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What Tim Ferriss Can Teach You About Product Launch

By Leigh Peele
40 Comments

Author’s Update: I have made a few changes to the article below for the following reasons.

The tone of the article was perceived by some to be negative towards Tim Ferriss. This is in no way true. For example, my use of the term “hype” is not to insult. Hype has many level and layers. I use forms of hype in my marketing. Tim was not being judged for this.

My statements in regards to pre-sale reviews and being ethical was in the realm of pre-release copy reviews. I have taken part in this myself and would do so with my own material. However, some people may deem it “fair” because it is your friends or colleague leaving reviews. It can be a “touchy” subject, and that is why it was addressed. I didn’t intend to imply that Tim did anything illegal or again, something I wouldn’t do myself.

You will find various changes in the article to reflect my corrections. Let me state clearly to Tim Ferriss:  My intent was to celebrate your marketing methods and angle, and in no way about your book or a personal attack. Please accept my formal and public apology in regards to this matter.

Tim Ferriss is commonly known for his book the 4-Hour Workweek. It is a book that dives into the techniques of freeing up time, outsourcing, and helping yourself spend less time on things you don’t want to spend time on. Overall, I liked the book when I read it many years ago. I took away a few pertinent notes that I applied to things I did in life.

This past year, Tim Ferriss mentioned he was going to release a book about fitness, diet, and sex. Since this is my field, my first thought was “I’m curious.” I wasn’t sure the route Tim was going to go, how much he was going to outsource his writing, information, etc.  I read the book and am going to keep my opinions of the book to myself (at least off Yaro’s blog). This blog isn’t about diet and training, it is about an entrepreneurial journey. My opinions are about the launch, not the book or its body of work.

My Big Three Takeaways

If you could take away three points from the launch of his new book the 4-Hour Body, it is this -

  1. Hype Works
  2. Connections Matter
  3. Problem Solving Wins Again

I am going to focus on these three points and then conclude with what could be the biggest question of them all. Keep reading to find out what! (See what I did there?)

Hype Works

For the last month, I have been bombarded with emails, trailers, and questions about the product.

You may not be a fan of hype, but the stark truth is new product sales are nine-tenths perception.

This isn’t just about Tim Ferriss and his book, but you have to step back and see the remarkable feat he has achieved in the hype department.

He created hype for a book where he isn’t an expert or a member of the field. A book, who’s biggest test subject is himself. A book, which people ordered 20-30 copies before its release. A book, which sat on Amazons best sellers list weeks before it was launched. It had no TV commercials and no major market push other than distribution. Let’s not forget one more thing, it is a book. This is a $14.99 book. This is not an electronic gadget people can’t wait to get their hands on for Christmas. This is hardly a Kinect for 360 (Oh, Santa delivered the goods!).

Research shows, it can take up to eight to ten times of seeing a product before you become virtually guilt free about buying it (when in your price range bracket). If the product suggests solving a problem you have, this can be even less. The price range will determine how much you are pushed by wish-wash thinking.  Basically, if it is a reasonable price point, with high amounts of hype, (paired with fixing a problem) you have an instant success.

Connections Matter

Tim has long been involved with the diet and training industry. If I recall correctly, he has been a part of various supplement companies and organizations and spoke of that in the 4-Hour Work Week. Through these connections and others, Tim amassed a large amount of friends and colleagues to turn to in order to arrive at his material. In return, all those people can say “Hey, check out this book I was in!” to their lists, twitter, and facebook.

Having multiple contributors is a way of getting free word of mouth advertising.

Problem Solving: It Is A Winner, Every Time

Getting at the core of people’s insecurities, fears, and emotional hang-ups automatically provides you an edge in any product launch. While products for recreation and relaxation are great, the truth is people are filled with buyers guilt – especially given the economy (or the excuse of it).

This isn’t about being a snake oil salesman or lying. You could think Tim Ferriss is doing that exact thing, but that isn’t the point. The point is, what he did worked. You have to alert people to how you can help them. Otherwise, they will go elsewhere. And I do mean just that.

Really examine your product or service and ask yourself, ”How does it help people?” It may entail looking at things from a different angle or giving it a spin. For example, a lot of people might not see the “problem solving” in a product about blog design.  But, upon further examination and a little imagination, there is a floodgate of emotion there.

  1. Having a better blog design can make you stand out from the competition.
  2. A better blog design can be easier to navigate.
  3. Your new blog design product can end up saving hundreds or thousands of dollars in design costs and hours in frustration.

I think you see my point.

Most products solve a problem, even if it is creative boredom. Find the solution your product creates and dial in on that angle for your sale.

Can The Hype Live Up? Can It Be Sustained?

These are always the weighty questions. You have to remember that the more you hype a launch, the more you are left open to disappointment. Here are some things you can do for your launch to ensure happy customers.

