How to Launch a Really Successful Product (without affiliates)

by Jonathan Goodman | Follow on Twitter

The 12 Largest Bang for Your Buck Elements of a $299,962.15 Launch With No Affiliates

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IN OCTOBER OF 2015 I ran an information product launch. With no affiliates and a $3,012.37 ad spend it grossed $299,962.15 with a profit of $285,433.38. The funds are being used to further grow my platform (the Personal Trainer Development Center) and increase its impact.

In this case the product is a course but the following can be applied to the release of any information product including Ebooks, courses, paperback books, and new patient programs.

Instead of repeating the basic tenants of a launch you can find on countless sites, I’ve decided to instead focus on the 12 biggest bang for your buck elements. What you’ll find below is a description of each element that resulted in a disproportionately large benefit for the amount of effort and/or money invested. I expect that many of them are tweaks to something you’re already doing.

At the end of the article I’ve also included one place where I screwed up.

It’s my hope that you pick up at least one golden nugget or tip that you can use to improve your impact moving forward.

Note: For reference, the course in question is called “1K Extra: How to Build an Efficient and Scalable Online Training Business”. It’s closed right now but there’s a waiting list growing at 50-100 emails a day using many of the methods below at

1. Establish social proof on a trusted outside platform

Using the information in the course I put together a 58-page Kindle book. Having it on Amazon with positive reviews helped prove I’m an authority on the subject of online personal training and give a value to the book that’s also used as an ethical bribe (this is how the waiting list grows so quickly).

This Kindle book is offered for free as the opt-in bribe for people to join the waiting list of the program. A blog post that I wrote teaching trainers how to build an online personal training business is an example of the emphasis on the value proposition I can now make. Anybody can go to Amazon, see it’s a real thing, read the positive reviews, and decide whether they want to pay $7.99 for it or get it for free in exchange for their email (the answer is a no-brainer).

Notes on point 1:

  • Amazon’s a trusted platform. Take advantage of it. Screenshot the book there with the reviews on your opt-in page as an element of social proof.
  • Begin a heavy free book promo a week before your prelaunch for an added push.
  • Save your Kindle as a .pdf (I use Scrivener) and include a page at the beginning explaining the free book and teasing your course (both for readers and those who pass it on).

The first page of the free book used in the promotion. Only job was to alert readers that there's a thorough course. Simple and effective.

This appears on the first page of the free book used in the promotion. It’s only job was to alert readers that there’s a course on this stuff.

2. Self-perpetuating promotion

The aforementioned book was used as a bribe to get awesome trainers to enter their emails. Once they confirmed they were given a one-time chance to get another gift, our Instagram operations document, on the thank you page. This resulted in 1,814 Facebook shares and 1,147 shares on Twitter.

Facebook and Twitter shares of our squeeze page in exchange for the Instagram operations document.

Facebook and Twitter shares of our squeeze page in exchange for the Instagram operations document.


Hard to say how many direct leads this generated but this simple tactic created a self-perpetuating viral spread all leading back to our squeeze page.

Notes on point 2:

  • I use a social sharing plugin called Social Locker that allows me to protect a piece of content in exchange for a share.
    • Make sure that you make the text and picture that’s shared on Twitter or Facebook appealing to new users. You set this in the Social Locker back end. Attempt to reply personally to every tweet (I got annihilated but did a pretty good job responding to everybody telling them that I hope they enjoy the book).
  • The giveaway needs to be simple, something that adds to the original bribe (but isn’t missing information from it), time-relevant, only be interesting to your desired audience, and it should help the user get a small win.
    • The instagram doc met all of the above criteria. The sell was “Instagram is the best place to get new training clients right now.” The document is two pages and lays out specific steps to follow for a user to immediately gain targeted followers. It’s also the sort of thing that anybody can use to get tons of new targeted followers right away. By allowing the user to get a win before the sale for the product started I’ve established trust.

3. Include a social pic to comment on in the first email

I got this tip from my friend Stu and applied it to my situation. At the end of the first email in my launch I wanted to engage people, learn more about them, and add to the promotion.

