Small List Big Launch

Small List Big Launch – With Gemma Bonham-Carter

Do you think you have a small email list? How can you have a successful and profitable launch when you don't have as many subscribers on your list as you'd like to have? This week we're talking to Gemma Bonham-Carter about how to build a pre-launch email list (and have a BIG launch!)

Are you ready to find out how to get massive results no matter what size your list happens to be?

You'll want to take notes on this one! 


(0:18) Join our FREE Facebook group.
(3:30) Did Gemma really sleep with a tennis racket for 3 months?
(6:39) Can you have a successful launch with a 'small list'?
(8:15) The key to making money when you have a 'small' list.
(10:53) How to use the pre-launch period to grow your email list.
(12:45) How long should your pre-launch period be?
(13:55) What kind of activities can you run in your pre-launch period?
(16:51) Should you create your course in advance?
(19:03) Launch at a higher price & validate your course with your audience.
(22:58) Subject line of the week with Gemma Bonham-Carter.

Can you have a successful launch with a ‘small list'?

One of the things we tell our coaching students and members inside The League is to never say they have a ‘small list’. Because we want people not to judge their email list based on how many subscribers others have. But if you're just starting out, your audience may still be on the smaller side. So can you still have a successful launch and still make money? 

We asked our friend Gemma Bonham-Carter. And she told us that typically when someone launches their first digital product or online course, they'll go for a low-ticket price item to ‘test the waters'. Why? Because they often lack confidence and suffer from a fair share of Impostor Syndrome. 

Except that strategy doesn't work. And, Gemma says, it's just basic maths. If you have a smaller audience, you have to charge a higher price point in order for your product to be profitable. You can definitely make serious gains from a small list, but only if you're able to sell at a high price based on the transformation and results you're delivering to your customers. 

The key to making money when you have a ‘small' list

Gemma has seen business owners make $15k in one launch with less than 200 subscribers on their email list. Once you've done that, you'll then have the confidence to show up differently in your business – launch more products, write emails with more conviction, become better at email marketing, and draw in a bigger audience. 

But if you sell at smaller prices to start with, you'll need higher volumes to make any money. So do the opposite of what a lot of people do – instead of starting with a $50 product, sell a high-ticket item and then layer smaller products into the mix when you already have a steady cash flow coming into your business. Your product doesn't need to be cheap! Have confidence in yourself based on the transformation, outcome, and results that you can generate for someone. 

According to Gemma, having around 200 subscribers is enough to have a successful and profitable launch. However, the key to making real money is to run pre-launch activities to grow your email list. And if you don’t have 200 subscribers just yet, there are things you can do to grow your list in that pre-launch period.

How to use the pre-launch period to grow your email list

Gemma tells us that the longer you spend in the pre-launch period, the bigger the launch tends to be. And the key is to position yourself as an expert with thought-provoking and polarising content that shows your audience that you're talking about your topic differently from others. This gets them paying attention. 

So you could run a webinar or a mini-series of training sessions inside your Facebook group, for example. Think about the way you normally deliver content and show up the best – whether it's video, audio, or written content – and get some opinion pieces out. Gemma calls these ‘your big ideas'. They help you polarise people – you'll either attract them or repel them. And repelling people is good because you want to pull in the people who like what they see from you. 

The more you can get this type of content out during the pre-launch period, the more you can get people to subscribe. And by the time you open the doors to your course or programme, people will be dying to join. 

How long should the pre-launch period be? 

In one of her most successful launches, Gemma spent the longest time she ever had in the pre-launch period. And for her, this was around 6-8 weeks. All of her content was leading towards the launch, but she also created a fast-action piece of urgency on the first day of opening the programme. She told her audience she'd give a 20-minute one-on-one consult to the first 20 people who bought the programme, and she managed to sell those spots during a pre-launch webinar in only 7 and a half minutes!

Considering Gemma doesn't normally offer one-on-one consults, this was a great offer for her audience. But for her, it was also a great confidence boost. It helped her show up differently for the rest of the launch, which ended up being her first six-figure one.

What kind of activities can you run in your pre-launch period?

In her pre-launch period, Gemma runs a mix of activities. First of all, she shows up more and is more intentional on social media (particularly on Instagram, which is her platform of choice). She also sends more frequent emails – from two a week to three a week. And she runs mini-live training sessions and webinars that she asks people to sign up for. 

The activities during the pre-launch period help her build traction and also figure out whether people are resonating with her content. While she'll plan most of her content in advance and work out what big lines in the sand she's going to draw and what she's going to speak about, she'll also stay flexible with content. If she sees that something is resonating, she'll turn that into a bigger dialogue on social media, or she'll send more emails about it, or she'll even do live training about it. 

