I'll be turning away customers when I launch my video course
Next week, sales will open up for the first-ever "Design for Hackers" video course. At the end of the week, I'll stop selling the course.
I'll disable the buy buttons, and surely plenty of customers will go try to buy, only to find out that they can't. They may have just been out of the office on summer vacation, or they simply have forgotten to buy, but whatever the case, they'll just have to wait until sales open up again.
I'll likely miss out on thousands of dollars of sales. It doesn't make much intuitive sense to do this, so let me explain why. Understanding why I'd miss out on sales by only selling my course for a limited time may help you work smarter, not harder.
Why do a "Windowed Launch?"
Most businesses launch a product, then keep it for sale after that. They then make sales around the clock, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Just because the Internet is on 24/7, doesn't mean we have to be. Sure, each sale is more money in the bank, but there are "costs" (monetary and cognitive) associated with each sale.
- Checking email for email notifications: did I make a sale while I was at dinner with my friends, thinking about wanting to check my sales, instead of enjoying the conversation?
- Handling support: one customer needing help each day of the week "costs" more than 7 customers needing help on one day.
- Constant tweaking of email funnels, landing pages, and checkout flows: not to mention the mere urge to tweak these things, whether there's a payoff or not.
As you can tell, some of these costs have a lot to do with my own self-discipline in work. Remember, productivity is about Mind Management, not Time Management.
Some businesses may consider all of these "costs" and find that they're fine with them, but I posit that many simply aren't aware of these costs, because â€“ like an inflatable mattress with one of those useless patches over a hole â€“ they drain the business silently.
For my business, I find a "Windowed Launch" (term I made up, maybe there's a more official one?) is ideal.
Windowed Launches help you focus resources
Imagine there's a transcontinental tube that delivers fresh sushi straight from the ocean onto your plate. You can push a certain amount of sushi through that tube. If you're pushing yellowtail through the tube at full force, you can't also push tuna through the tube. If you want yellowtail AND tuna, you'll have to get less of each.
Your work is like that tube: you can try to do multiple things at once, but less of each of those things are going to get done, or the quality of those things is going to suffer (like, if yellowtail and tuna are all mixed up, it will probably affect the taste).
I'm not a venture-backed company with a whole team of people that can work in parallel. I've bootstrapped my business over the past 10 years, and my work gets produced slowly and deliberately. I delegate only the things that are easily reproducible, or for which I've already established a standard for quality.
Your work is like a tube, but, as you all know, the Internet is not a series of tubes. With a Windowed Launch, I can concentrate on product for awhile, then sales for awhile, then support, then collect feedback to improve the product, and repeat the cycle again.
Windowed Launches improve quality
With each iteration of a Windowed Launch, I can improve the product. Since Windowed Launches let me focus on improving the product, while not worrying about driving sales, I can produce higher quality when I'm working on the product.
Windowed Launches build skills as you go
I've worked on literally dozens of startup ideas. Some things, I'm really good at, other things, I still have a lot of learning to do.
For example, I have no idea how to run a successful Facebook Ads campaign. I've dabbled with it, and talked to people who have spent lots of money on Facebook Ads, and those people tell me it's really damn hard. So, I'm just not going to do one this time around!
Windowed Launches let me move forward with the things that I'm good at, while digging deep on one or two new skills that I want to learn with each launch. Or, if enough cash starts flowing into my business, I can just hire experts to help with the things I'm not good at.
Windowed Launches have a nice side-benefit
By now, the marketing and psychology-savvy amongst you are probably just about screaming "scarcity!!"
Some companies may do something like a Windowed Launch simply for the reason of "scarcity." If something is scarce (i.e. there's a deadline to buy a product), then it will make people want that thing even more than they would otherwise.
When it comes to a digital product, some people believe you have to "create" scarcity artificially by adding a deadline for purchase. The reality is, for a new product, scarcity doesn't have to be created artificially, because â€“ the way I work â€“ it would be crazy to release a new product into the wild, and let it run free, racking up sales and support tickets all while you're trying to improve it.
Additionally, the Community Module for the course â€“ which gets students interacting with one-another in a private Facebook group â€“ has limited bandwidth, plus, the peer-learning is enhanced if everyone is starting at the same time.
Perhaps after a few iterations, the Design for Hackers Video Course will be for sale all of the time. Some random person who has never even received one of my emails may even be able to buy it. But for the foreseeable future, that's not the case. Only you folks in the D4H community are even going to hear about it, I'll iterate with each new launch, and the value (and price) of the course will increase*.
Make your work better with "Windowed Launch" thinking
With Windowed Launch thinking, you can focus your resources for short periods of time, and deliver the best quality possible.
How can you operate this same way? Whether you're just some person (like me), or you're a whole team, there's a lot to be gained from establishing boundaries:
- Does a project seem overwhelming? Think about ways you can scale back the vision, and do it in phases.
- Too many things going on at once? See if you can set time windows for certain things: work on product, then concentrate on sales, work on support, then repeat the cycle. This can be as valuable for a team as it is for an individual.
- Feeling anxious or scared? Take 10 minutes to brainstorm about what kinds of skills and experiences you would need to feel confident in the project. Concentrate on learning only the most essential skills for this iteration, and save the others for the next iteration.
How will "Windowed Launch" thinking help you do what you do better? Reply to me, and I'll be reading every response.
*Customers will automatically get any future improvements to their product tier, no extra charge.