What is a “Book of Small Experiments” – and how can it help your launch?

What words spring to mind when you hear the word “launch”?

I asked this question at a workshop I was leading recently and the women entrepreneurs in the group offered these answers: big, overwhelming, complicated, too many details, lots of content, scary, vulnerable, too many to-dos, complex, involved, intimidating, panic, where to start?

Wow – launching comes with a whole lot of baggage, doesn’t it?!

But the women in the group also said that launching could feel exciting – and that by launching a product or service, you’d be opening yourself up to making money.

So I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – it’s time to take launching off its pedestal and let go of some (or all) of those negative associations. In doing so, I believe that we can use the platform of a launch to propel our businesses forward - and, yes, make some money!

Instead of seeing a launch as a do-or-die, overwhelming, scary beast-of-a-thing, let’s reframe the concept of a launch into something more playful, experimental, and customized to what feels good for you and your goals.

A launch is just an experiment.

This “launch as an experiment” idea came out of a conversation I was having with Garren (shout-out to all those entrepreneurial spouses who have to listen to, and help process, a bazillion ideas!).

So you can imagine my delight when I learned that it was not just me who thought that approaching life and business as a series of small experiments was a good idea – and in fact, that this idea was backed by scientific studies.

I learned about this through Daniel Pink, who interviewed David Epstein, author of Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World.

Take exactly 3 minutes and watch the video – it’s lovely! And you can get the exact details about the Harvard study on which his book is based. But what I was delighted to see is that David recommends keeping a Book of Small Experiments in which you write down any new thing that you’re going to try – in business and in life – and frame it as an experiment.

He explains that people who set up these small experiments “short-term zigzag their way to a place where they uniquely can succeed and feel fulfilled.”

David uses his own example of wanting to do volunteer work at a charity. He didn’t quite know which charity to commit to, so he decided to volunteer at about 6 charities. At the end of this experimental period, he reflected on his experience and ultimately chose to commit to two charities (awwww…).

And that reflection and analysis is key – once the experiment has run its course, then you’ll reflect on the results and make a decision on the next direction you’ll take.

So let’s start with the practicalities, shall we? How can you keep a Book of Small Experiments? What kind of stuff is going to be in there?

Well, in terms of the Launch & Love It Formula, Steps 2-5 are perfectly primed for a few small experiments. But let’s talk about Step 1 first – Aim.

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Experimenting with your Aim

(I’m sorry, but being a boy mom, I can’t help but giggle at that heading - I’ll give you a moment if you need it…).

OK, so the Aim step is where you’d set your goals for your launch and settle on the way you’re going to package your offer. For example, you might decide to launch a group program, or a specific 1:1 coaching package, or a subscription service. This will set the boundaries for your experiment. What is becoming clear to me is that in a world of so much opportunity and possibility, us entrepreneurs need a few boundaries to really enjoy our freedom.

So if you’ve decided to launch a group program, then keep focused on that for your entire launch period (I like 90 days). Don’t suddenly decide (even in the name of experimentation) to change your offer to a membership or an online course.

Where the experimentation can come in is with your next launch period. Perhaps you launch a group program, but then you get feedback from your group members that they’d like ongoing support in the form of a membership. Or perhaps you recognize that your group members would like to outsource their work directly to you, and so in your next launch, you offer done-for-you packages.

So, set the Aim of your launch very clearly – you can draw on your past experience (and the data that you’ve collected from previous launches – because you’ll be making this a habit, right?). But once you’ve set your Aim, then stick to it – it’s your North Star, at least for the next 90 days.

OK, so now let’s look at the other variables in the Launch & Love It Formula and see how you could get experimental with them.

Experimenting with your Target Audience or Niche

Step 2 is Audience.

Each launch you do is an opportunity to experiment with the audience group you are targeting, and possibly narrow down your niche. For example, in my business, I work with any online business owners, but for my current launch, I am experimenting with targeting mompreneurs who are coaches, specifically.

