Marketplace Pre-launch Program Pilot
UPDATE 9/23: APPLICATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED, THANKS FOR YOUR SUBMISSIONS!
We will be contacting applicants directly for next steps!
We’ve written many times about the importance of launching your subscription properly. Launch starts with a great pre-launch. You can read more about that here: Setting up a pre-launch for your subscription business. You can also read the story of Jesse’s business pre-launch here.
What we’ve come to realize over time is that running a pre-launch is hard. There’s a ton of moving pieces that you’re trying to line up. It’s all fundamentally an act of faith: faith that someone will want your product.
If you’ve been following the discussions in the Subscription School Facebook Group over the last month or so you know that we’ve been asking a lot of questions about pre-launches.
It’s clear to us that:
- sellers would like help with their pre-launch
- The hardest piece is knowing how to market the pre-launch.
Our vision for Cratejoy is: All sellers who have a great product and idea are very successful. Regardless of their marketing skill-set.
So today we’re announcing a pilot for our pre-launch program. We hope this program will make pre-launches a smooth and profitable experience.
We have hundreds of thousands of customers who’ve purchased from the Marketplace. We’ve created a network of hundreds of partners such as bloggers, reviewers and influencers. Furthermore, we’ve been selling subscriptions at a scale that almost nobody else is. Definitely with a range of diversity that nobody else in the world has ever done. We’re becoming quite good at this.
We’ve run some tests and we know that:
- Past Marketplace customers are interested in hearing about new subscriptions. In fact some of our most successful marketing promotions have featured new subscriptions.
- Our partners have a strong interest learning about and featuring new subscriptions.
We believe that we can give new subscriptions an A+ pre-launch using what we’ve learned, our large Marketplace customer base, and our partner network. However, we have to learn exactly how to do that. We have an idea, and we’ve done tests. But to develop a repeatable process we have to run several pre-launches.
Today we’re extending an offer for you to help us build the Marketplace Pre-Launch Program. We’ll pick a small number of you, right now we’re thinking 5, to work with for the pilot program.
This is an experiment. What that means is that things can and will go wrong. We will be learning from this as much as you will. However, we’re committed to doing everything in our power to make your pre-launch amazing.
Jesse & Amir
I have a question that isn’t addressed in the FAQ, where can I ask about it?
What is the application like?
It’s 27 questions, most of which are simple and should be quick to answer. The most time consuming part of the application will be the 2 minute video introducing yourself and your product.
What should my video be like?
We’re modeling the video after the Y Combinator application video.
It should be two minutes long and uploaded to Youtube. Mark it as unlisted. Don’t mark it as private or we won’t be able to see it.
The video should contain nothing except for the founders talking and showing off their product. No special effects, no sound track and no post production work. We are not judging you on the quality of your video skills, and in fact they may take away from our ability to understand you and your offering. Spend your time on your product, not this video.
If you have any product progress, please show it. It doesn’t have to be exactly what you’ll ship. The goal is to help us understand your planned offering. Don’t obsess over little details, such as whether this is the exact drop slip or exact box type. If you don’t have any product progress, you can simply talk about it – or show us products on your screen that you are working to include.
Please don’t script the video, just talk spontaneously as you would tell a friend about your subscription. Tell us what it is, and why you’re excited about it. Tell us why you know someone would be thrilled to receive this subscription on their doorstep.
Before submitting the video watch it yourself, make sure you can hear and understand what you’re saying. Make sure you’re clearly audible.
- 2 Minute Video
- Upload to YouTube
- Mark as unlisted
- Only Founders Talking
- If you have some product, show it
- No Effects
- No Script
- No Music
- Check Audio
Can I submit an application without a video?
Honestly since we have received applications with videos and they are so much more insightful than just text on a screen, we’re unlikely to consider applications without a video.
When are applications due by?
5 PM CST on 9/23
Why are you only allowing one week for applications?
The short time frame is meant to limit the applicants to those who are most ready for us to help, and allow us enough time to run this pilot in the month of October rather than pushing it further into the holiday period. Should this pilot be as successful as we think, we will be running it again as frequently as we can and we’ll also be increasing the number of participants.
