PP 018: Launch with Ease with Kristina Shands

Executing a successful product or program launch requires extensive planning, productivity and preparation. In our chat, Kristina Shands and I discuss the activities and tools an entrepreneur need to successfully launch without losing sanity.

Executing a successful product or program launch requires extensive planning, productivity and prep. Kristina Shands and I discuss the activities and tools an entrepreneur needs to successfully launch. https://thekimsutton.com/pp018/ #podcastClick To Tweet

Episode Transcription

KIM: I am so excited to have Kristina Shands here today. She is a launch specialist and copywriter at Launch with Ease, and I am just thrilled and so excited to hear launch stories and tips and trials and tribulations and laughter and all of that. So, welcome Kristina!

KRISTINA SHANDS: Aw, thank you so much, I’m excited to be here with you!

KIM: I would love to hear about how you started your business, who you love working with.

KRISTINA SHANDS: Absolutely. So, I started my business six years ago. I was working as a fundraiser for a nonprofit, and one day, things were going great. We were talking about next year’s budget; we were talking about landing a huge million-dollar grant. And then the next day I walk in, and my boss like, “We lost the grant, and you’re the only person can go, so goodbye.”

So literally within 24 hours I was at the highest point in my career to the absolute lowest. And I thought, never again will I allow someone else to tell me or know how to run my life or what to do, because all of a sudden, I had no income. I had nothing. I was like “Oh, this is not good.”

I was not in control of my life. And so I started off as a fundraising consultant, and then I was doing non-profit communications and nonprofit social media, just as a freelancer. I really did enjoy social media and that led to a little more copywriting. And I ended up taking a course from someone who has a couple of online businesses that are in the multimillion-dollar area.

And so, I was on a call with her and she mentioned was looking for—she mentioned she was looking for a junior copywriter. And I was like, “Hey, I think I could do it. Do you mind?”

And so, I just kind of tested it out with her, and ended up working really well as a copywriter with her. I learned from her and learned from her team, and she was doing a launch after launch after launch – she was someone who launches consistently, between her two businesses. And so I got to watch. Not only was I learning copywriting skills, and really persuasive copy, and how to write sales pages in sales, you know, but also how she launches these multiple six-figure programs. And so I just learned so much from being in the middle of it.

And then from there, I was like, “You know, I think I can do this.”

As a copywriter it makes – you know, I was already working on sales copy for other entrepreneurs. And I would say…  you know,  “This sales copy is… What if you were to do this?”

And so little by little I started doing little teensy launches, whether it was a social media for some launches. So I was just community building – online community building – and social media challenges. And then I would handle a small launch and then I’d handle bigger launches. So it just kind of grew out of, “I think I could handle this. Let me try.”

And so you know, I’ve worked all different sizes of launches and all the affiliates and social media to handling every aspect of it, and what I really love doing ,and who I really love working with are, entrepreneurs that are launching for the first time. So they have a one-on-one program and they’re launching a great program, or an online course, and they’re really just getting out there for the first time. And what I love about that is that I get to really watch them grow in their business.

They – you know, launching really forces you to get clear about your messaging. You really have a strong voice because you’re being seen a lot more than you ever thought possible. You’re writing a lot more, so your voice needs to get clearer and clearer, or else you’re not going to draw in the right audience.

And then you know a successful launch brings so much confidence to a business, and that’s why I love working with first-time launchers, and launchers who are wanting to maybe go from a five-figure launch to a six-figure launch, and they’re wanting to do it with a little bit more ease and a little more flow and alignment. And maybe they’re bringing on – you know – a small team to help. And so it’s really a lot of fun just to watch them find their voice, gain their confidence and really see what it looks like to be in complete alignment with their messaging and their marketing.

KIM: That’s so huge. Do you think, is confidence like the biggest hurdle – or what you think is the biggest hurdle?

KRISTINA SHANDS: It totally is. Finding your voice and being willing to be visible is huge, because a lot of times, you have to do so much more than you thought imaginable for a launch. You have to be everywhere. And that means showing up multiple ways a day, or sending out multiple emails in a week, like a lot more than you may be comfortable doing for most people. But it’s the confidence piece.

