Profit Panic and Why Launching Is Like Tinder


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Panic about profit why business launches are like Tinder.

You’ve set everything up perfectly.

You’ve worked so hard to get the words just right.

Your photos are just so (and you’re looking pretty fly if you do say so).

You’re fairly certain what you’ve put together is irresistible.

You go live…

You start getting responses and interest…

Buuuuut suddenly you realize: the interest you’re getting isn’t the interest you wanted.

When Your Product Launch Bucks the Plan

So you’re forced to ask yourself:

Do I lower my standards a little to get some action?

Or do I stick to my guns and hold out for juuust the right people to find me?

Am I talking about online selling or online dating? THE ANSWER IS: I’M TALKING ABOUT BOTH.

(But mostly launches/selling – because that’s the topic of todays #HAMYAW)

Because really, the principle is the same:

How do you find the “right” people…in business and in life?

While you start things like product or program launches (and dating) with a clear vision of who you really want finding you… once reality hits, you realize getting found by just the right people is much, much harder than you’d originally imagined.

The panic begins to set in, and you have to make a decision:

Do you widen the net a little and let a few students or clients who aren’t quite right sneak in, even though you know they’ll take a little more work?

Or do you hold the line, and adjust your expectations for participation (or number of dates) in order to make sure ONLY Mr./Ms. Right People walk through the door?

We talk about all this and MORE on the latest episode of Hillary and Margo Yell at Websites – a very special #HAMYAW and Friends episode featuring our fabulous comrade-in-copy-arms, the email whisperer herself, Maggie Frank-Hsu!

Managing Expectations and Quelling Panic Over Profits

We asked her what she wanted to yell at and it turned into this convo on Profit Panic:

A.k.a. what happens when you realize you gotta make sales like, yesterday…

… But your perfect people don’t seem to be showing up.

Catch today’s episode to find out our thoughts on:

3:45 Saying Yes To Everyone Because…Money

4:10 Entrepreneurial Negging. It’s a thing.

8:30 Maggie Drops The Gauntlet: Are You Building A Course for The Right Reasons?

11:00 Why Does It Feel Like Your Brand Is On The Line Every Time You Launch??

15:01 It’s not Rejection, It’s Data

19:05 Screw Launching, Here’s Why You Should Be Open Every Day

22:01 The Benefit (For You) (Emotionally) From Sending More Emails

We Love to Hear from You!

Like this episode? Hop on over to YouTube and tell us in the comments

And as for me – happily, my dating days are over.

But launching?

Well, that just might be something I’m stuck with for life. ;)

Keep calm and write on,
H
P.S.

I don’t know which of you guys pranked Loomly, but somehow we made their list of Top 10 Marketing Podcasts!

We’re beyond surprised, pleased as punch, and honored. Basically the list is Seth Godin’s Akimbo, the Harvard Business Review podcast, Freakonomics, The Copyblogger podcast, and… us.

We couldn’t do it without you all – thanks a million for your support of the show. We love to do what we do, and we’re so chuffed you love it too. <3

Episode Transcript

Coconut, no bueno!  

Are you snacking right now? (coughs) (laughs) No!  

No, I’m fine! Just dying a little bit. (upbeat music)

Welcome back marketing nerds of the world, for another episode of HAMYAW. And today joining us for the next episode of HAMYAW and Friends, better known as HAMYAW AF is the amazing Maggie Frank-Hsu. The e-mail whisperer, copywriter and happens to be the owner and proprietor of the best e-mail list you’ve never heard of! So make sure you look her up at the end of this episode. 

But today, one thing we want to talk about is the kind of painful reality of sales and putting yourself out there in the world. A moment where you are on a sales call, in the middle of launch and you have an idea of specifically who you wanna work with and who your customer is but the only people who are applying or reaching out to work with you are people who are not quite a fit.

And because you wanna hit certain numbers, you wanna make sure you have a certain amount in your bank account that month, you wanna make sure you can brag about a successful launch on Facebook after it happens, you go into panic mode.

Which means you start letting people in who aren’t necessarily a fit, who aren’t necessarily, don’t have the level of experience or knowledge that you were expecting or anticipating.

