Episode 129

Cheaper than Facebook ads? Debrief of my craziest launch ever

Last week I gave away 1000 copies of my 2022 Courageous Content Planner in a ‘postage only’ offer.

 

While I knew the offer would be popular, I didn’t expect it to blow up my social media accounts - or crash my website. Nor did I predict the post about it on my Facebook Page would go ‘viral’ - with more than 34k views and 3.5k comments. 

 

In this episode of the Courageous Content Podcast I share the story behind my craziest launch ever. And what happened when I was courageous enough to share something that hadn’t gone as planned in my business (it might surprise you).  

 

Key Links

Janet Murray’s Courageous Content Planner

Janet Murray’s Courageous Content Live event

Janet Murray’s Courageous Planner Launch Content Kit

Janet Murray’s Courators Club

Janet Murray's Courageous Blog Content Kit

Save £30 on my Courageous Email Lead Magnet Content Kit using the code MAGNET67.

Save £30 on my Business Basics Content Kit using the code PODCAST67.

Save £30 on my Courageous Launch Content Kit using the code PODCAST67.

Janet Murray’s Courators Kit

Janet Murray’s FREE Ultimate Course Launch Checklist


Shady practices to watch out for in the online business (podcast)

Is it time to shake up the online coaching industry? (podcast)

The obsession with 6 and 7 figure businesses (and how it could be harming yours) (podcast)

Janet Murray’s website

Janet Murray on Facebook

Janet Murray on Facebook

Janet Murray on LinkedIn

Janet Murray on Twitter

Janet Murray on TikTok

Transcript

IMPORTANT: THIS TRANSCRIPT IS AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED. WE GIVE IT A QUICK CHECK THROUGH BUT WE DON’T CORRECT EVERYTHING AS IT’S INTENDED TO HELP YOU FIND PARTS YOU WANT TO LISTEN TO AGAIN - NOT AS AN EXACT TRANSCRIPT. SO THERE MIGHT BE A FEW QUIRKY WORDS/PHRASES HERE!

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Now last week I gave away a thousand copies of my 2022 courageous content planner in a postage only offer. While I knew this offer would be popular. I didn't expect it to blow up my social media accounts or crashed my website, nor did I predict that the post about it on my Facebook page would go rival with more than 34,000 views and three and a half thousand comments.

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I'm Janet Murray. I'm a content and online business strategist. And in this episode, I share the story behind my craziest launch ever. And what happened when I was courageous enough to share something that hadn't gone to plan in my business, why share it might surprise you you'll find out why I decided to do the planner giveaway, how I launched the offer in just four hours.

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What I learned from the experience and why it reminded me about the importance of honesty and integrity in business. So it all started in my team meeting last Tuesday. I have a meeting with my team every Tuesday at 11:00 AM, cause you really needed to know that, but in this meeting, the subject of it, my planners came up again, specifically, what we were going to do about the planner is because although my 2022 courageous content planner has sold well,

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we've sold thousands. Sales are up 25% on last year, but we were still down on projected sales. And my printers had been in touch to say they had 500 of my plan is in stock. And given the fact it was now the end of March, or then the end of March, I should say they were asking if I wanted to dispose of them.

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Now, if you haven't heard of my courageous content planner, it's a beautiful A4 desk planner. And it's hardback. Why bound this year. It really is a beautiful product, but it's not just a content planner that you can put on your desk. That looks beautiful. It's a tool, it's a resource it's called a content plan. So you know what to post where,

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and when it contains thousands of content, ideas and prompts, including awareness days. So you don't have to think about what to post. And there's also templates for annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily planning. So you can stay consistent with your content and open say, it's not just a planner. I actually teach you how to plan your content in it.

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What type of content to post, how often to post. And I also include a free online masterclass, which shows you how to use it. And this year, it even has stickers and who doesn't love a sticker. So why should I decide to give so many planners away and how did it happen? Well, it's fair to say, that's my kind of sales.

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Haven't gone to plan this year, if you excuse the pun and for ethical reasons. And also because I probably get sued, I can't really tell you exactly why I believe this is the case and what happened while I'm typically the person to put my hands up. If I think I've paid a mistake, I don't think I did here. I didn't put an order in for a silly number of planners.

