Product Launch Case Study: Nobodies Are The New Somebodies

 

On March 8 2011, Guy Kawasaki [GK] launched his tenth book “Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions”. After only a week, the book was on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists. The obvious conclusion is that at least some of that success was due to the product launch strategies he used although it should also be noted that the author himself is a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, best selling author, and Apple Fellow so is not short of ‘profile’.

 

He was one of the Apple employees originally responsible for marketing the Macintosh in 1984. He is currently a Managing Director of Garage Technology Ventures, and has been involved in the rumor reporting site Truemors.com and the RSS aggregation site Alltop. com. He is also a well-known blogger so he is a recognised and trusted authority on all things web marketing.

 

However leaving those advantages aside for a minute, let’s look at the 12 things that he did to launch his book and note how you can adapt the same techniques for your product launch whatever the niche you are in.

 

#1. Facebook Business Page – With more than 800 million people on Facebook, this may well be the first step in building an audience for your product. It certainly was for GK. You can upload photos, videos and integrate your page with your blog as well as run competitions and sweepstakes. The quickest way to build a group of followers is through Facebook Advertising  which you can laser focus on your market demographic. Business Pages are not as flexible as websites, but implementing social features is much easier. [Watch out for the new FB Timeline Feature coming to a business page near you]

 

Social media sharing

 

The way that Guy attracted visitors to engage with him and subscribe to his mailing list was to give away a PDF version of his first book, “The Macintosh Way”, to anyone who “Liked” the page for his new book – The rights to his first book had reverted to him, so there was no cost involved – You’re probably not in the same position so offer the first chapter of your book as the download or write a white paper giving people ‘the gist’ of the vision that drove you to create your product and why it’s relevant now.

 

GK’s budget for all this was $2,500 and he used Hyperarts to design his Fan Page but do a google search and you’ll come up with a myriad of alternatives. This, of course, does not include the graphics for the book cover or anything associated with your product graphics. The best place to get these designed is 99Designs.com where you can run a competition and choose the proposal that you most like for as little as $600.

 

#2. Website [or should that be blog?] – GK took 2 months to add content about his book to his sitea mistake to wait that long in my opinion – The goal is to make your site the centre of your social media marketing network and not to overwhelm your Facebook page with tabs by relying on it alone. Provide your bio, pictures and info/links so people can go to Amazon’s Kindle store or iTunes and download the digital version of your book or pop round to their nearest store to buy the hard copy edition.

 

No matter how many people are on Facebook,they are not there all the time and there are just as many who aren’t at all. The great thing about building up your own site is that YOU own it. You just ‘rent’ space on Facebook who have a habit of  unilaterally make major changes with little warning to users – that’s you – The lesson here is that while a Facebook Business Page is worth the investment, its flexibility and capacity are limited AND things can happen that you have no control over… and do, regularly.

 

His goal was to make it as easy as possible for people to get hold of his book or review the first chapter or better still, buy it. Attract visitors to your site by posting engaging articles about your book and what inspired you to write it then add pictures, videos, testimonials and reviews.

 

Enchantment

 

Guy supplemented his page with photos of enchanting people, places and things to provide a subtle reference to the title (Enchantment). He spent another $2,500 on creating the site from scratch but if you already have a blog creating a landing page will cost a fraction of that.

 

Another good idea is to approach fellow bloggers in your niche and ask them to review your book or offer to write a guest post for them. Carefully target the blogs that are most relevant in the lead up to your book launch or product launch. Follow them on Twitter. ‘Like’ their pages on Facebook. And comment on their posts in a friendly way.

 

GK added audio and video because he does lots of speaking engagements so had a library ready made to choose from. These are powerful tools because they offer your prospects another way of connecting with you and getting to know you better. What you write builds confidence and positions you as an authority. Adding audio allows people to consume your content on the move. Adding video lets them see your body language too.

 

They are also easy for your blogger friends and fans to embed in their sites when doing a review. if you’re going to do live action video, expect to pay about $1500 just for the videographer. On top of that you want to pay an editor to make the best of your raw footage. The best place to start your search is Elance.com or Odesk.com which are both rich sources of expertise that you can put to work on your project. But don’t forget, your goal is not Hollywood movie style production values. Your community is interested in YOU and what YOU have to say…

 

#3. Review Copies – For someone who already has an established reputation and a publisher, like GK, 100 to 200 galleys/books will be sent to reviewers. This is the conventional route to sales but ‘Enchantment’ was launched using social media marketing. A free review copy was sent to any of the 20,000 bloggers whose RSS feeds are aggregated on Alltop.com – Guy Kawasaki’s site -. Just over 6% responded and duly received their copy.

