Publishing your sales page for a new offering before you actually create it makes smart business sense. It’s particularly relevant to self-employed and small business owners simply because we don’t have the marketing dollars to promote it to Broome and beyond, when the thing isn’t going to sell.

This practice is on the rise and, like all trends, there’s a backlash. The backlash is well-intended but misinformed.

But first, let’s examine why you may want to write and publish your sales page before creating your new thing.

Gauging interest, finding commitment

The strongest reason why you would publish and promote a sales page for a product or service that doesn’t yet exist is to gauge interest in the principle or idea behind it. You need to measure the effectiveness of your idea before you go putting too many resources into creating it.

Too many of us spend way too much time, money, effort and emotion in creating something that too few people are interested in parting with their hard-earned cash to buy. We may not have a lot of resources to begin with. We can’t afford to invest in something that isn’t going to pay off. Redirect your efforts into understanding – really understanding – what people are looking for, before you lose yourself to it.

Second, and perhaps of equal importance to the first reason, is that writing your sales page forces you to take on the perspective of the people you’re creating the product for. It’s easy to go into our creation caves. It’s fun in there. We become enamoured by our idea and become completely immersed in it. We know it intimately.

But when we’re done creating, we’ve often run out of steam to get on and market and sell it. We’re so convinced of its value that we’ve lost the ability to look at it impartially, to convince people why it’s relevant to their needs, and handle their hesitations and objections to purchasing. Not only are we exhausted (and perhaps even a little sick of the idea, and in need of a break), but we also know it inside out and backwards and don’t think it needs much explaining.

Third, you want people to feel invested in the process and demonstrate their commitment by either registering their details, paying a deposit or paying the full amount. When they feel invested in your business, they’re far more likely to become ambassadors of goodwill and referrers of other people.

Fourth, the motivation of making a public declaration or deadline can be hugely motivating for some. Rather than pontificate indefinitely, we’re spurred into action by the commitment and interest of others. For some, this reason alone is enough.

The flip-side

The cons of creating your sales page and starting the marketing process before you’ve finished creating your product are when public declarations of interest and firm commitments from people have the opposite effect. Rather than spurring you on, it can cause massive anxiety. You’re stressed, you’re exhausted, and you’re working inefficiently as a result. You’ve got heaps to do and you can’t seem to crack on at your usual pace or to your usual quality.

Sometimes, expectations from the sales and marketing process are sky-high and aren’t matched by the quality of the product. Sometimes the planning process happens too late and the product isn’t as great as it could have been if planning had happened earlier.

If clients purchase and don’t get the results they’re after, this can be a massive blow to your ego and energy levels. You wanted to give them a stellar experience, and failure to do so dents your resilience and leaves you in an enduring funk (regardless of whether or not this is justified). In the worse cases, you might hang up your product development hat forever.

How to do this smartly

So how do we take the best of the idea, while avoiding the flipside? How do we measure interest in our idea, tweak its presentation so that it’s as relevant as possible, and keep our perspective firmly aligned with our clients and prospects, while avoiding the pitfalls of stress, mismatched expectations and product flops?

Engage your community with the idea

Don’t wait until you’ve sorted out the finer details of your idea before you float it with your community. Put it out on your social media channels to measure engagement. Strong reactions, either for or against, are what you’re looking for.

Next, create a simple pre-sales page with an opt-in form to your interest list. This page need only be a couple of paragraphs. Summarise the main benefits that your product will give and the top one problem that your product seeks to solve. Promote this page through your list and social media.

Keep an open mind

Our blind spots in business are our own psychology. When clients and prospects tell us they’re not interested in your idea, or they want something different, we need to have an open mind to hear this. Oftentimes, it’s not that idea that needs overhauling, it’s our approach in how we communicate it. Don’t throw out the idea before you’ve explored all the possibilities for communicating it.

Use your clients’ and prospects’ language to mirror back to them their worries, concerns and anxieties. Use their words and phrases in your marketing.

Have a robust plan and outline

Well before your digital product launches, you need a robust plan and outline. You don’t need to have created the content, but you absolutely must have the outline done. Then, you need a plan for how you’re going to create the content.

You need to create space in your diary for content creation, you need to have lined up your graphic designer, copy editor, proof reader and chosen your technology platforms to deliver the product. You can’t expect to shoehorn content creation into an already-full working week, so take the time to create time.

Lower your expectations

The number one problem most entrepreneurs run into a mismatch of expectations – in their heads, they’re a jet-setting, thrill-seeking, freedom-loving servant to arenas of cheering fans. They know the benefits of what they do, they hold the vision for their clients of how their lives could be improved, and they’re confident they can deliver the goods.

The reality, in contrast, might be a late-night launch at a dining table with one paltry sign-up and a slew of bitter disappointment.

Avoid the heartache (I go through the heartache so you don’t have to!) Instead, write out a list of people already in your community who would be perfectly suited to your new product. These are likely to be past or current clients, or perhaps prospects who inquired but didn’t purchase. This list doesn’t have to be long. Pull the curtains on your arena of adoring fans (for now) and concentrate only on these people.

Know that quality happens through iteration

Quality takes time to develop. As an expert, authority or leader in your field, you hold high expectations of yourself and the quality of your work. But quality happens through iteration. We may plan, plot, research, write, edit, rewrite. Then we must ship. We must ship our digital product so that it can be thrashed about in a real life scenario with real paying clients.

Quality comes through iteration. Your digital product needs at least three runs before its quality becomes more robust. You cannot avoid this. There’s no spread-sheet to bypass this. Shipping is essential.

Book a holiday

Your holiday might be an hour on a masseuse’s table. Ensure that, following the intensity of the launch, you’ve allowed a little recuperation time. You’re going to need it. You’ve got a new product to create and deliver.

Ready to well more effectively, while lowering your risk? Time for the Hustle & Heart program.