And that in turn, changes the experience of the one on one coaching you’re doing, the client work, the program or course that you’re leading and it basically turns everything around because you hit the panic button and decide to open the doors a little bit wider to people who may not be a perfect fit so you can make sure you make your numbers. 

Part of the reason why we’re talking about this this week is I actually just closed down a launch for my idea incubator, Thunder, which was so much fun to put together. And I have some really incredible people in there who were really a great fit.

But I had to be crazy selective in the process and I’d set out to do that but about half way, what’s happening? I’m on Voxer to Margo being like,

“Oh my God! Am I gonna get people who are a fit in this? Should I just shut the whole thing down? I hate launching! What is going on?”

And in the end I stuck to my guns and ended up with a really excellent, really perfect fit group of people in the incubator. But it took a while to get there.

I think this is actually a really normal experience for entrepreneurs, for anyone selling themselves or putting themselves out in the world.

So Maggie and Margo, I would love to hear your profit panic experiences. Share some war stories. And then I’d love to talk a little bit about solutions. How does that feel?  

Feels awesome. Sounds really good. (laughs)  

I’m having panic! Like I already am reliving it all!  

Residual panic! Maggie, talk to me a little bit about your experience with this. I know that especially this, also this profit panic moment also happens in one on one work.

Where you’re having a sales call with somebody who they’re not quite a fit to work for and you know it but you give the yes anyway. When you feel yourself falling into a trap like that what do you tend to do?  

I remember I’ve written the story of the worst, you know, situation that came as a result of that. And basically tattooed it on my forehead. It’s up in here somewhere. It’s literally posted because I can’t let that happen again.  

Story! Story! Story! 

When I wanted to kind of rev my business up again after I had my son two years ago, I had the emergency brake on, it felt like. And I did need to say yes or I needed to just bring people in and figure out what do I do again? And I was saying yes to a lot things and that was going fine for a while and then it kind of was spiraling out of control. I had everything.

Bespoke contracts, and just everything was different for each person.

I couldn’t remember what the fuck was goin’ on. You know, and so, eventually I did that one too many times.

And it was that last time with a client that was a type of person who would be on the phone, in the call before we even agreed to work together. It was like, “Oh yeah, I’ve worked with people like you and you guys are pretty much all garbage so impress me.” I mean, he didn’t use those words.  

I’ve been on that call.  

I’ve been on that call. We’ve all been on that call.  

And then I was like yeah! I’ll be impressive ’cause I’m awesome! But not really being as fully aware of how unimpressable someone like that is. 

Entrepreneurial nagging is what that is. Like everyone sucks! Do you suck? No, I’m really good!  

Nagging! That is exactly what it is. And my husband says, he’s a psychiatrist, and, hand to God, it’s really helpful, because he doesn’t shrink you at parties or whatever.

But when I tell him some stories he can kind of relate it to experiences he had, especially in his early days as a resident when he was more training. ‘Cause that’s sort of where I, I’m learning as I go.

“Oh yeah! There’s patients like that that go from doctor to doctor to doctor and it’s just like, ‘None of you helped me.’” Like maybe they’ve drawn short straws all the time. Or maybe they have an attitude or an issue in their own mind that’s like, they’re not to be helped, you know?

Part of the experience is to prove that nobody knows what they’re doing except them or whatever. So, anyway, that was the experience.  

There’s a really good point here that I wanna pull out, of the difference between being specific because you know exactly who you’re looking for and feeling panic that you’re not gonna fill the seats, and at the beginning, training yourself to know who the right fit is in the first place.  

Right.  

And I think they’re different ’cause I’m on the other end of the spectrum from you guys. I overly say no, actually, when I probably should say yes. ‘Cause I”m like, oh no! That’s not right. When really I should probably give more chances ’cause I’m really quick to… (laughs)

The ghosts of clients past are always directing decisions. No, but I do think there comes a point when you do have to train yourself to say yes or experience things and understand that there’s a pattern of behavior that you’re looking for. And you have to say yes a bunch.

It’s like the Derek Sivers quote that everyone misunderstands. When he’s like, “It’s either a hell yes or a no.” You graduate to that. In the beginning you just say yes to everyone.  

Right.  

That’s how you figure out what you say no to.  

Right.  

Yep. Absolutely.  

