The messy reality of a “6-figure launch” (full transparency)
For most of my life, I’ve lived under the weight and pressure of what I was “allowed” or “not allowed” to do. But as I’ve healed from 30 year’s worth of “rules” (some of which came from my childhood, some from societal/religious conditioning and some from the online marketing industry) and as I’ve stepped into the life + business I truly want to live and lead … all those layers of “allowance” have unraveled.
Slowly but surely. One by one. Like peeling away an onion.
And yet, I still find myself discovering new layers to shed. In fact, this email is a perfect example of that.
Within the online marketing industry, nobody shares the true behind-the-scenes details of their (very public) launches. Sometimes they share how much they’ve made, or what they’ve learned, or even their favorite strategies. But they always leave out the messy behind-the-scenes realities.
That’s why, even if someone chooses to share about the details of their launch (within the privacy of 1-on-1 mentorship or high-ticket masterminds), they don’t ever share mid-launch. Especially in a transparent and vulnerable way.
Because the sharing only happens *after* the launch and only IF it’s successful.
So imagine my surprise when I recently realized, “Holy crap! I’ve been telling myself I’m not allowed to share about our launch *unless* it’s fully complete, or *unless* it’s crazy successful, or *unless* the lessons I’ve learned are super tidy and pretty.
And yet. That’s NOT why you’re here reading my emails. You don’t want the perfect version of me, or the “everything is awesome” version of me or the “I made money in my sleep” version of me.
You want the real me—the me without the hype. The me who’s 100% committed to helping you expand your skill sets, master new challenges, and step into your true role as the Owner/Visionary/CEO of your company.
So because of that commitment, I’m here to share a fully transparent breakdown of our launch thus far. Because just so we’re all 100% clear: Branding School 2.0 is coming soon (the launch is set for May). And no, I’m not going to apologize for it, surprise you with it, or try and hide it from you in typical online marketing fashion.
Side Note: Someone wrote us and said that because we’ve been so transparent and honest throughout our podcast and email series, we aren’t allowed to sell anymore because it would be a betrayal of trust. But just so we’re all 100% clear again: Selling something you truly believe in is never a betrayal, but keeping yourself small and never allowing yourself or another woman to sell? That’s a betrayal to both yourself AND your fellow sister. As Tara Mohr so beautifully wrote, “What we do not allow in ourselves, we will never allow in another woman.”
So without further ado, here’s a behind-the-scenes mid-launch update and the 6 “realities” of launching Branding School 2.0, thus far …
Reality #1: Launching something new (even if it’s a new version of something old and you have years of launching experience) always takes waaaaaay longer than you originally thought, hoped, or planned. So originally, we were going to launch Branding School 2.0 at the beginning of the year. But the more we pushed for that deadline, the more we realized we’d have to sacrifice one of three things to do so: 1) Our personal wellness, 2) Our commitment to excellence, or 3) Our profitability. Because the truth is, if we had worked 7 days a week and skipped sleeping, OR if we hadn’t cared about the quality/depth of 2.0 and launched because “it was time to launch,” OR if we had sacrificed our profitability by hiring a big team to do everything for us … we could have met our original deadline. But instead, we’ve made the unsexy choice to prioritize our marriage, our mental health, our integrity, and our real revenue (by honoring our boundaries, our work ethic, and our scrappiness).
Reality #2: Holding space for people as they walk through your launch is NOT easy or glamorous. Thousands of people are watching our every move, every word, and every post/email. This means we’ve received hundreds upon hundreds of messages/questions every single week. This means we’ve received backlash and negative feedback surrounding the transparency within this series and what I’m “allowed” or “not allowed” to talk about. And this means a handful of online marketers have already started to copy us.
Which is why it’s so insanely important for me, as the CEO, to purposefully step back and “fill myself up” before I show up to “pour myself out.” And it’s also why I can’t respond to every single message myself (our Happiness Ambassador helps me respond to messages on social media and our Operations Manager is in charge of our inboxes). Because if I don’t have any boundaries around my time/energy/resources … I’ll give away every single piece of myself and have nothing left to give. So the fact that our “Unhidden” series is rolling out slower than before? That’s me caring for myself so I actually have something to give you when I return. This is why true self-care is never selfish. Because if you—as the CEO—are running on empty (and pushing everyone around you to run on empty), then eventually your content, your team, your community, and your launch will run on empty, too. Top-down leadership is REAL. So the way in which you care for yourself will affect the way in which your team cares for your customers and the way in which your customers care for themselves.
Reality #3: I’ve personally created every piece of “marketing collateral” you’ve seen from us in terms of emails, ads, organic content, and websites. We tried hiring a Sales + Marketing Manager to come in and support me in this area for the launch, but it wasn’t the right fit and we parted ways after our initial 60 days together. So essentially, I went into this launch thinking I would have lots of support in the Marketing + Sales Department (the same way that Scott, as COO, has support underneath him with our Operations Manager).
But the truth is: I’ve been writing, designing, art directing, and strategizing for us for 7.5 years. So the right fit for our Sales + Marketing Manager position is going to have to be someone with a crazy amount of experience. This is another reason why our launch was intentionally delayed. Because when you have a #smallbutmighty team, any changes to that team (whether it’s gaining or losing a team member) takes time and a surprising amount of emotional/mental energy. Thankfully, the same week we parted ways with our Sales + Marketing Manager I found the perfect new addition to my Sales + Marketing team: our Facebook Ads Specialist.
