Brenna McGowan is our guest on the 354th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. Brenna is a social media manager turned email copywriter and launch strategist who helps her clients implement prelaunch methods that generate greater awareness and sales. If you want to create natural momemtum before your launch, you’ll want to listen to Brenna’s behind-the-curtain insights.
Here’s what you’ll find:
- Why Brenna transitioned from social media marketing to email marketing.
- How she repositioned her business in a new industry and grew an online presence.
- The process she created for validating her offer and expertise.
- Why she niched into prelaunch and how it can benefit the overall launch of a product or service.
- What’s so important about your “why?”
- What are you supposed to do after you pivot your business?
- Being good at things vs being passionate about them.
- How Brenna uses the LEAP process to help entrepreneurs find their sweet spot to achieve their goals.
- What’s working with prelaunch now?
- Why you’re really feeling overwhelmed by prelaunch and how to stop it.
- How to build your email list before you launch.
- Her inspiration behind creating a different style event aka The Voxer Summit.
- A behind-the-scenes look at her client launch based on her CASE method.
- How she packages her offers and positions herself as a strategist.
- What if you only have 3 hours before your next launch?
- The easier way to create natural momentum for your business.
Tune into the episode to learn all of this and more.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
The Accelerator waitlist
The Copywriter Think Tank
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Free month of Brain.FM
AI for Creative Entrepreneurs Podcast
Rob Marsh: If you’ve dreamed of building a copywriting business that earns five figures a month, there are certain types of projects that make reaching that goal a lot easier. And at the top of that list of projects is product launches, that is, helping clients sell a course or a membership or another kind of product, with a combination of strategy emails, landing pages, ads and sales pages. A single launch project can pay a good copywriter a lot of money. Hi, I’m Rob Marsh.
Kira Hug: And I’m Kira Hug. And we’re the founders and hosts of the Copywriter Club podcast. Our guest for today’s episode is copywriter and launch strategist Brenna McGowan. In just the past couple of years, Brenna has become a leader in the launch world, helping clients sell more and teaching copywriters and other marketers how to put together more successful launches.
Rob Marsh: But there’s a lot more to a successful launch than a bunch of emails and sales pages. Brenna shared with us how she thinks about the days or weeks immediately before a launch and what you should be doing to prime your audience so that they’re ready to buy when you launch. She also shared her thoughts about pivoting your business, validating offers and ethical marketing practices. We think you’re going to like what you had to share.
Kira Hug: But first, and speaking of priming your audience so they’re ready to buy when you launch a product, which is what we are trying to do, this is part of our pre-launch strategy, hopefully we nail it, the Copywriter Accelerator is coming up soon. The doors will be open soon. This is our signature business-building program for copywriters and content writers where we help you put together the most critical eight components of your business, the eight parts that you need in order to build a profitable business. And we’ve had success story after success story with some of the most internet-famous copywriters that you may have heard of, and it’s coming up soon. So if you want to learn about this program and what it consists of and how it could help you in your business, you can learn more at thecopywriteraccelerator.com. Okay, let’s kick off our episode with Brenna.
Brenna McGowan: I originally started off as a social media manager back in 2018, and I didn’t even realize that’s what I was doing. I was doing some odd jobs on the side. I was a stay-at-home mom, and I had a friend who was starting a new business and she was an esthetician, and I was like, “Hey, why don’t I do your Instagram?” Which by the way, I’ve never done Instagram before. Why don’t I do your Instagram and email marketing and you give me eyelashes? So I always joke, I started my business out of vanity. I wanted fake eyelashes. And so I started doing her social media and email marketing, and what I started to notice was that we were getting attention, and people were asking her who was doing this? And I was like, gosh, this could be a business.
And so I created a business doing social media. I agonized over the logo and the website, and I announced myself on social media, on Facebook, to friends and family and got clients immediately. And it was like, it just happened really quickly. But from there, what I realized, especially because… I think what was good about that is that I just did it and I didn’t overthink it, which for me, I’m a serial overthinker, but I didn’t think about it too much. But I realized very quickly I hated social media management and didn’t enjoy it. But what I did enjoy was the writing.
And coincidentally, around this time, I had found Laura Belgray, and kind of figured out what copywriting was, and I listened to a Copywriter Club podcast. It was one with Chris Orzechowski talking about email copywriting, and I was like, I think this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to become an email copywriter. And so I transitioned at the beginning of 2019 into copywriting and haven’t looked back since.
Rob Marsh: So let’s talk about that transition, because doing social media and then switching to something else, there’s a lot that happens there. Did you stick with the same clients and just say, “Hey, now I’m doing email”, or how did you reposition your business and find new clients for this new offer?
Brenna McGowan: Yeah, it’s a great question. So my clients that I got initially were not really online clients. I found them online, but they were people from my neighborhood. One was a high school friend who was now doing mortgages, things like that. My stepmom and dad own a wedding magazine, so I was helping local business owners. So I was kind of, in a way… it’s funny, I don’t think anyone’s ever asked me this question before. I was parallel doing things. I was doing things to these local clients since I got clients immediately, but I was also creating an online presence for myself. So that is where I was able to transition slowly and say, “Hey, I know I’ve been doing social media and talking about social media, but really what I’m going to go and talk about now is writing.”
And so I slowly transitioned over. It made sense to a degree, because so much of social media, if you look down, everything is copy. So all of the copy that I was doing for my social media captions, which it was just coincidentally that it was working so well. But I was able to maneuver myself over, and I kind of find Instagram captions and even a little bit of Facebook, it’s similar to email if you think about it. So I think it became a natural progression.
Kira Hug: So when you talk about creating your online presence, what specifically were you doing? What was working for you?
Brenna McGowan: Yeah, at the time, I’m thinking back, I was completely on Instagram, and I was creating content over there, so I was building a list of followers. What I wasn’t doing was creating an email list, which is obviously the most important. So if I think back, I didn’t actually start my email list probably until the end of 2019, even though I was calling myself an email copywriter. So I think there was a part of me that was like, “Hey, I’m doing this email copy thing and I’m helping people create email lists and write for emails, but I’m not doing the thing for myself.” So at that point, I remember there was a line in the sand where I’m like, “Okay, I’m going to start my email list.” Well, I had a tiny email list, but I’m going to actually do this email thing, write my list, add to my list once a week, and test things out for myself. And I think that’s been the beauty of going along this journey is that I test things for myself before actually putting it out there and seeing what works and doesn’t work.