But you can become selective through this process of having to go through them. And I don’t think, Maggie, I don’t think I would, cause I know you’ve been through a couple more launches. And that is true.

I don’t think I would have been as dead set on this level of precision about who I let in if it wasn’t for my past experiences. And, former students, if you’re watching this, I love you all. You are all amazing. But it’s a matter of a level of energy it requires to make sure somebody can get the benefit from whatever it is that you’re working on together.

Whether it’s a client, whether it’s a student, whether it’s a program participant. I think it’s just very interesting because being selective, and I really appreciated when Margo let me into the arena, ’cause I was like, “I feel so special!” So it definitely creates that kind of experience as well but.  

You were!  

It’s about understanding patterns and also learning to manage your energy as an entrepreneur. Because like you said, if you’re creating bespoke contracts for everybody, if you are really creating individual experiences, if you are letting people in who are maybe a couple years behind where you’re wanting people to be for a certain program you are just gonna have to spend more energy on them.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I think that’s what we forget. Is that we think about, because we get focused on the money, we get focused on hitting the numbers and making sure our ego gets a little pumped up, depending on, by our numbers. And that we can share how much we’re making every month, to feel confident, if that’s something that is in our arsenal. 

But it really is about, we think we need to, we just had a episode about this on hustle culture with Britany where people forget they need to protect their energy.  

But I think everything you’re saying is so swimming upstream from, I have a lot of clients who are online and entrepreneurs and I just feel the barrage. I’m always paying attention, of course, ’cause we’re all marketers, how people are marketing and their messaging and stuff.

I just feel like the idea is, and this might sound super cynical, but I just feel like the idea is just to kind of become known and then make a course and then just everybody and their uncle should buy that and there’s no process around whether this would actually help somebody.

It’s just about writing the perfect copy that makes people feel like, yes, this is exactly what it is that will solve my problem. Where’s my credit card? And that’s courses, right?

I speak to people all the time who are like, “Yeah, I’m gonna make a course!” ‘Cause they want to do that and it’s just interesting to hear both of you, it’s very much different. It’s very anti the norm.  

Us, anti-norm?  

Right as you’re talking it’s making me interrogate if I could do anything in my business or I could be massive, right? I actually wouldn’t want to do that. But it starts now by saying, okay. Everything that you create, every time you bring somebody in you have these boundaries.  

Maggie, I was just talking to a reader who told me in confidence that, she admitted that she didn’t want to be a personal brand. And I was like why do you need to be a, what does that have to do with anything? Like why would you need to be that? And it was like so painful for her and she thought that it was just part of the ethos of how you, and not even ethos, tactics, of this is what you do to grow your business.

And I was like if you wanna be a freelancer be a freelancer! And I’ve had so many entrepreneurs share these things with me. They don’t realize that some of the advice, it’s not one size fits all. We give that to people sometimes. This is the template. This is the thing you need to do. 

I wanna tie this back, actually, to kind of where we started this conversation. I wanna talk about the panic because I think the panic piece of this is the more interesting part regardless of why it happens.

My hypothesis is that it has to do with these templates that we think we’re supposed to follow. And the expectations we set for ourselves. And what a good launch means.

What a profitable launch means. What a product sale means. What it means to actually have marketed something. How big your list should be. How much revenue it should have generated. How many units you were supposed to have sold.

And I think that the panic button for me, I’ll speak really transparently, is around shame. When I see that Inc. is calling me a great marketer and then I’ll see that something didn’t sell that well and I’m like, “No one can know!”

When really it’s I move my objectivity and my ability to be like, “No! You positioned it wrong! The end.”

Or your market wasn’t ready. The end.

None of these things were as big as they feel, but in the moment I feel like my entire brand is on the line.

Every single time I go in to sell something and it’s like Margo, everyone’s watching. They all wanna know what Margo’s doing. Not true. No one cares. (laughs)  

I care!  

Everyone in the world is just an audience for how you’re doing your launch, you know?  

Yeah. Through and through.

And I also think we forget too, that product launching, selling a course, selling your program so you can get off the client hamster wheel, it doesn’t actually solve the problem at first!

All of your issues are gonna follow you. Which is why if you have profit panic on one one one sales calls you’re gonna have profit panic during a launch.