And what I find is, when entrepreneurs launch in a way that is not aligned with their true gifts and what they really love doing, they end up losing confidence whether they have a successful launch or not. They end up doing things that compromise their core beliefs or their desired feelings. And you know, like if they’re not really comfortable on video, yet they force themselves to do a video training series and then all of these things, and they are really uncomfortable and they hate it – they hate seeing themselves – and if they don’t ever kind of get over it, then it really hurts. They don’t want to do the next launch. Even if they have a successful launch, it’s just more of a— it’s difficult for them. As opposed to someone who is doing stuff that they love doing or that really is their wheelhouse, they get excited about it.

The thing with a launch is, it doesn’t end when the cart closes. It actually starts, because you have all these people that came into your world that you then have to serve. And so if you have a launch that you hate, and you have a launch where you’re losing confidence and you’re losing who you are, and then you have to turn right around and serve people that gave you money, and you’re in a pissed off mood or you’re upset with the way things went or you’re disappointed in yourself.. How is that going to show up to your paying customers?

And so, I really want people to have a launch where they end up – at the very end – they feel confident about what they’ve done. They can feel confident about being a CEO in their business and running their business as a leader, and they look forward to the next one. Whether they have a huge success or not, whether they reach their goals or not, I want them to feel confident in their ability to do it and that they’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way.

KIM: Kristina what do you recommend for somebody who does have that hesitation with getting in front of the camera? With Snapchat and Facebook Live and Periscope being just so huge right now, that’s where everybody is expected to be.

KRISTINA: Exactly.

KIM: And it’s terrifying to people, including me. Like I didn’t get it.

KRISTINA SHANDS: It’s one of those things, where as an entrepreneur, we have to stretch ourselves to be uncomfortable.

And so we can’t stay in our comfort zone, and so maybe a five-minute Facebook Live is uncomfortable but not unraveling. Maybe doing a 30-minute, you know, three 30-minute videos with lighting in a studio… That’s probably too much. So I think my best advice is to find where your edge is and just go one step beyond it. And the next time that edge is a little bit further out. And you just go a little bit beyond it.

And if you’re not really big into video, do webinars. Use photos of yourself so that people actually get to see a face with a brand and they get to connect with you. Do a lot more online – I do a lot of like Facebook chats. I’m in a group and I’m like, “Okay, for the next hour, I’ll answer all the questions.” So it’s just me interacting in real time on Facebook.

So, you can find ways to still use your talents and connect, but it does help to do video. I really love Zoom because I can actually see people right in front of me. I can see their eyes. Skype’s another one, so maybe you’re doing small groups. Maybe you say, you know, you’ve set up training for just 20 people at a time, but you’re doing a lot of them, but you’re doing it for small groups and you’re actually getting to connect one-on-one.

So, I mean, there are ways of doing it that aren’t scary. It may just take a little more time, or maybe you have to think outside the box, but don’t do things that really are outside of your zone of genius, or have to— If you really want to commit to doing it, build the support around you that’s going to help you show up in the best light. There’s nothing worse for watching as someone who hates what they’re doing, but they’re in pain. And I feel bad for them. I’m not actually paying attention to what they’re saying, I just feel bad that they’re hating life and that they don’t have to keep doing that.

KIM: I think what is hardest for me, personally – and it’s probably hard for a lot of other people, is understanding the fact that, just because somebody else is out there selling a product that’s similar to yours doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go ahead and do it yourself. I mean that’s a proven market you could go ahead in. But finding that voice to say, “Hey, here’s why you should buy from me. Here’s what I’m going to teach you. This is why you need it.”

Finding that confidence and understanding that you are the expert, or you’re an expert? I’ve noticed the trend – well, maybe not a trend, maybe that’s too strong of a word – but people know inside their heart that they’re an expert, or else they wouldn’t be going ahead and building this course. But when it comes to actually telling other people that they are, there seems to be a block.

KRISTINA SHANDS: Yeah. We have this perception that an expert, you have to have some sort of degree or a Ph.D. or have been doing it for many many many years. And I mean, and that is certainly one way to commit for the 10,000-hour rule, you know, all of those things. But depending on what you’re teaching and who you’re selling to, you really just need to know more than the person you’re teaching, and you have to have experience in it, and you have to be able to replicate it.

But one of the things that I see a lot of is someone is like, “Hey, I just had a five-figure month, let me show you how.” And it’s like, you had one five-figure month.