Rob Marsh: Okay. So you became an email copywriter, but that’s not really all that you do now. So how has your business evolved since that switch to email copywriting?
Brenna McGowan: And I love this discussion that we’re having, as we’re talking about pivoting and niching, and I had some little pivots along the way, and in a way I started to think about I’m almost like a serial pivoter because I have done all the things. I had a content membership for a little while. I have done workshops and offers, but what really happened is I decided… I was working on doing not just email copy. Funny enough, I think this is interesting, is that even though I called myself an email copywriter, I was getting inquiries for everything. And I probably have written more websites than anything in this career, but I started to notice when I was working with people on their launches, that I had a couple of launches that didn’t go quite as well as we had hoped. And it was like, well, why? The numbers are there. There’s something missing when it was the email list.
And around that time, I had listened to an interview series with my friend Marissa Corcoran on the Copy Chat, and they were talking about pre-launch, and I was like, you know what? I feel like what’s missing from these launches, that hadn’t gone as well as I had hoped, to thinking about my career as being a social media manager and working on launches and doing all types of copy and really working on strategy with people, was that there was a piece of the puzzle that was missing, which was pre-launch for most people’s launch plans.
And so from there, I decided I’m going to niche a little bit further and it still has to do with copywriting, but I think on copywriting jobs, one of two things was happening, was either I was feeling like people were giving me orders and I didn’t love it. I wanted to come in and be more of a strategist. Or I was acting as people’s launch strategist and wasn’t getting paid for it. So I think there was this combination of things that kind of happened at once that made me think, you know what, no one is really talking about, at least at the time, I hadn’t heard of anyone talking about pre-launch as expertise. And so I was feeling just saying I am an email copywriter. There was that piece of the puzzle missing. I really wanted to be involved in strategy, not just the writing part of it.
And so I decided to once again inch my way over and go a little bit further and decided to call myself a pre-launch expert. Although when I say that, I thought about something that I did well, but not didn’t realize it, is that I started to validate this idea of being a pre-launch expert privately, before I went out and announced it publicly. So it wasn’t like, “Oh, this is a great idea. I’m just going to…” It was like I probably had six months where I was checking in with coaches and colleagues doing market research. I also wanted to validate the offer I had in mind and this idea and actually asked a friend who was going to be launching, I had this idea, “Can I come in and do this process with you that is in my mind”, before I went all in and started telling the world that this is what I was doing.
Rob Marsh: So just a quick follow up to that. As you’re talking about validating that offer, what exactly were you… you were describing what you were doing. Were you talking about pricing? Let’s go into that just a little bit deeper because I think this is something that more of us should be doing before we just launch stuff into the world.
Brenna McGowan: Right. So I don’t think it was a pricing thing at that point in time. What should I charge for this, more like I have this idea. People talk at least in this realm of pre-launch. Like I’ve heard people talk about pre-launch, but I had never seen a system like you need to do a, b, c, step by step. So I kind of took what I knew from my copywriting background, from my research background, and decided, “Okay, what parts of this should I be including in the pre-launch?” Like what needs to be said? And so, I went and actually found, like I said, my friend who did this, and I started to create a process in my head of… Because I had done so much content background and planning people’s content, I kind of understood what needs to happen from a content perspective. But then I started to think, as a copywriter, where do I need to fit in that conversion techniques into this process that I’m creating? So, does that answer your question?
Rob Marsh: Yeah. I’m just thinking, again, through that pre-validation, sometimes we hear, “Oh, put your idea out, run ads or whatever”, and whichever ad gets the most clicks, that starts to validate your idea. And obviously there’s lots of ways to validate ideas and get feedback before we go all-in on something that’s going to take a lot of time and you know, you want it to succeed. So doing that pre-work is pretty valuable.
Brenna McGowan: Yeah, because to me, it was not only validating the idea of a niche and an expertise that I wanted to work and go into, it also allowed me to work out a process privately in somewhat of a no-risk situation. I knew that what I was going to help her with could hurt her launch, but would this actually increase her results? And we had, I believe it was either, it was over 40% increase on that initial launch that we did from her, compared to her previous one on a group coaching program.
And then I started to also… The cool part was that then I was able to take this information and do voice-of-customer interviews. And something that happened during that time was, we actually realized that she was calling in better students into her program because these people were so prepped and ready to come in and do the work, and then they were getting actually better results. Her sales calls went down where she felt she didn’t even have to sell it all on her sales call. The dream that we all want is for someone to get onto a sales call and already be 90% sold in, they just need that extra push that it’s right for them.
So we started to, and I was like, “Oh, I didn’t even realize that.” So I’m so thankful that I went through that process of going at it a little bit slow so I could do some of that validation. And the cool part was by the time I did start talking about this niche that I was going into, I already had social proof. I was already going in. So I think that part also helped me feel really confident in what I was putting out and talking about this as my new expertise was because of this validation process that I did.
And I was also thinking about it in prepping for our conversation today. I also think it made sense as a story. And so what I think we have to be careful of sometimes when we are doing pivoting and niching is that it makes sense to our current audience, that it doesn’t feel like whiplash, like wait, all of a sudden now you’re calling yourself a pre-launch expert? So it allowed me to gather a bit of a story behind what I was doing and why I was doing it, which I also think really helped when I did start going out and publicly talking about it. At least for me, I could be very confident that I had a process that was my own, I had something… I felt I had social proof behind that this concept works, and I had a story behind it of why I was making this transition.
So when I presented it to the big, outside online world, I felt, we’ll say, mostly confident. I think we always have those doubts, but really good about what I wanted to help people with. And I think too, I knew that this is what I wanted to do. I felt like I had found my calling at that point, which made it all the better.
