In today’s episode, I’m going to be sharing with you some traps, tips and tools in a phenomenon that I call Second Launch Syndrome.

You may have heard of this term in the music industry. Second album syndrome is where a band or an artist has an amazing debut album, and then the second one fizzles and flops because the expectation is so high. There’s a lot of pressure on that second album.

A lot of artists and bands have experienced second album syndrome.

I’ve taken that term and used it to talk about the phenomenon of second launch syndrome.

Here for the links referenced in the show notes? 

Grow Your Audience free training:

Launch Basics free training:

I have seen this play out over and over again in the online business world. I think it’s something that’s not talked about enough.

If you’re in launch mode, you are doing your first launch of something, or you’ve launched something before and you’ve had a flop of a launch, this is going to be really helpful for you. We’re going to dive into why second launch syndrome happens, and what you can do about it.

Let’s dive in!

Here’s a little more detail on what second launch syndrome is…

Second launch syndrome happens when you launch an online course or a membership for the first time, and you have quite good results.

For a lot of people, their first launch of something is to an audience that they’ve built over an extended period of time. They have a lot of people who’ve never been presented with this offer before when they first launch it.

When you have a great first launch of something, it’s natural to assume that the second launch is going to be even better. This is because the first launch is generally a bit clunky, you’re still learning the way around it, you’re not sure if something’s going to convert, and all of your emails are being tested for the first time.

It’s easy to think that since you’re going to be spending more on ads, you’re going to be more present and have even more people in your audience, so therefore, your second launch will be even bigger.

But there’s a big issue with that assumption…

A lot of people start their business in a one-to-one mode. Over that time, you’re building your audience. If we use the analogy of fishing your pond… you’re building this beautiful big pond of an audience.

When you first launch to that audience, it’s a fresh offer. They’ve never heard that offer before.

Especially if you’ve started with a VIP 1:1 model, this offer will generally be much more affordable. You’ve got a lot of people in your audience who have it on their wish list to work with you one day, but it’s just out of their price range right now or they’re not ready for it yet.

Then you’ve got this launch that comes in for a group program. It might be more affordable, it might be a different focal point, or it might feel like this really sexy group thing that they’ve been hanging out for. And so you fish your pond.

(It’s not a nice analogy for obvious reasons, but it’s the best analogy that I can think of.)

Let’s say you’ve built a mailing list of 3,000 people. You’ve been building that for 4 years through one-to-one work and then you go and launch your first-ever membership program.

Out of those 3,000 people you have on your list, 100 people sign up.

You have a huge conversion rate in that first launch because it was the first time you presented a lower-ticket product to them.

You then plan on revising your launch plan based on what worked and what didn’t work, making some improvements, and then launching it again and it’s going to be even bigger.

But a lot of people spend their time and energy on the tiny tweaks and changes for improving conversion, and then they go and fish the same pond.

But that audience has already heard that offer before. You’re speaking to the ones who said no before.

Yes, there will be some people who said no the first time, who will say yes the second time. But if you haven’t significantly grown the pond (ie. growing your audience), then you’re going to struggle to repeat those first, awesome launch results.

One of the ways people try to overcome this is they invest heavily in Facebook ads for their second launch.

They do their first launch mostly organically and make 100 sales, so then in their second launch, they spend $10,000 on ads assuming that will increase their sales.

But what they don’t recognise is that an audience that’s built through ads comes in far colder.

When you grow an audience organically, it’s a far warmer audience.

They find out about you through direct connection with you. They’re in a Facebook group with you, their friend recommended you, or they found you through a webinar that you ran. It’s all organic.

In order for you to reach someone organically, there needs to be some form of connection with that person. Either they are connected through a friend, they’re connected through the spaces that they’re in, or they’re connected because they follow someone that you did a joint piece of content with.

Organic audience growth is inherently connected audience growth.

But it takes longer. It takes you years to get those 3,000 people on your mailing list in most cases. And you don’t have years between your first and your second launch. You generally have months between your first and second launch.

An audience member that comes in through an ad is colder than an audience member that came through in your organic strategies. Therefore, your conversion rates in your second launch will generally plummet.

Does that mean you shouldn’t do it? Not at all. What I find when I do large-scale ads for my launches, is that yes, the launch grows my audience and grows my list significantly. But people who come in on the ads in this launch are the least likely to buy in this launch. That being said, their likelihood of buying from me increases with each subsequent launch.

The time that they’re part of my audience, increases the likelihood that they will eventually convert.

A lot of people have second launch syndrome and jump to the conclusion that no one else wants what they have to offer, and they just have to create a new offer. But second launch syndrome is normal.

If you know that, then you can be prepared for it and see your second launch as starting to snowball your ability to launch to a colder audience and build an audience through more leveraged and scalable strategies (such as advertising), knowing that the longer you continue to launch and relaunch, the more conversions you will eventually be getting from the scaling up of that audience.

That’s a summary of what second launch syndrome is, and some of the reasons why it happens.

Just knowing about it, you can prepare for it.