Come back to me when you’ve had six or twelve, or two years worth five-figure months and you can teach it. And it’s not necessarily that you have to have years and years of experience, but if you’ve accomplished something once, are you ready to actually teach it? I don’t know. You don’t have to have like a pedigree to teach something, but I do feel like you have to have done it, replicated it, whether in your business or in your own clients’ businesses.

You know, as a coach, a lot of times what my clients achieved, I got to be a lot more than what I achieve because I’m focused on them. And so I always give examples of how my clients have done great things with my support, and so I can teach that because I’ve helped them replicate it and I’ve replicated it in other clients.

An important thing to remember is you just have to know more than the people you’re teaching it to and be able to help them achieve those results. And so maybe you do a beta launch or maybe you do something that’s a, “Hey, I did it this way. I want to see if other people can do it this way too. let me run some people through this program, and then let’s see what results we get.”

And I think that step’s missing a lot in our industry, where people just automatically say, “Well I did it, and I’m going to teach others how to do it,” and they have no real idea of how to teach or how to help others see the same results because then they just assume that just because they did it, others can do it.

So, you get into how you set up program and you get content. But as someone who, you know, people come to me with her ideas and say, “I want to watch this,” I have to be really aware and understand what they’re selling and what they’re launching so that I know how to position it and how to talk about messaging and who to put front of it if they’re not clear about their ideal client. And it’d help for them to know what the results are, what the benefits are and what results people have gotten. And if you don’t have those kind of things in place yet, then small launches, beta testing, running a few people through it and tweaking it, and then launching it on a larger scale is going to be a really great way of achieving success for a certain program.

KIM: Absolutely. And that actually leads me to another question for you. So as somebody who’s launching on a smaller scale, and these are people – I mean you said you love working with people who are going through their first launch. So they’ve already hired you to help them. But I’m sure that some of them have to watch their spending in other areas. So what are some of the tools that you like to use in a launch, even for the webinars, setting up their landing pages or anything, that don’t necessarily break the bank.

KRISTINA SHANDS: Yeah. I really love, you know, so here’s the thing.

It’s like, you don’t have to use something like a LeadPages or ClickFunnels or something like that for a landing page. You can use your WordPress site or Squarespace site or you can use something super super simple. I use Instapage, which is I think like 29 or 39 dollars a month, and it’s really simple to set up, super easy to use, but I’ll also have Landing Page Monkey and OptimizePress. So there are many other ways to create landing pages and opt-in pages and sales pages, so you don’t have to go full out on any of those things.

So, I always tell people to start really small – I’ve got one client who’s actually using her WordPress site, and then she’s using Eventbrite for her shopping cart. It’s not ideal, but it’s totally working for her right now because that’s what she’s been using in the past, and she didn’t want to learn all this new software for her first launch. So, she already had it set up, it’s using PayPal, she’s using Eventbrite.

KIM: When people are having a really great lunch and they are using something like PayPal versus a merchant account or any of the other services out there – I’ve heard that PayPal, when they see a larger influx of money coming in, that they might occasionally hold the funds. Have you ever had a problem with that with any of your clients?

KRISTINA SHANDS: Not with any of my clients, but I’ve heard about it.

So what I tell my clients to do – and I’ve heard others say, “Oh, you don’t have to do this,” but I always tell my clients to call PayPal and say, “Listen, this is what I’m doing, this is all the information you need to determine this is a legitimate program and this is what I’m expecting.”

And because I do that, none of my clients have had a huge amount of money held on their behalf, but we also have a backup. I also have encouraged them to set up Stripe, so if PayPal goes down, you can still expect money through Stripe. And so I always encourage both. So, if one fails, the other one can pick up, because the last thing you want to do is to not be able to take money.

KIM: Absolutely.

KRISTINA SHANDS: And that always is a nice backup or to have Stripe as a backup. So, a lot of times my Canadian clients don’t like to use Stripe, they want to use PayPal, I’ll always have both ready to go, and it’s really kind of making sure you’ve got all of your ducks in a row, making sure that PayPal knows. Because here’s the thing, PayPal’s only doing it because they think there’s something shady is going on. So if you can prove that you have a legitimate business, you’ve got a legitimate launch, you’re doing a sale, this is the price point and everything, they’re less likely to think that you’re trying to scam people. And you know, if you’re talking about bringing in hundreds of thousands of  dollars, then PayPal’s probably not the best place for you to bringing in money.

