How I Self-Published My Book to #1 on Amazon (and Beat Seth Godin for 72 Glorious Hours)

How I Self-Published My Book to #1 on Amazon (and Beat Seth Godin for 72 Glorious Hours)

How have authors self-published on Amazon and catapulted their book to the #1 spot?

And, how did they become a bestseller without a publisher or a big budget?

That was the question I was asking myself when thinking about writing a book.

There has to be a path to launching a book that doesn’t involve lots of money and old school publishers. I wanted to take what I know about launching brands with my agency GrowthHit and translate that into a book launch on Amazon.  

One problem: I know nothing about writing a book and even less about how to self publish. 

Game on! 

Fast forward 422 days. After countless hours of research, writing, recording,  and promoting, I was #1 on Amazon and ahead of Seth Godin for 72 glorious hours. 

Yes, I have the screenshot to prove it!

Here’s exactly how I did it so you can do the same.  (Seriously, if I can do it then anyone can.) 

The short version:

  1. Write a Book Worth Reading 
  2. Determine Your Platforms for Sales
  3. Price Your Book Competitively 
  4. Design a Page Optimized for Conversion 
  5. Identify the Right Amazon Category for Your Book
  6. Design a Thunderclap Launch Plan
  7. Schedule a Product Hunt Launch
  8. Design an Email Automation Flow for Your Lead Magnet
  9. Engineer a Referral Mechanism
  10. Push a Book Launch Promotion
  11. Go on a Podcast Roadshow
  12. Book Review Blitz & Give Books Away for Free
  13. Paid Ads on Social and Amazon

It’s that easy. 

Now, the long version.  These aren’t necessarily in order but I want to provide some insights from my experience that can hopefully help you self publish a book and blast it to the top of Amazon without any help from a publisher.

Here we go.

Write a Book Worth Reading 

For the past six years, I have been teaching founders and marketers at General Assembly, Techstars, the Associate of National Advertising (ANA), WeWork Labs and more.  I’ve led international workshops in five-star resorts for executives and I’ve taught to an audience of two 18-year-olds in a basement with no AC.

From CMOs to the unemployed with an idea, I’ve worked with people at various steps of the growth journey and I’ve learned a lot by teaching.  Along the way, I’ve been able to see what helps people learn and grow a business themselves.  

After making 600+ slides worth of digital marketing presentations, I thought it was time to package up what I’ve learned and share it with aspiring marketers outside of the classroom.  That was the main goal of writing the book. It took me a year longer than I thought to produce it but it happened.  

Tip: It’s easy to start writing a book. It’s hard to finish a book. The best thing I did was to create a little social pressure on myself. I did this by sending an email to my list that I was writing a book and launching it that next summer. People would respond asking me how it was going. That actually lit a fire under me to make sure I wasn’t a liar and I actually delivered.

Determine Where to Sell Your Book

I knew I wanted to self publish but I struggled on whether I should just sell the book exclusively on Amazon or sell the book on my own site.  Amazon has the market and the credibility while my website allows me to have better margins and I own the customer data.  I decided to sell my book on both for one reason. I don’t solely care about sales.  I care about getting the book to as many people as possible.

On Amazon, I sell the ebook, paperback book, and audiobook for around $11.99.  It’ll be very easy for you to just do the ebook and ignore a paperback version and an audiobook version.  For me, I had to have all of them for a couple of reasons.

First, if you’re going to spend all this time writing a book go all in and make it a paperback book.  It’s rewarding to have your first proof mailed to your front door. (Even if you find a typo on the first page as I did.)

Look, a real book! (Not pictured: the typo on page 1.)

Amazon has some impressive tools that make it actually very easy to turn your ebook into a paperback book.  For more on publishing your own paperback book, check out this guide on how to self-publish a hardback book

As an audiobook power user, I consume most books through audible so I wanted to make sure I made a version for someone like myself.  Plus, I wanted to test all potential channels with my book launch.

You can record an audiobook at a pace of 8,000 words per hour. This is assuming you’re a flawless reader.  Turns out, I am not. It took me under 6 hours to record the book. Instead of renting out a recording studio, I took a $90 microphone, a pop filter, and my free Garageband software and recorded it under my dining room table surrounded by couch pillows. 

It felt more like a fluffy death sauna than a recording studio. But, it worked.

For the final recording, I leveraged an agency to edit the book for Audible and other audio platforms. Here are the best resources for how to record an audiobook yourself from TCK Publishing and Self Publishing School.

On the book website here, I sell everything mentioned above (ebook and audiobook) plus some bigger ticket items.  That includes my online growth marketing course, growth templates, and 100+ growth tactics. The price ranges from $29 to $487 based on what the product you want.  

How should you process orders on your website? I ended up using Gumroad to sell the book on my own because it is hands down the easiest tool to use for processing orders. It integrates with all platforms and you just pay a percentage of the transaction. 

For your first book, go with the easy solution unless you have tech resources or unlimited time. Don’t reinvent the wheel and make something custom because there are so many other things that you need to get right.  You can go custom on your next book that’ll be a NY Times Best Seller. 