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I wouldn't be able to sell. I did what I do every single year. I placed an order based on projected sales, using real data. So that was the sales from previous years. What I can tell you is that I think I may have seen an upturn in sales last year due to the pandemic because everybody was stuck at home. Certainly I saw that with my online event,

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ticket sales of all of the years, that it could happen, what my printers seem to have. Overprinted by as much as we think, maybe a couple of hundred copies and how that happens, we think is usually in any batch of planners, there's a few Duff boxes, if you damaged boxes. And we usually have to ask them to do a reprint of a few,

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but we kept counting them. And somehow we seem to have we've thought at least a hundred, if not 200, so that didn't help. But the real problem is the one that I can't really share with you. But it's fair to say that I hadn't done anything silly, like just audit a lot of planners without using previous data to predict sales. There was definitely some things that were not out of my control,

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but due to decisions that I made, that I couldn't reverse once I'd made them. And that's about all I can say, but due to decisions that I made in good faith, that didn't lead to the best results. And that's about as much as I can say, without being unethical, what was really gutting this year is that we'd improve the product so much.

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We've made it hard back to make it more durable. And I'd really thought about how to solve a problem that people talk to me about all the time. And I also think I've got as close as I possibly can to really solving people's problems with content. Because the thing people used to say to me all the time is just want somebody to tell me what to post,

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where, and when. And I've talked about this many times on the podcast before, if it was as easy as me writing a load of social media posts and giving them to business owners, oh, I wish it was because I would be a multimillionaire. I would just wait social media posts for people all day and sell them. And that will be wonderful,

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but that will be unethical of me to do so because we can't all publish the same social media posts because we all have different ideal customers and clients. And we all have different audiences, different messages are going to resonate with those audiences. So we can't all just cut and paste and publish the same thing I have developed in my content kits. I've got templated,

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social media posts, and I've got scripts and templates that will help you to record videos. They're kind of like fill in the blanks. I try and get as close as I can, but the thing we can't get away from is the fact that we all have our own business, our own audience, our own customers and clients. So we can't just publish the same stuff.

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Unfortunately, however, I had developed my four by four content strategy. So I'd come up with a really repeatable strategy, which is about pasting four sights of content four days a week. Those four stars on using trends, inspire community educates. And it's really given a lot of people who have struggled with consistency, a framework to start with. Most people do that for a while.

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And then they start to create their own pattern, their own strategy or approach to their content, but it gets a lot of people off the blank page. I was really proud of feeling like I had really nailed that. And that's where the stickers came from. Actually the case. We created these stickers for the full size of content and people love the stickers.

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And the thing was that I'm not sure to marketing ideas. I could spend all day thinking of clever ways to sell planners and my team weren't short of ideas either. The problem was my planners are normally sold out or nearly sold out by the end of January. Definitely no later than mid February. And it means that we can move on to other things.

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They, by the middle of February, I'm onto next year's planner working on other products and services. But as we still had a good chunk of planners left, it was taking me away from other things. And I could see it was impacting on my sales in Q1 because I kept having to go back and come up with campaigns and ideas to sell planners,

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which I normally wouldn't have to do in the first quarter of the year added to that. Lisa, who does my planner fulfillment handed her notice in, we have looked at using a fulfillment house before, and we almost did it this year, but we decided not to because we'd like to ensure the quality. So Lisa was still fulfilling all of the orders personally by hand,

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which is why we get so few mistakes, I think. And she's decided that she's moving on, she's a contractor, but she's got a full-time role somewhere else as though not only was I thinking about all of these planners and of course there was no way they were being disposed of or going in a that just made me feel sick, even thinking about it.

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But I also had this added challenge of, well, even if we were to sell a load of planners throughout the year, who's going to fulfill them. I'm going to have to find somebody. Lisa has been doing this for years. She's got it running like a well-oiled machine. Not only to have a load of flatters to move along, but I also have to deal with the headache now of finding someone to do the fulfillment.

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And I've been in business long enough now to know that you can't let pride get in the way of profit. And when you're saying to yourself, you can think of a million ways to generate 20,000. That was around the kind of sales that we were looking for. You know, you've got to take action and you can't keep working on something. That's actually costing you money elsewhere in your business.

