How to Build Your ECommerce Store Through Pre-selling

Sam Olawale

Are you having trouble launching a new product or brand? Is your limited capital holding you down? Sponsors and loans, not to mention the amount of market research—it’s just a straight up huge risk of resources and expenses.

In an exclusive session at DTC Breakthrough Singapore, Sam Olawale (Founder & CEO at Digital Super Systems) tackled this very issue. He discussed his biggest learnings on how brands can leverage pre-selling to build their businesses.

What if we told you that you don’t have to go out and search for sponsors to help fund your launch. In fact, you’ve already got a super reliable group of sponsors—the very people you’re selling to.

That’s right, your target audience can help you with your product launch. Not only that, they would be more than happy to tell you what exactly they want from you.

It’s time to ready your survey flows and customer engagement skills because you’re about to learn the art of pre-selling.

What is Pre-selling and Why Should I Consider it as a Viable eCommerce Growth Strategy?

If you’ve come across crowdfunding or kickstarter programs, then that about sums it up. Pre-selling is all about marketing your product, service, or even brand before it’s commercially available.

Sounds like a scam? It’s only a scam when you don’t push through with your promises. But when you do pre-selling right… the returns—the bottom line profits—will blow your mind.

What Exactly are the Benefits of Pre-selling in the First Place?

“So I’m basically hyping my target audience about something that doesn’t exist yet? Is that even legal?”

Again, if you push through and actually deliver on your promises then it’s all good! As Sam Olawale emphasized: pre-selling actually minimizes the risks involved. Aside from that…

  • You get all the money first—giving you a great head start for production and other related operations.
  • You gain huge PR and notoriety—which is basically most of your marketing already done within the process.
  • Keeps people excited and wanting more—engaging your target audience to support your endeavor and guarantee sales upon launch.
  • You build highly-engaged fans who feel emotionally invested in your brand—solidifying customer loyalty.
  • Easily repeatable process—where you gain more with each succeeding pre-sell-to-launch cycle.
Sam Olawale

What Makes this Strategy so Repeatable?

It may sound daunting at first. But lets help you breakdown the whole process into its main chunks:

  1. You launch a new innovative product
    Pre-sell successful? Great! You’re enjoying the sales and your customers are enjoying the great new product they’ve backed.

  2. Add high quality white label products
    Include white label products that help improve your customers’ experience with your product. If you happen to have the right products that compliments this new product, this is the best time for bundle deals and cross-selling.

    This is great for extending your product’s shelf life in the market.

  3. Aggressively scale in eCommerce
    Invest a good chunk of your profits back into your online store to expand on production and set your brand up for bigger and better launches in the future.

  4. Ask your fans what they want you to launch next
    People loved your product? Start asking them what they want to see next from you that they could help you with again.

Then rinse and repeat.

The best part is when done right, each time you repeat the process your launches will only get bigger and bigger than the last. Pre-selling can be your gateway to kickstarting your brand’s growth.

So, now that you’re familiar with the significance of pre-selling can have for your brand…where do you start?

10 Steps to Launching New Products and Brands

If you’re interested in setting up your pre-selling strategy, Sam Olawale broke down his ten steps to give you a solid foundation to start with.

1. Research the Niches You’re interested In

It goes without saying that people are more willing to support and buy products that THEY want.

How can you get this information? That’s right—surveys! Never underestimate the power of surveys.

When placed right in your customer journey sequence, you’ll be surprised by how much your customer base has to say.

For starters, you can follow this checklist to optimize your upcoming product:

a. Scrape ALL of your customer reviews

b. Zero in on your target audience’s common pain points and complaints

c. Research keywords to leverage SERPs and keyword-based automation sequences

d. Learn the language your target audience speaks so they know that you’re serious about your new product being their next best wishlist item.

sample 1

2. Develop Products People Want to Buy

Creating something new is not easy, but you don’t have to start from scratch every time. Start with finding ways to revise an existing product. What can you do to make it innovative?

There are three ways you can improve an existing product:

  • Improve its aesthetic design
    No need to reinvent the wheel—just change the way it looks. This can be in the form of updating the product’s design to today’s trend and standards. But overall, it will still function the same as its original counterpart.

  • Improve its functionality
    You can keep its design and just change the way it works. Streamline its functions more for today’s users. Make it more convenient and less of a hassle to use based on customer pain points.

  • Improve its functionality and design
    Or go for the path of highest growth potential: completely overhaul the whole product. The way it looks and works—reboot it all.