How to Price Your Book

I mentioned prices above but let’s dig into my thought process. I decided to have two very different strategies based on the two platforms I was targeting. 

With Amazon, I wanted to be affordable and on-par with other books in my category. This is despite the fact that I am taking a smaller margin because I am not selling exclusively through Amazon with KDP Select. (More on deciding to sell exclusively through Amazon with KDP Select here.) 

My goal on Amazon wasn’t sales dollars.  It was awareness, order volume, and reviews because that helps become a best seller. I sold an ebook, paperback book and an audiobook with prices that were the average of the top 10 books in the category.  See full pricing here.

The book website is where I wanted to have better margins while offering more content. (This is the point of self publishing!)  For pricing on my site, I followed the structure laid out by Nathan Barry in his book Authority and had two products. 

Pricing page on the book website. (Notice which package gets the most real estate.)

With product #1, I did an ebook, an audiobook, growth templates, and 100 growth ideas. The prices were $89 but marked down to $29 during promotions. 

For product #2 the Growth Package, I did everything in product one plus my custom online growth marketing course. The price was $499 but I marked it down to $89 during promotions. The Growth Package was hands down the most popular product and the product that made me the most money. 

If you’re writing a non-fiction book that educates people then it is a huge miss if you don’t make a premium product with an online course. It’s easy to make, it’s how people want to learn, and it’s where you’ll make all of your money.

Design a Page Optimized for Sales

Before we send traffic to the book page on Amazon, it needs to be designed to convert.  There are consultants that specialize in just writing copy for Amazon book pages. It’s an art and science. 

The more I learn the more I realized that the very first sentence of your book description was everything. This one section can make or break your page because it’s the part that helps get the attention of the reader.  The common theme was to lead with a benefit-focused sentence that helps the reader understand what they’ll become after reading your book or what they will gain from your book.

Here is my first sentence: 

“Imagine if you had the exact playbook used by today’s top startups to grow a business online.”

In addition to winning over the customer, include keywords that will help Amazon rank your book based on relevant searches.  I made sure to do keyword research (using Google Keyword Planner because the google searches overlap Amazon searches according to my little research) and I include relevant phrases that were also covered in the book.  Examples include “growth marketing” and “startup growth”. 

For additional social proof, you can also include your own editorial reviews on your Amazon page. This helps build social proof into your page. For me, I was able to get three authoritative people to help. 

For the book website, I wanted to factor in the best practices for CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) that our firm, GrowthHit, uses for clients.  Here are the five things I settled on for the page:

  1. A Benefited-Focused Headline
  2. Free-Access to Chapter 1 
  3. A Compelling CTA (Call to Action)
  4. Social Proof with Testimonials
  5. A Timely Book Promotion 

Below is a look at two parts of the landing page for The Growth Marketer’s Playbook. But see the entire page here.

Identify the Right Amazon Category for Your Book

As I dug into the Amazon ecosystem, I realized how thoughtful you need to be when deciding how you go-to-market.  For example, if you want to be a NY Times bestselling author then you need around 10,000 pre-sales of your book on Amazon just to get considered.  That’s pre-sales.  

That’s not happening.

My main goal was to own a category for 3 hours so I could be #1 in the Amazon charts and call myself a bestseller.  (Yes, it’s trivial and dumb but you have to have goals.) The main drivers of that ranking are the following:

  • Number of orders
  • Number of quality reviews
  • Competition in category 

The first two are obvious but that last one was fascinating to me because there are so many categories and your choice can make or break your launch.  Amazon allows you to select up to three categories. However, there is a hack where you can request even more categories.

Tip: do this category hack – more details here

To understand what categories to select, I took the books I viewed as competitors and analyzed the three categories on their Amazon page.  From there, I clicked on each category to see how many books are in this category and how long the top sellers have been in the top ten spots.  

If it was highly competitive and changed a lot then I would want to stay away.  If there was no movement in the category but also no high-profile books then it might mean that people don’t search in this category.  In addition to that, you can select different categories for a Kindle book, a paperback book or your audiobook. Yes, it’s overwhelming. 

As an example, you can target the marketing sub-category that’s under the entrepreneurship category or you can go after the direct marketing subcategory under Business & Money.  It gets pretty messy once you get into it.

Your category can make or break your book. Wait, so where do you start?

I wanted categories that were in the middle.  Meaning they had high demand but weren’t packed with best selling authors.  This resource was one of the best guides for helping me hone in on the right categories for my book

Design a Thunderclap Launch Plan 

My goal was to be the #1 book in marketing on Amazon and hit 5 figures in sales during our launch sequence.  As a marketer of big brands, I wanted to take a consumer product launch approach to self-publishing a book.  

After realizing that I need lots of momentum on launch day in the form of reviews and sales, I strategized a “thunderclap” launch series that would help make a lot of noise to produce immediate reviews and sales to jump up in the rankings.  