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Just to save face. When I said to my team in this meeting, I think we should just do a postage only offer. We should get rid of in the nicest possible way. These kinds of, as soon as possible, it sparks what I call it. Could you just conversation? And they were saying, well, could you just do this offer?

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Or could you just do this kind of campaign? And although well-intentioned and some lovely ideas, all of them involved me spending hours of time creating new content. It involved me paying my designer to design new collateral, none of which made sense. And at that moment, I knew that the best possible thing I could do as a business owner, the smartest move I could make,

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or as to get those planners in the hands of my ideal customers and clients three months into the air, only nine months left of what is an amazing planner. But bond court has already gone very common for planners to be discounted, but we'd already done a discounted offer the week before it had been okay, but it, wasn't going to shift 500 planners in a couple of days.

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And that's what I wanted to happen. When I make a decision, I can move really quickly. So we came out of that meeting. It was longer than usual. It was about 1230. And we had the offer open at five 30 and that involved creating some social media posts, it involved, writing a specific email. And we decided to start specifically with people.

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Who'd already bought a planner and it also involved creating a new messenger bot flows. So we use a messenger bot for my marketing. It's very clever. If you've been on my Facebook page or Instagram account, you'll see that you can just type a key word and it will deliver you a podcast, or it will deliver you the link to a webinar, or it will deliver you the link to something that you want to buy from me.

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It's very clever, but of course you do need to build out the flows that allow that to happen. So Sasha, who deals with that in my team, she started work on that about four 30 in the afternoon. I went into my creators club membership and I thought, I just want to share this with my clients, people who I've already got a good relationship with and know me well,

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just to see what they say and just see what they come back with. So I shared it with them first about four 30 and their responses were quite interesting, very supportive, very positive, but they were all, again, things that involved lots of time and particularly on my part. So things like could you make a list of all the charities and reach out to the media and communications people there and offer them a free planner.

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Could you just make a list of all the business schools in the UK and reach out and ask them if they want a planner and not only did that mean days of work and it would have been me that would have ended up doing it. I just know it was days of work for me, but days of work to reach out to people that aren't actually my ideal clients.

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So it didn't feel like a good use of my time to get my planners in the hands of people that I wouldn't be looking to sell them to primarily. I mean, I do sell planners to people who work in charities. Absolutely. But they're not my ideal customer or client. They're not top of my list. It's not who I'm thinking about when I'm writing my marketing copy.

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And I think my clients were worried on my behalf about, but mutation. And whether me saying that I still had the, all these planners to sell would damage my reputation. They're lovely people. And I think that's where they were coming from, but I already knew that that's what I was going to do. And I knew it's the right thing to do.

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And I knew it was the best business decision. So just took notes of what they were saying and how they were saying it. And some of their responses, it was just useful for me to see how they was one dead, but an hour later, I put the post out on my Facebook page and that's when things went mad. I said to people,

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please share it. We also sent an email out. My email list is 24,000. I think it is at the moment. And only a section of my audience. Those who'd invested in planners got these emails, or it didn't go out to my full list, but things just basically went mad. I am a run leader and I've been helping on a couch to 5k running program.

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So I went off at six o'clock. I think it was at six 30 to do my one leading. I forgot to turn my notifications off. And my phone was buzzing, the whole Wayfair. And I was wondering around with this girl who is getting right to the end of her 5k and chatting away to her. And I could hear my phone buzzing.

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And I was thinking about the planner that's about the planner, but I couldn't do anything. And by the time we'd finished and wrapped up, I think it was about eight o'clock. By the time I got home and Julie on my team said the website's calmed down. What should I do? What should I do after it kept going down repeatedly. And people were messaging on Instagram,

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Facebook everywhere to say that my site was down and they were panicking. They wouldn't get a copy. We ended up having to get my developer out of bed. She was out of the country and it was asleep to fix the problem. And after she said to me, why didn't you tell me that you were going to do this? Because I could have increased the,

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whatever it was I needed to do on my website to accommodate the increased traffic. I said, I didn't expect that was going to happen. I knew it would be popular. And I had no doubt. We would sell 500 very, very quickly. I didn't realize it would crash my website. I didn't realize my team would have to jump on. I think it's a Tuesday evening and deal with all the inquiries while I was out running.

