Behind the Scenes: How I Launched My New Software Product Zippy Courses

by Derek Halpern | Follow Him on Twitter Here

I’ve got a new software product that I’ll debut tomorrow.

It’s called Zippy Courses, and it’s a WordPress plugin that allows you to create and sell online courses…

…But more about that in a second.

First, instead of trying to sell you on how great this software is, I decided to instead share some “behind the scenes” stuff I’m doing to market and sell this new software product.

You might think I’m crazy for doing this. Especially since my competitors are already attempting to poach potential ZippyCourses customers.

But 99.999% of you are good people. And I know you’ll glean insight on how you can use similar strategies to sell your products and services.

Let’s dive in.

Here’s What I’ll Share Over The Next 1,000 Words

I’m going to share three things with you today.

1. I’ll share a proven method for selling anything to anyone. It was pioneered by one of the world’s best tv pitchmen, and I’ll show you how I’m using it on the web.

2. I’ll reveal why starting small is a good thing. Especially if you want to build a long-term business that generates profits year after year.

3. And of course, if you want to be one of the first few people to try out Zippy Courses, I’ll ask you to hop on the “early bird” list right here.

Let’s start with the first thing…

Demonstrability: The Secret to Selling Anything

When I first was thinking about how I wanted to sell this new software product, I knew I needed to take a line from the Billy Mays playbook.

If you’re unfamiliar with Billy Mays, he’s the guy who turned ordinary, and some may even say, boring, household cleaning products into money machines.

How?

By selling them on TV infomercials.

And he did it well.

What was his secret?

He insisted every product he promoted had one key characteristic: demonstrability, or the ability to demonstrate how the product will help people in real time.

Because he knew when you did this right, you’ll persuade people to buy instantly.

Seriously.

As an example, here’s an ad for one of his products called Impact Gel. What is it? It’s a gel that you can put in your shoes, and makes it a pleasure to walk on.

How can you show people how GREAT impact gel is? Well, wrap that stuff around your hand, and beat your hand with a hammer of course. And then reveal that your hand is unscathed. But to PROVE to them how great it is, use that same hammer on a brick and shatter the brick.

Here’s the video:

If that doesn’t show you that impact gel removes the impact, I don’t know what does. It also grabs attention, and immediately persuades people who want to limit impact on their feet to buy the product.

Because if it can protect your hand from a hammer that smashes a brick, it can obviously protect oyur foot from the ground too.

Now I knew, right from the start, that when I was selling this software product I wanted to use demonstrability…

…and that’s what I did.

When you look at the Zippy Courses sales page, I created a video that showed people how to create a 4 module (4 lessons per module) course in about 60 seconds.

Here’s the video:

Why did I do this?

Every other product on the market that I personally tested would take hours to accomplish this same task. So I knew showing people how fast my product could do it would PROVE to them how easy this product was to use.

(I did this mainly because a lot of people were stressed out about how hard other things were to use).

Here’s what’s strange:

Even though demonstrability is a proven sales principle, and when I first launched Zippy Courses in early August to a handful of people, I believe demonstrability allowed me to sell out all of my licenses in 21 minutes, you’ll find most software companies don’t use this strategy.

So silly.

Now you might be wondering, “Okay, that’s great for software? But what about consulting services? Or information products?”

That’s where things get a little more tricky.

But it’s stlil possible.

Just use the “before and after” persuasoin principle. I mean, what better way to demonstrate results other than to show your prospects where your other customers came from and where they are now?

Starting Small: How to Build A 30-Year Business

I did something very different when I first started selling Zippy Courses.

Instead of doing my usual webinar, and an email series that leads up to the sale of the product, I just briefly announced that it was “Coming soon” on Facebook, plugged it with a little text link from my blog, and that’s it.

Why would I seemingly “Half-ass” this launch?

I didn’t want to sell that many copies of the product.

Seriously.

I actually wanted LESS sales.

You see, I just love how Facebook launched. Here’s what they did: They started adding one school at a time.

This was smart. It built scarcity naturally, and that’s great for marketing. But what’s really smart about it is this: it allowed Facebook to slowly test their infrastructure in the real world. And slowly scale it up without creating massive support nightmares and downtime. If their infrastructure couldn’t handle another school, they woudln’t add it. They’d wait. It was genius.

