How to Launch The Right Product The Right Way: A review of Charlie Gilkey’s Epic Launch Playbook

Charlie Gilkey, Productive Flourishing, Epic Launch Class, Dusti Arab, Angela Wheeler, Lisa WoodHave you ever released a product that was a complete failure?

Have you spent days or weeks of your time creating a product, only to release it to the world and have it die a slow and quiet death?

I have. It wasn’t pretty.

After releasing a few digital products that failed to get any significant traction, I jumped at the chance to take a class focused on how to release a very successful product.

It ended up being one of the wisest decisions I made all year.

(NOTE: you can assume the links in this review are affiliate links, meaning if you decide to click through the link and buy, we get a  commission but your price remains the same. If you do buy, I appreciate it! Of course, you will see below that every review I do covers both the good and the bad and I will not recommend a product, book, or service I haven’t used and liked.)

The Epic Launch Class — since renamed the Epic Launch Playbook  — was put together by Charlie Gilkey and the team at Productive Flourishing, a small business consulting firm based in Portland, Oregon.

The class was taught live via webinar and did a deep dive into what types of products business owners put out, what types of products they should put out, and what they should do specifically to ensure their products are successful. Because these three things are not always in alignment.

Although the focus was in releasing online products (from courses to ebooks to online coaching), the core was really grounded in solid business principles, so the content was applicable no matter what type of product you put out, in my opinion.

Charlie Gilkey has a lot of thoughts on the topic of how to put out good and successful products, especially online products, and a lot to say about it.

In fact, saying Charlie has “thoughts” on product pricing, selling, marketing and execution is a vast oversimplification. The man speaks in fully formed paragraphs, like he wrote the question you just asked him.

Even calling him a small business coach doesn’t really give what he does justice, given how many people run around calling themselves a “business coach” these days.

It’s kind of like me saying I like to swim, and Michael Phelps likes to swim, so we’re both swimmers. I’m not even in the same league as Michael Phelps. Most small business coaches aren’t in Charlie’s league.

But enough about him. Let’s talk about how you launch an epic product.

What is Included In the Epic Launch Playbook

The Epic Launch Playbook is a 4-week course broken down into 12 topics or “modules,” with three modules covered per week. The target audience was people who had products they wanted to market and sell online.

Most of the people enrolled in the course were seeking to market, promote and sell ebooks, e-courses and other information products. As I mentioned, although there was some application for people who were selling typically offline products using online tools (such as an author who wants to sell more paper-and-ink books), this was not the core focus.

Most of the other students in the class were self-employed professionals who already had a blog or active website that they used to market themselves online. Many had already run online courses or seminars already.

There were authors, speakers, a couple videographers/filmmakers, wordpress experts, and various consultants of different stripes. In other words, mostly service providers who were looking to diversify revenue through offering products.

Each week was preceded by more than an hour of video, led by Charlie, on three discrete but related topics.

Epic Launch Playbook, Epic Launch Class, Charlie Gilkey, Angela Wheeler, Productive Flourishing

Screenshot from the inside of the Epic Launch Playbook

 

Some of these topics included: how to identify your ideal buyer, how to identify what value you are selling, locating and cultivating affiliates, pricing strategy, systems that power online product launches, launch sequencing and how to sell without sounding like a cheesey salesperson (or without “being an asshat” as Charlie called it).

The videos, handouts, and accompanying worksheets were the real “meat” of the coursework each week, but there was also great value in the actual classes.

Each class was an hour and a half long (held virtually via webinar) and focused solely on questions and answers from the students.

Although I took this course live, the current incarnation of the Epic Launch Playbook is a recorded version, meaning you can absorb the material on your own schedule.

The class definitely over-delivered on its promise. In fact, there were originally only going to be five classes, but they added a sixth class for further Q&A.

What I Liked About the Epic Launch Class

Charlie’s background both in academia and as a military veteran was very evident during the course, as he commonly used elaborate military metaphors, particularly when discussing strategy and sequencing.

You get the sense he’s the kind of guy who could spend three weeks actively planning for a weekend camping trip.

This is not a guy who believes in letting a product out into the world without fanfare and letting the free market decide success and failure.