This strategy included a pre-launch email sequence to existing subscribers, a blitz of emails to thought leaders, hyper-targeted ads on social, a product hunt launch, a podcast roadshow, and a referral mechanism with a giveaway to all users.  The goal was getting sales and reviews within the small time frame, 24-72 hours.

I ended up getting 19 5-star reviews, $13,000 in sales at launch and I was trending as the #1 book in marketing for 72 hours.  

Where did I do wrong? My big oversite was accidentally launching on the same weekend as  Seth Godin. Doh!

via GIPHY

If you don’t know Seth then just type “Seth Godin” into Google and note all the best selling books he has written.

Design an Email Automation Flow for Your Lead Magnet

With lots of initiatives leading to email signups on the book website, it was extremely important that I designed an email automation strategy that would help maximizes purchase conversions and Amazon reviews. 

I made a 5-part growth lesson email series. The goal was to showcase a preview of what’s in the book, add value to customers, and get them to take action. The email series was dripped over 5 days with a content download or growth lesson every day.  On the last day, I included a promo code to nudge people to convert.  

Here is a look at the email flow.

In addition to a promo, I also baked in a referral mechanism into the email sequence.  More on that next . . . 

Engineer a Referral Mechanism

I had a limited budget so I knew I needed to get creative by turning customers and visitors into marketers. 

With direct to consumer brands like Harry’s and Girlfriend Collective, the most successful product launches involve a referral campaign with a strong incentive to share.  This type of growth loop at launch is designed to turn customers into marketers with 24 hours of making a purchase.  

I wanted to create something similar to my book launch.  I leveraged Gleam.io to make a book launch giveaway.  If you did a tweet, Facebook post or email about the book then you would be entered to win a free $5,000 Growth Plan from my growth agency.  This resulted in 501 entries and created social buzz for me on launch day. 

Here is a look at the referral mechanism we made.

I served this referral mechanism up three different ways:

(1) As a dedicated email in the launch sequence

(2) On a landing page after someone purchased the book from my book website

(3) Pushed this out on social and on community forums

As a result, this created buzz on launch day with tweets like the following. 

Book Launch Promotion & Giveaway Books for FREE

During the launch sequence, I decided to offer the entire growth package at 80% off to, hopefully, make the price extremely affordable.  Also, I decided to give away ebooks to specific organizations, startup accelerators, and charities.

It might sound counterintuitive to give away your book for free if you want to make money but it’s all about starting a conversation.  There isn’t a better way to do that than to get your content to as many people as possible. My #1 goal was to engineer a conversation about the book on social so people would know that it exists.

Product Hunt Launch

Product Hunt is an ideal product for a launch day because you can be on the front page of the website and their users are trained to upvote and share products, books and tools they like.  I wanted to leverage a trusted author to “Hunt” the product and Ben Yoskovitz (Author of Lean Analytics) was kind enough to help by sharing with his community.  On launch day, I emailed my list about the launch and requested upvotes.

As a result, we ended up getting 300 upvotes.

Verified Book Review Blitz 

If you could do one thing for your launch that would have the biggest impact then it would be to get verified book reviews.  A verified book review is when a confirmed buyer leaves a review of your book on Amazon. There is not an easy way to get this other than asking your customers to leave their feedback.  

My attempt at getting book reviews was done through manual email outreach, Amazon giveaways, and third party book review tools and platforms. The only one that worked for me was manual email outreach.  The other options failed.

I was fortunate to have a database of former students that I had taught so I was able to email them, send them to my book page and then ask them to give their feedback within the Amazon reviews. 

To be honest, I would do more research on this for next time because I think it would have kept me in the #1 spot for longer.

Paid Ads on Amazon

To amplify the reach of my book, I launched Amazon ads and social ads.  That was particularly important on launch day because I wanted to make sure we increased our visibility to help get that #1 ranking. 

On Amazon, I did a manual PPC campaign that targeted phrases and books related to my topic. I had the best success targeting marketing books that just launched and targeting keywords that were specific to my category.  Those keywords include growth hacking, growth marketing and startup marketing.  

Here is a look at the ad. 

With Facebook ads and Instagram ads, I targeted people interested in startups, digital marketing growth hacking, Gary V, Neil Patel, Tim Ferris, founders, CMOs, engaged shoppers that bought something within 14 days, and more. I played around with US, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. I actually had some pretty good sales in India but had to be careful because Facebook would push all my budget there if I didn’t set up my account properly.

On launch day, I ran one prospecting ad campaign that used a problem-solution format with a slideshow video to get them interested in the book and the concept. I sent everyone to the Amazon page.

After the Amazon launch, I switched the urls to my book website. Then I ran a retargeting campaign about the growth package with an image that reengaged anyone that engaged with the ad or my book website and didn’t purchase. The results are below.

Podcast Roadshow

Leading up to the launch, I decided to go on a podcast tour to help spread the word of the book.  My goal was to get all the podcasts to air in and around the launch date of the book. This is easier said than done. 