That’s what I’m doing with Zippy Courses.

Instead of allowing anyone and everyone to buy the new plugin, I only offered a handful of licenses and they sold out in 21 minutes. Tomorrow, when I release it again, I’ll also only offer a handful of licenses and it will sell out again.

This isn’t a scarcity marketing gimmick. I’m doing this because I want to slowly scale up my customer base to ensure the software works. Just like Facebook did.

Even though we did extensive testing, we only tested a few different server environments. And we only had a handful of alpha testers (and now a handful of beta testers).

But there are millions of server configurations.

So, sure, I could have sold 1,000 software licenses. That would have been a great pay day. But what if something broke? There’s no way my support team could deal with 1,000 people with broken sites in a timely manner.

However, if I limited it to 25 licenses, we could get back to people as fast as possible.

I prioritized customer happiness and success over revenue. And that’s a good thing for both me and ZippyCourses customers.

Did we expect the software to break websites? Absolutely not. But we prepared for the worst because we weren’t building some “fly by night” money making software scheme. We were approaching this as a 30 year business, and we wanted to do the things that empowered us to build a real business with long-term growth opportunity.

Keeping this in mind, here’s why you should care:

A lot of people get stressed out about starting small. As if starting small is a bad thing.

But if you’re just getting started and you’re landing 5 or 6 or 7 customers. Or maybe even less than that. That’s a GOOD thing.

That’s your opportunity to turn those people into SUPER FANS. And you MUST do everything in your power to make them happy.

Because guess what:

That’s how you’ll start selling 100, 200, or 1,000 sales later on. Those first few early adopters will help spark the tipping point.

The same applies when you’re starting a wordpress blog. Treat those first few readers like gold. Email them personally. Offer to help them personally. You’ll turn one off visitors into fans for life.

Now, About Zippy Courses…

I hope you liked seeing a little of the “behind the scenes” stuff for Zippy Courses.

Now, if you’re someone who creates (and sells) online courses, I’d like to invite you to hop on the Zippy Courses “early bird” list.

It’s going on sale tomorrow at 10am. And like the first time, I fully expect to sell out of software licenses quickly.

Again – it’s not a marketing gimmick. I’m doing this because it’s a necessity when starting a new software business.

If you’re the type of person who doesn’t like to mess with beta products, no worries. We will release the plugin to the mainstream late this year.

But if you want to get Zippy Courses at the best price, before everyone else, then I suggest you do it tomorrow.

Go sign up for Zippy Courses prelaunch list right here.

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Timothy Moser

My biggest dilemma in selling courses is targeting and speaking in my audience’s language. I have such a broad audience that they all think in different ways, but I have trouble determining what specific segment of my market is the most valuable to focus on.

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Darlene BlogBoldly

Hi Timothy!

I’ll jump in here if you don’t mind. :)

You have a great site, and you’re right, “mastering your memory” can be for a broad audience. But so can fashion, organizing, education, sports.. you get the idea.

That’s why so many pp take a big ole topic (with a broad audience) and decide to speak to a narrower segment of it.

The 1st audience that pops into my mind for you is college students. Eh, but they typically don’t have money. Hmmm.. Well, YOU know your dif. types of visitors. What if you picked the segment you want to speak to and start marketing to them?

darlene

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Timothy Moser

Thanks! You’re right, I’m getting to know the different types of visitors that come to the site, and I can segment my audience to choose someone in particular to sell to, even if my content is for a broader audience than that.

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Darlene BlogBoldly

Yeah I had (well, still have) a site with “small house” in the domain and it was about downsizing. But I attracted the tiny house pp which is an entirely dif market. And I didn’t like producing content or interacting with them.

Since then I decided to try (it’s definitely trial and error) to speak to the types of pp I’m interested in building relationships with. So, it does narrow down the audience… and my reach, but I like to think the ones that are in the “circle” are responding better to what I offer.

You have such a great topic Timothy! And I don’t know that I’ve ever seen another site in your niche.

~darlene

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Timothy Moser

Haha, yeah… I totally OWN the search term “memorization” in iTunes podcasts. It’s just me. And when other people ask about starting an online business, I tell them that delivering unique value is perhaps the biggest key. Do something helpful that nobody else is doing.

Nick Night

I agree with Darlene.
The secret is to creating marketing campaigns for “verticals”.