Kira Hug: Okay. So what happens next when you go through those steps, you validate, you figure out this sub niche, and you feel confident to share it with the world. What are some of the tactics at that point that you’ve done, because you have made it your expertise and people know you for this now, so what’s worked for you?
Brenna McGowan: Well, I think going out and having a process, creating a framework, letting people be visible, creating content, authority content around what I was talking about. So all of those things have really made a big difference in how I went about it. But a lot of times we do things, we push forward and then we reflect back on what was it and why did this work so well? And this is something now that I was thinking about, someone should be a pivot coach because I have said, have you ever heard of that? Because I think it would be such a great thing to help people work through, because when we’re going through this process of we are at this point, we want to move somewhere, there’s a lot of variables in between. Do you have the right audience to sell to at that point? Do you have to get new clients? Is there a time of transition where you are going to have to be doing maybe some of this old work, if you will, the stuff that you were doing before as you get into this new work?
So I started to think through, that there’s a process, and this is a process that I talk around offers, but I think it can also apply to when you’re niching or pivoting over is, I call it the LEAP process, which is really starting to sink down before. And coincidentally, I had a private client, we were talking about working further together and she was trying to make a decision and I asked her to reflect on the questions that I’m going to talk to you about today, and those are in the LEAP. So the first one is really thinking about the thing that you’re about to pivot into, do you truly love it? Can you talk about it all the time? I think the cool part for me is I love copywriting, but I love that nurture part, the stuff that sometimes might fall into that content bucket. I kind of see how they work together.
So once again, reflecting back, I was like, okay, the reason why this worked so well is because first I love it. Second, it was easy for me. That’s the E in the LEAP. And a lot of times as business owners and entrepreneurs, we’re good at so many things, but we’re not necessarily passionate about what that thing is. So yeah, we can go out and make money and do it, but we don’t love doing it. So before actually deciding to LEAP ahead and go with a pivot, taking some time to think, “Okay, is this something I can talk about all day? Does it intersect with the thing that comes easy to me?” I don’t think business is easy, but I do think there’s things that we’re just naturally more gifted at or we love it enough that it becomes that thing that we just jive with. And then, if the A and P in the LEAP part is thinking through, is this something that will achieve your goals, so that’s A, and then the P is Pay. Will people pay for it? And these go back and forth.
Obviously we’re businesses and people, we have to make money, people have to pay us for what we’re doing. But we also have to think about, does this achieve a long-term goal that we’re looking at? And whether it’s monetary, lifestyle, is it where you see yourself at? And not that these… Depending on what type of pivot you’re doing, but if you’re really thinking I am going to switch up everything that I’m doing and start creating assets from scratch, whether that’s… When I started doing this whole pivot process, it’s all of a sudden I was like, “Oh my gosh, I just had finished my website as the email copywriter who writes for you on VIP Days”, which by the way, I didn’t love VIP Days either. So I learned that, not the hard way, but I learned that lesson.
So I started to think, okay, yeah, my audience would pay for this, but I didn’t love it. I jumped ahead with those VIP Days before I did it. So I started to learn these lessons over time. It’s like, is my long-term goal to be someone who writes for people on VIP Days forever? No. In my perfect world, I was trying to find that lifestyle goal where I wasn’t working all the time or necessarily being on retainer with someone, but it didn’t suit my long-term goals, even though people would pay for it. So that’s the process that I start to think through when I am helping people with offers, but it can apply to niching as well. “Okay, can I find something that I love to do that’s easy, that people will pay, and that will over time suit where I want to move, whether it’s long-term or the next step in my life with my long-term goals?” So I think that’s what I started to do before, without even realizing it, is kind of what I did with this last pivot is going through this process.
Rob Marsh: I love that process, yes, and everybody pivots. Even old offers get tired, so you need a new offer. So I think that’s really helpful. I’d love to jump into what you do with pre-launches. You mentioned your framework, your process. We obviously have launched a few things into the world, sometimes very successfully, sometimes it’s struggled. I know recently a lot of people have struggled. In fact, you even sent out an email, I think that said, everybody’s struggling right now. Let’s talk about that process and how you help make that 40% improvement guaranteed, I’m sure, every time somebody uses your process. No, I’m joking about that.
Brenna McGowan: There’s no guarantees in any of that, that’s the first thing. Yeah, the first stipulation in marketing is everything’s an experiment, but hopefully a one that you can guide along and have some idea of how things are going to work out. But yeah, no, so my process around pre-launching, I personally like a six-week long pre-launch. I think it depends. Something about me, which is I think my best and worst quality is, I see a lot of nuance in business and in life. And so, I think there’s exceptions to this rule. If you’re launching a $27 product, do you need a six-week lead up? Probably not, right? Although I will always say a pre-launch is never going to hurt you. And really what it is when I help people through a pre-launch is, I work people through my CASE method, which is really doing the C in CASE is, everything’s an acronym to me, but a C in CASE is really Collecting customer research and data and voice of customer. And this is so often skipped, even for us as copywriters, we think we do, but do we really sit down and take the time to do those customer interviews to log in? I know for me, sometimes I’m really great about sending out surveys and it’s like I have to put my butt in a chair and actually put them into a spreadsheet and analyze them and take the time to really do this.
The beautiful part is whether people work with me privately or through my program, is that when you have so much research behind us, it really makes a difference in all of your marketing. And so the first thing I do is I help people figure out, okay, what are your customers saying? Where are your people on the awareness journey? What is what I call your right fit, ready customer? A lot of times we inadvertently talk to the wrong person. And as copywriters it’s like, this is stuff we know, but it’s so hard to do for yourself. And so really making sure we’re talking to the right fit ready person, while the A in my CASE method is analyzing your past data.
And this is something else that is hard for us to do for our own businesses, is to go back and see what’s really working, what emails are getting opened, what emails are being responded to, which emails are, like Rob talked about my email that I wrote this morning, is that email? Is it getting talked about? Are people responding? Keeping track of the data of all of this? If you’re using social media, what’s actually working for you on social media? Are people buying from you because of social media? I know for me I spend a lot of time on Instagram and I’ve pulled way back because it’s like my sales don’t come from Instagram, my sales come from my email list, but that’s because I’ve looked at my data enough to know that that’s what’s happening.
