Don’t Launch Your Business Into Nothing…
This is a story of how we took a book about an obscure topic and brought it to the top of Amazon in a single day…
Have you ever found yourself announcing a new feature, service, product, or even your business into existence to find that no one is there to celebrate your success and buy from you?
It happens to the best of us, hopefully it won’t happen again after reading this…..
In 2013, we had set out to re-print of a piece of scientific research by the inventor of sensory deprivation tanks, Dr. John C. Lilly, titled: Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer.
That’s a pretty specific niche, huh?
To compound the complexity of our launch, we stated that our goal was to make this book an Amazon best seller.
So let’s recap our craziness…
1. Niche piece of scientific research first published over 30 years ago.
2. Goal: Amazon Best Seller.
Sounds doable, right?
Well… this wasn’t an idea that we decided to start one day and launched the next. It also wasn’t an idea that we secretly developed hoping that people would somehow find out about it and buy on launch day.
A lot of planning and audience building went into the execution of this project.
Through the support of our fans, customers, friends, family, among others… On May 15, 2014 we released “Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer” by Dr. John C. Lilly and by the end of that day, made it to the Top 100 of All Books on Amazon (specifically #93) and giving it best seller status.
The book also stayed at the top of the “Movers and Shakers” category, while also reaching #2 in Cognitive Psychology on Amazon.
How did we do it?
It wasn’t easy…
Aside from learning how to format a book, we also had to understand effective book launching strategies (not surprisingly enough, it’s very similar to launching a business).
Even if you have an existing business, it can save you a lot of time, money, and headache if you treat new additions to your company as if you were launching a new business all together.
So we did just that.
Make sure people want it.
This isn’t a book that appeals to the masses, so we had to make sure that people wanted a new edition of the book. The last reprint of the book was done and modified from the original creation by John Lilly to the displeasure of many fans. Quite a few of those fans were holding on tightly to their prior copies of the book that were last printed in their original form.
So we knew that with this launch, we had to keep it unabridged.
Also the awareness of floating has grown significantly and there was a new audience who hasn’t read any of the prior editions. They stated that it would be nice to know more about the history of early float research and John Lilly.
So we had existing fans and newcomers in our corner.
As soon as you decide a direction, announce it!
In August of 2013, we announced to all of the attendees at our International Float Conference that we were going forward with the re-reprinting of John Lilly classics, beginning with Programming and Metaprogramming. We stated our goals early on to make this a best seller in hopes that people would rally around us in support… and rally they did!
If you’re just starting out and don’t have an audience built, and you don’t run your own industry conference… You can still announce your upcoming idea to friends, family, everyone you validated your idea with, and even people on social media who fit your target. Find influencers whose audience will benefit from your product and work with them on creating value for their audience.
We launched a website specifically for the book to capture contact information to let people know when we got closer to launching. People could even pledge on how many books they would buy so we could get an idea of how many people we would sell as we got closer to launch day.
Keep people engaged.
Through our growing email list and existing social media presences, we kept people up-to-date of the process as well as shared facts and info about John Lilly. This helped keep the fact that we were relaunching the book on the top of their minds as well as build interest.
People like to be a part of the behind the scenes in what you do… so let them. Transparency builds loyalty. Provide value in each of your updates and they will stay subscribed.
Leading up to the days of our launch, we infiltrated the interwebs with our message. We found different ways to share the same message on almost a daily basis. We also branched away from our audience and got in front of other bloggers and media outlets that would be interested in this book.
We even went as far as creating care packages for some of the most influential bloggers which included a pre-release edition of the book to review. The key is to gain exposure to as many different, but related groups of people as possible.
Give a personal touch.
Everyone who pledged to buy a book that was willing to give us their phone number received a personal call. It wasn’t just a “reminder call.” If they wanted to chat about floating, we chatted with them as long they wanted.
We also called every float center we knew.
It was the day of 1,000 phone calls… literally.
For the Float Centers who pledged to buy 50 or more books, we offered a bulk discount. For everyone else who was willing to endure our messages for the prior 9 months, we rewarded in different ways. Some received free float center consulting, while others were able to purchase float sessions for 50% off regular price.
At times we were so persistent in spreading the word, that we *could* have been perceived as spammy. We wanted to find a way to say thank you to everyone for allowing us into their inboxes and social feeds.
The moral of the story is that even if you can’t launch your business overnight and you have to take time to develop software, plan a Kickstarter, format books, build walls, or whatever… you should be building an audience in parallel. The worst thing that could happen is to open your doors or launch a new product and have no one around who cared.
If it wasn’t for the crowd that we previously gathered, we wouldn’t have come close to making the best seller list that day.
I first wrote this post over at cakepdx.com to help Portland based entrepreneurs grow their business. I’m placing it here now to help anyone looking to launch something massive!