1. Leave a direct and obvious line open for customer service help and support.

It doesn’t have to be expensive or a 24-hour hotline. Simply placing your email address or phone number right on the main page and in multiple places for everyone to see, can ease the anxiety your customers have. Contact forms are another method and there are many free wordpress plugins available for your blogs/sites.

2. Keep your initial statements exciting, but realistic.

Don’t focus on single-case results and oddball testimonials to be your driving force. Try and find the balance between what can be achieved by your product and service, and what is realistic. If you do this, people will be excited to be the outlier, but understanding it is being the outlier.

3.  Don’t fall off the map.

Too often with product launches the product comes out of nowhere, builds tons of hype, releases and then four months from now, the websites are a tumbleweed. You are left with the feeling that the person or company made the product, stuck out there and said “later, do the best you can with what we gave you.” That can destroy a brand and reputation. If something is worth taking money for, it is worth keeping your eye on. It is also a way to make more money! Updates, additions, support are great upsells. Everyone wins.

In the end, no matter how you launch remember that people want their problems solved, no matter what medium. If you get the magical combination of all these things, you might have a “Tim Ferriss” launch on your hands.

Leigh Peele

About Leigh Peele

Leigh Peele is a nationally published author and expert in the field of fat loss. Currently, she has two successful ebooks, a membership site, and endless options in clients and business opportunity. She is now taking her time to help others grow in the business of marketing and blogging. You can find more information at http://www.leighpeele.com

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40 Comments

  • Great post as usual,

    I guess I need to buy and read that book :)

    Cheers,
    Togrul

  • Hype is what runs this world and get people to pull out their credit cards..people are looking to get problems solved and if Tim has that magic pill then people are going to listen and buy.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • It’s unfortunate that Ferriss’s book didn’t deliver on the big promises, but there’s no question about his ability to launch the crap out of his products.

    While he has developed a certain credibility from the success of his first book, I think that the network he’s cultivated in the blogosphere has been a lot more influential in terms of marketing. He even mentions on his blog himself that he only used word of mouth marketing to promote The Four Hour Body. In the 3 weeks leading up to his book launch, it literally seemed like he was everywhere, getting a mention on nearly every blog that I follow.

    • I was surprised to read that on his blog too! And he made #1 New York Bestseller Chart that week. It goes to show that Tim excites people with new information for people to absorb. He took his body as a guinea pig and wrote “4 Hour Body” so that people can use leverage and change your body much faster than your typical diet that might not work for everyone. He went the extra mile and was rewarded for his efforts. Its hype but hype leveraged by his previous success.

      Yoichi

  • My major question is who is writing this blog post, Yaro or Leigh? First I get how great this launch was then I get sour grapes, with the implication of not being an expert and words like “snake oil salesman”. Which is it? While I don’t necessarily agree on all the things he stated in the book, I don’t remember seeing anything about him being an expert. Instead, I did see him state what he did and why….on himself. Second, for what ever number of people who are “doing” fitness and/or “diet” or concerned with these subject, that is the number of experts. This has lowered my respect somewhat of Leigh’s work.

    • As I stated in the beginning, this post has nothing to do with my opinion of the book. I am looking at the launch and the launch only. I may like the book, you never know. I am talking about the actual events that took place and the only part of the post that could be seen as negative, is the fact that people have felt a little let down by the material according to itunes and amazon.com reviews that were posted after the initial first day.

      There was nothing I stated against Tim Ferris. If you see it as such, you are coming at the post in a defense manner.

      As to my snake oil salesman comment, I didn’t call Tim that, I stated, “This isn’t about being a snake oil salesman or lying. You could think Tim Ferriss is doing that exact thing, but that isn’t the point. The point is, what he did worked. You have to alert people to how you can help them. Otherwise, they will go elsewhere. And I do mean just that.”

      That comment isn’t negative towards Tim. I was talking about using people pain as a means of sales, which is a classic technique. Some people can think that is unethical or sketchy (snake oil salesmanship), but the reality is, it does help people and it does work as a sales strategy.

  • For me the most interesting part of the promotional campaign was the video book trailer that he produced.

    You can see it here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIVmsIJyj3A

    Most book trailers suck – this one didn’t. I could care less for the book – but I loved the trailer. If you’re interested in video marketing there are a ton of good things to take from this 60 second piece of video.

    Paul

    • Really impressive video link you have posted here and I would like to create such the video in my blogging life for my blog and self promotion, again thanks for sharing such a valuable link here because it will keep motivating me time to time for producing such a content online in the videos section for public interest.

  • I haven’t read the book, but to me one thinks that if a book, movie, or product fails to deliver on the hype isn’t that a failure that needs to be learned from. Just making tons of money from discontented customers may be a success in some people’s view, but I think that it’s not really the way I would want to go.