And then from there, once you understand your customer inside and out, you know the voice of customer, then I go into the strategy part. Inside my program or what I do with clients is we’re literally taking a structure and plopping in voice of customer into the strategy. So the reason why pre-launching works so well in terms of what I do, and what I help people do is, it’s just voice of customer structured in a way to help move along conversions. It’s not that I’m coming up with something that’s groundbreaking, I’m just repeating back to a customer what they need to hear.
And within that, really thinking through the four elements of what makes people… There are different personality types, different types of buyers. So when we’re going through the strategy, I’m always, and this kind of goes into the E of the Energize of the CASE method, which is are we showing enough personality? Are we showing, especially with AI, and so much can be written, maybe not well, but when you’re really able to show your personality the A is Authority, can you go in and show people that you are the true expert in whatever that you’re talking about? The C is credibility. Can you back it up with your stats, with what’s happening in your business, the results that you’re getting for people?
And when you can combine all of that with the last E, which is Empathy, if you can show people that you truly understand where they’re at, what they’re going through, and when you’re able to combine all four of those and string these together through your content, then all of a sudden, this is why people… My hypothesis is, this is why the people that I work with are seeing such amazing results because they’re really taking time to get to know their customer. They’re actually taking time to look at their data, they’re creating a proper strategy, a real plan, which a lot of times people think they’re planning, but they’re not really planning as well as they think they should. And then when you can infuse all of that and really let people know who you are, while you’re also the authority in the space that you have the results to back it up, and that you truly empathize with the situation that you’re at, it becomes this magical system that really starts to draw people in and increases those results that we talked about.
Kira Hug: Yeah, I think analyzing past data is most critical and probably the most missed, maybe you would disagree, but at least looking at our launches and clients I’ve worked with, we don’t look at what’s actually worked for us. So we’re just making guesses and just continuing to throw content out there without knowing where the sales are coming from. It’s such a missed opportunity for all of us.
Brenna McGowan: I believe that the hardest part is the data and the planning, and I don’t care if I’ve worked on big teams or people that are just starting, is that people think that they have really planned things out, but they’re not actually sitting with a calendar, mapping out what assets need to be created, what things need to be done ahead of time, especially when you’re going into a pre-launch. What I will hear sometimes is people are like, “Oh, pre-launching just seems harder. It seems like you’re launching for six weeks.” And it’s like, no, I think the reason why you feel like it’s harder is because you’re not actually planning things out super well, and then you’re going into a launch probably not super planned, and you’re just kind of… and then things get out of control because there’s been no plan that’s been attached.
And then I always joke, launching gets a bad rap, but it’s it I feel like launching is the scapegoat here. It’s really because a lot of us haven’t looked at the data, haven’t planned properly. And that’s why when we go into a launch and all of a sudden it feels like this huge stress ball. And the other thing too with pre-launching, which is why I love it, is I’m all about, okay, how can we pre-sell seats? How can we get customer interest early? How can we get people talking to us and asking questions? Because what happens when you do this too, is, and all of a sudden it builds up this natural confidence.
There’s this cyclical thing that starts to happen when we start talking about our offer and it gets people interested, then all of a sudden we feel a little bit more confident because we’re having early interest and then we’ll pre-sell a seat, which then becomes this natural FOMO to our audience that people are already buying. And when you start creating the system where you’re organized on the back end and on the front end you’re actually creating this momentum, then you start going into launches, not wanting to burn everything to the ground.
Rob Marsh: All right, let’s just break into our interview with Brenna for a moment and talk a little bit more in depth about a couple of the things that Brenna was sharing. And I think first of all, we talked a bit about pivoting, Brenna being a serial pivoter. We’ve talked about pivoting even recently on the podcast, but it’s just a good time to remind anybody who wants to go really deep on this topic, we interviewed Jenny Blake, who is the author of the book Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One, or to start a different kind of job, start a different kind of project, work with a different kind of client. That is episode number 41. And so you may want to load that up in your podcast player to listen to next. Definitely worth checking out. What stood out to you, Kira, from the first half of the set interview?
Kira Hug: Well, I like what we talked about when we talked about making a pivot publicly and figuring out your expertise and maybe even a new title and sharing that expertise with the world. Brenna mentioned that it’s important to gather a story that basically backs up why you’re making a change or why you’re doing something or why you’re pivoting right now. And I thought that was a really good point. We know storytelling matters. That’s why many of us specialize in storytelling and that builds trust. And a story also can help with believability. And so I think when someone is pivoting, there are a lot of questions around it from the audience, especially if it’s somebody who’s known for doing this one thing and now they’re saying, “Well, I’m actually doing this other thing. To ease that process, it helps to share a story that connects the dots for your audience and makes it easier for them to believe and understand why you’re doing it and the vision behind it, and so they can get behind it and trust you, maybe even trust you even more.
So that story feels really important, especially if I think about pivoting and saying, “Okay, I’m no longer a copywriter, now I am a wrestler.” That’s a big jump. So I would need a compelling story to connect the dots for my family, for my friends, for my community, for an audience. If I’m selling something wrestling related, you need to have a story to make that believable.
Rob Marsh: I like the idea of exploring things privately as well as Brenna was talking about that, because what it does is, it allows you to explore before you announce it to the world. And as you start to ask questions, is this something that I want to move into? You can kind of validate that offer by asking the questions, talking to people in say, the new niche, or about whatever the new product is. But you’re not all in like you would be if you announced something publicly. And so it gives you a little bit of an opportunity to play around and to experiment. And then when you do go all in publicly having that story, I don’t know very many copywriters who’ve gone from copywriting to wrestling, but I definitely want to hear that story.