Reality #4: Running our own ads in-house has been one of the smartest decisions we’ve made this year. I’ve already shared about how we’ve invested $84,000 into learning Facebook ads because this is one of those “scaling myths” that seems too good to be true. And it 100% is … unless you know exactly what you’re doing, who you’re targeting, which numbers to track, etc. Thankfully, this is something I’ve devoted the last 2.5 years to mastering so now I personally strategize, write, and design all of our ads. And our FB Ads Specialist does all the set-up, targeting, tracking, and day-to-day management.
Because our organic content has done so insanely well, our paid ads are a combination of new content I create and organic content that we’ve repurposed into ads. Repurposing organic content (that has already performed well) has saved us so much time/energy and allowed us to attract more of the right people, get better results, and lower our cost per lead. In fact, some of our ads have been running at 50-60 cents a lead for the last several weeks (which is practically unheard of in the online marketing space in recent years). All this being said, in the last 2 months our email list has grown by 4,204 new subscribers. 1,634 have joined in organically and 2,570 through ads. For even more transparency: We’ve spent $3,721.59 on ads since February and our average cost per lead is $1.45.
Reality #5: I have “off days” just like everyone else. Which means there are days when nothing I write is “good enough,” or my brain feels too cloudy to strategize, or I’m stuck in a cycle of self-doubt and disappointment (typically over my inability to create my “best work” every single day). This is why Reality #2 (i.e. tending to yourself) is so important. Because if I’m having an off day, it’s important I allow myself the time/space to pivot and focus on something else. Whether I pivot to a different project or pivot to take a “break” (i.e. a nap, shower, walk, or some time in the sun) ... I’m constantly realigning my daily schedule and to-do list so that it’s in-tune with what my brain/body really needs. The quicker I adjust to meet these needs, the quicker my brain/body bounces back into “peak performance.”
A great example of this is our upcoming Disney Cruise. Typically, we don’t go on a Disney Cruise until after we launch (this is one of our most sacred “post-launch” rituals). But upon recently discovering that my body is more stressed than my brain even realized (which became evident due to significant weight loss over the last 2 months), I realized that I needed some serious time away from the business if I was to finish the launch of Branding School 2.0 healthy and strong. As a result, we booked a last minute Disney Cruise for this weekend. Because even though time away from our business mid-launch wasn’t a part of the “original plan” this cruise is *more* important to the success of our launch than any other business investment we could possibly make.
Reality #6: It’s so easy to forget the impact you’re having when you’re in the midst of launching. When you’re pouring so much of yourself into something you believe in and you’re pushing yourself to share/do things you’ve never shared/done before … it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture and focus all of your attention on the ideas that didn’t pan out, the content that didn’t “perform” as well, or the untidy/unpretty aspects of the creative process. This is why tracking your data and building an internal support team is so insanely important. Because our team actively reminds me of all the things that *are* working, all the love notes we *have* received, and all the data that proves how many of our crazy ideas *did* succeed.
A great example of this is the fact that half a dozen people have already bought branding school even though it’s not for sale yet. As in, half a dozen people went out of their way to find an old outdated funnel and bought Branding School 1.0 even after we told them Branding School 2.0 wasn’t ready yet. So on days when I feel the inevitable “vulnerability hangover” from our 6-part podcast series or this current “Unhidden” email series … I refocus all of that nervous energy on the metrics that matter. Because the fact that people are still reading, still responding, and still buying branding school goes to show that the work we’re doing now means something to our people even on the days when I refuse to look up and take in the view.
All this to say, I’m thankful for our new “slow approach” to launching. But more than anything else, I’m thankful for all the ways in which our community has rallied behind us and supported our commitment to launching with transparency.
Because the truth is, if you wanted to learn business from someone who was going to sell you on the “Instagram-worthy version of success” you would have already unfollowed us a long time ago. But instead, you’ve actively leaned in and said #yesthismoreplease.
So for this reason, I write. For this reason, I rest. And for this reason, I peel back 30 year’s worth of layers so that we, as women, will finally “allow” ourselves the freedom to market in the way we want to market, sell in the way we want to sell, and launch in the way that we want to launch.
My only question is: Which of today’s “launch realities” spoke to you the most? Let me know your favorite number (#1-6), so we can dive into that topic even deeper within the future.
With all our love,
Elise + Scott
PS: We’ve been working on an epic new surprise for you! It’s something I’ve dreamed about creating for many years and the original plan was to announce its arrival in today’s email. But because of Realities #1, #2, and #5 (i.e. boundaries, boundaries, boundaries) … we decided not to launch before our Disney Cruise this weekend!
Instead, we’re going to launch this new (free) gift early next week! So keep an eye on your inbox because you won’t want to miss the arrival of this new “very Elise” surprise. It’s unlike anything we’ve offered our community before. So if you’ve ever struggled with feeling lonely and under supported within your role as CEO … then this new surprise is going to be the gift that keeps on giving.
Official deets coming next week!