Killer Takeaways from a Bestselling Book Launch

6 Lessons to Fuel Your Next Release

This is a guest post from Chad Cannon, my Chief Marketing Officer and the founder/CEO of the Chadwick Cannon Agency. Formerly, he was VP of Marketing at Thomas Nelson. You can read about marketing, publishing, and leadership on his blog.

The launch of Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy’s new book Living Forward has been massive. Thanks to you, we hit several bestseller lists out of the gate and made a major impact in the marketplace.

Our marketing team built out a launch plan over a year ago and spent countless hours refining and executing it in anticipation of release day. Lots of strategy and hours of rich, dynamic discussion. And I’m proud—and humbled—to say that we dove into release day with more than 18,500 preorders.

It was one of those rare, memorable launches that rock-and-rolled its way into release week. As the marketing quarterback, I had the privilege to work with some of the most innovative pros in the industry, and I learned a ton.

Here are six killer takeaways I learned from the Living Forward launch. To one degree or another, these represent strategies that can help propel almost any launch.

1. It Takes a Village

This launch reminded about the importance of a great team. We had two authors, each of whom came to the table with a team. Fold the publisher’s marketing team into that, and you have a lot of people with a lot of expertise.

There were about fifteen people speaking into various pieces of the campaign with a team of three to four involved in the day-to-day details. Here are the “buckets” of expertise the main players carried:

  • Content: copywriting, email management, blog strategy, etc.
  • Sales: communication with publisher about sell-in, strategy for bulk orders, etc.
  • Social media: copy and visuals across platforms, Facebook ad campaign, etc.
  • Marketing: a quarterback to own the strategy, making sure all pieces work in tandem, etc.

My takeaway? We all carry specific skills and abilities. Instead of trying to do it all alone, team up with the best in the business whose talents complement yours.

2. Urgency Wins

Believe it or not, 30 percent of the 18,500 preorders came in on the very last day. We communicated via email multiple times that our purchase incentives would expire at a certain time, but still thousands of people waited until the last minute.

That’s human nature. But first-week sales are critical for the life of a book, so we communicated clearly about these deadlines and pushed hard. Without heavy consumer demand, retailers go soft on inventory and return what they can’t sell in a few weeks. Early orders keep the momentum rolling.

My takeaway? Play into the urgency by giving people a reason to buy now. Have a hard deadline and communicate it often. Don’t be shy to get in people’s inboxes and creatively remind them that the clock is ticking on those purchase incentives.

3. Call on Your Influencers

Early on, we identified fifty-to-seventy-five top influencers and strategically sought their support and promotion. Michael and Daniel sent hard copies of the book along with handwritten notes and followup emails to each person.

They asked each to help in a unique capacity. Those who didn’t immediately step up received other gentle “reminder” touches. A great many volunteered to assist in promotion—most with far more investment than just a single tweet or email.

My takeaway? Build relationships early and intentionally. Michael and Daniel have been nurturing these relationships for years. They are well-known colleagues and true friends. History and authenticity is what makes influencer support work.

4. Deliver Value Again and Again

I mentioned the preorder campaign in point 2 above. We had major preorder freebies rolling, and they proved successful. Michael and Daniel are extremely generous with their readers. Per their MO, they gave away big value with each preorder purchase.

In this campaign, we gave away immense value in exchange for a book purchase, and the responses from readers were powerful. To give you a full picture of the value we offered, here’s the breakdown of bonuses available to those that preordered up to nine copies:

  • Free Copy of the Audiobook
  • Admission to Live Online Launch Event
  • Detailed Action Plan Guide
  • Living Forward Quickstart Audio Training
  • Complete Library of Life Planning Templates
  • Recording of the Living Forward LIVE event

Together, these bonuses were worth over two hundred dollars. And that was just he beginning. We really sweetened the deal for anyone buying ten or more.

Those bonuses included everything listed above plus major exclusives like personalized Life Plan evaluations, a Leader’s Edition of the Action Plan Guide, and chances to win some cherry prizes (including one free year of coaching from Building Champions).

My takeaway? Make the purchase a no-brainer. Give away value, and spell it out clearly. If you are trying to sell something that costs $20, you need to offer at least four-to-five times the value. This is the tipping point that moves the needle.

5. Fire up the Launch Team

As I’ve said before over on my blog, a launch team is a surefire way to build an army that amplifies your marketing message. Michael and Daniel are pros at this.

While there was a manager running the team and handling the details, Michael and Daniel were involved at every key step. The launch team needs to hear from the authors at all the critical moments. This is part of what makes joining exclusive and fun.

Running the team requires constant communication—the everyday items through the private Facebook group and the “big stuff” through emails.

My takeaway? Engage with your biggest fans through an organized launch-team system. Equip and engage them with access to you and with over-the-top value. Your enthusiasm will spur theirs.

6. Start by Setting Goals but Remember the Big Picture

Like any strong marketing team, we started our marketing plan months ago by writing down goals. We established our metrics for success and moved forward with our eye on those.

But Michael and Daniel are rockstars at leading teams focused on bettering lives first and hitting product goals second. We hit our sales numbers and beyond, but we didn’t hit all the bestseller lists. As authors, there are always elements beyond our control.

My takeaway? Don’t get caught up in “vanity points,” awards, and lists. What matters most is your book filling the marketplace and transforming heads and hearts.

Just the Beginning

The Living Forward momentum has only just begun. We are still moving full-steam ahead to keep the enthusiasm rolling. Our team has plenty of fun, innovative ideas up our sleeves.

I talk with many authors about how we want to market books that have a heartbeat (sales numbers that have a consistently high pulse of presence in the marketplace) rather than a single spike (when sales skyrocket and then fall, and no one ever hears about the book again).

To keep the heartbeat, you have to be creative and continually attentive to the market. That’s our goal, and I can’t wait for you to see what we have in mind!

All that to say, launch phase is over, and it’s now time to move into the next push. As with any big marketing campaign, it’s important to take a breather when the circus dies down, at least long enough to assess what worked, what didn’t, and how we’ll propel the next one even further.

Question: If you’re an author, what was the single most important insight you can use for your next book launch?

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