Kira Hug: But if you’re making that pivot privately, you probably are creating that story privately so that you can share a compelling story. So they do work hand in hand. And that’s an important part because we all know believability is key to connecting with your audience. I also just want to comment on the fact that Brenna is an authority-building expert. And I love that she has so many frameworks that she shared with us in the interview. As I was listening to her speak, I was blown away by a couple different frameworks she shared, because you and I talk a lot about building authority and one of the ways you can do that, there are many ways you can do that, but one of the ways is by sharing a framework that you own and that connects to an offer that you own. And so Brenna, if you just listen to the episode, it’s a great example of how frameworks can help you set yourself apart as an expert. It helps present Brenna as more of a teacher. It gives her great content to talk through in our podcast interview.
And I know a lot of copywriters we talk to want to start speaking more, and they want to pitch podcasts, maybe even speak on stages. And often, the biggest question is, “What do I talk about?” And if you have a framework or two, it gives you something that is a go-to topic that you can talk about. You can connect a story to a framework, you can connect an offer to a framework. So if you do want to increase your authority and visibility, the next step would be to build your framework.
Rob Marsh: And of the two frameworks that she specifically shared, one is an idea framework and one is a process framework. And we talk a lot about the differences between those. But when you’re thinking about the pivot and going through that LEAP process, I like that she identified, yeah, you want to look for things that you love, things that are easy, things that are going to pay you in the long-term, things that you can actually build and do and accomplish and achieve. So all of that fits together really well with making changes in your business.
I also appreciate along with that, that as you make that LEAP into a new pivot, the very first thing that you need to be doing is building your authority for that thing. And we’re going to talk a little bit more about that here in just a minute with the rest of the interview where we talk about building authority as part of a pre-launch, but it’s sort of the same thing. You are almost pre-launching whatever this new thing is that you’re doing. And so building your authority is critical. And again, in the second half of this interview, Brenna’s going to share a couple of really good ways for doing that.
Kira Hug: So let’s go back to our interview with Brenna where we’ll talk more about those launch strategies. Let’s talk about some of the strategies. I know you were generous enough to share some of those organic strategies for pre-launch with us in our Think Tank. I’d love to hear a couple of those brilliant ideas.
Brenna McGowan: So, obviously we talked in Think Tank about building your email list, and so thinking of ways how can I also, and this goes back to, okay, we have to have an audience to sell to, so we need to be increasing our email list while we’re getting prepped for this launch. A couple of the ideas that we had that I had shared was trying to think of things that are maybe a little bit outside the box. I know I talked about a private podcast idea where instead of having to have a bunch of tech, I am a Gen Xer, the tech always kills me. So it’s like, “Okay, how can I think of a way to get more information or content out to my people in an easy way?” And I’m a Voxer fan, so I was like, “Hey, you can literally pick up your phone and create a voice memo in Voxer that creates a link, and you can take that link and put it onto a webpage and create your own private podcast with no money, no tech needed.
I also do this voice memo idea for emails. You can do the same thing if you want to send a voice memo for email instead of having to, like put it up, download a file, and put it on Dropbox and anything else. It’s like you can literally take a Voxer memo and send it out. And this kind of goes into something that I did. I have an event series coming up, an interview series called Behind the Launch, and I was like, I want to do this summit idea because something that we talked about in the Think Tank was really the way to grow your email list organically is figuring out ways to collaborate with people around you.
And so for Behind the Launch, I knew I wanted to do something that felt like a summit where I was collaborating with other people, but sitting down and recording 10, 20 videos would kill me. I just couldn’t do it. I could do it, but I didn’t want to do it. So I created a whole event series on Voxer where I’m, Kira is one of the guest experts for this second round that I’m going into, which is I just ask people a simple question over Voxer and we have a conversation, and I take those audio files and send them to my wonderful assistant, Rebecca, and we create little audio interviews that get sent out to people every day. So it’s thinking about, first of all, in your pre-launch is like, “Okay, how can I start to grow my email list, and creating momentum and buzz around something that’s going to be coming up and that I’m doing to help kick off a pre-launch is always going to be helpful.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, I love that idea. I’m stealing that for some future use.
Brenna McGowan: I’m good.
Rob Marsh: I probably won’t use Voxer. I don’t love Voxer, but the idea of that private secret voice memo kind of thing is really intriguing to me. I’m going to put you on the spot just a little bit here, but I would love to just walk through a launch that you have worked on pre-launch, and actually talk about some of the stuff that happens at each stage in order to have that big pre-sale or people buy in. Is there some specifics that you can give us from one of your past launches that you can talk about?
Brenna McGowan: Yeah, I’m happy to. So going through, I think about one of the launches that I worked on, this particular person had a lot of voice of customer already. So if I’m going to be working with someone, that’s essentially what I’m doing at first is saying, “Okay, I need to take a look at your voice of customer before we do anything.” When I start looking at the voice of customer, I am categorizing it. So I am doing that copywriter thing where we figure out, okay, what are the pain points that people are going through? What is the major objections that people are talking about? What is the myth that people are believing? What is the transformation that people want? Where do they want to be? And going through and analyzing that voice of customer that we talked about, and this goes back to my CASE. So I would go through, figure all of this out, and then we start looking, once again, goes back to exactly what we talked about.
It’s like, let’s look at the data of what’s really worked. One person in particular, we are taking… The thing that I really want to work through in pre-launch is making sure that we are repurposing the content during the week. So we have this main… What I show in my program is really creating, whether it’s a podcast or doing some type of live video, creating that as our authority content. Although one person I’m working with right now, their primary authority is a blog, although I will always say during a pre-launch is, I want people to either hear you or see you. And so upping that visibility during that time and helping people decide on the messaging that needs to go into that authority content and then figuring out how we can take that one piece of big content for the week and get smaller snippets of little… whether it’s an Instagram post or even an email. How can we create more content in less time in repurposing? And you’re reinforcing that messaging throughout that week.
So that is something, that would be the next step that we’re doing is going back and looking… When I think of this particular client is like we went back and looked at, okay, what was working, what wasn’t working? What should we lean more into? Where do we want people to see our faces or her face during the process? And then taking that and like I said, then we create a strategic plan. So when I walk people through this process, I’m going through, like I said, I’m picking out, okay, what is the biggest pain point that we need to talk about during this week? From there, what are our sub pain points? What are the other things that people are saying that are maybe not as prominent?