Each product requires a plan, each plan requires a strategy, and at the core of each strategy lies a goal.

I walked away from the course with a clear sense that a successful product and product launch starts with clarity about one’s goals for the product in the first place. And a lot, a LOT of groundwork.

There was much to like about this course. First was Charlie’s team. Along with Charlie, there was Dusti Arab, Charlie’s wife Angela Wheeler, and Lisa Wood rounding out the Productive Flourishing team. Together, there was very little they couldn’t handle with great adroitness.

Review of Epic Launch Playbook, Epic Launch Playbook, Productive Flourishing, Charlie Gilkey, Angela Wheeler,

Each module in the Epic Launch Playbook includes video, an MP3 file (for listening on your iPhone or Android if you prefer), handouts and worksheets, and transcripts

Even if Charlie had a great answer for particular questions, sometimes Dusti or someone else would chime in with an alternative perspective or an anecdote that really fleshed out the picture.

I didn’t feel like the content of the course was over my head, and I didn’t feel like it was too simplistic either. I can’t speak for everyone else who was enrolled in the course at the same time, but I think they did a good job of crafting a course with value for both beginners and the more advanced.

There seemed to be a really high level of satisfaction amongst others who were enrolled in the course.

What I Did Not Like About The Course

This wouldn’t be an honest review if I didn’t highlight both the benefits and the drawbacks of the course. So here are some of the negatives.

First of all, it is not comprehensive. This is a niche course for people who already know a thing or two about creating a product to sell online. It’s not a good course for total beginners.

It is helpful to have experience with releasing your own web-based product previously, whether that’s an ebook, or a course or teleseminar. That will give you some context for the discussion.

Having said that, this course does lay a tremendous foundation for future success in selling products online. So it’s a course I would recommend to someone who is at the beginning of their foray into online business.

Secondly, the course does not do a deep dive into the technological tools you may use for e-books, shopping carts, autoresponders, etc.  The course was mostly technology-agnostic; their attitude was that technology will always change but the principles and foundations that go into creating a successful product do not change.

There was a whole class devoted to the topic of what technology to use, but if you are expecting 95% of the course to involve technical know-how and discussion, you’ll be disappointed.

This was actually a very deliberate decision on their part, based on having worked with many otherwise successful business owners who put too little thought into the basic building blocks of a successful launch.

Finally, you have to put in effort before each Q&A class. You can’t expect to learn everything by sitting passively in the class. Like the graduate-level seminars Charlie used to teach, you are expected to show up to class having read and digested the material, with the webinar time devoted to questions arising out of the material.

For busy working professionals like myself, cutting out the time needed can be difficult, but definitely worthwhile.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is if you have already sold products online, or if are thinking about selling products online, you should check out this course.

If you not interested in selling products online, then you may still want to check out my previous review of Productive Flourishing’s planners. I have found these unique 8 1/2″ x 11″ planners have really helped me to focus and achieve more in my daily work.

OK, enough from me.  If you have any other questions about the course, please put your questions in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them.

 

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  • http://www.productiveflourishing.com Charlie Gilkey

    Thanks for the great review, John. While there are plenty of things I’d improve on, I’m proud of this course.

    • http://www.smartbusinessrevolution.com John Corcoran

      Hey Charlie: I think you should definitely be proud of it. You put a lot of effort in and it shows. I know you have more ideas than time, but when you get the chance, I think a beginner’s course on how to launch a very simple digital product (as we discussed) would be a great addition to your portfolio. Then people who graduate from that class could step up to taking the Epic Launch Playbook. However, for non-beginners who know a thing or two about releasing a digital products, I think ELP is a great asset.

      However, as I mentioned in the review, ELP isn’t just about launching a product; it’s also about your whole mindset and approach to building an online business in the right way. For example, one of my biggest goals this year is to interview 52 interesting entrepreneurs who I identified in “The 52 People I Hope to Interview in 52 Weeks during 2013.” I can say that this goal came directly out of taking your class, because the class helped me realize I wasn’t making enough personal connections before trying to release a digital course into the world. It’s a lesson I wish I had known about 4 or 5 years ago.