Hosting A Book (Or Product) Launch: Lessons I’ve Learnt [Part 1]
Tuesday 11 November, 2014 was the first launch of my book, Shortcut to Business Success: 101 Tactics to Take Your Company to the Next Level. The launch was held at the elegant Elisabeta Theatre-Restaurant in Bucharest, Romania and was a culmination of four months of working two hours a day to complete the book – not to mention the15 years of working with entrepreneurs particularly in Romania and the UK. The night was about celebrations, exquisite snacks and drinks, and mingling with top business minds and some local press and celebrities. Afterwards, I took some time to reflect on what went well and where we could have improved.
I wanted to host about 200 guests. Our first step in promoting the event was to create a dedicated landing page on which people could sign up for the event. We then sent email invites to relevant contacts on our database, which led recipients to the event’s landing page. I assumed people would love to come to a book launch! The chance to socialize, network, enjoy free drinks and food…
To my surprise, we had very few RSVPs from the landing page; most came directly from the emails and from people who knew me in person.One of my mentors took a look at the landing page and instantly saw the problem: we weren’t showing the perks of attending the launch. People need to be TOLD the benefits, he said, and it needs to be 100% clear. So we added a number of benefits, including:
- Meet multimillionaire Gerry Robert
- Network with other successful business owners
- Mix with Romanian and British entrepreneurs
- Be seen attending the most exclusive event of the year
- Enjoy free drinks and canapés in an elegant, smart venue
- Have some fun
- Have the possibility to win a wonderful trip
- Get a signed copy of my book, and discover what I’ve been doing to turn my business into a money-making machine that works without me – and how I went from €1,000,000 in debt to €1,000,000 in sales in only 12 months.
Of course, we also elaborated on the benefits of the book. (See here.)
And we started seeing sign-ups and RSVPs!
Lesson #1: Don’t assume your audience is as keen on your event (or product or service) as you are or that they can see the value that is so apparent to you.
I had thought the benefits were obvious; that I didn’t have to tell people! But often you have to remind them WHY they should be a part of This Great Thing; sometimes you even have to spell it out for them.
Here are some of our other strategies for promoting the book launch, which we began rolling out five weeks before the big day:
- We emailed our database of contacts, focusing particularly on those who we knew would be interested in a business event and book launch. We started emailing once a week for the first two weeks and then twice a week, progressively revealing all the great elements of the event. The emails were centered on Gerry Robert’s guest appearance, the networking possibilities and our raffle prizes (including that wonderful trip). The best performing emails were those sent as a personal invitation from me, the host of the event and author of the book to be launched.
- We promoted the event via key business networks, including the Bucharest Chamber of Commerce (www.ccib.ro); Business Days (http://www.businessdays.ro/), the largest business event in Romania; and a number of other organizations that deal with small business owners. From this we saw a small but steady stream of 6–7 people registering per day.
- We approached various media outlets and business bloggers, sending a letter of invitation, a copy of the book and a press release. In the end we received an impressive amount of pre- and post-launch coverage in the local press. (Find a list of media coverage at the bottom of this post.)
- For a few days leading up to the event, we ran a Facebook ad [see below] that targeted 30- to 50-year-old business owners from Bucharest. Of the total reach of the ad (4,970 people), 152 took action (clicked on the website). Although this is a fairly low click-through-rate (CTR), we were happy to attract 152 new visitors to our website by spending only $46.
- I invited my mentor, multimillionaire and best-selling international author and speaker Gerry Robert, to speak at the launch. (Ps. Find Gerry’s article on the launch here.) I knew that Gerry would be flying out from London for an event in Bucharest on 12 November, so I especially organized my book launch for when Gerry would be in town. I suggested he come to the event rather than spend the evening having a boring dinner at his hotel… and he obliged!
- We also invited high-profile people and celebrities to be present, so the event would be even more appealing to those invited. VIPs guests we invited: the British Ambassador (as I am British, and have a UK-based company), the US Ambassador (as I have a US-based company), and the Canadian Ambassador (because Gerry is Canadian). All invites were accompanied by a free copy of the book. I also invited Prince Radu of Romania, as I know him personally. Unfortunately none of them could make it. On the upside, the Romanian Embassy in the UK is now organising my seminar and book launch on 3rd December in London.
By the end of the campaign, 250 guests had registered. It’s common knowledge that, for free seminars, only 30% of RSVPs show up. Nonetheless I bargained on a higher percentage for a book launch – especially as the majority were our business contacts and contacts of our contacts. So we expected 200 to turn up. On the evening, 120 attended.