Top positive review
Where does great marketing stop and customer manipulation start?
26 June 2014
In the mid to late 2000s, the cult of the Internet marketing gurus developed and this book's author was both a leading light and the source of the astonishing marketing theory that accelerated many of the others to fame and fortune.
Since then allegations that the product launch process was being abused as a way to bleed Internet newbies of their money has caused a number of these gurus to withdraw.
The book introduces you to the Product Launch Formula (PLF), which while drawing on old style direct marketing, brand building and the influence and persuasion tactics of Robert Cialdini is a brilliant innovation that can benefit new and old businesses, in both online and off-line markets.
You can see similarities between it and how Apple launch new products with little leaks, a big public launch announcement and then long queues outside the stores on launch day. Big Hollywood blockbuster films are similar. Think of how anticipation builds up into a crescendo for the latest James Bond film and how the news is everywhere and everyone is talking about the film, the girls, the cars and the gadgets.
The Product Launch Formula theory is so powerful and effective that it will force you to confront the issue of where great marketing stops and customer manipulation starts. For me, the difference depends on whether you are hoping to use these potentially astonishingly effective tactics to primarily help customers solve their frustrations or mainly to make more money for you and your business?
In my opinion, there's nothing wrong with you getting rich from genuinely helping others. Taking but not really giving back to customers is another matter.
The PLF ideas are both admired and hated in the "make money online" niche of Internet marketing. Another guru Dan Kennedy admits that only about 20% of the people who buy expensive training programs will do enough to recoup their money and only about 4% (20% of the 20%) will do really well. Basic human nature means the rest get sucked into buying hope and doing next to nothing about it. He spent years trying to improve the ratios but, in the end accepted them. The brutal truth is that there are doers and dreamers.
The dreamers buy the opportunity but they don't act on it.
Where does "buyer beware" end for responsible sellers? It's often said that many more business books are bought than read or acted upon but paying (and wasting) £10 for a book is very different from wasting 100 or more times that investment on training. It's a problem for tangible products too. An expensive garden barbecue grill may be sold through hard sell tactics and hardly ever used so the buyer wastes his money.
The PLF builds up anticipation, desire and want before a launch by pressing hard on emotional triggers told through a three part story and then forces the interested buyer to make a decision under time and/or quantity pressure. The choice is simple. Take advantage of this great opportunity now or miss out, potentially for ever.
The book tells the story of how Jeff used the idea to earn six figures (i.e. over $100,000) in seven days by selling a stock market newsletter and how, with him advising, another Internet guru used the process to create a million dollars of sales in just one 24 hour day. Since then it has gone on to many more successes in many different markets.
Used for good, it is terrific marketing but it can also be used for self enrichment at the expense of the customers.
It is not a simple, easy get rich quick scheme. Anyone who has gone through a big product launch will tell you that it's very demanding in logical and emotional energy.
In some senses, a business is a series of launches but experience has shown that businesses based on the pure PLF theory of now you see it, now you don't product launches are not as stable as businesses that launch a product, leave it available in the market and then launch another. A PLF business has a surge of revenue that quickly falls away and then another surge with the next all-important launch.
There is danger that, if your competitors are also using the PLF process, the entire market becomes numb and sceptical about everything going on. I feel that's been the situation with the make money online niche for some years.
The book is a very good introduction to the product launch process and it includes links to get more resources from the author's website. That's both good and bad since it tells you that the book doesn't have the entire detailed process. It will make some readers want to know everything. I disagree with some other reviews that I've read, this book is subtly selling and buyers of the more advanced and expensive products risk going into that 80/16/4% ratio.
For that reason, I've knocked a star off because it's a start rather than a definitive guide.
Should you read the book? Yes, as both a buyer and a selling, you should understand the product launch process. Should you take up some of the principles for your next launch? Yes. Should you watch other product launches and analyse the use of the tactics? Yes.
However, I am conflicted because I've seen the process used to manipulate people. Jeff Walker talks about ending hope marketing (where you design or build a product or service first and then hope it will sell) but in its place I've seen the process create too much hope buying as people are swept along by the drama and excitement of the launch.
This really is very powerful marketing voodoo but its strengths can be abused.
About my book reviews - I aim to be a tough reviewer because the main cost of a book is not the money to buy it but the time needed to read it and absorb the key messages. 4 stars means this is a good to very good book.
Paul Simister, a business coach who helps business owners who are stuck, get unstuck.