You really want to go after Authorize.net – or actually, open up a merchant account through a bank or something like that so it’s a little bit more secure, and you’ve got less fees taken out, and it’s something that can handle a large influx of income – especially if you’ve got international money coming in, money from all over the country.

So, on a smaller scale PayPal does just fine. Just let them know, be aware, keep up with the money that’s coming in, and make sure that nothing’s looking weird on the back-end, have a backup with Stripe, and you shouldn’t run into any trouble.

KIM: Is there any other big point that you see entrepreneurs failing to do when they’re trying to launch that anybody should do?

KRISTINA SHANDS: Yeah, they forget to go to their own lists and their past clients.

So a lot of times, the first thing they want to do is start running Facebook Ads and running cold traffic to a sales page. And I’m like, you know, why don’t you do.. I call them soft launches. Send it out your list. Start talking about it to people. Go back to your past clients and see if it makes sense for them to go see the program, or maybe they go to the program as it… Go to your connections. I mean we’re all in these amazing Facebook groups, we’ve all got, you know, we’ve been to events, so we have other friends that are in the business. See if they can promote for you. See if they’ve got anyone on their list that’s a good fit. Start reaching out, networking, and see if there’s any low-hanging fruit that you can pull from to start filling up the program.

It’s a lot easier to launch a program with people already in it than to launch program and just front it to cold traffic. And that’s what people want to do. So it’s a steeper mountain to climb when you’re running to cold traffic because they don’t know who you are. The whole “know, like, trust factor” – it’s not there, to build that into your pre-launch formula. It’s just not as easy as just sending an email to two or three of your lists and saying, “This is what I’m launching, if you’ve got any questions, this is what’s coming up. The cart opens next Thursday, but for my lists, you get in earlier with all the extra bonuses,” or something that you can do to people that already are in your world.

KIM: Have you read Launch by Jeff Walker?

KRISTINA SHANDS: I have, I’ve read bits and pieces of it, I think think he’s so brilliant.

KIM: Oh yeah. I have to ditto that, bits and pieces, I have not yet finished it. But that’s exactly the strategy that he used, or at least his first and probably for all of his – I know I get like an e-mail every single day, it feels like sometimes, from him. But I don’t delete them, because I’m always interested to know what he’s got, and also what his affiliate network is offering. And that’s the type of rapport that you can build when you start offering value like that. People do want to see what you’re offering because they know that you’re not going to send out less— I’m trying not to cuss, but you know?

KRISTINA SHANDS: Yeah! And you know, in the system of where everyone one that’s kind of starting out or are growing business, they think, “Oh, well, I’ll do that when I’m at that level.”

Well, the people that are starting where you are right now are the next Jeff Walker. They’re the next Marie Forleo. You just don’t know who is in your world who is going to have a program or a product or a business that that scales up rapidly and really grows big. So, the networking happens at your own level, and we’re all kind of rising up together. And we all will support one another.

I’m in a lot of – in a lot of women’s Facebook groups and a lot of women’s circle, women entrepreneurs’ circles, and you see like little – I don’t want to call them cliques, but they’re like – they all went through a mastermind’s together, and they support one another, and they promote each others’ programs – That’s what networking is all about. We may work from home, behind our own computer, and be like so low in our business maybe have you know a team of one or two, but that doesn’t mean we can’t succeed on our own. And no business does.

We have to network. We have to get out there and meet other people and support other businesses and team up to make sure that we all rise. And the bigger network, the longer your reach of people that you can support and promote and check on, the more they’re going to do that for you. And so, the idea that you are in business alone is a complete impossibility. You can’t succeed alone.

KIM: Absolutely. And clearly you’ve been doing quite well in the Facebook groups. On your personal profile, I see that you’re followed by 437 people, and I think that’s like an important note, though. Even though you’re out there networking in the Facebook groups and you get friend requests constantly, you don’t need to accept them all. But if you’re posting a public post once in a while, you know, that’s something that could be shared. I’m a mom of five. I don’t want people seeing everything that I post, right?

KRISTINA: Yeah, I don’t talk a lot about business on my Facebook wall. A lot of it’s because my life feels like it’s divided up into three parts. I’ve got my family, I’ve got my high school/college friends, like my local friends, and I’ve got my online world. And they don’t seem to intermingle, and yet, I know that when I do post something about a program or something that I’m really excited about her, or like I went to Vegas for a conference – a lot of my high school friends and college friends are like, “What are you doing now? This is so cool. I want to hear more about it.”