We have the same problem for our publishing platform – lots of different industries could use it, and use it differently.

We solved the problem by making targeted conversations for various verticals, and then using targeted advertising to drive the traffic.

Here are a few examples of us selling the same thing to different industries:
Speakers/Experts/Coaches: http://get.revizzit.com/experts
Bestselling Authors: http://get.revizzit.com/authors
Magicians (yes, magicians!): http://get.revizzit.com/magic

Hope that helps you find a strategy, Tim!

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Timothy Moser

Thanks so much, Nick! Selling to multiple segments of my audience makes a ton of sense.

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Jessica Castle

So excited for the beta sale tomorrow! And thanks for showing us behind-the-scenes of your launch. I think the idea of demonstrability is even great for when we launch our course, such as “See how it easy it is to navigate the course, and here’s where you’ll go for XYZ lesson.”. Thanks for these ideas!

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Robin Bright

Can’t wait to purchase this! I work directly with the John Maxwell Team, turning their webinars and recorded training sessions into online products and implementing this into their websites will be my first order of business!
Great job Derek!!

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Jessica

My biggest challenge is reaching a large enough audience. I’m really good at selling, not so much at the marketing of my business plan training and consulting services.

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Megan pangan

This is great derek. I don’t have a course yet, but yes, it’s very simple. Thanks for having this ready to go! Btw, what do you have to say about people saying that online courses don’t work as well? Are they just lazy? or is there some validity to that statement. In my experience, Course are a great way to get started when you know jack…would you concur that courses are jump starters for most people. What’s you’re experience with this concept?

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Breanne

There’s a bunch of research that say when done properly, online courses are more effective than traditional (offline) ones.

Here’s a quote from a paper I read recently on the topic:

“Several researchers have found that online students can and often do outperform traditional students (Maki and Maki, 2007). … Other researchers have echoed these findings, discovering that online students report learning more and spending more time on task (Robertson, Grant, and Jackson, 2005), being more engaged than traditional students according to the NSSE (National Survey of Student Engagement) averages (Robinson and Hullinger, 2008), having higher achievement and performing better (Conolly et al., 2007; Lim, et al., 2008). Like Maki and Maki, Zhao, Lui, Lai, and Tan (2005) reported that students do better with instructor interaction and communication. The potential for online courses to be as or more effective than traditional courses is there.”

The challenge is to make sure that your course actually engages the students and gets them to take action; in other words, it has to be well structured, well designed, and properly developed to make the most of the online environment.

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Darlene BlogBoldly

OK,, this is the last time I jump in so I don’t hog the conversation..

But Megan, I can say for me personally, the dif is accountability. If there’s going to be a live class on this date/time, as opposed to instant download, I’m MUCH more inclined to show up to the class than go thru the material.

Lazy? Maybe. :)

But I sure wouldn’t worry about what pp say about online classes because apparently TONS of pp like and buy them.

Hey, you might jump over to Pat’s podcast (SmartPassiveIncome.com/teachers-online-business-shane-jocelyn-sams/) and read about the coach and his librarian wife who made $142k last month with online courses!

~darlene

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Joe Hage

Intriguing and I clicked to learn more to see there was no pricing information, a strategy, I’m sure.

Also I was curious about “Sell Your Course” and “Email List” but these were omitted from the video.

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JoAnne

which payment systems will this plugin integrate with? and which autoresponders?

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Barbara Okpala

Thank you Derek Halpern. I am learning a lot from you. Seeing as I have only started building my business online. Thanks for the gems you post on your blog.

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Andre

Great Blog Post Derek! Keep the awesome content coming. I have to the videos in this blog post now. Thanks!

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Brian Carr

My biggest problem is the analysis paralysis surrounding the very creation of a program. I feel like I don’t even know where to begin. I have a decent-sized list (13K in the Paleo niche) and I feel like I’m just leaving potentially life-changing money on the table month after month after month.

SERENITY NOW!

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Mylene

Hi Derek,

First time commenting so let me say this first : love what you’re doing, keep bringing the good stuff !

I’m very interested in LMS in Wordpress and one year ago I read a lot of products comparison before choosing WP Courseware. So I’m a bit surprised by what you say about the other products on the market since I know for a fact that it doesn’t take hours to create 4 units of 4 lessons in WP Courseware, but just a few minutes. It’s not as quick as Zippy Courses I must admit, but the difference doesn’t seem this noticeable since you still have to create the content of course by going into each page ;)

Or maybe I’ve missed something ?