It’s just reality.

And think people forget that it’s a different animal because we are sold this idea of courses and programs as well, as a solution to the problem. Are you tired of being on the client hamster wheel?  

Yeah.  

You make a course! Now that, you’re right!

But in reality it’s a challenging thing. You have to do your content marketing strategy, you have to set (mumbles) strategy, you have make sure you have a good opt in, webinar, you have to follow the rules that you follow for clients for yourself. Which for some reason is so much more emotional than when you do it with a client.  

Yeah! I’m going through this and I’ve had clients who’ve done launches and then they haven’t sold the way they wanted it to. And then later it did.

That’s actually, Margo, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what you do about it. ‘Cause what I’ve seen almost everybody do is just give up and go, with my clients and stuff. Or blame but a lot of shame.

‘Cause I can see everything in the back of everything, right? The back of the convert kit, the back of the e-commerce platform. I mean, that’s sort of the whole thing with the shiny objects syndrome is like, people will do it and then it doesn’t work like they thought it would and they’ll be like, well.

And then they’ll throw the whole thing out. I see a lot of people give up. Even from one e-mail, you know? I sent it, I didn’t feel the thing back, I didn’t feel loved back so it must be terrible.  

Yeah!  

Can you talk to us about about this ’cause you are the e-mail whisperer?

And I’m curious ’cause I have my own theories but I have noticed that when I go behind the scenes in people’s businesses that don’t have online businesses that are their brand they tend to be a lot more objective.

Where it’s like this thing worked, this didn’t. I mean, there’s still issues but it’s like it’s easier to attach some distance. The second we start selling ourselves via e-mail or our IP it’s a lot more personal. Can you talk to us about why that happens and why it feels so much like fear on the line?  

Yeah. That’s a great point. I mean, it’s obvious why if it’s you, you still have to say this is my business, this isn’t me. Actually like, it’s just a coach, I think her name is Hiro Boga or something.  

Yeah, I know Hiro Boga!  

She said something like, even if you’re the face of the business the business is not you. And if you go around being like, the business is me, you will burn out on it so fast you’ll hate it because things go wrong in business.

Shit happens.

And every time stuff like that happens, and I’m not just talking about client management stuff, but anything. People don’t respond the way that you thought they would to a thing that you put out there.

Then it’s always a rejection of you. I guess I’m a personal brand.

I get these weird PTSD flashbacks to online dating. Like when people don’t respond to some of…’cause I did online dating for a couple years before I met the guy that I’m married to now. That guy. And I met him online and it was after string. And I did it New York City and there was no Tinder yet but it was still kinda like.  

Lucky you!  

You get excited about something or somebody and you know the way you set up your profile and it’s this version of you. Anyway, that feeling that you get of like, you put yourself out there and you don’t even know this person but they don’t like you.

And even as a personal brand I think I’d love to see people be more treating it like it was something completely different. ‘Cause if you treat it like they’re enmeshed, then you’re always gonna feel like shit about yourself when something doesn’t go right.  

Yeah and I think making sure we understand if it feels like rejection, there’s no way to avoid that. Unless you’re a robot, when you’re selling something that you put your whole heart into and the units aren’t moving it feels like rejection and that sucks!

But then you have to hit up your creative allies on Voxer and they will remind you that it’s not rejection, it’s data. And even then it still sucks in the moment but it’s so true.

Just like in online dating the fact that that person didn’t resonate with you, that’s good data. They probably weren’t for you anyway. But you kind of move on and move along but, this is again, the issue with having a personal brand that is you and your face and your name and the fact that people are rejecting it makes it feel like a rejection of you, period.  

It just made me think because I’m often coaching, that my people, my students, whatever to get deeper. What are they trying to say? What are they really trying to put out there? And that’s very personal.

When they sell something and it doesn’t go, I’m like the next thing we do, we go, “This isn’t a failure, we need to learn from this, how do we learn from this?” And so they need to put this remove and distance.

Boy, I’m learning something from this!

I’ve never thought about how much I’m asking of people. Because they both have to be very connected to why they’re doing this and feel very deeply about it and then have that moment where they can separate from it. That’s hard.  