The day before the email was to go out I uploaded the picture below to the PTDC’s Facebook page. It included a sell to join the launch with the text,

“This week I’ll be sending a host of info! Join me to discover the best tips for building an efficient and scalable online training business:”

In the first launch email I asked people to tell me why they wanted to earn an extra $1,000/month and the difference it would make in their lives. I asked that they comment on the pic and linked to it. This was done for 3 reasons:

  • Social proof / community: People in the launch can see and meet others in similar situations.
  • Increase organic reach of my call to join the launch: The picture was shown to more people organically in Facebook once the comments started rolling.
  • Research: The people going through the launch told me precisely how the course I was about to sell them could change their lives.

This is the pic:

You can view the pic, see the status, and view the comments on Facebook here. I'll also admit that I screwed this up. I moved the picture to the 1K Extra photo album on Facebook 12hours or so after the email. This meant that the link in the email was broken. Stupid. It cost me 150-200 comments by my estimation.

You can view the pic, see the status, and view the comments on Facebook here.

I’ll also admit that I screwed this up. I moved the picture to the 1K Extra photo album on Facebook 12hours or so after the email was sent. This meant that the link in the email was broken. Stupid. It cost me 150-200 comments by my estimation. Regardless, this still worked extremely well.

***I’ve created a swipe file of all emails sent during the prelaunch and launch. Simply enter your email below and I’ll send them to you with some critical analysis throughout.

Click here to the page where this article originally ran and enter in your email to get the swipe:


4. Calling case studies “stories”

You’re not selling a product, you’re selling a transformation. Respecting connotation of language is important. A case study shows how somebody uses your product, a story tells how their lives have changed.

I did a short interview with one female and one male to tell their story. They both benefitted from my course but I made sure to focus the conversation on how the trajectory of their lives have been changed.

You can see the page where I feature the stories here.

Notes on point 4

  • In the free book there’s also at least one link to an example of a trainer actively implementing each suggestion or tactic, so there’s a lot more than two examples of success stories provided far before the sales page (where there’s a few dozen).
  • If you don’t have success stories yet, get some before you sell. How else do you know whether or not whatever you’re selling works? If it’s brand new form a beta group of 20 people to test out the program for free or low cost in exchange for feedback.

5. Have a reason for your price

With no precedent for cost, pricing strategy is important. The more clear-cut a reason for your price the better. It should help a user justify price and also help in your guarantee. My course costs anywhere from $700-$900 depending on whether they choose a payment plan, pay in full, digital, or physical.

In all cases the price is below $1,000. The promise of my program is $1,000 extra a month. In the sales copy then I can ask the question, “would you spend $1,000 today to make an extra $1,000 every month moving forward?” The obvious answer is yes. Additionally, it helps to make a strong guarantee. In my example, “if, by the end of your first 60 days, you’re not making 1K Extra (more than your entire investment) then you email my team and we’ll send you all of your money back, no-questions asked.”

Make it an obvious no-brainer. Your price communicates that.

6. Live chat with canned responses

I was surprised at how much the live chat was used. It seemed like many people simply wanted to speak to a human being before buying. That’s cool, I’m glad that we had it and think it made a big difference. I set up purechat and paid for their “starter” package for a month.

Next, I entered in canned responses to all anticipated questions. My adminstrative overlord, Courtney, and I shared duties logged in providing support during work hours. Armed with the canned responses she could answer almost anything. For more nuanced questions she passed the question to me via email and told the cool person on the other end that I’d get back within 24hrs.

Notes on point 6

  • We had the program running in the background all day and it buzzed if somebody asked a question. If I had to leave my computer I’d text Courtney and vice-versa.
  • Right after an email went out there was an influx of support requests. I texted Courtney the times that the emails were going out and we both tried to be logged in for an hour or two after. Being prepared helped us shoulder the load during heavier times.

7. Free shipping on physical

My fulfillment costs are extraordinarily high for the physical package.

Vervante does a great job printing and shipping but a single package shipped internationally costs me upwards of $80. Seriously. Again, the pricing strategy comes into play.

I charge an extra $100 for the physical package but offer free worldwide shipping. Amazon learned years ago that free shipping reduced a lot of purchase friction. Taking this lesson to heart proved fruitful.

8. Retargeting ads

Basically all of our ad spend was in retargeting. We simply retarget users “up the chain”.

If somebody hits the squeeze page and doesn’t enter his or her email, that user will see ads in Facebook and across Google for the squeeze page. If people hit the sales page but don’t buy, they get sent back to the sales page. If people hit the checkout page and don’t buy, they get sent back to the checkout page saying that there’s still an item in the cart.

