, planning ahead more thoroughly (so we’ll know how much time to leave), and by doing our best to have a financial safety net so that we’re not so critically reliant on the outcome of a launch.
Between 120 and 150 students are now enrolled in the course, which were Kyeli’s low and high numbers for how many people she felt she could support. (For those who are counting, the numbers above don’t quite add up because they don’t include scholarships, the free passes we offered to our speakers and bonus providers, and a couple of one-off things for exceptional situations. Also, a couple more payment plans trickled in after I made the pretty graphs.)
We made $27,738.15 in sales. Wow!
- $10,000 pays back our investment (speaker honoraria + support team)
- $4748.72 goes to ambassadors
- $689.68 goes to paypal fees
- $12,000 pays back the loan to our friend
…which leaves a grand total of $99.75!
…which paid for our two family celebration dinners. (;
The framework and the love
It’s kind of miraculous how the numbers from Kyeli’s heart added up to bring us exactly how much money we needed. Not everything we wanted, but everything we needed. I feel… cradled by the Divine.
I feel like we created a framework made of solid strategy and reliable experience, then filled that framework full of love.
Without the framework, you end up with a big mushy puddle of love that’s beautiful, but it doesn’t feel solid enough for people to lean into.
Without the love, you end up with a big impressive framework… but it’s empty.
Have you got both the framework and the love?