What’s also important, according to Gemma, is to never hide when the doors to your programme open. Don't keep your launch a secret – it's not meant to be a surprise! You want people to be anticipating the fact that the doors are opening. Plus, we live in a time of transparency, so take people behind the scenes of your business.

The Top 10 Books To 'Power Up' Your Email Marketing

10 book recommendations that will improve all areas of your email marketing (including some underground treasures that we stumbled upon which have been game-changing for us).

Should you create your course in advance? 

When it comes to creating your course for the first time, Gemma suggests that you conceptually come up with the idea of the course in advance. You want to have all your modules, main features, and bonuses mapped out, for example. 

But at the same time, you don’t want to fully build the course. You want to launch it, put it into the world, and validate it. That way, you can make sure it resonates with your audience, and that people want to pay money for it. Don't give it away for free though, Gemma says, because that proves nothing!

If you have a small audience, take advantage of the fact that you have the bandwidth to go through the programme with a few (10-15) students first. You can hold their hand and help them get the results you promised. This is great for them but also for you – it'll give you the case studies and testimonials to help you build proof. And you can use that for subsequent launches. It's an incredible way to get started that also allows you to build your course in real-time.  

Launch at a high price and validate your course with your audience

So if you're someone who thinks you cannot start your email marketing because you haven't finished your course, do it this way. Launch your course while you have a small audience – they'll pay a premium to get first dibs on your programme, and that will give you a better ROI. 

Plus, as you ask your students for feedback, you get to validate your offer and create a more robust course that gets your customers results. And you'll only ever be creating products that people want to buy without wasting your time and money. 

And the biggest (and probably most counterintuitive) takeaway from this conversion with Gemma is that you should launch at a high price! If you have a small audience, you need to make those numbers work for you. And you can charge high prices by offering more one-on-one interaction with your initial group. This will give you social proof and testimonials, a stronger ROI, and the confidence you need to have even more successful and impactful launches in the future.

So if you have a ‘small list' of less than 200 subscribers, spend around 6-8 weeks in the pre-launch period, build your list, and try out Gemma's tips!


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Subject line of the week with Gemma Bonham-Carter

Gemma has not one but two subject lines for us. The first one is “For [Name]. The one that you all want to know about.” This is the subject line that got Gemma the highest number of click-throughs and sales. Notice how she used some personalisation in there by including the first name of the subscriber.

But Gemma's favourite subject line ever is “The moist maker” with the turkey thigh emoji next to it. This is a nod to the Friends episode where Ross makes the best sandwich of all time thanks to ‘the moist maker', which is a gravy-soaked piece of bread that he places in the middle of the sandwich. The hook is the analogy of the special sauce or missing ingredient of someone’s business, and Gemma re-uses this subject line every year around American Thanksgiving.

Useful Episode Resources

About Gemma

If you want to find out more about Gemma you can find her on Instagram or on her website. And if you’re interested in launching your first course or better understanding Gemma's approach and methodology, she has a FREE, transformative 45-minute class called Course Class. It’s brilliant if you want to know how to go about launching your first group programme or online course.

Related episodes

Product Launch Emails – Success Story with Kay Peacey.

7 Sales Elements to Give You More Reasons To Email During Your Launch.

Launch An Online Course the Non-Traditional Way with Chris Orzechowski

FREE list of the top 10 books to improve your email marketing

If you want to write better emails, come up with better content, and move your readers to click and buy, here's how. We put together this list of our Top 10 most highly recommended books that will improve all areas of your email marketing (including some underground treasures that we happened upon, which have been game-changing for us). Grab your FREE list here

Join our FREE Facebook group

If you want to chat about how you can maximise the value of your email list and make more money from every subscriber, we can help! We know your business is different, so come and hang out in our FREE Facebook group, the Email Marketing Show Community for Course Creators and Coaches. We share a lot of training and resources, and you can talk about what you're up to.

Try ResponseSuite for $1

This week's episode is sponsored by ResponseSuite.com, the survey quiz and application form tool that we created specifically for small businesses like you to integrate with your marketing systems to segment your subscribers and make more sales. Try it out for 14 days for just $1.

Join The League Membership

Not sick of us yet? Every day we hang out in our amazing community of Email Marketing Heroes. We share all of our training and campaigns and a whole bunch of other stuff. If you're looking to learn how to use psychology-driven marketing to level up your email campaigns, come and check out The League Membership. It's the number one place to hang out and grow your email marketing. Best news yet? You can apply everything we talk about in this show.

Subscribe and review The Email Marketing Show podcast

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