[STRATEGY – Leave it to a couple of net-savvy authors to figure out a way to reward the early adopters. Take note of the book-selling strategy: The second edition (and there WILL be a second edition) will be $25.95. dsy]
By Roy H. Williams
People have said for decades, "Word-of-mouth is the best kind of advertising. That’s the best kind: word-of-mouth." You hear this so often when you sell advertising that my friend Bob Lepine used to joke about opening The Word of Mouth Advertising Agency. He said he was going to hire people to sit at bus stops and ride the elevators in tall buildings and say to people, "Have you tried that new restaurant over on Fifth Street? It’s GREAT!" The funniest part of Bob’s idea is that it probably would’ve actually worked.
The power of the buzz – word-of-mouth advertising – lies in its credibility. But the only way to create buzz is to rock a person’s world so hard that they can’t help but talk about it to their friends.
I’m going to try to do that today.
Ray Bard of Bard Press, the publisher of my bestselling Wizard of Ads trilogy, looked at the new hardback book about to be released by Wizard Academy Press and wrote me an email. (I was walking out the door to meet Ray for lunch when a boxful of advance copies arrived from the printer. On impulse, I grabbed one for Ray.) These comments by email were completely unsolicited:
Great to see you and catch up yesterday. And, thanks for the new Wizard Academy Press book. I usually refrain from providing comments about books after they’re published (I’ve made enough mistakes myself over the years) but there is one issue that may deserve attention.
When I got home last night I gave the book a quick look. It felt good in the hand and the inside contents looked good. Although the title sounded like a political book and provided no information about the content, I know that it can get by as it is. The other, more difficult issue, is the price. When I first saw the $13.95 I thought it was a mistake but noticed it was printed in two places. The last time 300 page hard cover business books sold for $13.95 was probably 30 years ago. The retail price is a statement of what you think the value of the book is. When most similar business books are selling for twice as much today, you can see the message this sends.
If the publisher is pursing a strong merchandising strategy with lots of face out retail space I recommend pushing the retail into the "value" category. Unless you have a new distribution effort, I would not recommend it for this book. And, the $13.95 is way beyond "value" pricing.
For what my opinion is worth, I would have priced it at $30. and sold it at $20 for special customers. I think you can see the difference in psychology.
Again, I regret bringing this up now, but I know the book will be used in the company’s marketing efforts. And, as it is, the price sends just the opposite message you want.
Ray Bard is America’s most successful publisher of business books. He is responsible for putting two of my books on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list and one on the New York Times list, so I listen carefully to what Ray says.
He’s right. Thirteen ninety-five is way too cheap for a 314 page hardback containing this kind of detailed information about how to make online marketing actually work. These pages are chock full of little-known techniques for improving online marketing results. More than a dozen Fortune 500 companies have paid the authors huge amounts of money to learn this stuff. That’s why our plan all along was to price the second printing at 25.95. But this first printing exists only to create a buzz. That’s why we’re giving you 2 additional copies for each one you buy at just $13.95. We know you’ll give them to friends. We know your friends will be rocked. We know your friends will talk about it to their friends. It’s all about the buzz and this book contains some fabulous honey. By the way, shipping is free if you live in the US, so you’ll have a grand total of only 4.65 per book in each of your 3 hardback copies.
Wizard Academy Press is gambling that the information contained in this book will give you a heady buzz and be worth mentioning to your friends.
I’ll let you know in a few weeks how the experiment turns out. In the meantime, why not get 3 copies headed your way?
Roy H. Williams
PS – If the name Bob Lepine sounded familiar, it’s because he’s been co-hosting a radio talk show for the past 12 years heard in cities across America. Bob and I worked together in Tulsa a quarter-century ago. I think often of all he taught me.
PPS – I HATE IT WHEN PEOPLE SAY "I TOLD YOU SO," BUT… when I told you in early 2004 that my research on society’s pendulum indicated that Harley Davidson would soon become an embarassing icon of yesterday’s values, very few people took me seriously. After all, Harley was among America’s most powerful brands at the time. When I put it in print November 1, 2004, I got the same response. Did you read the news in the Milwaukee Journal (Harley’s home town) last week? "The wheels came off Harley-Davidson Inc. on Wednesday when the company’s shares posted their biggest drop in 14 years, knocking almost $3 billion from their stock market value." Doug Kass of Seabreeze Partners added, "This is no longer a growth company." Tony Gikas, an analyst with Piper Jaffray Co. echoed; "This is the first crack in the eggshell."