When I work with people to help them to create and launch courses (that’s what I do in my Leverage and Launch program), I talk about second launch syndrome.

I talk about the reality that a cold audience will take a little longer to warm up. But that doesn’t mean your launch is worse or invalid.

It means that your launch is scalable.

Even just having that understanding can take off a lot of the pressure and stop us from catastrophising our second launches. They can tend to be lower, even when you do all the things right.

However, there are five things that I want to share with you to help lessen the likelihood and impact of second launch syndrome.

1. Nail your ongoing list growth

Even before your first launch (if you haven’t launched a group program before), I would recommend you get your audience growth set up on autopilot.

By autopilot, I don’t just mean organic, I also mean paid.

If you currently have 200-300 people a month join your mailing list with your organic strategies and all of the things that you’re doing, then what I recommend is that you aim to double or triple that growth with ongoing list growth ads.

Get that evergreen list growth nailed before you even launch in the first place.

The sooner you get that nailed, the sooner you get out of second launch syndrome, and the sooner you’ve got audience members that have been warmed up and are far more likely to convert.

Get your ongoing list growth nailed.

If you’ve already launched and you’re ramping up to your second launch, don’t wait until the launch to get your ads in place.

Have ongoing list growth ads working with an evergreen freebie or an evergreen lead magnet instantly. Now. Today.

Get that nailed so that you’re increasing the time that someone’s been on your mailing list before the launch kicks off.

The longer someone’s been on your mailing list before a launch, the more likely they are to buy in a launch.

Ongoing list growth on autopilot at scale with ads becomes a non-negotiable to ensure the longevity of your results and being able to scale up the results of your launches as you move forward.

2. Do a detailed review of your last launch

Even if your first launch is fabulous, you nailed it and everything was brilliant, still do a detailed review of the numbers and look for ways to improve conversion even more.

Your second launch and launches with cold audiences will see a drop in conversion.

Let’s say your first launch converted at 7%. Industry average conversion rates are 1%, so your ego is feeling pretty great about outshining the industry average.

But we need to acknowledge and recognise that the bigger the audience in the next launch, the lower that conversion rate is going to get.

I’m not saying your conversion rate will plummet down to 1%. You might maintain a great conversion rate.

The best way to make that drop as minuscule as possible is to do that detailed review.

second launch woman reviewing first launch courses launching

Do a detailed launch review before running your second launch. 

This is something that I love doing with my VIP clients. We get very good after a while at spotting what those little lever points are.

For example:

  • If we fix this subject line on this email, you’re going to get better open rates and that’s going to improve conversion
  • If we shorten the sales pitch part of this webinar and focus more on this outcome and this type of person buying, we’re going to increase the conversion rate there because it’s a much more urgent thing for them to solve

I adore doing a really detailed launch review, looking at all of those numbers and seeing what they are telling you about that launch.

A lot of the time, in your first launch you’re making it up as you go, and doing a lot of things on the fly. (If you’re not all prepared and planned out in advance, then that’s fine. I’d rather you do it unplanned and give it a go than not do it at all).

But that means that a good detailed review will help you pay attention to:

  • What part of the launch did really well?
  • Where did most of that conversion come from?
  • Where did most of those people come from to join your lead magnet?
  • What was the conversion rate of the signup page?
  • What was the conversion rate of the sales page?

It can even be a great idea to do heatmaps on your sales page to see how far down the sales page someone got before they clicked away. Or what the most natural way that people interact with the sales page is. Can you get some of the critical messaging a little higher up? Or can you talk about the price a little sooner, so that you know people who are just there to check the price, check it and if they’re in, they’re in, if they’re out, they’re out?

There are so many things that we can do when we see those numbers and when we’ve got that detailed review.

I’m not suggesting you do a perfect, super-detailed in-depth review if you’ve never done a launch review before. Just collect all the numbers you can think of and do a review of what you can for now.

You might not have the heatmap stuff installed on your website. You might not have a sales page that you can get conversion rates on. That’s fine. Work with what you’ve got to start with. But this is something that you want to get in place as you move forward because those numbers are what drive the results of your next launch.

You really do want to pay attention to them as much as possible.

If you don’t know what the numbers are telling you, this is a very powerful space to get some support. Hire a mentor, work with a strategist or a launch specialist who can tell you what that data means and interpret those results for you. Because not everyone is as skilled at seeing what a number actually means, what it’s saying and whether it’s a good number or a bad number.

Most people don’t know whether it’s a number that should be improved and focused on or not, because they’ve never launched before, and they don’t know what a good rate might be.

That’s a great little lever point for you to get some advice or get some mentoring to give you that insight into what the numbers are telling you.

3. Set higher lead targets for your second launch

If in your first launch, you got 100 sales from 700 people signing up to your lead magnet, then knowing that your launch results are going to go down and your conversion rate is going to drop, increase the number of leads. Set a goal for more leads.

If your next launch has 700 leads again, in most cases, the norm would be that you’re not going to get as high a conversion rate.

That is where a lot of people get very disappointed by their launches.