    While still deriving from an original source, this path can help you create something that looks and feels new. It’s like creating a wheel that can move 360 degrees AND still look amazing doing so.

    This is where great innovative minds come in. You would need to have the right team who can help you build off of lightning-born ideas and translate them into reality to pull this off.

3. Build a Targeted Email List and Facebook Group

Why is this step so important? Generating leads on Facebook is inexpensive and can bring in high ROI for your store.

Here are some key metrics courtesy of Sam Olawale’s brand Digital Super Systems:

  • Ad Clickthrough Rate = 6% – 9%
  • Landing Page Conversion Rate = 25% – 35%
  • Survey Conversion Rate = 40% – 60%
  • Facebook Group Conversion Rate = 20% – 40%

These are the metrics you can expect to see after building a super targeted email list and Facebook Group. In fact, aside from the crowdfunding part of your pre-selling experience, your own website can generate much MUCH more because of targeted lists.

4. Test and Validate Your Price, Message, and Audience

You can sell the same product in a virtually endless number of ways—it all boils down to your messaging and creatives.

Sam Olawale shared some tips and best practices you can consider:

  • Break your chosen niche into sub niches for an even more targeted approach.
  • Build brand scripts for each of your sub niche to optimize your messaging further.
  • Build and test multiple landing pages (test your taglines, hero images, copy, etc.) and see what works best.

Surveys are your best friend for testing to get to the bottom of what your target audience wants from your product or brand. This is especially true for finding the right price for your new product as well.

5. Create High-quality Engagement with Your List

The bread and butter of customer-centric marketing. Engage with your target audience by sending out educational content about your soon-to-launch product.

You can use a combination of email marketing and Facebook group engagement flows.

Having multiple mediums or channels can help you create new touchpoints of engagement.

6. Crowdfund and/or Take Website Pre-Orders

This is the part where you start financial backing from the audience you’ve engaged with.

If you play your cards right, you’ll reach your target milestone or even surpass it—especially with the help of people who really want to see your product become reality.

This of course comes after weeks of sharing content on your product’s progress, test versions, and reiterations. Make sure to continue showing further progress as you receive funding from your fans.

7. Manufacture and Overdeliver on Your Promise

Make sure that when you finally deliver on your product, you go the extra 5 miles! Overdeliver on your product so that while it still is everything you promised, it can still surprise your backers in the best way possible.

This will only make your backers more likely to back you and convince other potential customers to do the same for your next product launch.

8. Aggressively Scale into eCommerce

The revenue you make during your pre-launch phase is what you can also generate every month. Think of it as a honeymoon phase that happens again and again.

It’s all about how you can innovate on your product launches and make them bigger than the last. In turn, return the profits you generate back into your product research and development to open up more opportunities for innovation.

9. Get Feedback from Your Audience

Your audience will tell you exactly how to improve your current products or what you can launch next. This is the key to creating the next product your audience yearns for.

Again, surveys are your best friend when it comes to getting to the bottom of what your target niches want. So use them exhaustively to fuel your future launches.

10. Launch Another Product

Launch a different version of your previous product or go for something completely new. Reward your backers’ effort and contribution by creating beta test programs and special discounts.

Remember to refer to the three ways you can improve existing products. Again, you don’t have to start from scratch everytime.

Your audience will turn into your brand ambassadors and avid supporters talking about how great your brand is—further extending your reach into the market.

I Just Launched my New Product, What’s Next?

Let’s say you’ve gone and launched a new product, should you already be planning for the next one?

Well, not so soon! Especially since you want your new product’s shelf life to last as long as possible.

To help you create a more evergreen product, Sam Olawale provided a checklist you can refer to:

  • It solves a problem
  • Your product should be demonstrable
  • It’s functional
  • Can be mass produced
  • It has an appealing and innovative design
  • Can gain traction in social media (Instagram, TikTok, Youtube, etc.)
  • You can patent it (optional)

Bottom line is that whatever you launch should be able to last a good trend cycle or longer. People will talk about it, create content about it, recommend it to others, maybe even land a spot as a pop culture icon.

The idea is the only next big thing that would kill it is your next product launch. As new pain points and yearnings come about, you’ll know what to pre-sell next.

About the Speaker

Sam Olawale is the Founder & CEO of Digital Super Systems, a growth marketing brand specializing in streamlining your systems and optimizing your business for scaling.

He’s a self-taught 8-figure eCommerce brand building wizard and leader of an expert team that invents and designs their own products in-house from scratch.

“Without failure, you can’t have success—it’s the two sides of the same coin.”

Sam OLawale

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