Podcasts proved to be very hit or miss for me. Some were extremely fruitful while others had zero sales. I used promocodes (provided by Gumroad) to track the sames on my site. I was unable to do attirbution for an Amazon sales. The ROI was pretty mixed for the most part.  But, here were the top two podcasts for my book in terms of sales.  

Podcast Tip: I wasn’t very strategic about having a unified message for the book and I wasn’t thoughtful in how to sell it to each audience.  Looking back, I wish I would have been more prepared to endorse my book in a creative way for each individual audience. 

The Result

Within 24 hours of launch, it happened! The Amazon algorithm gods decided to bless me with the #1 book in marketing / PR ahead of Mr. Seth Godin. 

Amazon God giving me the blessing via GIPHY

For the next 72 hours, I was on top. I was the #1 Hot New Release on Amazon in PR Marketing and I did it as a self publisher.

For 72 glorious hours, we were #1!

Come Monday, the thunderclap mega storm blew over and Mr. Godin was #1.  My book dropped to third place and the algorithm gods we’re blessing another author. 

But, I still have my screenshot and the ability to say I am a Top Selling Author on Amazon . . . even if just for 72 hours.

Hope this blog post helps you self publish your book and get to the top of the Amazon charts.

Like this post? Please share some love on twitter.

Our New GrowthHit Website is LIVE

Today, I’ll get right to the point.

Our new GrowthHit website (version 1) is LIVE and we want your opinion. (Seriously, just leave a comment with what you like and don’t like.  The more honest the better bc we’ll be iterating on this.)

Check it out HERE 👀.

Some highlights include the following: 

📈 Added case studies 
🛠️ A “conversational” services page 
☎️ An easier path for prospects to connect with us

For version two of the site, we’ll be rolling out a new blog, our company page and one special project that I cannot tell you 😶 about yet.  Get excited. 

Wait, so how easy or hard was it to do this little redesign?

Most website redesigns go over budget and over time significantly. I know this because I have missed the initial “new website launch date” many times.  Here is what we did well and not well.  Hopefully, it’ll help you with your next redesign. 

WHAT WE DID WELL:

👍 We removed features (and pages) to hit our launch deadline #noscopecreep 
👍 We had the designer make two completely outlines to pick from before we went really deep
👍 The designer did multiple check-ins to mitigate any “surprises”
👍 Set hard deadlines for each milestone

WHAT WE DIDN’T DO WELL:

👎 We didn’t nail down the copy on each page which impacted design more than I thought
👎 We went over budget by $1k because we had changes during development 
👎 We didn’t get to update every page we wanted bc of the above changes

Hope that helps!

As a bonus, here are five growth articles that caught my attention. 

  1. How To Rapidly Grow Your Instagram Following
  2. 24 Free Website Plugins for Marketing, Lead Generation & Growth!
  3. Social Commerce: How to Take Your Digital Sales to New Heights
  4. 7 E-Commerce Case Studies Every Marketer Can Learn From
  5. Here’s How to Incorporate Site Search into Your E-Commerce Store (The Right Way)

The Journey of a Bootstrapped Founder

For VC-backed startups, their path to success might look like the following:

💡 Develop an idea. 

💸Raise a seed round. 

💸💸💸Raise an A round, raise a B round, and raise a C round. 

🔥 Hire. Fire. Grow like hell and cross your fingers that your valuation climbs. 📈

🤑 Sell to a Fortune 500 company for $1 Billion.

🛥️ Cash-out. Buy a yacht, Tesla and one gold plated suit.

That’s one route you can go with financing your business.

But, what about the majority of people that aren’t raising venture dollars and looking for 10X exit?

What’s their option?  How do they grow?

They bootstrap it.  

What does that mean?  Bootstrapping is when you fund your startup or business with your own money or the cash you make from the business.

This is where I fit in.  I’m bootstrapping and I’m always looking for inspiration from other bootstrapped founders on how they self-funded an idea into a sustainable business.

Here are my favorite articles on how a few brave founders bootstrapped their business.  

  1. A Six-Figure Side Project: The ClickMinded Story (Tommy Griffith)
  2. Growing Growth Machine: How We Went from 0 to $100k MRR in One Year (Nat Eliason) 
  3. How Rob Walling Bootstrapped Drip into a 7 Figure SaaS Business
  4. Want To Sell Your Agency? Here’s How I Did It 💰
  5. 7 Ridiculously In-Depth Case Studies on Starting an Ecommerce Business from Scratch

Maybe one day I’ll publish my story of bootstrapping.  For now, I post annual updates. Here is a look at my 2018 annual update.

What’s Your Number?

The Hard Truth Every Founder or Startup Employee Needs to Know about Money

It’s about to get awkward.

Yup, we’re talking about money.

How much money do you make?  And does that income get you to “your number”?

From breaking even every month to F-you money, what are you really working towards?

Sadly, most people haven’t thought through this question.  Even though we spend most of our waking hours doing this thing called work.  We don’t have a plan for our income or for our number.

For whatever reason, it doesn’t feel natural to talk about money.

So, what is your financial goal?  What is your number?

Is it cash-flowing $2k a month with your side hustle or is it hitting $1.75 million in the bank?

