How to promote a Big Launch (without becoming That Guy)


Right now, I’m seeing the repeat of a Big Industry Launch, and the backlash from people who are tired of being deluged by a flood of “Hey, You Should Totes Buy That Big Course Through My Affiliate Link” messages.

Nothing new there.

But Naomi Niles said this on FB: I’m sad about the noise. But, I’m sadder that some people are afraid of sharing their things because of it.

And that is something worth talking about.

There are two broad categories of affiliate promoters.

The Cha-Ching! crowd are there entirely to make money by selling something, and will use whatever techniques are effective in achieving that goal; including pressure tactics, artificial scarcity, emotional manipulation, and carpet-bomb communications.

The Believers are promoting an offering for reasons which are more important than the cash; because this offering changed their life, or because it addresses a problem they want to eliminate, or because they want to encourage the person behind it.

And only one of these two groups will actually listen to the backlash, and maybe decide not to promote. I bet you can guess which one this is.

Darlingheart, if you believe in something, for realsies, then you should fucking promote it.

Trust me, the people who are saying “ugh” about the deluge of buy-nows aren’t responding to you, or to people like you. They’re pissed about the screaming highlighter exclamation mark stalkerface soulless shove-y promotions.

They wouldn’t mind in the slightest hearing you talk about how you changed your life with this course. Or why you believe that courses like this are the future of X.

You have a secret weapon that the Cha-Ching! crowd can’t access. You’re sincere. As long as you stick with that, as long as you keep your non-monetary motivation clearly in mind and write it from the gut, you’ll do just fine.

In short: we hate reading ads, but we adore reading love letters.

Any thoughts to add? Come tell us in the comments!

Sales page case study: Goddamn Radiant

Hey there!

I just finished re-structuring and re-writing one of my oldest offerings, Goddamn Radiant.

Most of my sales pages are written and published within three days. (Sometimes less.) But this one took five drafts and nearly three months to complete.

Why? What were the problems I had to solve? Time for a sales page case study!

*analysis hat*

You can download the full recording here, or listen to it in sections below.

Part 1: Why did the sales page need to be re-written?

Audio MP3

The original Goddamn Radiant sales page

Part 2: The original sales page, Take One.

Audio MP3

The first draft of the new sales page

Clarity: kinda important!

The three layers of what-this-is

What the first section of a sales page is for

“It’s possible to write something that’s all about you, and have it feel really impersonal at the same time.”

The difference between “you” and “ya’ll”

Hat tip again to Kelly Diels for her wonderful sales page exercise

Part 3: Take Two & Three, the curse of impersonal

Audio MP3

The second draft of the new sales page

The third draft of the new sales page

When in doubt, make it tangible.

Storytelling isn’t a magical solution

God Mode versus first-person

Begin with them (where they are now, and where they could be)

The vital role of momentum

The two acceptable outcomes (and… that other one)

Reality, and then hope

Never tell me the odds!

Engage the senses

Distant + detailed = more accurate scientific study

Part 4: Take Four, engage the sad panda!

Audio MP3

The fourth draft of the new sales page

Pushing the pain point

Trying to convince myself as much as the reader.

Some pains are harder to describe than others.

Playing it too strong.

Trust the reader.

“Feeling the need to over-explain and over-emphasise and really just cram it down someone’s throat… that was a function of me not trusting this yet.”

So many details!

The decision point

Fear the FAQ.

Price defensiveness as over-explanation

A major warning sign: “I don’t want people to see you.”

All love to Leela.

“Like swimming through oatmeal.”

Start with mirroring, one level up.

The stairway to cheery.

Don’t build yourself a straightjacket.

Finding another way to offer the outcome, without the downsides.

Part 5: The final draft, getting it right.

Audio MP3

The fifth draft of the new sales page (of course you could just go look at the actual sales page, but this is also here for posterity.)

All the pieces are in place!

Compare and contrast.

Evocative without matching the feel.

Modelling what they want, instead of where they are.

“When you really want to identify with people, it’s easy to get stuck where they’re stuck.”

Changing energy through sentence structure.

Making the sales page be an examplar of the offer.

When you are demonstrating enough proof, you don’t have to prove yourself so much.

Effortless creation as a function of clarity.

And done! PHEW.

The sales page resource I mention is already available to The Provocateurs, and will be available to everyone else in 2013.

What did you learn from my re-write of Goddamn Radiant? Tell me in the comments!

Dumb Ways to Die, smart ways to market

Before you read on, watch this.

This, in case you haven’t already heard it, is a video called “Dumb Ways to Die” about rail safety by Melbourne Metro. It currently has 28 MILLION VIEWS views on YouTube.

How did a safety video about such an incredibly dry topic spread so far?

