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The Emotional Rollercoaster of a Product Launch

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I thought I had made the biggest blunder of my career. Potentially crippling.

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Flashback 24 hours.

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I was sitting at my desk when it suddenly dawned on me how big tomorrow’s launch was going to be. The enormity of it. We had put not only months of labour into this launch, but we had put a lot of money into. We needed to see results.

I suddenly panicked and was playing out all of the scenarios and ‘what-ifs’ in my head. In our office we use the word frazzled for anyone who looks like they’ve got too much on. This was me. I was absolutely positively frazzled, almost to breaking point. I was at war with myself.

I messaged my partner looking for a bit of support. I got it in spades. I kept going.

I took my laptop into the meeting room for the rest of the day to work in isolation & started mapping out those scenarios on countless Excel spreadsheets & studying the numbers like I was back in school. I was emotionally drained. I was a poor leader this day. I communicated poorly when I should have been upbeat, positive & giving clear direction. On the eve of one of our biggest product launches of the year the enormity & pressure of it got the better of me.

I went home that night as stressed as I had been for close to 6 months. The questions were running through my head; had we done enough? are we going to get a return? will we have dead-stock?

I know that I’m at peak stress level when I pull out the red wine for a glass or two to calm me down before bed. It doesn’t happen very often. Usually once or twice a year.

Unsurprisingly I slept terribly & woke early to get to work.

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Launch morning.

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I got in early. It was pitch black & the city lights beamed in the darkness out the window next to my desk. This was it. One of the biggest launches of the year that we had invested so heavily in. That’s the thing about product launches, you never know how it’s going to go until it’s done. We do them a little differently to other businesses perhaps. Our business model is based on a ‘launch culture’ or ‘hype culture’, if you will. We create awesome products, hype them up, build a pre-launch list & then launch them.

You get an idea of how it might be looking based on your pre-launch list, but it’s not entirely accurate. You could have 5 million people on your pre-launch list who register their interest, but they may not want it come launch day for one reason or another. There’s so many unknowns and that is perhaps what takes the biggest emotional toll.

We were creeping up to the launch time. 10am. It’s 9.41am and I get up for the last time to make a quick coffee before they go live. Keep in mind that the first 5 minutes is where the magic happens. If you’ve created a great campaign that is where most of the sales will come from. It’s a free-for-all to get in before they sell out. It’s manic.

It’s 9.58am and we only have 90 people on the website. It’s not a good sign. Usually by this point we need at least 200-300 people circling the site waiting for the launch.

It rolls to 9.59am & I have no choice but to release the products onto the website and make them available for purchase.

Between 9.59am and 10.03am felt like 4 hours, not 4 minutes. A couple of sales ticked over but there were still only 90-odd people on the website. This was the moment my worst nightmares looked like they were coming to fruition. I was already planning what I was going to say to the team. I was already thinking about how I was going to have to dig deep into dozens of Excel spreadsheets to find my way out of this one. I immediately started questioning the whole campaign & trying to figure out where it all went wrong. This was the crucial first few minutes where everything was meant to be manic. Controlled chaos.

I thought I had made the biggest blunder of my career. Potentially crippling.

Roll onto 10.04am. The visits start creeping up. The sales start trickling faster. Now they’re pouring. It’s the most people we’ve ever had on our website at one time. All I can do at this point is watch & hope that it continues. It’s one of the strangest feelings one can ever have. You’re helpless, nervous, excited & scared all at once. You’ve got so much riding on this launch & now all you can do is hope that it continues to a point where you can reach your goal & live to fight another day.

They continue, they continue. We’ve hit our bare minimum. 30 minutes pass & we’ve broken-even on the whole campaign. The campaign continues throughout the day with another huge 48 hours coming up with media, PR & social activation’s.

One of my business partners turns around a few hours later & says; “Robbie, you must be rapt. It’s not often you get to successfully run a campaign like this.”

I turn to him & say; “I’m just keeping my emotions in check, it’s all about emotional consistency.”

Ha. How’s me trying to play it cool with this emotional consistency word vomit. Little did he know I barely slept the night before, cracked out the red wine to calm myself down & was secretly thinking about whether or not I could get a ‘real job’ if this all falls down (joking, not joking).

That’s the nature of our business model & despite these emotional battles, we’ve pulled through each and every time. In fact we have prospered. I love coming to work every day and building these incredible campaigns. I love the journey & to be honest some of my proudest moments as a human have been overcoming these adversities that I have faced in running & scaling my own business.

Til’ next time.

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