Do you want just enough cheddar to pay the bills?

Or, are you looking for the exact amount of gold coins that enable you to tell your obligations “peace out” and then Scrooge McDuck into your pool of gold?

F-You Money Pioneer: Scrooge McDuck

It’s that number that should drive your financial goals as a founder, a side hustler or an employee.

As a bootstrapped founder, this was the talk I had with my wife before going all in.  My personal number sits between breakeven and Scrooge McDuck.

The Truth: It’s Not About Your Number. It’s About Your Lifestyle

Before we get into your options, let’s talk about that number.  How much money do you really want?

Actually, scratch that.  

It’s not about money.  It’s about your lifestyle.  What do you want to do and how much do you need to support that?  

Maybe you want to work forever at a big company.

Or, you want to retire early on an island in the Caribbean.

Maybe you want to spend half of your time working and the other half volunteering at the local YMCA teaching kids how to widdle wood.

For me, I want to own what I do and have the luxury of choosing what I do with my time – ideally traveling with family, working on passion projects and playing basketball against other washed up dudes still holding on to the dream.

Raindrop!

The real question for me is this:  How much do you need to support the lifestyle you want?  

Money doesn’t bring you happiness. It brings you options.  What are your expenses and how much extra cash do you need? To keep it simple, lets talk about lifestyle expenses in the following buckets:

  • Living Expenses
  • Family Expenses
  • Travel Expenses

My friend, also a bootstrapped business owner,  and I are good examples of two very different lifestyles from a cost perspective.  I live in a city that has the highest housing growth in the US. We don’t have any family close by so our childcare expenses aren’t insignificant. Plus, we’re a family that enjoys eating out, shopping (one of us may have a shoe problem) and we love traveling.  Those decisions (city, family, travel) have raised my monthly expenses compared to most people. Esh.

On the flip side, my friend lives in a small town in a house his family owns and is close to grandparents.  His family also likes to travel so they have that as an important line item. It’s smaller because they love road trips which are cheaper than flights.  Those decisions alone have put his lifestyle expenses much lower than mine. So his break even number is much lower.

Here is a simple breakdown of two scenarios

Obviously, these expenses don’t include things like any car payments, healthcare costs, entertainment, groceries, car payments, Parkour lessons, etc.  But, you see how certain lifestyle decisions have a huge impact on your number.

Based on your lifestyle expenses, that is the starting point for your break-even costs and then you can start to think about the original question.  What is your number?

Let’s break down your number into three options:

Option 1: Break-Even

With the exercise above, you can start to figure this exact number out.  Simply put, you’re making just enough money to pay for your monthly expenses but an unexpected surprise would rock your world.  A water pipe breaks in your new home, someone in the family is laid off or you find out you’re having triplets. #blessed

Option 2: I’m Feeling Comfortable

You’re kind of rolling in the dough.  You’re able to pick up the tab on group dinners without blinking an eye and you’re looking at options for a rental property.  You could take time off of work for a little bit and you’ll be okay. But, not too much time because the money will run out.

Option 3: F-You Money

You hit a big exit with your company or you’re cash flowing at a rate that far exceeds your expenses and it’s not slowing down. Teslas, yachts and a timeshare on Mars might not be that crazy.

Now that we know the options. Let’s talk about how we reach to those outcomes.  Let’s attempt to answer that specifically for people in the startup community.

What are your options for hitting your number?

Obviously, there are lots more than the three but I am laying out three scenarios for income.   

Scenario 1: The Employee with Golden Options

Scenario 2: The VC-Backed Founder with an Exit Plan

Scenario 3: The Bootstrapped Founders with Cash Flow Dreams

Now, let’s dive in and see the pros and cons of how these options get you to your number.

The Employee with Golden Options

Image Source: Adioma

You’re an employee at a high growth startup.  You have chosen to live off a startup salary with the hope that the value of your future stock options will lead to the land of milk and honey (or financial freedom).

Pros: Taking on less risk of a founder but still get to participate in the upside.

Cons: 90% of startups fail.  You get diluted during fundraises. Plus, a vesting schedule makes you work 4+ years for your options.

The VC-Backed Founder with an Exit Plan

Image Source: craft.co

You’re a founder that has raised sophisticated money from a venture capital firm and you’re looking to exit through a sale or IPO.  Your recent funding has extended your runway but it has diluted your shares and set your valuation to exit much higher.

Pros: You’re the majority shareholder and if you strike it big then it’s life-changing. You have extended your runaway with the influx of cash and can (finally) invest in quality developers, sophisticated software and the much-needed ping pong table.

Cons: Again, 90% of startups fail.  Also, your new board might fire you if you don’t deliver.

The Bootstrapped Founder with Cash Flow Dreams

You have an idea and decided to roll up your sleeves and fund it with your own money or with cash from the project.

Pros: You own 100% of your business so your exit number or cash-flow number is much more attainable than a VC-backed business.

Cons: Don’t stop making money.  If your cashflow goes away then your business goes away. Oh, and 90% of startups fail.

