Whether you’re launching an online course or a live event, there’s so much to do and to remember, that it’s hard to keep your head above water. Ahead of my upcoming Hustle & Heart online program launch, I’m sharing my tried-and-tested essential launch guide that I use to keep me on track.

I’ve got a pretty lousy memory. And with several months in between launches, it’s impossible for me to remember what I did, in what order, what worked, what needed tweaking and what I should ditch all together.

So I don’t rely on my memory, especially with something as important as a launch. Instead, I add in the dates to my launch guide so that I know exactly what needs doing, when.

First, your launch plan

Vague focus brings vague outcomes. If you want to enrol a particular number of clients and make a particular amount of money, you have to be specific in your goals.

Burying your head in the sands of vagary and aloofness in an attempt at avoiding disappointment isn’t avant garde – it’s delusional. Yes, you risk disappointment if you don’t reach the goals you set, but so what? Pull up your big girl pants and write down your goals already.

Start before you’re ready

The single best piece of advice for launching is this: share what you’re doing earlier than you think you should.

When, exactly? When you’ve first got your idea. Your pre-launch period is not only a great time to test your idea but also imperative for letting people know what’s coming up. Before you decide exactly what it will include or not include. Before you decide on your price. Before you decide on where in the world you’ll run it or if it’ll be an online course, program or other thing.

How? By publishing what I call a “preliminary sales page”. This is the sales page you publish and promote before your actual sales page. It doesn’t need to be long – three to four paragraphs will do – but it must include an outline of what you’re creating while building excitement and buy-in (which means your language must sound confident).

Your preliminary sales page needs an opt-in form for collecting people’s interest.

Most people don’t like surprises. Especially if your offering is priced in the higher end, you must give people ample notice that it’s coming up. Keep communicating with those people who’ve opted into your interest list, which you’re promoting on your preliminary sales page. Write a short list of past clients and leads who you believe your new offering will be perfect for.

Keep these people close to you – share what you’re doing, ask for their feedback, send them a survey asking about what they’re grappling with and what they’re most keen to learn/do/feel/experience.

Clear your schedule

Your launch will need more time, attention and emotion than you likely think it will. For the love of all things holy! Clear your schedule. Create some space.

Right before I launched Hustle & Heart for the first time, I quit two voluntary commitments and turned down three different jobs. I got on the ‘no’ train, and was most grateful for doing so when right in the thick of my first Hustle & Heart launch.

Decide on your storylines

There is far more to marketing than communicating benefits over features and including a call to action. First, you need to know who you’re seeking to attract. Second, uncover your key storylines – where the situations of those people you’re seeking to attract intertwine with the stories behind what you’re launching.

This takes two forms: the negative – what your target audience is seeking escape or respite from; and the positive – the outcome your target audience is seeking that you can deliver. Ideally, your story lines will include both negative as well as positive. Too many positive stories and your launch begins to resemble propaganda, tipping into incredulity. Too many negative stories and you risk repelling people and attracting others who are in a state of desperation.

The special, seven-step formula

There is no special, seven-step formula to launching – you don’t need to create a three-part video series as an email opt-in (though many do). You don’t need to host a webinar (though many have). You don’t need to allow 12.5 days for the shopping cart to remain open during the new moon in August (though this might work for some?)

There is no ‘crucial’ list size you need before launching. There is no dollar figure that objectively decrees your launch a success or otherwise.

You simply need: a list of interested parties who you communicate with about what you’re launching, and a way for them to pay you. That’s it.

Get organised ahead of time

Regardless of how sophisticated or small-scale and laid back you want your launch to be, time is still your biggest luxury in marketing. So get organised: you’ll want to get your payment processor, sales page, blog posts, emails, videos (if you’re using them), social media images and updates all figured out well in advance.

If you ever struggle to be creative with your marketing, just amp up the pressure and imagine how much less creative you’ll be! Schedule a creativity excursion with your laptop and get this stuff sorted well before your launch (you can thank me later).

And, click here to download my Essential Launch Checklist.