 

That’s whats called going wide rather than deep. Covering such a wide spectrum of markets may work for the well known but you’d do better tightly focusing on your niche. You can use software like buzzstream.com or ecairn.com to do this across a number of different platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.com. You can then keep track of all your contacts and where you are with each one.

 

Your goal is to do as many video interviews and/or webinars as you can to help promote your book or product to their audience in the lead up to launch day.  All told, the ‘Enchanted Campaign’ sent out approximately 1,600 copies for review and scored about 150 interviews and 200 reviews in the lead up to their launch. Doing this builds buzz. It’s what I call the ‘ignition phase’ of your product launch.

 

The cost for this campaign was about $16,000 at $10 per book sent but that does not count the subscription to your CRM software. Don’t be frightened off by this number. You can achieve very much the same results for your launch at 15% of the cost as long as you have a digital product.

 

Make sure you link to the best reviews from your blog. This social proof will help the waverers get off the fence and find out more AND drive traffic to your reviewers sites. That’s a good way of saying ‘thank you’ to your reviewers for their time and generosity too.

 

As GK says “Don’t focus on only the A-listers — “nobodies” are the new somebodies in the flattened, social networking world we now live in. You never know who’s going to make your product “tip.

 

Enchantment Book Cover

 

#4. Email – Steps 1,2 and 3 are all designed to attract subscribers to optin to your launch email list. The more people on your list the better because  you can engage with them just by pushing send. Your auto-responder statistics will tell you exactly how you are doing. You’ll know who opened your mail. Who clicked on which link AND you’ll be able to segment your list accordingly. Being able to measure all this, tells you exactly how well your campaign is doing and helps you refine your subject lines and your copy too.

 

Note: Your strategy here is to create mail sequences designed to build excitement by giving away great content. These are NOT marketing messages. Cage your urge to sell.

 

On launch day, the day that ‘Enchantment’ hit the stores, 160,000 emails were sent out driving people to buy the book. Of these, 3.75% clicked through to the order page. That’s a great CTR.  Building a quality pool of email contacts is clearly something anyone can replicate, but it takes time. Email may be old school, but it’s still the best plus it’s not expensive AND it’s effective.

 

There are lots of auto-responder services out there but Aweber.com is probably the best one to start with. It’ll cost you $10 per month at the outset

 

#5. Pay Per Click – I mentioned advertising in section #1 when talking about Facebook and to tell you the truth, this is where you should start. With Facebook Advertising. It’s a bit different to Google Adwords or PPC. Your are also less likely to lose your shirt on Facebook. The one drawback is that you cannot send people direct to a squeeze page hence the development of the Facebook Reveal technique.

 

You want to make sure that you change your ad every two or three days. Test different images until you find one that grabs people’s attention and boosts your CTR above 0.05% – the minimum acceptable level – and drives it up to close to 0.10% when you will see your – CPC – cost per click start to drop dramatically. You can actually buy clicks for 0.10cents or less. Something that is very hard to do on Google. And remember that you can reach out to your prospects on the move too using mobile advertising platforms like AdMob.com and Google’s equivalent. http://www.google.com/ads/mobile/advertisers/

 

If you don’t have a thorough grasp of managing PPC or mobile campaigns, take some time to get used to the process or better still hire a specialist. It’ll cost you money for sure but he will probably save you his fee by managing your campaign efficiently and get better results than you more quickly.

 

That’s what GK did. He didn’t understand PPC black magic – nor do I really – so he relied on David Szetela, a buddy from his Apple days who ran a six-week program on Google AdWords, Facebook ads and Twitter (Promoted Tweets).

 

Your concern is probably to make sure that you get enough traffic. Traffic is not not what you should focus on. You can buy as much highly targeted high quality traffic as you like. But if your landing page does not convert that traffic into sales or opt ins, you are in deep trouble. So test, test and test again and make sure that your page converts

 

The ‘Enchantment’ campaign was managed by Clix Marketing. You should be prepared to pay $5000 dollars on this item to give your marketing strategy a solid kick start.

 

Wildfire

 

#6. Contests, Competitions and Sweepstakes – Now we’re back to Facebook. Contests are a powerful way of engaging your community in the ignition phase of your book or product launch. Generate awareness for your book. Put your product launch in context. Competitions can do both these things.