    How do others feels?

    • I don’t think any product is perfect, and I think every product is a means to learn something about your brand or customer base. Remove Tim’s book from the situation and replace it with something like an As Seen On TV product. Billions of dollars every year on products that deliver mediocre results, but with great problem solving marketing. They make a lot of money, but many would say at the cost of a integrity or credibility to the creator and product.

      There are some people who don’t care about that perception of themselves or their product. There are some people who do. I don’t think one is all right or all wrong, I think it is perception and quality control of the individuals and brand.

  • Tim

    If you hype anything you’re going to get some disappointed customers, that’s just the way business is, people want the magic pill and complain when they don’t get it.

    Compared to most other diet books I’ve read this completely blows them out of the water with how in depth and new the information is.

    • You just beat me to the punch Tim. Of course there are going to be unhappy customers when the launch happens to be this big.

      I was seeing things about this book release for weeks in advance all over the place. Even before it was released I thought to myself “No way this will get good reviews across the board like 4 hour work week an no way this will have as big of a cult following as 4 hour work week”

      People will obviously look at subsequent work from Tim Ferris with a more critical eye after his first success was so explosive. You can’t blame him doing what is just good business.

      If people took a step back and looked at the book for what it’s worth on its own, leave the fact that it was written by Tim Ferris out of it, and realize they didn’t really pay all that much for it, they might have a completely different opinion of the product …(I emphasize MIGHT because I haven’t read the book).

  • [...] is an example of a highly readable blog… and you might find some of the information useful, too: http://www.entrepreneurs-journey…. People won't share your stuff, or vote for it on social media, if they find it hard to read [...]

  • You’d think the bad reviews would put a dent in the potential for it to remain on the best sellers list for so long. I guess people don’t mind if it’s that great when there is a lot of money to be made. Just like songs thrown together just to release them onto the market. Creating hype is an art in itself I guess and hiring a good marketing team may do the trick no matter what it is that is being sold. Thanks for showing me the importance.

  • I cant’t get that YouTube link to work. Whats best then book or video?

  • Thanks a lot for sharing your tips on Facebook. It has helped me maximize my blog for my clothing label. I have only been applying your techniques for two days and I have already drawn over a 100 viewers.

  • With the huge wave of success around Tim Ferriss’ entire brand, what better place to look for advice on a launch and marketing? Thanks so much for sharing!

    On the subject of hype, people had better be ready for the negative side of the response to their hype! Good hype will drive sales, but it also comes with a price: Haters. All you have to do is read the comments on Tim’s blog to see the amount of criticism he gets. So, my advice to anyone is: have thick skin. Don’t ignore haters, but don’t let them get to you either!

  • Hype is really what it is all about. When you think about it hype is really another form of marketing. However you are speaking the truth about ensuring that if you use hype to market any type of product be sure that your product lives up to it.

  • Over hype a product and you will probably get more sales, but a higher level of customer disatisfaction.

    Under-sell a product, and over-deliver. Your sales will be lower, but so will customer expectations, resulting in happy customers.

    Which way you go depends on your attitude to money and people.

  • Hey Leigh, You are awesome in writing the motivational articles like the above one for making some change in the living being a product launchings and that’s promotion in a very simple way and ofcourse will surely try to get the whole about what you have given here at the Yaro’s blog.

  • Sorry, but I’ve lost much respect to Mr. Ferris after his latest hyped up book launch, which didn’t deliver much.

    I say stick to QUALITY content, and less with AGRESSIVE marketing that puts you on top of new york sellers list, you will get much more fans and respect.

    I will not purchase his book if he keeps hyping it up so much

  • Awesome post. Yeah, finding a solution to every problem is the key. Also connection really matters. I will try to purchase the book. Thanks for sharing.

  • Hey Leigh,

    #3 on your list is the one that grabbed my attention most.

    When coming to market, it seems to me that most people can’t get out of their own head enough to focus entirely on what their ideal customers experience of life is. So all of what visitors to their sites witness what makes complete sense to the person marketing who is often far more advanced than their audience.

    What’s easy and “duh” for the pro after their years of being in the trenches is revolutionary and “WOW” for their crowd. And what happens is the marketing, site design, content doesn’t connect with the conversation they’re already having with themselves.

    But Tim’s got some of greatest coaches in the marketing universe on his side, Eben Pagan being one of them. So it comes as no surprise that all of Tim’s benefits spoke directly to the problems people want to solve or the desires people aspire to.

    As far as I know, most of the content for this book is directly from his blog. What this allowed him to do was plumb the depths of his comments he was getting on his posts which let him get a pulse on how people felt about the topic.