(Short version: because it’s awesome.)

There are lots of wonderful features of this video: the charming soundtrack, the ridiculously adorable animations, the clever use of exaggeration…

But I think one of the most clever and most effective aspects of this video is how generous it is.

Generally, government departments want to deliver their message as cheaply and quickly as possible. Get in, scare the heck out of people, get out. BAM.

But this video spends 90% of its time off-point, being funny and catchy and completely unrelated to train safety. That extra time costs serious money (adorable animations not being cheap) and it takes the bighuge risk of not actually telling you what the video is about until the very end.

If the video had the same adorable animations and charming soundtrack but had delivered the point from the beginning, it would have been nice-but-forgettable. Making it less efficient has made it dramatically more effective.

It was a big risk to take. The creators of this video trusted that it was engaging enough that people would stay tuned in for long enough to get the message.

And they were right!

This is in dramatic contrast to the way most governments (and most of us) do marketing. They resisted the pressure to get to the point, they resisted the pressure to make it be efficient, and so they made a beautiful piece of marketing.

Would your marketing change if you trusted that people would be engaged right until the end? Tell us in the comments!

Compromising your vision (and how not to anymore, yeah?)

You come to me frowning.

Why do I keep compromising my vision? you ask. I have this idea in my head and it’s bold and glorious and world-shaking, but then when I make it… something happens. Something goes wrong. And what comes out is wishy-washy and mediocre and ordinary and Bleh.

“What’s your ratio of terror to excitement?”

About four parts terror to six parts excitement?

“Well, that’s a tiny bit higher than I recommend – my favourite ratio is three parts terror to seven parts excitement, so the excitement is more than double the terror – but it’s not impossibly high. How confident are you that you can deliver the undiluted vision of your work?”

Well right now not very, ’cos I keep compromising! But when I plan it it feels very doable. Y’know, a stretch, but a good one.

“Okay, that’s cool. Then my biggest question: How much do you trust the intended audience for this?”

How much… do I trust them?

“Yep. How much do you trust them to understand what you’re doing, and react in the right ways, and appreciate the value of it. How much do you trust them to applaud in the right places and laugh at your jokes.”

Oh. Yikes. I… don’t know? I can feel my pulse speeding up just thinking about it. I would say, “Not very much.” That’s a bad sign, isn’t it?

“’fraid so, jellybean. I think it’s the number one reason I see people compromising their vision – they don’t have enough faith in their audience’s ability to appreciate it.”

Is the problem me, or the audience?

“Possibly both. But they’re both your problems, anyway.”

Excuse me? you say, mock affronted.

“Well, there’s two potential problems here. Either you have the perfect audience for your best vision, in which case not trusting them is your issue to deal with… or you don’t have the right audience yet, which is also your problem to deal with.”

Oh. Yeah, I guess. I think I have a mix? Some people who would really love this… they’re the ones I was thinking about when I planned it. But also some who just totally won’t get it. If I think about them, I want to tone it down.

“Awesome self-awareness! So there’s a couple of things you can do. One is to do the marketing work to attract more of the People Who Get It, and to gently shoo away the others. The other thing is to do the internal work to build up your faith around a few key beliefs.”

Faith workouts? Pump up my belief muscles?

“Exactly! Here are the beliefs you have to strengthen:

1. My work is enough. And so am I.
2. There are enough people in the world who will reallytrulydeeply appreciate and support my vision.
3. The world is poorer every time I compromise my vision.
4. I am not here to cater to the People Who Don’t Get It.
5. The kindest thing I can do for the People Who Don’t Get It is to set them free so they can find their right people.
6. And the easiest way to do that is to deliver my work at full strength.
7. I am brave, and I trust my audience. I trust that they exist, and they love my work. I trust their intelligence, and I trust their intentions.

When all of those beliefs are strong, it’s much much easier to be bold and confident.”

I can’t prove these things, so I have to take them on faith?

“Pretty much. When you do it and succeed, you gain some evidence that there are enough people to support your vision. But next time you create a vision, it’ll always be new enough that you need to have faith again.”

So this never gets easy?

“Not so far as I’m aware. But it gets easier.”

Any more advice?

“If this is dizzyingly scary, start small. One tiny, bijou vision instead of a revolution. You can scale up as you get more resilient.

And I always recommend going faster than your fear can catch up with. That’s how I made my first ever product.”

Okay, thanks. Can you do me a favour?


Say the words?

“Of course. Now go forth and ROCK IT THE FUCK OUT.”


We high five and you stride away. You don’t see it, but I’m smiling proudly as you go.

Have you found ways to deliver your vision without compromise? Share them in the comments!

photo by: soopahgrover