Retargeting is the most profitable form of advertising. Because of how well the initial promotion was as a result of many of my points above we focused on retargeting ads and taking care of existing users going through the launch. At the end there was 75-110 sales of $700+ with a $3,012.37 ad spend. Do the math.

Notes on point 8

  • Because I’ve spent years building up a sizeable audience I chose not to use paid advertising to get new users into the funnel. If you don’t have a big Facebook page and email list you may need to use paid ads to get initial users into your funnel. Nail down your ethical bribe and perpetual promotion engine (steps 1 and 2) to get the most value on your dollar.

9. 3 emails on closing day

Morning, afternoon, and night. There was no way anybody was going to miss the day we closed the sale. With just over 13,000 leads still in the launch, the open rate stayed consistent with all 3 emails and there was 1 total complaint.

Notes on point 9

  • Closing means closing. People had tons of opportunity to buy. I didn’t honor a single request to buy after the closing date. Yes I lost out on easy sales but I also maintained trust and eliminated likely bad customers from buying my stuff.

10. Turn a disadvantage into an advantage

Full transparency. People follow those they like and buy from those they trust. Trust is everything.

If you have any kind of potential disadvantage in the marketplace put it out into the world as an advantage. In my case my potential disadvantage is that I’ve never personally trained anybody online. I didn’t want word of this to get out and people think that I was hiding the point from them.

I sent an email openly admitting that I’ve never trained a client online and explained why this is actually an advantage. “In the trenches” experience is good. Working with 1000’s of trainers from all walks of life and compiling all of their experiences into one program is better.

***To see how I tactfully turned my potential disadvantage into an advantage and the rest of the emails from the launch, simply enter your email below and I’ll send them to you with some critical analysis throughout:

Click here to the page where this article originally ran and enter in your email to get the swipe:


11. Prove the refund

Lots of people have had bad experiences purchasing information products or programs online. It’s too bad but a reality that I need to deal with. Also, buying decisions are more often a result of believing that the product isn’t crap or that the person isn’t getting ripped off than they are believing that the product is awesome.

Every sales page has a guarantee. A regular one is good. A specific one with guidelines (i.e. “if you haven’t made your first extra $1,000 (more than the cost of the entire program) within 60 days email me for a full refund”) is great. Adding an actual email and reply from somebody asking for and getting a refund, well, that’s a remarkable trust element.

12. The 9-word magic email

This tactic was passed along from my friend Giovanni who I believe got it from Dean Jackson. The day before the cart closes send an email with subject “hey” and email body, “Are you still interested in _____ {product name linked to sales page}?” and sign off. Don’t add or change anything. Nothing. I know you want to. But don’t. Don’t screw with this.

A word of warning here – block off your entire day because you’re going to get slammed with responses and you better be responding to each one. This email is meant to do one thing: get everybody who has a question, reservation, or thought to reach out to you. It’s magic.

Notes on point 12:

  • Respond personally to every email. In my case I stopped counting at 225 responses but exceeded my email send limit of 500 by the end of the day.
  • Set up a workflow that makes responding easier. You’ll get 3 types of emails: “yes”, “no”, or a question. Have canned responses to personalize for each.

Bonus – Where I made a mistake

I had a simple, stupid blip and it’s because I listened to the loud few and ignored my research. Let me explain.

I don’t sell miracles. My program helps trainers make a bit more in a bit less time. $1,000 extra a month. Sure some students make more, but most don’t have that as a goal. My team and I did a lot of research and found that the overwhelming majority of my audience simply wants to make $500-$1,500 extra. Not six-figures or millions.

During the launch I got a few emails from people asking if they could make a lot more than $1,000 extra, like upwards of 50k/month. The loud often don’t represent the masses. Anyway, I sent an email with the subject, “can you make more than 1K Extra?” Crickets. It was the worst performing email by far. If it did convince anybody to buy they would likely refund. The program isn’t for them.

Trust your research. Know who your product is for and who it isn’t for.

About the Author
Jonathan Goodman

Jonathan Goodman is the co-creator of theNDDC and creator of thePTDC, the largest collaborative site for people looking to how to become a personal trainer. He is the author of Ignite the Fire. Jon maintains a personal blog where he speaks about business, the Internet, life, and everything in between at Viralnomics.