So, what path did I pick to hit my number?

My Final Answer

I have opted for option three.  For me, it’s not about the money.  It’s about the lifestyle and I’m playing the long game. I want to work on projects I am passionate about and I want the freedom to push them in whatever direction I please. I’ve been inspired by people like Rob Walling, Dan Andrews and, obviously, Tim Ferris. These guys have bootstrapped ideas into successful businesses built around their lifestyle.

So what’s your number? Or more importantly, what lifestyle do you want to support?

Are you on a current path to get there?

7 Successful Product Launches to Inspire Your 2019

Hey,

Are you launching a new product in 2019?

brand launch is a lot like getting up on stage as a stand-up comedian.

No matter how confident you are that people will love your material, you can never quite shake the fear that all you’ll hear is crickets when get on stage.

According to Five By Five Global, three-fifths of people weren’t aware of any new launches in the past 12 months, which doesn’t make for great reading if you launched something last year.

But that doesn’t mean what you’ve created is bad. It means that it hasn’t been marketed right.

To show you how to avoid the deafening silence of no one noticing your product, we’ve picked out seven of the most successful launches of recent years to inspire your launch efforts, along with some tips on how to implement the tactics.

Read the entire article here.

As usual, here are five articles that caught my attention this week.

(1) How To Grow Your Email List With Facebook (3 Steps)
(2) The Definitive Guide to Influencer Marketing for Ecommerce Stores
(3) Landing Page Versus Home Page: 18 Money Making Differences
(4) How to Successfully Launch a Product in 2019
(5) How to Track Social ROI for a Local Business

Cheers,

Jim

ROWTH PACKAGE Book + Online Course + Templates + 100 Growth Tactics

GROWTH PACKAGE
Book + Online Course + Templates + 100 Growth Tactics

This was originally sent from Jim Huffman’s email newsletter.  Sign up to get weekly insights in your inbox.

How to Make a Growth Plan for a B2B Company (See Case Study)

Hey all,

I work with lots of B2C companies and you can see how we growth them here.

But, how do you make a growth plan for a B2B company?

How do you keep your marketing team focused and on track with a clear plan of action?

Sadly, most people don’t know how to make a growth plan.

Worse, they end up going to google and typing “growth plan” or “marketing plan” and it takes them to a black hole of outdated templates and tactics.  

To help, I’m going to go deep on how to make a growth plan for one lucky company, ConvertKit. I am a fan of this company and it’s founder, Nathan Barry. Hopefully he sees this as a compliment to his tool.

The growth plan will go into detail on everything from value proposition and analytics to how to setup a landing page and what growth experiments to run.

Here is how we’re going to categorize the growth plan.

1) Identify Customers
2) Competitor Research
3) Proposition Mapping
4) SEO & Content Strategy
5) Analytics Infrastructure
6) CRO & List Building
7) Paid Campaigns
8) Growth Experiments
9) Growth Projections

Check out the entire blog post here.

Cheers!

Jim Huffman

ROWTH PACKAGE Book + Online Course + Templates + 100 Growth Tactics

GROWTH PACKAGE
Book + Online Course + Templates + 100 Growth Tactics

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Two Webinars to Watch: The Rewrite Summit & Metrics for Ecommerce Companies

Hey,

I want to mention two webinars I’m in that might be helpful for you.  One is with an impressive founder and another is about metrics that matter for ecommerce startups.

I’ll get to those in a second.

Quick Side Note . . .  

I’m very bullish on webinars for B2B companies (including GrowthHit, our growth consultancy) because webinars are a powerful way to engage potential customers while building trust. Live video + free educational content = a good first impression. 

So there you have it – some insight into our growth strategy at GrowthHit.  More webinars to come in 2019. 

. . . Alright, Side Note Complete.

Lets get to the webinars.

First, I was able to chat with Chrystien Guyton of The Rewrite Summit to talk about my path to starting GrowthHit.  She’s hosting a 7 day virtual summit where she’s interviewing  founders about how they changed their career paths and started their own thing.  Our interview goes live next week and you can join here.

Second, I’m doing an online session with Gorgias called 8 Metrics to Measure as Head of Ecommerce.  We’ll get tactical on how Shopify store owners can grow sales by being data driven.  It launches on Feb 11th at 1pm PST so RSVP here and set you alarms people.

As usual, here are five articles that caught my attention this week.

(1) 3 Ecommerce Pricing Strategies That Make You More Profit Per Sale
(2) Buying Instagram Likes is Hurting Your Brand. Here’s Why (Experiment Included)
(3) The State of Social in 2019 by Buffer
(4) SEO Best Practices For B2B Brands Trying To Rank In 2019
(5) How To Launch A Product or Feature To Maximize Growth

Cheers,

Jim

ROWTH PACKAGE Book + Online Course + Templates + 100 Growth Tactics

GROWTH PACKAGE
Book + Online Course + Templates + 100 Growth Tactics

This was originally sent from Jim Huffman’s email newsletter.  Sign up to get weekly insights in your inbox.

