If you work with authors, you might be creating Virtual Book Tours to launch new books. When you work with a speaker, coach, entrepreneur or other professional, you might be helping them sell their books, but just as likely, many other types of products as well, such as DVDs, ebooks, audio CDs and downloads, membership and community sites, training webinars and train-the-training programs.
The VSA’s Role in Managing the Process
Here is what the VSA does to coordinate the virtual product launch itself:
1. Set up and/or maintain the web pages for the initial launch and then the product pages that will remain long after the launch.
2. Find and coordinate bonus providers, such as thought leaders that the speaker might interview and from which would come a downloadable bonus or premium to entice potential customers to buy.
3. Find the right promotional venues to let as many people as possible know about the new product, such as bloggers, podcasters, Internet and broadcast radio producers and hosts and others.
4. Keep the speaker informed about the progress of the launch preparation.
5. Follow up so the speaker doesn’t miss any opportunities for larger collaborations with people met during the launch.
It used to be that a web designer would create a long squeeze page that starts with lots of info and have someone scroll all the way down with lots of “buy buttons” along the way down. The page would have many type fonts and make over-the-top claims like “100% guaranteed”, “savings are potentially unlimited.” They might also have ads or sell multiple products from one page.
A newer style for these web pages is intended to create an experience that draws the audience in and doesn’t overwhelm them with information. You want them to get a feel for the product and imagine themselves using and having success with the product.
You want the user to have the experience that they will have access to something others won’t and that it will give them a specific competitive advantage when they use the product or the information they will learn from the product. For instance, when you use “Apple” products, Apple wants you to be seen as a bit more discerning and sophisticated because you can see what’s different and are willing to pay for the value.
We hope the speaker, entrepreneur, coach or author got good advice to both determine what types of products would best suit his or her clientele and that a lot of thought went into naming the products and pricing them correctly. Any of these things poorly done will have a detrimental effect on all other aspects of the campaign. Product development is all about understanding the current needs of the buyer and solving a problem, and not just a simple problem, but a high-value problem like how to increase income or do a better job marketing.
Web pages should have tremendous visual appeal and images of the products should be visible, both the outside packaging and a layout of any inside pieces. It is well worth having professional packaging as well as professionally done photos of all products.
Ever find yourself getting on a web page not to be able to find the price, what’s included, and even how to buy?! Create a buy button that is very easy to find and don’t neglect to give all the contact information. Most people want to know who you are and where they are buying from. Whatever you do, make sure it is easy to buy on the product page.
The thought used to be that you wanted to partner with collaborators who could give you downloads and other things that might attract your same audience so you could create attractive bonuses or premiums. If a buyer was purchasing a $39.95 product from the speaker, then the bonuses might (at least on paper) add hundreds of dollars to that product offering. Because so many people pursued this way of thinking, consumers rarely pay attention now to the quantity of bonuses and are not finding as much value in them.
While this is not your job as a VSA, to develop products or set up the content, it probably is your job to make sure the web pages stay current, so understanding the intent of the pages is important.
For the purposes of the virtual product launch, it is much more important to create one or two very high value audio interviews or checklists or something that the buyer just doesn’t want to pass up that are unique to this topic and to helping them solve problems. When the speaker interviews thought leaders, maybe people with new books, it is much more compelling than old downloads that have made the rounds. While it might seem hard to get the attention of thought leaders, if you provide them with 10 compelling questions they may allow you to use written responses that you can translate to a special report.
Test It Out Webinars
Another way to create a virtual product launch is to create a free webinar that allows the speaker to take the potential buyer through all the aspects of the product. This is particularly important for products that aren’t a one-time buy, such as membership sites and train the trainer products. While it is relatively simple for a buyer to part with $39.95, $199.95 or even $299.95 for a single product, when it comes to what could be a year-long commitment of time and thousands of dollars, the sales cycle is much, much longer. Go to Meeting is a great way to share the screen with the participants.
When you have someone sign up for the free webinar, use a series of three autoresponders – the first to thank the responder for signing up and giving the info to get into the webinar. The second, the day before the webinar as a reminder, and the final autoresponder as a thank you for attending, where to find the info if you missed the webinar (should all be recorded on the site), and of course, how to order the product. Again, so many people are tired of the every-week autoresponder that autoreponders should be limited. Instead, use newsletters and other ways that bring information to the user that he or she can use as an alternative.
Beyond launching the product on the speaker’s own site, you would like the speaker to have many other places to sell the product. As the VSA, you can do the research to find logical places where the product can also be sold, usually in online or other catalogs.
Especially for products that are high-value and targeted to just the right audience, many people will be interested in affiliating (selling the products of others) as a source of income. The rule of thumb is that if you can’t give at least a 20% affiliate commission or a minimum of $50, it probably won’t be worth it to the other affiliate seller. When numbers are under that then it isn’t worth setting up pages, unless you can sell in quantity or bundle with other products and services you already offer.
Step by Step Process
1. Brainstorm and research blogs, podcasts, web sites, radio shows and other interview and connection venues that have already attracted the same audience as you are attracting with your book.
Use these links to use to find blogs, podcasts, review sites and more.
Internet Radio Stations
Broadcast Radio Research
Social Networking Sites
2. Make sure the web site or pages are all they can be, including an online media kit with interview questions and news-relevant press releases. You want your home page to list your other virtual tour stops or have a special page that will do this.
3. The campaign should be set for the 30 (or 60) days following the launch date. You can make the greatest impact if you set the publication date at a time when the book is most newsworthy (such as a holiday or national week of X) and that is relevant to the product.
Also, make sure you have a lot of free time during that same period of time so you can book interviews.
4. Besides getting notice by bloggers, podcasters, radio interviewers and others, it is great to do your own events during this same period – teleclasses, contests, etc. –anything that makes your site more interactive and interesting to readers.
The Two Months Before the Campaign
5. Create a product trailer, which is a short video advertisement. The simplest product trailers are still photos with captions set to music. Trailers can also be produced with video and professional voice-overs and can cost thousands of dollars to produce.
6. Create the pitch letter and send it out . The most important thing you need to do in the pitch letter is to tell the reader how much you enjoy/appreciate his or her work. The more specific you can be, the better. The pitch letter should offer freebies for the bloger/poscaster or his or her readers/listeners. Insisting that you (or worse, your book) are perfect for the reader’s audience/listeners is not your best approach. Everyone does that. Provide easy links to your site in the letter.
During the Campaign
7. Send out confirmations of your participation on shows/blogs and make sure you know what they want and expect of you.
8. Enjoy the process, even with the glitches that inevitably happen. If you get bumped or canceled, don’t react negatively with the show producer/ podcaster/blogger. Try to reschedule as soon as you can. Be fun and interesting on and off the air.
After the Tour
9. Send personal specific thank yous (emails are fine, regular mail is better) to everyone who interviewed you or linked to your site. Offer to help them as they have helped you.
10. Follow up and pursue the additional opportunities that you learned about during the virtual tour. This is one of the most valuable parts of the tour is the new connections you make.
Follow Up After the Launch
One of the big benefits of doing a product launch is all the connections you and the speaker will make and how those can turn into some really significant large sales with cross promotional opportunities.
VSAs are the front line of defense for any kind of logistical questions and when there’s a promotion going on for a product or seminar series lots of people have a time-sensitive reason to communicate – something they may have meant to do for some time.
For bonus providers, send personal specific thank yous (emails are fine, regular mail is better). Also send thank yous to everyone who interviewed the speaker or linked to your site. Offer to help them as they have helped you.
Take the time to evaluate what happened at the launch. We hope there will be different launches in the future and everything you learned should be documented so you can do it even better next time.