    I like the idea of never rolling out a product that hasn’t at least been tested before with a decent control group of your ideal prospects, which for him was his blog. With the way he put his book together, he got to only insert content he ALREADY knew people were excited about.

    This would make the marketing a thousand times easier. There’s something to learn from how he launched and I’m happy to see Leigh that you’ve shared what you learned from it so that we can pull all the good out of this example to use in our own businesses.

  • Nice, insightful post about that recent launch.

    My key takeaway point from this post was that in most cases it’s probably better to slowly launch a product with minimal hype, over-deliver, and let your customers tell everyone about how great your product is, rather than to do it fast and furiously with excessive hype, under-deliver, and let your customers tell everyone about how terrible the product is.

    Like other commenters mentioned, I think one of the key contributors to his current launch is the success of his previous book. So, it would be insightful to look into how one can launch a successful product based off of a previous product.

    Cheers,
    Allen

  • I bought the book and have read almost all of it-not too interested in improving my baseball swing-I thought it was excellent. I’m a fitness and nutrition geek and found a lot of the info either confirming what I already knew or adding another layer of detail. And some stuff was very new to me. I also enjoyed the promotion campaign and hype, I guess that’s what really makes it when the whole campaign sells to you while entertaining, inspiring and informing.

  • Thank you for a great Blog and some superb posts. As a new Blogger on Affiliate Marketing, I know that I have a lot to learn, and who better to learn than from someone like yourself who has achieved so much? Your Blog is a true inspiration, and I have subscribed to your RSS in order to continue the learning from someone as passionate about Affiliate Blogging as yourself. My wish for 2011 is to have a mentor of your caliber to guide me to achieve my dreams of being a better Affiliate Marketer. Have a great day.

  • Ha, I bought the book on the hype but glad I did, it was a good read. I suppose I should pay more attention to my own buying patterns to see how I can influence others. Nice post.

  • Ann

    Yes its amazing how many take place with hype and controversary. No such thing as bad publicity, unless its environmentally related

  • If you create a hype about a book which you are not an experts of, people will come with millions of questions and this is where you start learning as well.

    Along with all these tips, I still put more focus on “problem solving and uniqueness”, the more you are different from others the more you will progress.

  • The “4 hour work week” really opened my eyes to a lot of stuff. I’m looking forward to the new book.

  • I feel like Tim made a few mistakes: for example I was in the group of people who bought the book early on (which could translate to most loyal readers, true fans), and to tell the truth I feel a bit cheated, becouse guys who bought later on not only got better price, but bonuses too. That is a great way to discourage people who trust you the most from buying in the future.

    Nevertheless – the book is well worth the price, and it’s a good read too. The thing about the hype – no product can stand up to it. Look at the Avatar movie product launch: great movie, that dissapointed millions, yet made a ton of money.

  • Hype is where it is at. You can gain great traffic from it. But usually it doesn’t last too long. You need to have some long-tail strategies to back you up.

  • The thing i took away from this product is that you can’t beat an awesome title. Psychologists call it the primacy effect.

    Its got a great combo of sounding like something you desperately want but at the same time somewhat believable.

  • You must live up to the hype you created. It’s like meeting your customers expectations. You had to sustain it also in order not to loose momentum, nice article :)

  • this makes me remember, didn’t he mention something along the lines of expectations and its correlation to satisfaction in his last book? or am i dazing….?

  • This is a very good synopsis of what sells. There is a little bit of the unfortunate contained inside.
    I’m sure everyone has seen all the latest big Clickbank launches. A number of them by very prominent marketers who went to the dark of using pure hype to sell their products.
    Two of the biggest launches recently have used nothing but blind copy and hype to sell, and they were massive successes. Sad but true.
    Though I don’t like the use of blind copy and pure hype, the truth is, that it sells like crazy, and some big marketers are will to stake their reputation on it.
    I haven’t decided if this is good or bad, but it sure feels bad in my gut.

    Thanks
    Wayne Sharer

  • Thanks for sharing. I had wanted to give 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris a read. Looks like a great book. I agree that hype really can help make a product launch a huge success.

    - Robert

  • Tim Ferriss already had a massive following through his blog and the success of his first book. Not to mention the incredible influence he has among some of the top minds, in numerous different areas. He did not need to do much marketing to create a buzz. All he had to do was create a cool video, make a post on his blog and tell some of his influential friends.

    “Tim had sent out more than 1,000 advance copies of the book. He gave copies to friends, companies where he’d been a guest speaker, and people who’d helped or had volunteered to help with the book.” – Four Hour Work Week Blog

    I found a few errors in this post. Hopefully, they help out.
    - Andrew

    • Stephanie

      Thanks kindly for the comment and for highlighting those errors, Andrew!
      Cheers,
      E-J team.

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