 

GK ran a photo contest which supported the launch theme for his book. He used a Facebook app that enabled people to submit pictures in five categories, and a popular vote determined the finalists. He selected the winners. The prizes were five Nikon 3100s and an Apple iPad. That contest resulted in 1,150 entries, 35,000 visits, 70,000 entry views and 10,500 votes.

 

Facebook is a platform in which images and videos attract the most ‘likes’ so it was logical to use this medium in the campaign.  People love photo contests too. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to build buzz – Beware professional contestants and people who game the system – At the end, manually pick the winners and don’t depend solely on popular votes. Also be sure to take legal advice about contest laws where you live.

 

How much you spend on prizes is up to you but in this case study a few Nikon cameras and an iPad bumped up the costs by about another $6,000 in all.

 

#7. Quizzes – The quiz started as a final exam in the book so it was logical to take this online too. In this case so people could decide if the book was a good choice for them to read. The obvious place to start was Facebook where there are a wide variety of Apps to help you – just do a Google search – The kicker in this case and the big surprise in fact happened when the quiz was set up on the ‘Enchantment’ site.

 

Here are the stats… Approximately 700 people took the Facebook version, and 2,900 people took the standalone website version, even though it came out two weeks after the Facebook version.

 

If you can afford it – Electric Pulp were paid $3,000 to create the website version – You should seriously consider doing this. Facebook is not always the right answer to your questions.

 

Infographic

 

#8. Infographic – You see these all over the web nowadays. They explain a complex report quickly and easily. A picture is worth a thousand words. An infographic communicates a lot in a little space. ‘Enchanted’ created one that was a complete overview of the book. Bloggers could and did embed in it their reviews so it paid off handsomely and helped the book to go viral.

 

This tactic is not used that often in a product launch but it’s well worth considering. You could get one done for as little as $1500. GK hired Column Five to do his.

 

#9. Graphics – If you think of your reviewers as affiliates which indeed they are if they have an Amazon account, creating badges, buttons and banners to help them promote your book on their sites is the least you could do. And is common practice in any digital product launch.

 

Add QR code stickers to the mix and suddenly you are able to drive off line folks straight to your site where they can find out more about your book or product from right there in the bookstore or corner store.

 

Put your QR codes on badges too and let your fans help you promote your book by wearing the link to your book’s Facebook business page or site

 

Make sure that you cross link all the sites and social media properties by placing these graphics on each one so you can push traffic to your money site – in this case for your book – In the first few weeks, there were approximately 100,000 impressions of the ‘Enchantment’ badges around the web.

 

Big Takeaway: People like to embed badges and wear them on their clothes so this tactic had a powerful impact.

 

Buttons

 

#10. Wallpapers – Another innovative tactic that GK used was to create wallpapers. Apart from being used on desktops computers, people can add them to their smart phones and iPads. It’s a short step from here to twitter and youtube channel backgrounds. Guy Kawasaki didn’t expect many people to use them, but they did and the cost of having them created was worth it. Just $400.

 

#11. PowerPoint/KeyNote Presentations – Once you have created yours there is so much you can do with them. Make a video. Post them on slideshare.com. And of course, use them when you are making personal appearances or giving a keynote presentation. Don’t forget this powerful tool. If yours is slipshod, then people will judge you by that. if yours is creative and professional, people will associate those qualities with you and your products too. Don’t skimp on this. GK paid $3600 for his.

 

Enchantment VideoClick here to watch video

 

12. Thank You Slideshow – This was  attach of genius. One that is truly appropriate in a social media marketing world. GK asked his friends Brad Jefferson and Andrew Jacobson at Animoto.com to create a ‘thank you slideshow’ for the team behind his book. For the small amount of trouble involved in collecting pictures and laying them down to a music track, expressing a very public and heartfelt thank you to everyone involved in your product launch pays huge dividends down the line. It’s worth every penny!

 

Conclusion – While Guy kawasaki’s launch was built around his new book, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions, you can apply these ideas to almost any product launch. Of course, the costs will vary and can be reduced to a shore string budget if you are prepared to put in the hours yourself and shop around for good deals.

 

Just remember that perfection is paralysis so it’s better to pay an expert to get a vital piece of your launch done rather than do it all yourself. That’s solo-preneur thinking that will ultimately hold you back. Speed to market is everything in this fast moving world so get it out there by doing a product launch optimised to achieve this and budget accordingly. Take a look at this cost/benefit analysis for more…

 

Are you planning to use social media marketing in your product launch ? What was the biggest takeaway for you in the ‘Enchantment’ launch? Leave a comment below and give it your best shot…

 

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Rory Ramsden