This is why I tell people you shouldn’t start with why. And I get so much flack for it but I think Simon Sinek was talking about big companies, there comes a place on the bell curve when you’re at the beginning and you’re trying, when you ask yourself what your why is, you’re actually asking yourself who am I, and you go into existential crisis mode.

It leads nowhere good ’cause you’re like, well, I care about the environment, and I care about my mom, so is my why my family? And is it my daughter? And also does it mean that I really care about space and this and that? And you just go all over the place. 

It’s not centered and focused and once you have a business and you know what you’re selling then you can go deeper and go okay, what’s motivating us to sell this and how do we connect this to what the customer needs?

And there are a lot more boundaries to the conversation that keep it productive and useful.

You guys don’t need to know all of my, we’re all multi-faceted humans, nobody’s website is going to show all sides of you. Just like online dating. And they shouldn’t! Your website, that would be so boring! (laughs) Showing everything about you.  

And this is so interesting too and this is why, and Maggie you made such a great point, that it’s so hard to understand what it’s like until you’re in it. And this is why I think entrepreneurs have to be really careful in the way that we talk about sales when we haven’t had to sell anything.

Because I, once upon a time, when I was on the writing end of launches for clients, I would basically make fun of webinars. And, because first of all, some webinars deserve to be made fun of. Some aren’t necessarily loaded with great information. They’re just an upsell!

But when it came time to sell a high ticket program I was like, “Oh shit! This is really difficult to do well.” And this is what’s gonna move the needle. 

‘Cause if you’re just peppering people with emails, you’re not gonna make the sale. You’re not gonna through the process. And it’s really easy to fall into the trap of being like Ugh! I hate sales! I hate being sold to, blah, blah, blah.

But then you have something to offer and you have to go through that process and you have to understand the stages of it. The yay, this thing!

Okay, I sent it out, hold my breath! Oh my God, where is everybody? Oh my God, what am I gonna do? Oh my God, hitting the panic button! Okay, now things are moving.

It’s just so hard to understand when we experience it so I think even though so many of us work in marketing, work in branding, work in sales, we have such a disdain for when our colleagues are trying to present us with something, habitually.

I find there’s a lot of almost entrepreneurial counter-culture around that. My friend, Shanae Howard, calls it the anti-marketing elite. 

Exactly, it’s just people who are successful in business but roll their eyes at most traditional marketing because they haven’t had to do it that way.

So that’s something I hope our readers take away from this too, is when they’re going through this emotional process, first of all they’re not alone.

All of us go through it when you’re putting your spirit out on a platter. But the hope the people will remember to be, have a little more reverence for the process, in a way. ‘Cause this shit it hard! Period!  

I wonder too, how much of this is built into the fact that it’s a launch? So we have a mutual friend. Actually, all three of us, Ross, who is also a brilliant e-mail copywriter and he has a philosophy that is anti-launches. That you should be open every day.

And it’s a whole new approach to selling.

You still have to encounter the same fears around selling but I wonder how much of the panic that we’re taking about and the feeling of either needing to let people in that aren’t a good fit, or hit abort button, which is usually what I feel, is a function of this arbitrary constraint that you’ve placed on yourself for a specific amount of time to create urgency and scarcity and exclusivity. 

Which are important in selling, but I wonder how much of it is, ’cause I’m trying to think, I felt that way when I first launched my skill share course but now it sells on its own monthly. And I don’t always think about it. (laughs)

But there’s also degrees of removal.

Like what Maggie was talking about earlier, that buffered me between it and the direct sale. I’m not actively selling it and so, let’s not talk about it as passive income. It’s like 90 bucks a month, okay.

Like, that’s not great. But it’s interesting to watch what happens and how disconnected I feel from it.

I don’t have trouble in the same way because I’m not trying to hit really high numbers with it and it’s a slow trickle, which is just a totally different approach.  

And it is also a totally different offer. Selling a 90 to 200 dollar product is easy ’cause it’s not a sacrifice financially.

It’s when you get into that high ticket, like a thousand, but when you get above that level then you get the resistance. Then you have people needing to pull out their credit cards. That is a whole different ball game.  

I really agree with a lot of what Ross says but what I like about the launch deal is that you learn a lot quickly, you know?

