When he realized that social media are the key to unlocking job opportunities, he wrote "Job Searching With Social Media for Dummies."When his book catapulted to the No. 2 position among Amazon.com business books and won features on CBS, ABC News, Mashable and mediabistro.com, as well as such publications as the Chicago Tribune and U.S. News & World Report, I asked how he did it. His answers provide a guide for anyone launching products in today's networked world.
Barbara Findlay Schenck: Every new product marketer craves media coverage. How did you get it?
Joshua Waldman: My biggest asset was a list of 500 top bloggers and media people, segmented into 11 groups, so I could send different and appropriate messages to different people.
Top bloggers don't have time to read and review the books that are falling off their desks. Instead, they got offers for free guest posts. Mid-tier bloggers were offered a free review copy and also -- since they're trying to draw traffic and build engagement -- five copies for contests, turning the review request into a problem solution. Lower-tier blogs, which struggle with relevancy, were offered a book for review.
And don't overlook the 50 or so Internet radio stations that are struggling to get interviews, with hosts who are highly influential in creating product awareness.
How did you go about contacting and following up with media?
Always ask first. Don't blast out intrusive new product spam. And be persistent.
For example, say Segment 1 received an introductory email. Those who respond positively receive a reminder email before launch day. Those who respond negatively are removed from the list. Those who don't respond get up to three email prompts ("Last week I sent you an email about my forthcoming book; I haven't heard from you. If you're interested. …"). Then, the day after launch, I reconnect ("Wow, the book launched to No. 2 on Amazon. Would love for you to review it. …").
How does social media factor into a product launch?
For B2B [business-to-business] marketers, participation on LinkedIn is essential. For those with younger or media-related markets, Twitter is important, since half of all Twitter conversation is about television and self-referential. For those reaching out to a mass market, Facebook is necessary. Each is a content distribution system or mechanism that helps develop thought leadership: That's how you build a reputation for expertise.
Blogging is key. You can set up a Posterous or Tumblr blog within minutes, or go for a WordPress blog with opt-in forms and sales pages. Then create content to repurpose and automate for sharing across social media.
What outside resources did you call on for help?
It was a calculated risk for me to invest in a new website. I used a firm that specializes in making authors look good, knowing I would benefit from their cumulative brain. They knew how Amazon worked, helped with content, email editing and more.
The site launched a week before the book launched, and I don't think I would have gotten the kinds of reviews and interviews I got without it. It includes aPress Kit page with an indexed bucket of photos, infographics, bios, book descriptions, interview sample questions, links to past coverage, links to social media locations -- everything media could use.
I also hired a film animation crew on recommendation of another author, and that video went right on my Amazon author page.
How did product development collaborators figure into your launch promotion?
If I mentioned a technology in my book, I wrote to the company, "I mentioned you. Here's the page. Here's a copy of the book. I'd like to talk further about your company in my blog, and could you mention that you were mentioned in my book to your customers?" I get a contact and content. They get content and help. Their technology gets exposure. It's a win-win-win.
Great takeaway advice: Diligently pursue a win-win-win. The flood of current product launches makes cold call requests for out-of-the-blue coverage -- whether in person, via traditional press releases, or through blogger outreach -- a formula for frustration. Joshua Waldman's advice outlines a proven alternative.
Barbara Findlay Schenck is a small-business strategist, the author of Small Business Marketing for Dummies and the co-author of Branding for Dummies, Selling Your Business for Dummies and Business Plans Kit for Dummies.