So I guess what I’m saying is I’m looking forward to the other advantages of your product !

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mike

can a complete newbie run this software?

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Ivo Dimitrov

I want Zippy Courses!
NOW!
At the best price.

;-)

P.S.
The TV infomercial strategy rocks. And the demo catches in a perfect way the pain in the ass with other plugins :-)

Nice work Derek

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Lauren

I’m one of the early subscribers on Zippy Courses. So far I like the plug in, but there is one huge issue I had that I want any software newbies to know about. I installed ZC on my website, thinking I could attach it to my subdomain there. Nope. It attached to my website and basically destroyed all of the modifications I had made over the last 6 months. I have been emailing back and forth to WP Curve all day to get things back to normal.

Now, like I said, I’m not a software person, so maybe no one else would make this mistake. I just want to mention it in case there are people who don’t know what to do (it’s no where in the directions).

I have everything fixed now, and I’m looking forward to getting my course fully set up.

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Rose

That is one of the reasons I like you and the way you do business, my thoughts exactly. I like the plugin a lot it would work great for my site, I do it by creating pages and I dont like the setup.

thanks love your Blog!
Rose

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Jay

How does this compare to Learn Dash. Just installed it and it is a little complex. Would like to see all the features but looks like by the time I know what it does it will be sold out.

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Taylor

The product looks great.

I must admit though, after the Impact Gel commercial, I was expecting to see a sludge hammer or hummer in the Zippy Course demonstration :)

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Ded

Hi derek

I would love to buy zippy courses. Mind you i have no idea how much it is!

And i did read it does not integrate with all Wordpress themes.

However, it still sounds amazing.

Only thing i live in australa. So if you launch at 10.00 am that is about my 3.00 am and by the time i get up it will be sold out. So are you saving any for southern hemisphere peeps?

Thanks

Deb

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Michael

Great article again Derek, even with the spelling mistakes :-P Seriously though bro’ I like the sound of this product and the techniques behind sales.

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Jeff Goins

Love the video, Derek. Great demonstration of a product that “just works.” Well done and congrats on the launch!

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Noah @The Non-Accountant

Congrats Derek, I’m trying to signup but it’s saying I’m already subscribed.

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Chris

Not sure why I didn’t get the update to this post. But excellent plugin! And I am sure it can be very useful for what I am doing.

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David

Thank you Derek. I enjoy your high energy and excitement. I am currently building a consulting business and learning a lot on how to improve my marketing strategy.

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Kevin @ OMJoutdoors

I always loved watching Billy Mays and his commercials, anyways very informative posts and I love the information you give out for free. It always helps me out :)

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Spencer Goldade

Sad I missed out on the launch! I’ve added my name to the sign up list and hope to hear about the next batch.

I work for an enterprise level company in the marketing department and a few of us who do freelance and have our own side business were talking the last few days about offering our own courses online. That’s when I vaguely remembered reading something about course offerings on your blog but came to see we had already missed the boat.

Can’t wait to see more tools for helping people both build and market their businesses, Derek. I really appreciate the insights you bring to the table.

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Nathan Cooper

Thank you, Derek, I love the video you shared – the demonstration method is very persuasive, I will definitely use your advices to improve my business strategy. Keep up the great work!

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Tanveer

I have read your article “behind-the-scene” at zippy courses.
If you are looking for creating educational software, let me introduce to you a product at tansharp dot com

Here you can integrate SVG (Scalable vector graphics), raster images and your own course content to create stunning C# application running on desktops. Licensing is fully integrated into the software.

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Soumya Roy

Very good article Derek and amazing confidence and enthusiasm you have. I am an optimizer and currently started my training academy. I am applying all my knowledge, failing and again standing up, learning new things throughout each week but I am seeing there are lots of differences a good mentor like you can make to a business. I wish I cloud have much more from you, Derek. Your advices are awesome and I noted them for my business strategies.
Thanks Derek, for such a nice and instructive article.

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AJ & Serenity Services

Thank you for another great post Derek! I would agree that the “before and after” technique can be very effective when promoting your products/services. Providing product demonstrations also help. My partner and I will definitely put these techniques to work in our online business!

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