In their first launch, they had 500 people signed up to the webinar. And then they’re only two weeks into their second launch, and they’ve already had 500 people sign up. So they think that they’re going to easily make 100 sales again and they start to coast a little.

They start to not do all the things that they did the first time, or not do as many Facebook Lives or Instagram lives.

But actually, in your second launch, my goal would be for you to at least double if not triple your lead numbers.

That’s where having a nice strong investment into list growth is very effective.

If someone joined your list after the last launch but before the next one, then they’re going to be fresh peeps coming into those lead magnets, and they’re going to be far more likely to buy from you because they’ve already been on your list, even if it’s only for a few weeks.

Getting that list growth happening and setting higher targets for leads next time will help to soften the blow of that second launch syndrome and that lower conversion rate.

4. Pay attention to your mindset, both positive and negative

An example of this is what I just mentioned… Because the first launch went so well, when you see the numbers coming in and they’re just as strong as the last one, your mindset will often think that it’ll just work on its own. And so you take your foot off the pedal, or you don’t do all the things that you were planning to do in that launch.

Pay attention to that mindset.

Not just your mindset saying that the first launch was a fluke and your second will be terrible. Or “Tash said the second launch will be terrible so therefore it’s guaranteed to be terrible”. I don’t want you to take on that belief and make it mean that it’s there’s nothing you can do about it.

What I want you to do, is knowing that second launches are generally lower conversion, make a plan for it. See it through.

Pay attention to that mindset!

Some people are tripped up by their mindset in their second launch because of the assumption that it’s just going to be fine. They’ve got the proof, it was great last time, and it’s going to be even better next time.

I’m in a mastermind with someone and she shared that in the first launch of her course, she had made 50 sales.

She was so convinced that it was just going to get better and better from there that she decided to invest significantly. She paid $10,000 for a copywriter to improve the conversion of her copy, she paid a huge amount of money for someone to redo her sales page, and she spent some money on Facebook ads to scale it up for the next time.

But 90% of what she invested in her second launch was not directly going to contribute to the results of a second launch.

In her second launch, she made five sales. She was devastated. She made a huge loss of tens of thousands of dollars because she hadn’t been aware of those factors of second launch syndrome.

You know these things now. You can be aware of them, and you can adjust your strategy accordingly.

But pay attention to where that mindset might be tripping you up.

You might spiral down this belief that second launches are always going to suck, and there’s nothing you can do about it. That’s not helpful. But you may also spiral down the belief system that it’s already working, it’s amazing, and there’s nothing else that you need to do. That’s also not helpful.

Just pay attention to what your popup thoughts, beliefs and mindset is in relation to your second launch.

5. See your second launch as an opportunity to make it more systemised and scalable

We know that your first launch is generally going to be the one that has the best conversion rate.

But even if your second launch doesn’t necessarily perform as well in terms of financial result, doing it through the lens of having done a review, knowing what works and what needs to be improved, and using it as an opportunity to set yourself up with systems, checklists and templates so that your subsequent launches get easier and easier, can be so valuable. It means that if the launch doesn’t perform as well financially, you can reassure yourself that maybe it hasn’t performed as well financially, but it’s going to make the next launch easier.

There’s a benefit beyond the income that it’s generated.

Knowing that it may be a little quieter in terms of conversion, or it may not necessarily perform as well as the first one, look for other benefits to the second launch beyond the income that it’s generating.

It’s still growing your list for future launch success, it’s creating an opportunity for you to systemise and create something that’s scalable, and it’s an opportunity to do a lot of split testing on ads and work out your most effective ad strategy.

It’s a great opportunity for you to test out a bunch of different videos or live components and see which ones get the most engagement.

Experiencing second launch syndrome can be a really big benefit to your business because it will make you far more discerning about what belongs in a launch and what is just extra work that’s not necessarily contributing to the results.

See this as your opportunity to create a systemised and scalable launch forevermore for your business.

When you set up those templates and systems, and make your launch scalable, you’re creating an asset.

A scalable systemised launch is an asset that will deliver ongoing return on investment for you because you don’t have to make it up again next time. You don’t have to remember all the steps next time.

You just roll it out as simply and as leisurely as possible.

They are my five ways to reduce the impact of and prevent the likelihood of second launch syndrome.

If all of this has got you very excited to get into some of the details of your launch, and really create that systemised scalable launch strategy, I have two free resources for you…

Free training 1: Grow your Audience

This free training helps you to look at list growth in particular, but also audience growth overall, through the lens of organic into scaled list growth.

We look at the different stages of audience growth so that you can be very strategic about the way that you grow your audience.

Free training 2: Launch Basics

In this free training, I map out the basic outline of what needs to be inside a launch, how to determine the strategy that works for you, and how to set up your business so that it’s ready for you to launch.

As always, if you have any questions about this episode, feel free to DM me on Instagram or Facebook.

Thank you so much for joining me for this episode of the Heart-Centred Business Podcast.

Until next time, I cannot WAIT to see you SHINE.

Tash Corbin Business Mentor and Strategist