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If I'd known that I probably would have arranged to stay at home, it was all a bit unexpected. So what did I say in my post? Well, I was really honest and I explained that I had unexpectedly these planners that I needed to move along and I definitely did not want to dispose of them. It just felt criminal when there were people out there who could use them.

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And I explained honestly that I could have tried to save face by quietly getting rid of the planners, but I felt there was so much rubbish going on in the online space. And so many untruths, so many coverups. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. And every time I thought about the planners being phone away, I imagined the skip in my head full of planners.

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And it just made me feel sick by lunchtime, the Wednesdays. So bear in mind, this offer went live at five 30 on the Tuesday. We were very close to selling out of those 500 that we've made available. So we put a pause on sales so we could do a stock check. Lisa found the printers and it mostly actually had 700, not 500.

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And we managed between us because I had some in my home office and she had some her place and the, we actually scrambled together another 300. So I posted on my Facebook page to say that we would be opening up the offer again at 8:00 PM in the evening, by that stage, we already had a wait list. So when we pause the sales at lunchtime,

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not knowing whether we would have any more to sell and how many we changed the message to invite people, to join the wait list. And by the time sales opens 8:00 PM on the Wednesday, I think there were 250 people on the wait list. So we sent an email just to those on the wait list, posted on Facebook and Instagram to say the sales were open again.

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And they were all gone by the following morning. So what did I learn from this experience? Well, first of all, it was a strong reminder that pride comes before a fall and pride comes before profits. I could have tried to save face by quietly disposing of those planners and I didn't want to, because it's wrong, it's wrong to waste like that in my eyes anyway,

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but also I do feel there are so many coverups and so many untruths in the online space and as a, a new or developing business owner, it can feel like everyone else is doing so well and nothing ever goes wrong for anyone else. And people never make bad decisions or have to deal with the impacts of poor service or have to deal with the consequences of other people's mistakes or misjudgments.

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So I want to be honest about that and reassure people that even when you've been doing it for years, that it's not all perfect. I think that's an important message to share. And it was interesting because people were saying that I was kind to do this offer and I was very honest and upfront. I actually put a post on my Facebook page where I said,

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look, I'm not kind well, I am kind, but not in the way that you think I am. I'm also experienced and savvy at business. So I know that the very best thing that I can do at the moment is get these beautiful planners in the hands of my ideal customers or clients, because I know that's a percentage of those people will love their planner and will invest next year.

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They will tell their friends about it. They'll start listening to my podcast. They'll come to my event. I knew it was the absolute best thing that I could do. And I remember Riley observing to myself that it was cheaper than Facebook ads because when we were doing the pre-launch for my planner, which had gone amazingly well with sold 45,000 pounds worth of planners and planner products in seven days back in August, 2091 in the list-building work that we did for that,

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we created a special lead magnet, and that was being promoted in June or July ahead of the play launch. We were generating new leads from between about, I think it was a one pound 30 to one pounds, 80 and leads. So we weren't generating needs specifically with the planner in mind, sending out a thousand planners to ideal clients and customers. And my pace was being shared in Facebook groups for business owners.

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I could tell by the type of people that were responding, that they were all certainly a good chunk of them were my ideal customers and clients. Then that's probably cheaper than that ad campaign. The only cost for me was my team's time. So remember we worked very quickly. So there was a few hours work on the Tuesday afternoon and Lisa for her fulfillment,

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which she would have had to do anyway, I'd already budgeted for her to fulfill that many planners. So they were costs I was already expecting to pay. Anyway. So as a lead generation activity, it was actually pretty good to the point that a couple of people come and said that they wanted, whether it was a scam or effects. It really wasn't a clever way to generate new leads because when people were coming into their messenger bot to ask about the planner,

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we were also telling them about my podcast, asking them if they wanted to download free resources, which of course they were free to do none of those things or just some of those things never any obligation for me, but it was a great lead generation exercise. It was also a reminder that honesty and authenticity go a long way. I had so many positive comments from people saying,

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thank you for your honesty. There is so much guff in the online space. And so many people posting about how wonderful they are and how many sales they're making that it's refreshing for somebody to be honest about something, not going perfectly and time will tell, but I don't think it's damaged my reputation while I wasn't able to share the details of why I think it happened.

