How to Presell Your Side-Hustle Before You Do the Work
When we start a new business venture—especially when it’s on the side—it’s important we don’t waste our time on ideas that won’t sell.
You might think you’ve got the best solution in the world, but without a proven concept, we’ve got nothing more than an idea.
There’s a big difference between what your audience says they’ll buy and the products they actually buy.
In this article I’ll explain, not only the right way to survey your potential audience, but what types of products to sell, and which to avoid.
As a creative entrepreneur, your time is precious. Why waste months or years of your life developing an idea that won’t work?
When you use the pre-sell technique, everyone wins. You win because you don’t create the product until it already sells. Your audience wins because they get a real-time experience with you and they get your product at a deep-discount. Your future customers win, because all their inner-questions have been answered by those customers who came before them.
Pre-selling is the closest you’ll get to printing money. The winning ideas move forward and the duds disappear.
Uncover What They Don’t Want
First, if we have an email list, we survey our readers. Instead of asking them what they want (because they’ll steer us the wrong direction), we ask them what they don’t want.
Give your readers a single, automated question as part of your on-boarding process.
Ask them what they don’t want, in regards to the niche you serve. Use these answers to craft your basic product idea.
Alternatively, you can read the social comments and forum posts of those in your niche.
We find what people complain about, their struggles, and their pains. All this research, combined-together, will form a series of ideas.
We’ll take this research and uncover the BIG problem.
Uncover the BIG Problem
The big problem is the one thing that keeps your average reader awake at night. She’s got many problems, but most of them, she endures.
We don’t sell solutions to endurable problems. Nobody will buy them.
We sell solutions only to problems that must be solved now—to get the reader from the bad situation she’s in now, to a transformation on the others side.
Your product becomes the vehicle for this transformation.
Access Their Emotions
We buy with emotions and later, justify the purchase with logic. If you go after your reader’s logic right-away, you’ll likely get a blank stare.
During your research phase, note the actual words, statements, and language your readers use to describe the problem.
Later, when you write the sales material, you’ll use this exact language to help promote your product.
We don’t sell the product. We sell what the product does for our reader. Using emotional language and the reader’s emotional touch-points, you put the solution in your reader’s hands. We want the customer to imagine herself transformed, with your product as the solution.
Sell Wants Not Needs
We buy things we want, not always the things we need. Needs turn into commodities.
Wants hold a higher price tag. We want the Rolex and the fancy notebooks. We need a bus ride to the office and a free pen to write with.
While it’s tempting to create products based on things you think your customers need, listen to their wants.
In their feedback, when we decipher the things they don’t want, we’ll uncover the things they do want.
Not the needs.
Skip the needs.
Needs require teaching and training. You’ve got to convince people, kicking and screaming, that they need a solution.
Wants are easier to sell.
Wants access our emotions. Our readers buy with their emotions.
Write the Bullets
Once you have your big problem,
Create a bulleted list of your solution. Maybe a rough worksheet or two. You’ll use these bullets as an outline for your live webinar/course.
You don’t create the content in advance.
The webinar is the content. You’ll teach the solution live, answering real questions from your real audience.
Since you will have to begin the call with a rough outline as to where you wAnt to take the content, start with the problem—the reader’s current world.
Develop the steps in between the current world and the transformation they want on the other side.
Your webinar becomes the vehicle for the transformation.
Create a compelling acronym for your solution. This acronym becomes your signature solution—the perfect key to the transformation. And you are the only person who holds this key.
Write the Sales Letter and Offer
When you pre-sell a product your early adopters must get a large discount. After all, they’re buying something that doesn’t exist, in exchange for being part of the process.
Make sure you pre-sell ethically.
Let your audience know the product doesn’t exist yet. Tell them they’ll get a 100% refund automatically, if the idea is a flop.
Share that they’re part of the solution. Many people love to be part of the journey. They want their ideas and opinions to become part of the product.
Not only will they help you create it, these early adopters will also help you promote the product later.
They feel ownership. They feel an inner pride at being part of something big. They will help you tell the others.
Give a Quick, Limited Launch
Don’t spend a long time on the launch. Send maybe three emails. Give a limited window of opportunity.
You want the early adopters—those who will engage and give feedback—to be the people who buy your pre-sell and attend your first live webinar.
Later, once you turn this initial call into your flagship product, should you go for the full-blown launch.
We want to catch the folks who are excited and ready to help.
Offer Exclusive, Live Access
Sell the product via pre-sell. Tell everyone they must be in the live call. While you will record this and give each person an edited copy, the live call is where the course is developed.
The early adopters on the live call will ask questions. Your answers will help steer the final product.
Their live questions will help guide the supplemental material you need to include in the flagship product.
No one else will get to be on the live call. Live training is more-valuable than recorded training. Your audience will feel this too.
Not only do they get a big discount from the final product, they’ll also be the ones to get the most value from the experience.
Dump the Duds
Let’s say you find your big problem, you wrote the bullets, you make the offer and no one buys—or not-enough people buy.
You found a bad idea.
Return to your research. Maybe the big problem is fine, but your solution is a dud. Maybe the big problem isn’t the right one to solve.
Refund any stragglers who did buy your offer, if any, and start the process again with the next idea.
You can write your talking points and the sales letter in a couple days.
If you uncover a dud, you’re not out much time. Definitely not the time you’d spend creating an entire product before you presented it to your audience.
Schedule the call on your favorite webinar platform. Record the call. Answer everyone’s live questions. Ask for follow-up questions via email.
Divide the live call into smaller modules.
Record any additional modules that needed to be addressed, based on feedback from the live call.
Through this live, interactive process, you’ve created the solution as your flagship product—all without having to speculate.
Pre-selling helps you guarantee a good idea before you spend the time making the final product.
Sell the Recording Forever
Once you record your live webinar, edit and re-sell it to your main audience. This recording becomes your initial, flagship product.
Everyone on the live call gets the recordings and associated worksheets free.
Instead of guessing, you sell a proven solution, filled with the right answers to the right questions, built for the people you serve.
In addition, you can offer these early adopters the chance to become affiliates.
Each of these people has a stake in your product. What better audience could you ask for, when looking for a team to promote your work.
- These folks were on the call
- They helped you edit the content
- They gave you the questions
Offer a special, founders-only affiliate program, and you’ll have a launch army at the ready, when you’re ready for the large launch of the recorded course.
Repeat the Process on the Next Idea
Once you uncover the first solution, repeat the process and find the next one.
Now you have a baked-in audience for your content. They watched your process in real-time.
The next time you pre-sell an offer, you’re likely to get even more buyers, because your audience watched the success of the first product unfold in real-time.
If you’re open and honest about your process your audience will come along for the ride. It’s the entrepreneurs who try and trick their readers into buying non-existent products, who are the ones that fall in the end.
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August Birch is an author, email expert, and entrepreneur from Michigan, USA. As a self-appointed guardian of writers and creators, August teaches indies how to make more work that sells and sell more work once it’s made. When he’s not writing or teaching, August carries a pocket knife and shaves his head with a safety razor.