I like the way that he’s talking about it because it sounds very seductive. It’s like oh! It’s again what we were talking about earlier. It’s like fuck this shit, right? I don’t wanna do this anymore. This sucks!

He’s got this better way but in the end you’re always gonna encounter the same issues. And maybe even the same kind of sequence that Hillary laid out but if not that exact sequence, in that order, then something where it’s like, oh they didn’t want it.

And you’re always going to hit that eventually and you have to figure out how to get past that, you know? How to go through that.  

I think that’s so true.  

Yeah, absolutely.  

That’s a really good note, actually, to wrap this up on because I think that it comes down to having that grit. My dad used to say when you lose, don’t lose lessons. Learn what worked, what didn’t, why did it work and then how do I get back up and do it again and edit it?

Because there’s no way to divorce yourself from that personal feeling other than jumping in and doing it again and doing it enough times that it’s a pattern.  

Maggie, you and I have talked about this e-mail but at a certain time you e-mail enough that you stop feeling so emotional about how people respond to your e-mails.  

Yes!  

But that only come with quantity and time. 

Yes! 

Before we close out I would like to go around the virtual room and give one take away. If someone takes nothing else away, what do you want them to know? Hill, hit us up.  

For me, I think it would just be hang in there. It’s not gonna be a A plus across the board. From the first e-mail, from the first launch, from the first everything.

Keep in mind, a launch is above all, creating a new offer. Even one on one work, you are introducing a new idea into the space and you’ve gotta give it time to plant the seeds and to let it germinate.

So if things aren’t going well chances are it may not be you, it may not be the offer. But go through it, see it through, hang in there and when you feel ready, do it again and do it better. You got this!  

Maggie, what do you got for us?  

The thing I would say is externalize a little bit.

So what’s been helping me lately is really as I’m going through, this is a little bit woo-woo, but meditatively, I’ll see myself really struggling especially if I hit a place where no sales or really below expectations where I immediately wanna give up.

I don’t think that’s that uncommon.

It’s who I am in lots of ways, right? If I train for a marathon and then I get really sick of it in the middle or something like that. But I think externalizing helps a lot.

Realizing that you’re at a certain point in the process and you can’t see what the end is gonna be, but you have to realize that what’s going on right now is something you can actually learn from.

You can sort of observe if you can get a little bit of distance, even within it. And kinda understand, okay, that’s what’s happening right now.

Based on that, if you’re a marketer, this is what I would tell a client their next move should be, and I think it helps to actually reach out, like you said, to reach out to your friends or each out to your business buddies to get a little bit of perspective.

So I would say externalize and don’t make it all me inside.  

Yeah, I love that.  

I like that too! I would say don’t lose the lesson and recognize it’s about putting in the reps and being objective about what worked, what didn’t. This is a thing I stole from my friend, Shannon, who you guys know. But I like to put a list of this is how I’m feeling, these are things that happened.

And we’ll just show the difference between the two because I will go, my panic will tell me that the world is on fire and children will die and everything is bad, you just need to go to law school and go get a regular job and stop trying to do this stuff!

And so, I need to let that live somewhere so I’ll put something where I’m like, okay here are all the things I’m feeling and then here’s what actually happened. Which is like one person clicked. Three people clicked. (laughs)  

Yep!  

That’s it! That’s all that happened! And then you can start to be objective. Why did only three of you click? Well, maybe you shouldn’t email on a Saturday at 11 pm.  

I love that! Yes!  

A little more objective about what’s happening and what your role was in it. And how to maybe improve next time. So, don’t lose the lesson and keep watching HAMYAW if you want more lessons!  

Don’t panic! (laughs)  

All right, so I’m Margo Aaron.  

I’m Hillary Weiss.  

And this is.  

Maggie Frank-Hsu.  

Yes!  

This has been HAMYAW AF, and friends, if you like this episode please like it below, share with your friends, comment.

We have Maggie who is also going to be monitoring comments with us. We would love to continue this conversation with you guys, hear about what your panic freak monsters are saying, how you have learned and grown. What you decided to abort, what you wish you hadn’t done.

Join us in the comments below and subscribe to our channel. We will see you in two weeks!  

Bye guys!

Photo by Juliet Clare Warren

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