I’m starting this lil’ how-to post with a caveat:
(I promise your tutorial is at the end. But I’ve gotta plant these disco boots of mine on my soapbox real quick first!)
What everyone wants to know when they ask me about building a brand, or getting from $10k months to $40k, $60k, and beyond, is this:
“Hillary, how do I sell more without selling selling, you know?”
“Like, I don’t want to have to be in the middle of a launch cycle all the time. How do I make it so people just show up and buy without me having to do much?”
When you whittle down to it, this question underlines a deeper platonic ideal for a business:
A business where your work is just SO good, you don’t actively have to tell people what you do, talk yourself up, demonstrate your expertise in public, take an active part in bringing in new leads, or risk launching and making offers to your list and social feeds (and having them flop).
It’s a business where you show up whenever, clients just kind of wander in and say “I WANNA PAY YOU!” et voilà: another breezy $40k month.
Think of Me as the Coach in Your Corner
As such, I shall level with you:
That type of business, and strategy, doesn’t really exist.
There are things that can get you kinda CLOSE, of course.
Sometimes a strong referral network can FEEL like the kind of magic mentioned above. (But if you ever wanna expand your offers past services, or break into a new discipline? You’re back to the show-up drawing board.)
I’ve heard good things about folks’ webinar funnels that are set up with ads… but that can take a tremendous amount of time, effort, energy, and money to set up. And, as with any strategy, results can vary hugely. (As someone who essentially lit about $30k on fire last year on FB ads, I can tell you it’s tougher than it looks to set up showing up on autopilot.)
There’s also the scenario where your list and following are massive enough, and engaged enough, to jump on whatever you’re offering if you so much as whisper about it. (However, this type of presence takes years of concentrated show-up effort, and some seriously great content and connections, to build.)
Hate to Break It to You, But…
The fact is this: There is no road to big revenue without getting comfortable showing up and selling selling.
You can’t just “helpful content” your way into buyer action.
(Trust me on this one, a loooot of my clients are the folks who’ve tried to side-step into sales every which way beyond directly and repeatedly showing up and MAKING the offer.
Once they get to me, they’re ready to get focused and actively selling — and that’s when the needle starts to move.)
So if you’re sitting there wondering: “Wait, Hillary, you said SNEAKY launch in the headline though! That’s why I clicked on this post!“, I want you to know:
“Sneaky launching” isn’t “sneaky” because it avoids direct selling.
You’re always gonna have to directly sell.
But it’s “sneaky” because it’s a great way to get people into an offer without doing a big mega public 10-email launch.
Three Keys to My Low-Key Launch Strategy
It’s a strategy I use all the time when I’m switching up an offer, beta testing something, or seeing if I can fill up a program without a formal launch first.
Here’s how it works:
First, you’ve gotta find pockets of demand, and develop or edit an offer accordingly.
The easiest way to sneaky launch is to offer folks something they’re already thinking about and asking for.
That might mean:
- Expanding or editing an existing offer, because you see a need you can fill (i.e. offering web design oversight for a creative direction service, or an alumni group for one of your programs, or a day-long version of one of your more extensive offers for folks who have the tools in place for it.)
- Intentionally pulling out + setting up a standalone process to get PAID for the strategy you’re currently/accidentally offering clients for free (this applies to all online creatives, but copywriters in particular, I’m looking at y’all. All that customer journey, offer dev, and brand voice stuff you do? That can be its own thing.)
- Creating a package or short program that solves a problem folks ask you about over and over again (“How do you do your content like that?” “I keep stalling on my big goal, wtf do I do!?” “I need help with ___ — do you know anyone who does that?”)
Think Powerful, Agile, and Quick
Pro tip: when designing or expanding an offer to meet this need, try to avoid developing anything too unwieldy. Extensive, highly-involved, 6-month and 12-month offers are a hard sell for this kind of approach.
Think powerful fix, short timeline. Trust me on this one.
Second, you’ve gotta make the invite directly.
You can do this over email, or in the DM’s.
BUT TO WHOMST?! You may wonder.
Take a moment to consider:
- Which of your existing or recent clients would this offer be a GREAT fit for, and why? What do you see them doing, or what have they told you, that tips you off to their reason for needing this?
- When it comes to non-client leads in your orbit, it’s the same question. Are they the ones who asked you for this? Let ‘em know what inspired it (especially if they were part of the impetus), and why it’s exactly what they need based on their goals. If you’re not sure what their goals are right now btw? Ask ’em again real quick. ;)
- Would your email list or social following be into something like this? Could you send an email teasing the offer as something new you’re doing behind the scenes, with an invite to reply to get more info? (If you need a swipe for this, I gotcha. Just email email@example.com and say “Swipe plz!”)
- NOTE: if no one responds to your social post or email immediately, post/email again a day or two later. See what happens.
Keep It Short and Inject Some Urgency
No need to make it weird, but there should be some kind of genuine stakes and urgency involved.
Make the email short, sweet, and heavy on the “what’s in it for them” — with an easy way to put their hand up. Something like:
“Hey, I’ve got something I think you might be REALLY interested in. I thought of you because [REASON].
If you want more info, [REPLY TO THIS EMAIL OR DM/PEEP THIS GOOGLE DOC/HEAD TO THIS LANDING PAGE]. Sound like something you need? You can get on my cal to discuss right here. [LINK TO YOUR CAL].
If you book in before [DATE], you get [SOME KIND OF PERK]. Would love to know what you think!
So pumped already, [Clever Closing]”
Swipe My Text for Your Follow Up Plan
And third? Have a game plan to follow up with the people you reach out to.
This is where the sneaky launch so often falls apart. Folks are scared to email or message again, and thus the busy folks they’re trying to reach don’t get a second chance to see the information.
Following up, calmly and courageously, is essential to the sneaky launch process.
Don’t worry – it’s possible to do so without sounding like a desperate, lovesick Civil War widow (“Dear Friend, it has been many days since my last letter and still no reply. As fall’s fiery leaves turn to winter snows, I do think of you fondly as I write by the warmth of my hearth, and…”)
“Hey, following up here since I know how busy you are (holidays, amiright?)
Been thinking about [REASON THIS WOULD BE A GREAT FIT FOR THEM] for you since I know you’ve been considering [THING THEY’VE BEEN CONSIDERING].
No worries if plans have changed, but I’m offering [A BONUS/SPECIFIC PRICE POINT TO SWEETEN THE OFFER]!
Hope to hear from ya, [Clever Closing]”
will do just fine.
I recommend at least one follow-up, preferably two, a few days apart.
Annnnnd voila! That’s it for sneaky launch strategy!
But Do You Really Need to Sneak Around?
If you’re like:
“DAAANG Hillary, I was overcomplicating the crap out of this whole selling thing wasn’t I???” the answer is probably yes.
And it happens to literally all of us.
Over-complication is an extremely human reaction to a challenge like sales, so don’t feel alone in that at all. And I hope this streamlines things for you!
And if you’re like:
“BOOO I already kinda understood this process! I was hoping you were gonna give me a magic secret ingredient…”, then I’ve got some really good news for you:
The magic secret ingredient doesn’t exist.
And maybe, juuuuust maybe…
… This is your sign that it’s time to stop sneaking around.
Maybe it’s time to stop waiting for that magic secret ingredient to appear, start showing up in earnest, and get into the habit of making your “sneaky launching” offers and ideas public after all.
Because truly? That does tend to change everything.
I see it in my clients every single day. And it’s exactly what transformed my business, too.
So take it from me: it’s worth considering.
Just sayin’. ;)
Showing up un-sneakily yours,