Launching to a Captive Audience

Using the Connection System to Drive Success

When I met with Zach Obront, the co-founder of Book in a Box, I needed all the advice I could get about writing my first book. After a great meeting, he recommended one book to me. That book was “Your First 1000 Copies” by Tim Grahl.

I just finished reading it and got a ton of value from Grahl’s perspective. (Way more value than the $10 I paid on Amazon, might I add.) In the book, The author lays out an idea called the connection system. The concept is that you need a reliable way to connect with your audience before you launch a book. Sounds like social media, right? Wrong.

When I was the President of the Entrepreneurship Club at Delaware, we had a Facebook page with over 400 likes. We would post when our meetings and events were. Guess how many people saw them. 40. Of the 400 people who chose to like our page because they support the club, only 10% even scrolled past the meeting announcement.

Sure, we could have garnered more engagement, or paid to promote the post, but instead we doubled down on email. When you have 400 people on your email list, guess how many people receive your email. 400. They don’t all open it, but they all get it.

This is exactly what Grahl recommends in his connection system. Use email to build a relationship with your audience. It may seem outdated, people might pretend to hate email, but at the end of the day, it works.

Seth Godin says that if you aren’t paying Facebook, you’re their product, not their customer. Same goes for twitter and other social networks. You’re renting your followers from them. If the folks at One Hacker Way decide to change the algorithm, say goodbye to your Facebook engagement.

Building Connections that You Own

When Tim Ferriss writes a book or holds an event, people buy. Tim doesn’t have to advertise these things because he built a platform. He has a podcast with millions of downloads and a massive email list which he sends to every week. These resources are free for anyone and everyone. He adds value and builds his platform constantly. Then, when he releases a book, it shoots to number one on the bestseller lists.

Evidence: Me in the crowd at Tim’s live podcast recording in New York

When you’re launching a startup in six months, the best thing to do is start a blog in your niche right now. Say your idea is a product to help marketers be more data-driven. Start writing articles about why marketers need data. Add value to your target audience and take them along for the ride. Invite them to join your email list where every Friday morning you send out the best articles about data-driven marketing from the past week. Find compelling ways to help your audience, make a promise to deliver value, and keep your promise.

No one wants to launch to an empty room, or an unvisited blog, or a Facebook status that no one sees. Start building your platform today. Even if you’re not sure where you’re going, invite people along for the journey. The most memorable adventures happen when you don’t know your destination.


If you find these ideas helpful, join my email list. It’s a commitment to yourself. A commitment that every Sunday afternoon, you will spend 5 minutes to learn and think about the big picture. Join me on a journey to answer questions about purpose, impact and happiness.