And then from there, we break it up into these little pieces of content. So when I hand someone the bag and I’m doing this privately, I’m handing them back a calendar that’s giving them all of the points of things that people need to say or what they need to say during these particular weeks so that when the time comes for them, if they are the people that are writing their own content, they know exactly what needs to be said. If you’re doing a podcast, they already have an outline already fleshed out, and we know that it is exactly what these people need to hear because we’ve spent all that time in research.
Kira Hug: I’d love to look under the hood of your business and just get an idea of how you package and kind of bundle up these offers. This could be really helpful for someone else who wants to work in the launch space or maybe just show up as more of a strategist. So could you just talk through maybe two of your current packages, the most popular ones, and what’s included and what that looks like today?
Brenna McGowan: So, I mentioned that I don’t love VIP Days, but I love what I call VIP weeks. So what I didn’t love about VIP Days when I was doing them is, my brain needs a moment to process. I can’t spit out copy and send it back to you and have the final copy done in a day. It doesn’t work and it’s not as good as it should be if I do it like that. So I’ve taken what I learned in my previous pivot of working on a lot of VIP Days was like, okay, when I help someone right now, my two major packages, if you will, the first one is I come through and do all of the strategy. So everything that I just talked about is laying out the strategy of going through analyzing VOC and figuring out the data.
From there, I’m able to create a strategic plan and I will actually talk to someone. So I kind of figure out what the plan is ahead of time of what I would consider my VIP day with someone is figuring out, okay, these are the messages that I know need to be talked about. Now we’re going into a time where I’m jumping on a Zoom call with someone and asking them a lot of questions around, once again, whether it’s a myth or objection, a pain point, and trying to pull out interesting stories and angles, interesting case studies that need to be talked about during the pre-launch so that when I hand them back a strategic plan, they have a calendar of what’s happening the six weeks before their launch. They know the content that they need to create, if you will. They know what podcast, they know the titles, the hooks, the angles, and the stories for each piece of that content and the calls to action, so that when they go do the writing, they have that plan already set out in front of them.
And I’m coming in as a think partner of helping them, taking their ideas and what they see and whether it’s their intuition, what they’ve worked with clients, and matching that up with the strategy. So we can start creating what I talked about earlier, which is that pace like, “Okay, let’s get your personality in there. What kind of interesting story angles can we tell?” Okay, now we need to make sure that you are showing your authority, your strong stance in things. Where are those case studies, those testimonials that we can intertwine in? Where can we really lean into why you understand where the customer’s at? So that would be the first package that I do, which would be like a VIP week, and then if someone wants to hire me on an extended package is me coming in and doing all of the writing behind that. So in my mind, it’s a linear package because I’m not going to come in and do the writing for you unless we’ve gone through the process that we just talked about.
Kira Hug: I’m going to cut in here real quick to ask a selfish question. Okay, putting you on the spot, but let’s say we’re launching something next week, we’re going to keep it easy. It’s just going to be email promotions to our list. It’s a warm audience. We already know them, they know us. What would you do pre-launch to kind of prepare everyone for it when there’s not a lot of time, there’s a couple of days this week where we can kind of reach out before we officially share the launch next week. How would you look at that with such a short period of time where you don’t want to skip it? We have an opportunity to kind of prepare people, but it’s not a ton of time.
Brenna McGowan: Oh, great question. I love this. I actually helped someone in a similar situation where they were like, “Okay, got two weeks, what can we do?” And I was like, “Okay…”
Kira Hug: And I’m like, “We’ve got two days. We’ve got three days, two days.”
Rob Marsh: Launching in three hours. What can we do?
Kira Hug: Yeah, I love that.
Brenna McGowan: So what I would say first, is just letting people know it’s coming, not springing on them, giving them some type of heads up. I would look into mostly if I was doing this short, is what is stopping them from potentially buying? Looking at what is the thing that’s going to be holding them up? And what I always talk about during pre-launch is that you’re really selling, if you will, the outcome, not the solution during pre-launch, right? Your solution is the offer that you’re putting in front of them. So I would be looking up and saying, “Okay, what is stopping them from having a complete buy-in that your particular solution is the one that they need right now”, especially since you have a little bit of urgency behind that.
And too, I feel like urgency and scarcity in general has gotten a bad rap over the last couple of years. I talked about this, I think it was in an email, I’ve been talking so much lately, is I think it’s how some of this marketing… I’m not for, or against, any marketing principle. I think it’s how we apply it. So if there is natural scarcity or natural urgency meaning, “Hey, this is coming up next week and you only are going to have seven days to choose, and so that’s why I want to let you know ahead of time what’s coming so you have time to process.”
One of my big values in business and in life and in pre-launch is autonomy and really giving people space to make a good buying decision for them. I love… there’s a quote by Chris Voss in Never Split the Difference, where he talks about giving people the ability to say no, actually often creates a yes. None of us like that pressure stuff. So I don’t mind using some of these principles that they’re applied in a way that feels good to you. I think all of us have different standards, if you will, of what that is. So if there’s natural urgency or scarcity coming and letting them know, “Okay, yeah, there’s only 20 spots even for Behind the Launch this time I have a countdown timer on my sales page and it’s a $27 VIP offer.” That is where they get lifetime access to the interviews and all that money goes to charity. But in my mind, a countdown timer was warranted because the price is going to go up to $57, and I want to give people fair warning that that’s happening.
So to me it’s like, “Okay, how can I responsibly use these tactics that are out there in a way that’s actually going to help the person on the buying end?” So did I answer your question? Because I think you could go… I think it’s giving people a heads-up and really leaning into what’s stopping them if I have a very short amount of time and letting them know what’s possible on the other end is where I would kind of lean in. If I could only send out two or three emails ahead of time, that’s what I would be doing.
Kira Hug: Yeah, that’s really helpful. I think just to be like, “Hey, this is coming up. It’s a short period of time and here’s why you want to pay attention to it with real urgency or scarcity”, and not just like, we’re just going to close it just for fun. That gave me a couple ideas, so thank you.