I forget that they want to hear about all of my life, and not just the non-work piece of it. So the more I do share my business with them, the more excited my family and friends get, and the more they can support me. So, for me it’s a good reminder to not hold back and not just posts you know, struggles and challenges and celebrations and opportunities on my business. But to use all of it and let everyone know, because honestly, I don’t know how many of my friends or how many of the number of people I have friends or follow me are business owners or are interested in becoming entrepreneurs. I could be serving them and I’m not. And so it’s really good to think outside of just the circles that we hold online to those that – you know…

My neighbor across the street who’s in her 80s is actually a music teacher. Now could she use social media support? Maybe! Could she create an online brand about how to teach piano to kids? Maybe. But you know, like I don’t talk to her about it, and I could. So it’s like, don’t hold back who we are — and this is a note to myself – don’t hold back who we are. Or only share part of our lives.

KIM: And we’re one month out, maybe, of the Candace Payne. And by the time this podcast goes out, it’s going to be a couple of months out, but Candace Payne – the Chewbacca lady – I hate to say it like that, but I think that’s how she’s recognized – she posted, what does she say, “Simple joys??

KRISTINA SHANDS: Yeah, the “Simple Joys in Life”, yeah.

KIM: Yeah. And look at where that went. Like you never know what—

KRISTINA: And well did you see that she got her own action figure?

KIM: I saw that!

KRISTINA SHANDS: Oh, this is crazy. It’s absolutely crazy. You just don’t know what people are drawn to.

KIM: But if you’re not out there building your community, even if you don’t accept all the friends – I watch that video like 18 times and I made my husband watch it a couple of times, and we were both in tears, but yeah. And who knows what you might post, and even if it’s not business related, how it might resonate and spread, and then it’s going to build your audience.

KRISTINA SHANDS: And the thing about, you know, launching and about selling is that people don’t buy products, they don’t buy things. They don’t buy CDs or DVDs or videos.

They buy results, and they buy from people. People buy from people, and they buy results and benefits.

And so, if you don’t come across a person, and if you don’t show your personality, and you don’t stand for something, and you don’t take a position, and you don’t set yourself apart from everyone else, they don’t know who they’re buying from and they don’t have that connection.

Selling and buying are emotional actions. So, you have to evoke emotions for someone to actually take action, and if you don’t show who you are, or show up as a human, and have a personality that people can really relate to, they may or may not pull the trigger and say yes to giving you their money.

Or wanting to seem like, would you want to spend the next six weeks with someone you don’t like? No, so why would you buy a program from then if you don’t even know who they are. And so, a lot of times with launches, it’s not just the messaging that needs to be shared. It’s personality. It’s the, “This is why I’m so excited, this is why I’m doing what I do. This is what I’m all about. This is why I care so much and why I’m showing up in your inbox a lot more than I normally would, because I know that what I’m offering is going to help you do this – bring this result to you.”

KIM: Kristina, I think we’re going to need to have you back. I’m going to have to have you back for a whole other episode just about that.

KRISTINA: Absolutely!

KIM: I want to thank you so much for being here today, and where can listeners go to find out more about you and ingest more of all of your tips and greatness?

KRISTINA SHANDS: Absolutely, so LaunchWithEase.com is my web site. And so you can go on there, I post a blog every once in a while. There’s a launch planning tool kit and you can put in your name and your email address and grab a toolkit with five resources that I use with my own clients. You can grab that toolkit, you can find me on Facebook: “Launch with Ease” is my Facebook page

Love Your Launch is my Facebook group. Join on, and I put tips on regularly, we have writing sessions, we do daily prompts, there’s all sorts of goodness in the Facebook group. And you can e-mail me at LaunchwithEase@gmail.com, so if you’ve got any questions, if you’re stuck on a launch, and if you want to do a quick 30-minute launch jam session for free where I can kind of help you figure out where your next step is on your launch… All of those ways, I’m pretty easy to find. And I feel like I’m always on Facebook or Twitter.

KIM: Right. So I’ll have all this in the show notes. But thank you so much. This was so fabulous!

KRISTINA SHANDS: Oh, you’re so welcome! My pleasure.