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And to really explain why I don't think it was bad judgment on my part in this case, there have definitely been times I have made bad business judgment. It's just that this didn't happen to be one of them. But now I think that if anything, it may have increased my reputation or certainly increased it amongst those people who matter. Somebody posted on one of my Facebook posts that wasn't,

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I worried that it would impact on sales next year. And of course I thought about that a lot. And I thought to myself, well, what's the worst thing that can happen. So the worst thing that can happen is that I get some freeloaders who grab a copy of my planner and they don't like it. And maybe I also get some people who quite liked the planner,

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but wouldn't buy one at full price. So when they go on sale next year, they might wait until the end of March to buy one in case I do it again, which is fairly unlikely that I will certainly what I will do next year is do shorter print runs, which can be a little bit more expensive. But I think it's probably a better way to go.

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I'm not worried about that because the kind of person who would wait until the end of the first quarter of the year to invest in a planner that they do find useful. That's not my ideal client. Someone who isn't willing to invest less than 50 pounds in themselves and their business in the hope that maybe they might get something that they find really useful free.

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That isn't my ideal client. So if there's a few of those people, who've got a copy of my planner. Well, maybe they'll tell their friends about it and share it on social media. And that will attract more of the right people towards me, but I'm not worried about losing those people. Were there any downsides? The only thing I'd say was that,

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although I've seen an increase in the engagement on my Facebook page, which has been amazing downloads at my podcasts have gone up and we use my messenger bot on my Facebook page. When we promote a podcast, people can post in the comments to get delivered that link, which is great. And that's going like gangbusters, which is brilliant. Looking at some of the comments I can see.

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There are a few freeloaders, the kind of people who don't value investing in training, baby birds, my friend, Jessica Lorimer calls, these people, baby birds. They, the kind of people who take all your free content take, take, take, take, take, and then get outraged when you try to sell them something. And I can see there are a few people like that,

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but there's people like that in my audience. The majority of people I'm saying I've real businesses that they care about, and I'm not seeing a ton of those freeloader type people who will never invest in anything, but you always get them. Anyway. One mistake we did make actually was we actually held last year's postage costs this year for the planner, because the packaging that we were using,

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which has resulted in less damage planners this year, because getting a product like that out in the post without getting it damaged, it does require some consideration about how you send it. And we've improved on that as the years have gone on, but I actually put the postage up, but we held the postage at last year's prices because we didn't want to hit people where there was quite a big jump.

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And when we put this banner offer on sale, we forgot to change the postage to what it should be. And when we calculated, Lisa came back to me and said, if we send them first class, that would actually cost you 2000 pounds. So we decided to send them second class. So they're going to take a little bit longer to get there,

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but that's the only mistake I think so only time will tell I've created some podcasts episodes recently, which have really been highlighting some of the, not so great practices in the industry. A couple of you might want to listen to our scammy practices to watch out for in the online business space. I'll link to that one in the show notes. And is it time to shake up the online coaching industry?

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Do you care if I have a six or seven figure business are linked to those two? So I just wanted to show up with as much honesty and integrity as I possibly can. And to reassure you that things aren't always perfect in my world. Sometimes I have to make difficult decisions, but to also show you the bigger picture, it would have been easy and tempting.

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I think for lots of business owners to try and hide this, but that's not a good business decision. And ultimately when you're running a business, you can't let your pride get in the way you have to think about profits. You have to think about money. And I think people really appreciate that. So I hope you found this a helpful insight and you've benefited from hearing about my craziest and unexpected launch ever as ever.

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I do love hearing from you and the best place to connect with me is on Instagram. I'm at Jan Murray UK, and I'd love to know what you thought of this episode.

About the Podcast

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Courageous Content with Janet Murray
Content marketing advice for small businesses

About your host

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Janet Murray

I’m Janet Murray and I’ve helped thousands of coaches, creative and entrepreneurs learn how to create engaging content – so they can build their online audience and make more sales in their business.

I’m also a podcaster and keynote speaker who has spoken all over the world about content marketing and building online audiences.

Work with me and I’ll teach you the strategies I’ve used to grow a multi six figure online business, selling digital products (including Ebooks, online courses and two membership sites). And launch a physical product – the Social Media Diary & Planner, which has sold thousands of copies, all over the world.