Lessons from Our Most Successful Launch – Part 1

In February, after half a year of development, we finally launched our latest and most ambitious project: Thrive Themes.

The launch lasted for 10 days only and was the most successful one I’ve ever been involved in. In this and the next podcast episode, we discuss exactly what happened behind the scenes, what we put in place to make the launch as successful as it was and give you a look at the “dark side” of things, that no one ever talks about…

Read on to watch or listen to part 1…

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About the Author Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better marketer and product creator. Read more about my story here.

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  • Rick Daniel says:

    You guys still look tired. I ran a launch a few years ago that cost several thousands to create and run and had nearly zero sales. Talk about stress! But we learn.

    • Shane says:

      Ouch, sorry to hear that. I think one thing we’ve gotten quite good at is minimizing the risk with our products. It still happens that we launch something and it doesn’t do very well, but it’s been a long time since we actually lost money on a project.

  • Tyson Downs says:

    Good stuff Shane. While I don’t own this particular product I own a couple others of yours. I love your transparency and your desire to bring good stuff to the table. Keep it up man!

  • Mary Greene says:

    Thanks for the candid podcast, Shane and Paul. You just got one more vote for gradual launches to a core group with no affiliates in Phase 1.

    Who needs mindless abuse from anxious strangers? Yes, it makes you tough. Yes, it’s a rite of passage. But so is getting stabbed in the alley you should have avoided.

    It’s true, you’re showing you can keep up with big competitors. But many of those competitors have multiple employees. And other lean competitors ARE spammers working with churn and burn affiliates.

    I hope you’ll focus on building the core customers you deserve because we are repeat customers. Release with an appropriate price and warning that says customers need to be patient and won’t find perfection yet.

    Refund big-mouth complainers immediately before they spread their contagion. I have seen ONE narcissistic customer ruin a shooting star marketer who over-promised and struggled with customer support and technical challenges. Roll out the product as soon as you can, but avoid rolling out an affiliate program too soon.

    Here’s to spring and enjoying your innovative creative life again.

    • Susan O'Dea says:

      Mary said it perfectly from the start to the finish. Your name is already etched into the big time marketer list and your honesty and integrity is already implanted in my head and many others.

      There will always be complainers…and I know you know that…your head just wasn’t in the right space to wade through the mud at that moment. Put yourself there now and you’d smash it! :)

      • Shane says:

        Thank you for the vote of confidence, Susan. Much appreciated. :)

    • Shane says:

      Thank you for the encouraging comment, Mary!

      The good news is that we’re making good progress in growing the team to match the demand. So, while the launch was hard on us, I think the bottom line is still that it was a very good way for us to start the business. We’ll be able to deliver more awesome themes more quickly, since we can use the income generated from the launch to add more people to the team. I guess you could say it’s a particularly painful way to jumpstart a business.

  • Michel says:

    Awesome podcast, dudes! Thanks a lot for sharing your insights. This is the biggest thing I took away and hammered in the past year: Learn to ship regularly. It makes all the difference and results come faster than one can think. This reminds me to 52businesses.com where these guys try to create 1 business per week.
    Anyway, I wish you all the best to recover! :-)

    • Shane says:

      Thank you, Michel! The shipping focus really is incredibly important. I’ve noticed that over the past few years, I’ve gravitated more and more towards it. At this point, the only thing I care about is grinding and growing skills and the only thing I measure the skill increase by is the quality and frequency of what is being shipped.

  • Hey guys excellent podcast, I really like your intake and have been following your launch at the same time I’ve been launching my own company site. I feel what you’re saying because basically we are at the point were growing is imminent and we need to grow our team.

    Have you thought about sinking your teeth on methods of organizational communication to have everything ready for growth. Are you using any software to manage projects and tasks with your team? Are you using any method to transmit your knowledge and engage new members?

    • Shane says:

      I’ve found Asana to be a great tool for project and task management, but not everyone on my team took to it like I did. We’ve recently started using Jira for project management, but I can’t comment on that yet, until we’ve used it for a couple of months.

      Apart from that, Skype is probably the most important tool we use.

  • Sophia says:

    Love this podcast and the theme of the necessity of “keeping a positive attitude” in internet marketing.

    Also, appreciated greatly the concept of slogging, “putting one foot in front of the other,” of “the grit factor,” which is a lot like your concept of the importance of the “grind.” I love that you are talking about the challenges of a successful product launch.

