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