A Look Back at 2018

Before I jump into 2019 trends, I want to hit on my 2018. 

Here is a review of my 2018.

I’ve included some wins, losses, revenue numbers and one baby photo.

  • Book launch. Launched the book and got to #1 on Amazon in marketing (even if for only four days)
  • Sales Goals. My goal was $10,000 in book sales before 2019. We’re at $9,024 so just shy of it.  Hope to hit that in January 2019. 
Jim Huffman Book Sales
Sales from Book website. Does not include sales from Amazon, Apple or Audible.
  • Hiring. GrowthHit hired 4 new talented individuals.  Working with smart people to help scale our clients has been more time consuming and rewarding than I thought.
  • Growth Goals. Fell short of our aggressive revenue goal for Growthhit by 20%.  I am pushing this goal out to April 2019.  We’re two clients away from hitting this.
  • Product Problems: We’ve been working on a SaaS product that we wanted to launch in October but it’s still delayed.  After having to let go of a development agency we’re learning the hard way how to design and launch tech products. But, we are learning! 
  • Travel: I was able to travel 44 nights this past year to places like San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Dallas, and Yakima to do talks on Growth Marketing. It’s a blast to meet people but I am trying to limit my travel.
  • Got Back into Basketball.  I love hoops and it was my life for a long time.  After 5 years away, I am finally playing again  It’s a fun break from my crazy weeks but it’s resulted in me spending too much time sneaker shopping.
  • Stop Being Cheap and Give. Maybe it’s bc I didn’t come from money but I am pretty frugal.  I am trying to be more generous with money to coworkers, charities and I’m working on something I am calling “Operation Big Tipper.” It’s inspired by Ben Hebert’s tweet but my wife and I want to leave big tips once a week to someone that needs money more than us. 
  • Family First. My daughter turned one, learned to walk and rocked it as Elton John for Halloween. Love my family so much. Everything else is secondary. 

2018 was a year of finally launching a book I had been working on for a long time. It’s always risky putting yourself out there but I am glad I did it. More to come in 2019.

What Happened When I Tracked Every Second of My Day for One Month

You know the feeling.  

You look at the clock – It’s 6pm – and you have nothing to show for the day.

It’s not because you weren’t working hard.  

You responded to emails. You put out that big fire. You crushed conference calls.  

But, your to do list is collecting dust. #Fail

Fail by #GIF

As a founder, this doesn’t just hurt my ego – it hurts my business.  That’s why I decided to track every second of my day to see where my time was really going.

To help me understand how I’m allocating my time, I used a time tracking tool called Toggl.  I broke up my time into the following categories. Email, Client Calls, Strategy & Planning, Reporting, Writing, Executing on Growth Strategy, Team Mgmt, and Breaks.  These section were broken down by client, prospects and items for our own consultancy.

At first, it was a annoying to remember to toggle my Toggl tracker (great branding) but after a few days I loved it.  By using this tool, it made me that much more aware of where I was putting my time.

After one week of doing this, three stats caught my attention:

  • 45 minutes per day wasted because of switching cost
  • 2+ hours per day in email
  • 10% of my week dedicated to the strategic items that’ll have the biggest impact on my company

This was eye opening and alarming. Here is how I am fixing my time management mishaps.

Too Much Time in Email

Yes, I know I’m on email a lot but it was staggering how much time that meant.  I found that I couldn’t go more than 20 minutes per day without “glancing” at my inbox.  That’s 24 times per day of stopping what I’m doing to make sure people didn’t need me. Translation: I’m an email addict.

MY FIX: Limit the times per day I can check email.  I still watch for the notifications but I was much more deliberate of when I went to my inbox.

Focused on My Strengths and Not Impact

After looking at my hours, I saw that when I got busy or overwhelmed I would default to the things I am good at like reporting, analytics and Facebook ad optimization.  It wasn’t bc they were more important. Nope. It’s because I know I can do those items the fastest. But, these things would trump the high impact items.

MY FIX: Start with the important things and dedicate at least an hour to that item before going to my strengths.   

There is a Switching Cost

Slack messages, emails and phone calls.  These are distractions that can derail your day quickly.  They aren’t urgent but they’re in my face so they always shot up my priority list.  

MY FIX: When possible, go deep on tasks and avoid multitasking. Instead of dropping everything for these Items I would let them sit until I actually finished that thing I was working on.  When possible, block off hours in my afternoon for deep work and or to work with individual members of my growth team.

How You Start Your Day Impacts Everything

The days that ended with that “I just punched the day in the mouth feeling” usually began with mornings that involved me dedicating as little as 20 minutes of uninterrupted time to those big impact items.  By doing that, I set the tone for the rest of the day. As opposed to the days where the first 4 hours involved me being reactive to emails and not being in control of my time.  

MY FIX: Wake up 30 minutes early and dedicate that time to the big impact.  I wish I could do 1-2 hours but I have a 19 month old kid so that would mean getting up at 4:30am and that ain’t happening.  