    Like what Paul shared about the need to focus on the effort, the grit we show when we make an effort, whether in art, sports, or whatever, not the results.

    So many GREAT takeaways, including the need to discern when a product is really ready for launch vs. procrastinating or perfectionism due to unconscious fears (failure or whatever).

    I have gotten stuck in perfectionism, delay mode, so this podcast was really inspiring.

    Congrats on a successful launch! #happylaunch #flipandship

    • Shane says:

      Thank you, Sophia! Here’s to getting un-stuck and moving from “perfectionism” to “obsessed with shipping”. :)

  • Melanie says:

    Really enjoyed that, Shane.

    It hit home on many points and I found it immensely helpful in addressing some of the things we’re facing as we completely change and relaunch our brand.

    Thank you!

    P.S. What’s the sliding social share plugin you’re using? Is it a Thrive Themes feature?

    • Shane says:

      I’m very happy to hear that, Melanie. :)

      Yes, the social sharing thingy is a built-in Thrive Themes feature. We ended up building our own, because I had issues with all of the existing plugins I could find.

  • Hello Shane,

    You talk about perfectionism but that is often the route to disaster.

    Let me give you an example. I am a scientist and many years ago was involved in development of very complex science based products for use in laboratories. The company was run by scientists and it is natural for a scientist to know that the next development stage will be better than the current one and so will be more attractive to the market.

    Over time I realized where the company was going wrong and changed the whole approach to the development and sales concept. I convinced the company that the existing product should be sold as soon as it is ready because the incoming funds will pay for the next development and also build a client base.

    One product was introduced to an existing market simply as just another competitor to the many suppliers of similar products. Early sales did fund further development and within about six years the company’s sales of it were reaching almost 85% of the world market and today it is the most quoted product of its type in research papers from both industry and academia.

    So, sell what you have and don’t wait for the perfect development as you will never get there; somebody else will do it before you.

    Best regards,

    Peter.

    • Shane says:

      That’s a very powerful example. Who knows how much value is lost to the world because of perfectionism…

  • Doug Lietz says:

    Good stuff guys… this is the first time I’ve “met” Paul (aka Heineken Man). Listening to Part 1 of this series about the “dark side of things” reminded me of a powerful TEDtalk that I watched a while back on Vulnerability… thanks for staying the course.

    Best Quote… “…the obstacles are there to keep the competition back… all of my competitiors will have to go through this sh*t as well… and probably most of them won’t.” [At 14:29 in video]

    • Shane says:

      Thanks, Doug! Was this the talk? That’s one I really enjoyed as well.

      • Doug Lietz says:

        Yup… that’s her. She’s an awesome Researcher (Story Teller)!

  • Barney says:

    I worked tech support for many years. 95% of people were great. The other 5% made all the noise took all your time and wore you down.

    Hang in there the 95% really appreciate your hard work.

    Congratulations on a successful launch!

    • Shane says:

      That’s exactly right, unfortunately. Luckily, we also get to hear from the 95% occasionally and that helps keep us going.

  • Liz Azyan says:

    Hi Shane,

    I’m so sorry to hear that you had a lot of complaints. I’m your customer for this product and I was surprised to hear your experience. I think the product is great and the support is amazing. Of course, there are some things that don’t work but it’s really sometimes an isolated problem and as a customer, sometimes you gotta weigh the pros and cons. You’ll never get a PERFECT product. I think the product is great and you should definitely not let this weigh you down and keep positive! There are not a lot of IMer’s that I respect and write to or comment on, but I definitely felt that I needed to let you know. Keep up the great work! And YOU SHOULD BE HAPPY!

    Liz

  • Mike Hartrich says:

    Things always take longer. You guys are trustworthy. That’s why I’m sticking with you and your products. I enjoy the absence of internet guru hype. Syau on it. You are well on your way to success.

  • Gun Hudson says:

    This podcast episode was incredibly valuable to me…!

    So so awesome that you both did a post-launch summary of the difficulties and challenges you faced both technically during the launch and personally/ emotionally. Much respect!

    So many gold nuggets- I also loved everything mentioned by everyone above.
    A takeaway in particular that I wrote down was when it seems like everyone is complaining/ hating on you, do the actual maths on how many people are complaining versus how people are quietly enjoying what you’re creating, and focus on the ‘quietly happy’ percentage %.

    Shared with quite a few people, thanks and loving the podcast :)

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