Rob Marsh: You talked about working with you for strategy, working with you one-on-one, doing it all, but there’s also, you have a program that’s like one-to-many, do-it-yourself kind of thing. Talk about how that plays a role in your business as well.
Brenna McGowan: Yeah, it’s played a huge role in my business this year, ’cause I love doing it, and it’s 11 weeks next time. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be 12 weeks next time when I go back and look. And I basically walk people through the process that we’re talking about. Interestingly enough, I had so many this last round. I just finished it up last week. I had so many amazing copywriters and marketers and people that were a part of this successful businesses, and yes, they wanted help with the pre-launch. Yes, we all want to increase our results, but they really wanted to get out of their own head. Half the program is spent on messaging and looking at our data and understanding our client. If you do all that, the pre-launch stuff, I don’t want to say is easy, but it comes way easier like we’ve talked about so much.
So I walked people through the method that I talked about, the CASE method and created a curriculum around it. So not only are they armed with inside that program, they are able to go out and have a process to create a pre-launch from here on out. But then inside of that program too, they get my one-on-one time. This last iteration of the program I was looking at helping them edit. I love editing, so helping them edit their copy, edit elevator speeches and bullets and things like that along with helping them really think through and ask them though… I’m able to Zoom-out because I’m not in their business, and be able to Zoom-out and say, “Okay, does this make sense? Is this really what your ideal person is? Is this the message that you want to actually be sending to your audience?” And so with that, I walk people through that 12-week process, where they’re able to create a launch and create this pre-launch system that we talked about, but that’s become the major part of my business at this point.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, so I was going to ask, with those three different ways of working with you, how do you price those if you’re willing to share that? Obviously working with you by where I’m doing the work, is going to be lower, but it feels like there’s probably a ton of value there that we’d be paying, I don’t know, $10,000 working one-on-one with you, to create an entire pre-launch. What does that cost in comparison?
Brenna McGowan: Right. I’m working on some of my pricing right now, so this is all subject to change.
Rob Marsh: Well, yeah, let’s talk about, make it really big then, whatever.
Brenna McGowan: Yeah, right. No. This round of the program that I just got done with was $3,500. There was a order bump where people got, if they had Voxer access to me, that it went up to $4,500 where people could ask me questions because once again, I love Voxer, and I think it’s so helpful. So that will probably change this next time a little bit. To have that same package where Voxer access me, actually editing will probably be closer to $5,000.
And then if I’m working with someone on a VIP week, that runs about the same because it’s not necessarily comparing apples to oranges in the respect that, if I come in and do all of the strategy for you on a VIP date, it’s not like you understand my system or what you’re… It’s great for someone who just needs a strategy and wants it applied, that’s going to hand it to the team. It’s not necessarily learning the full system. So that is what that’s going to look like. If I’m coming in and doing writing and more detailed outlining, the price would start at $10,000 and go up from there, depending on what we’re doing. That that package is more customizable
Rob Marsh: And all of that makes sense. I mean, you think if you’re selling high ticket programs, two sales pays for that entire program.
Brenna McGowan: Exactly. Especially when you look at it… Which is one of the cool things that I love hearing from my people, the people that have gone through the program is just, first of all, they just feel like they have this step-by-step system. They know what to do. They’re not just throwing… last week, we had our closing call for the program, and people were saying in the past, maybe they would throw out some pre-launch content, but they’re just kind of picking ideas out of thin air and they’re not really sure what to be saying. Now they have a system where they could literally apply this to every offer and every offer moving forward. And the cool part about pre-launching is like, yeah, we’re talking about this in context of bigger offers, but once you realize the art of anticipation, if you will, you can start seeding this in everything you do, whether it’s… I did it for Behind the Launch, whether you have a new website coming out, whether you are about to launch a new lead magnet.
There’s all these different ways that you can start building up, because what I love about pre-launch in anticipation marketing is that we start creating these mini events, especially as service providers. What happens a lot is we’re constantly trying to sell, at least that’s how I was when I was a service provider, is selling emails like, “Okay, I got to get another thing.” When you learn the process that I’m talking about, you can have these natural times of buildup that where you have a lot of momentum, you can fill your books and then you can chill out for a little bit, and you can relax and then it has a natural down.
And so what happens is that everyone is trying to sell on this even plane. And if you think about it, even when I think about Black Friday or the Taylor Swift concert that everyone is talking about, every time I turn around, there was all this natural buildup. And once you have this natural buildup, then it creates the momentum you need to start selling your offers, and then you can have once again time where you can relax. So it’s a process that you can really implement into all parts of your business.
Kira Hug: All right, so I’m keeping an eye on the time we need to wrap and I want to find out… I mean, what’s next for you? What are you most excited about? It sounds like you’re really excited about this program, but is there something else?
Brenna McGowan: My husband and I were literally talking about this yesterday and I was just like, in a beautiful way, I’m so thankful. I think I’ve worked so hard to get to this point that I think that’s the question that I’m asking myself here is, “Okay, what does this look like on the next iteration?” I think at some point I would love to take what… I can only have so many people in my program and I can only help so many people one-on-one and thinking of, can I license out the IP that I’ve created to other companies, is where I think my brain is at the moment. How can I help get this into more hands of more people and keep on doing what I’m doing now? But definitely thinking, okay, what is this next step in the scaling process? I’m not sure.
The other thing I’m going to be coming out with next month is, I’m actually creating a small course, if you will, all around the strategy because I definitely want to have something, too, that’s a little bit more accessible for people that maybe aren’t quite ready for, they’re not quite ready to come into the full program with me. Looking at data, when I looked at the reason why people didn’t buy last time, what I heard was like, “Okay, maybe…”. And people are always going to say it’s too expensive. That’s just one of the natural objections. But I do think there’s something around like, “Okay, could I spend $500 and get a taste of this before jumping head in and doing something that’s 1000s of dollars?” So that’s the next project that I’m working on.
Rob Marsh: That sounds amazing. So if somebody wants to get that secret podcast voice memos Voxer thing, or they want to just connect with you, get on your list, hear more from you, where should they go?