When will you choose participants?
We want to have completed choosing participants by 9/30, we will extend if necessary but we think this should be plenty of time.
How do you define pre-launch?
A pre-launch is an e-mail gathering campaign that is designed to create an interest list you can e-mail to announce your launch. This is distinct from a pre-sale campaign which allows customers to pay now for a subscription which will not ship until later. Either can apply for this program, although we’ll have a strong bias towards pre-launches for this first pilot.
What is the schedule should I be accepted?
We’re planning on beginning promotion in mid/late October and continuing it through November. This is subject to change as we learn more.
Should I stop my existing pre-launch plans after applying and wait?
Please don’t. Proceed with your plans and if you are part of the pilot we’ll work with you to run the pilot in the way that best matches your current stage.
Will I need to re-create my existing pre-launch page on Cratejoy?
We’ll work with you to set up a pre-launch page at www.cratejoy.com/<your box name>. You won’t need to re-design anything, but you will need to provide images and copy. Much of this copy will be similar to what you provide in the application.
How will you be choosing participants?
We’ll be choosing based on who we think we’re best positioned to help. This is a combination of where you are currently with your subscription, our knowledge of our existing marketing assets, and our previous experience with what works where. If you aren’t chosen, it doesn’t mean anything. We’ve just got a limited amount of bandwidth for our initial pilot.
Do I have to have completed a certain amount of work, such as inventory purchasing or custom packaging?
We encourage you to apply at whatever stage you’re currently at. We have some resources of our own and will take into account how much we’ll be able to help get you to the correct place in order to participate. Please do not spend a bunch of money buying inventory or custom packaging in order to apply.
What promotion will we be receiving?
We know that we’ll be leveraging our existing customer list, our partner network of bloggers, reviewers and influencers, our existing social channels, and our existing paid and organic marketing team and tools. We won’t decide exactly the tactics and in which order until we know the mix of boxes that are going into the pilot, and we’re likely to experiment with a variety of different techniques.
Is there any guarantee as to the success or the number of prelaunch signups I’ll get?
There is no guarantee. All we can promise you is that if we accept you we’ll try our hardest, and we’ve gotten quite good at selling subscription boxes.
What if I can provide boxes and pictures but they would only be examples, not the actual products in the first box?
As long as the example is representative of the types, number and value of product the customer will receive that should be fine.
Will there be on-going promotion after the pre-launch or will we be normal Marketplace sellers at that point?
We don’t have particular plans to market your subscription over other Marketplace subscriptions. However, our on-boarding account manager will help to make sure your first few cycles of shipments go well, and we’ll be available to help support you with any questions as they relate to your pre-launch.
Is it possible that I lose money on this?
Yes, it’s possible that you spend money and time putting together pictures and product for this program and that we are not ultimately able to help you achieve the pre-launch goals you have in mind. However, we believe that the majority of the work you’ll be doing for this program is work you’d be doing anyway – such as photographing your product, and putting together sample boxes.
Do I have to have custom packaging?
No, please apply in whatever state your subscription currently is and we will help you get to the appropriate place should you be chosen for the initial pilot.
Are there any fees associated with this?
There are no additional fees however this pilot will require you to have a paying Cratejoy seller account and any purchases that ultimately come from this pre-launch will be attributed to the Marketplace and subject to our normal Marketplace fees: Understanding your Marketplace Fees
What if I’m outside the US?
Please, apply! We love our international sellers and will definitely consider all applicants. Make sure to indicate what countries you’ll be fulfilling to when filling out your application.
What other options do I have for pre-launch?
We are also running a beta of our pre-launch theme, which will allow you to use Cratejoy to run you pre-launch rather than a third party service. You can read more about that at: Cratejoy’s Prelaunch Theme
Do I have to use Cratejoy to participate?
Yes. This pilot is only open to Cratejoy Marketplace sellers, or those who intend to use the Cratejoy Marketplace.
Do I have to have a paying Cratejoy account to apply?
No, you don’t even have to have a free trial account to apply. Before we start your pre-launch we will help you set up your Cratejoy account.