Create Time Goals

We all have goals around sales, demos, sign ups, traffic, etc. but we don’t talk much about time goals.  For example, are you spending 20% of your time per week on the big impact projects? Whether that’s writing a book or building your entire growth strategy, make sure the high impact items get the necessary time .

MY FIX: Do time tracking check-ins mid-week to make sure you’re allocating your time accordingly.

Oh, and Don’t Forget Your Smartphone

Scary fact: you look at your phone 74 times per day.  That shows that unimportant push notifications are getting the best of me.

MY FIX: Use the screen time feature (image above) on your iphone and set time limits on certain apps.  I only allow 20 minutes of social media time per day. It’s scary how fast that time flies.

Summary

You might be better than me at time management or you may let email and slack message drive your entire to do list.  Regardless, try out this exercise for a few days and you’ll learn something about how you allocate your most precious asset: time.

PODCAST: My Entrepreneur on Fire ?Interview with John Lee Dumas

John Lee Dumas & Jim Huffman talk about The Growth Marketer’s Playbook on Entrepreneur on Fire

As mentioned before, I’m a podcast junkie.

I’m always looking for something to listen to on my commute.  That includes podcasts related to startups, the entrepreneurial journey or anything about NBA trade rumors.

I had the privilege of sitting down with the host of Entrepreneur on Fire, John Lee Dumas, this past week to record an episode.

In the episode, we talk about going from idea to seven figures, the reason most startups fail, tips for growing a startup with no money and my obsession with basketball in the 90s.

If you want to check it out, you can listen to the episode right here.

As always, here are 5 articles that caught my attention this week.

(1) Exact Growth Playbook: From Idea to Seven Figures with a Growth Agency CEO
(2) 10 Google Analytics Ecommerce Reports (Bonus: Revenue Per Email Report)
(3) Instagram Sponsored Posts: Everything You Need to Know
(4) Beardbrand Marketing: How to Turn $30 into $100,000 MRR (Case Study)
(5) How To Launch On Product Hunt Like A Boss [+ 5 Hacks]

Cheers!

Jim Huffman

Here are the Show Notes

**Click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.

  • Today’s Audio MASTERCLASS: The Exact Growth Playbook: From Idea to Seven Figures with Jim Huffman
  • [01:47] – Jim shares something about himself that most people don’t know.
  • [03:46] – Jim gives a quick overview of what he’ll cover today.
    • It’s really about focusing on things that matter, or focusing on the right target audience and doing things that maybe don’t scale initially but that add the most value; then, eventually you’ll figure out how to scale those things.
  • [04:50] – Why do most businesses or startups fail?
    • They start focusing on growing right away.
    • Everyone has 5 brands that they love or tools they use that they rave about, and if you don’t have that yet, then it’s not time to focus on growth. It’s time to focus on how you’re adding value to your customers in a way that you’re actually making their day.
  • [07:30] – How do you know when you’re ready for growth?
    • One way to quantify this is doing a Net Promoter Score.
    • You’ll know it when you have it; it’s when you can’t keep up with demand.
    • Focus on being better, not bigger.
  • [09:52] – Where do we start as entrepreneurs?
    • See what channels your competitors are choosing to be on or not choosing to be on.
    • You want to have a product that makes people want to use it and love it. And you have to have a basic conversion funnel set up.
    • Before you send any traffic to your platform, you want to make sure you can optimize it.
    • If you’re just starting out, the first tactic to start with is asking yourself the question, “How can I have the biggest impact on my customer in a positive way?”
  • 15:56 – Jim shares an example of what using tools like SimilarWeb and SpyFu look like.
    • Adding value in teaching is the best way to give a great first impression.
  • [21:06] – Jim shares his revenue streams that make up his $50,000 a month.
  • [24:32] – Growth tactics for companies that want quick results.
    • The real question you have to ask yourself is, “How fast can I implement this, and when will I get results?”
    • If you want to grow quick, you have to have some ad dollars.
  • [26:07] – Jim walks us through what a 3-tiered funnel ad might look like.
    • Educate them with the “Here’s the problem you have, here’s how we solve it.” That’s the top of the funnel ad.
    • The middle of the funnel ad, that’s when we go into the buyer’s mindset.
    • The bottom of the funnel ad is simple. It’s just retargeting people who dropped off and didn’t convert.
  • [28:23] – Jim gives Fire Nation some growth tactics for a small budget.
    • It’ll take a lot of time, but it’s going to have a great return, and hopefully you’re going to create customers that like your product so much, they’ll end up telling their friends.
    • Be accessible. When you don’t have a lot of money, you have to be available.
  • [31:03] – What’s one key thing that these high growth companies and startups have in common?
    • Referrals and people who spread the word.
  • [35:03] – Jim’s parting piece of guidance
    • Visit The Growth Marketer’s Playbook and use the promo code EOFire30 for 30% off!
    • Be very honest with yourself.
    • When you think of your ideal customers and the people who love your product the most, what is the language they use when they talk about your product or service to other people?
    • Language is going to tell you so much. Everything is going to be around your perfect customer’s language, so make sure you are studying that.