Brenna McGowan: You can find me at brennamcgowan.co. I also have, if you’re someone who’s like, “Okay, I like this pre-launch thing, but I don’t even know where to start”, I have a cheat sheet where you can go and I break down the three beliefs every buyer needs to have before they buy from you, and the type of content that you can create in your next pre-launch to support those beliefs, so that you can get at brennamcgowan.co/cheatsheet.
Kira Hug: Thank you, Brenna. That is the end of our interview with Brenna McGowan. Before we go, let’s just hit on a couple things that stood out, Rob.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, well, okay. So, so many times we talk with copywriters who are ready to do something different. They want to launch a new product or maybe it’s a workshop that they want to teach or whatever, launch a new service, whatever it is. And as they start building it out, the question comes up, well, “Who am I going to sell this to, or how do I sell this?” And I love that Brenna basically talked about building the email list before the launch, is critical. You have to be engaging before you’re ready to sell because just as if you were pitching a project to a client, you need to have a relationship before you can reach out to somebody and say, “Hey, I can help you with this particular thing that I have.”
Same thing with any kind of service, launch, whether it’s a podcast, whether it’s new product, whatever, you need to be building that list. It’s probably email, but it also could be on social media, it could be a LinkedIn following, or somewhere else. Email list is, of course, best because you control that, but if you’re going to launch anything ever, starting to build that list now is a really good idea.
Kira Hug: And Brenna is such a creative thinker. I just love her approach to list building and just to building authority in general. We talked a lot about her summit, the one that I was a part of recently, and how she made it work for her. She knew she didn’t want to sit through 20 different video interviews. That’s how we typically run summits. You have to take the time to do that, work around schedules. It’s a pain for most people.
And so she reinvented the virtual summit using Voxer as a tool, which made it easier for her and more manageable for her and made it easier for the people participating. I know for me, as a participant in her summit, it was such an easy yes to be a part of it because she designed it, so it would be easy for me to share a little bit of knowledge in that summit over Voxer rather than having to schedule a 30-minute chat over Zoom. I could do it in my own time. It was just really beautiful and just made me think of how we can all rethink these traditional marketing events. And using even new AI tools to think through how could I do this in a new way that makes it easier or better or different? And she’s just a great example of rethinking what’s possible for all of us.
Rob Marsh: Different stands out, and gets noticed, and she could have just done another summit with people showing up and having a conversation, but because she did it a little bit differently because it was positioned as almost a private podcast or it’s almost a secret podcast in a way, your secret recordings behind the scenes stuff, it stands out, it gets noticed. And so I 100% agree more of us need to be doing more of that stuff. And this isn’t… as we talk about this, yes, we can help our clients do this, but how can we use these ideas in our own business? What should we be rethinking in our approaches for finding clients or for selling our own products and services? We don’t have to do it the way that it’s always been done.
Kira Hug: And we also talked a lot about being an ethical marketer, and so I know the pre-launch strategy actually works really nicely with that piece where, if you’re pre-launching, you give people plenty of time to prepare for the offer you’re about to share with them. And so I think beyond the fact that it will probably help you make more sales during a launch, if you have a pre-launch strategy and you have a plan in place, but it’s also really nice courtesy to give to your audience to be able to give them time to prepare, to maybe save some money for the investment or to start to think about how they can book time in their schedule to work through the content.
And I think that’s just a really nice gesture. It’s not always easy to do. I know there are many times that we have launched new offers and we have not had a pre-launch strategy in place, but this is something that we’re trying to do, because we realize how important it is, the value behind the business, or beyond the business value, but just how we can do things in better ways that can help people in a more ethical way. And pre-launch is definitely one of those.
Rob Marsh: And one of the great things about doing some of these tactics Brenna has been talking about in the pre-launch is, that it makes those kinds of marketing tactics less important because people expect the offer. They know, so we could be talking about, say, the Copywriter Accelerator right now and telling listeners why they should consider at least looking into the program even if they choose not to buy it this time around, but by giving people warning, helping them see what’s coming, helping them see the advantages, then when they get to that specific sales period, and it’s okay to have a deadline and there can even be a countdown time around that deadline just to make sure that everybody knows how much time they have left to opt in, all of those things are fair and when used right are ethical. But the pre-launch stuff almost makes that stuff far less important. And so, you know, you don’t get the same level of hype around those kinds of tactics that do work, but sometimes feel a little slimy when they’re stacked on top of each other as a surprise promotion.
Kira Hug: Yeah. I know we talked a lot about pre-launch with Ash Chow in our interview with Ash Chow, so maybe we can link to that episode because I do not have that memorized.
Rob Marsh: I also don’t know the number off the top of my head. Ash is another brilliant copywriter talking about pre-launch, yeah.
Kira Hug: Episode 155, 300. I don’t know. We’ll figure out the episode, but that’s a really good episode too about pre-launch. I know Ash has specialized in that and helped us with that, as well.
Rob Marsh: We want to thank Brenna McGowan for joining us for this episode of the Copywriter Club podcast, to talk about her business and pre-launch strategy. If you want to connect with Brenna so that you don’t miss her next pre-launch promotion, head over to brennamcgowan.co. And just as a reminder, since we are talking about pre-launches, the Copywriter Accelerator will be open for the last time this year in just a few days. You can join the waitlist right now, or if you’re listening to this a few days after launch, you can even join the Copywriter Accelerator program. You’ll find the information there at thecopywriteraccelerator.com. Pretty easy to remember, but we will link it in the show notes.
Kira Hug: And that’s the end of this episode of The Copywriter Club podcast. The intro music was composed by copywriter and songwriter, Addison Rice. Outro is composed by copywriter and songwriter David Muntner. If you enjoy today’s episode or any episode ever, please leave a review on the platform of your choice. I mean, let us know and we’ll read it out loud. It’d be fun to read through it and share it. If it’s four stars or above. We appreciate four or five stars. And be sure to check out our other podcast, All About AI, and how copywriters and creatives like us are using it to be better at what we do, to be more creative, to think differently about what we can offer to our clients and how we can build our businesses. And you can find that at aiforcreativeentrepreneurs.com. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.