That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t work with dads, or women who are not mothers, or entrepreneurs who have a different business model to coaching; but narrowing down my audience helps me later in the launching process. Because instead of trying to reach out to the whole internet (!), I can just focus my efforts on mompreneur groups, talk about topics that are related to mompreneurs, and broadly assume that my audience will either be offering a 1:1 coaching service, or looking to scale their coaching services into more evergreen products.

Experimenting with your Launch Activation Points

Step 3 is Activation.

This step is made for small experiments! It’s where you’ll set up your sales funnels and plan out how you’re going to connect with your audience and move them into action! Here are some examples:

  • If I offer a lead magnet, I will get a 40% increase in email list signups.

  • If I get my Instagram profile primed for booking calls and do a post and story every day, then I will get x requests to book a call per week from IG.

  • If I set up a Facebook Group, I will get more leads than from my email list with the same content.

  • If I offer a workshop, I will get x signups and y new leads for my coaching program.

  • If I offer a tripwire product (low priced product immediately after email list signup), then I will get x new leads a month for my premium offer.

  • If I invest $x in ads, I will get y new email list signups or z new leads for my offer.

And do you notice that each of these statements incorporates an if-statement, followed by a then-statement. A hypothesis for the scientists among us.

Experimenting with the Marketing Assets for your Launch

And Step 4 is (Marketing) Assets.

This is where you list all the marketing assets you’ll need to activate your audience in Step 3, and you start developing them.

  • I’ve got a new idea for a lead magnet… I’ll offer it as a content upgrade in a blog post and if it does well (say 20% conversion or more), then I’ll revise my current lead magnet.

  • If I set strict style guidelines for my IG posts and pre-plan my posts, I will increase my followers by x.

  • If I edit the copywriting on my sales page to include more specific language (rather than generalizations), I will increase my conversion rate by x%.

  • If I add a call-to-action in my email signature, I will increase get x new leads.

  • If I reconfigure my landing page (where clients have to book a call) to become a sales page (where clients can sign up and pay immediately), then I will save x hours per week and close x% more deals.

Experimenting with your Launch Action Plan

Step 5 is your Action Plan.

This is where you use the assets you have prepared and take action to meet your goals. Also known as the “active launch phase”, this is when the sales funnels and plans you’ve made in the Activation step are going to start rocking and rolling in the real world!

  • If I reach out directly to x ideal clients, I will get y call bookings and z clients.

  • If I reply to each of my IG commenters and ask a follow-up question, I will get x call bookings.

  • If I reach out to subscribers who have engaged with my emails, I will book x calls.

  • If I answer questions related to my expertise on the x Facebook groups I am a part of, I will get x call bookings.

  • If I reach out to the people who have bought my tripwire product, x% will move into my 1:1 program.

Analyzing the results of your launch/experiment

Finally, in Step 6 (and this is an important one), you’ll conduct Analysis of your experiments.

This is why you’ve got to keep a record of your experiments and the findings you’re picking up. Once you’ve reflected on the data you have, you can make a conclusion about whether your hypotheses for your various small experiments were proven or not – and then use this information to make decisions for your next launch.

Notice that you’re simply testing a hypothesis – not judging whether you’re a successful businessperson, whether you’re good at sales, or whether you’re a good person! So for me that makes it a bit more freeing – that I don’t have to be so emotionally attached to the results of my experiments – they’re just experiments.

Isn’t experimenting and hypothesizing fun? I have to say that surprisingly for me, it IS fun!

In my next post, I’ll be diving a bit deeper into the benefits of a Book of Small Experiments and why this little strategy is a great way to take inspired action forward in your business.

For now, here’s a challenge for you:

Write down a few experiments you’d like to do in your business over the next 30 to 90 days.

Hypothesize and experiment with actions you’ll be taking for your launch and in your business. And make sure you’ve got your copy of The Launch & Love It Formula Starter Pack, so you can write at least one hypothesis for each of the steps of the formula. ;)

I’d love to see some of your experiments, so take a photo of your Book of Small Experiments, or take a screenshot and tag me on Instagram.

Shelley Smith