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The Critical Importance of the Pre-Sell
25th March 2015 • The Mainframe • Rainmaker.FM
00:00:00 00:27:39

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What stops people buying from you? Why do some launches fall flat?

In this episode join Chris and Tony as they reveal the key strategy that will allow you to not only sell more of your products and services to more people, but will also reduce refunds and improve your audience s relationship with you.

In this episode Chris and Tony discuss:

  • The key reason that launches fail
  • How people really buy
  • The best way to communicate your launch narrative
  • What marketers can learn from Star Wars
  • Why you need a waiting list

Listen to The Mainframe below ...

The Transcript

The Critical Importance of the Pre-Sell

Tony Clark: The Mainframe is brought to you by Authority Rainmaker, a carefully designed live educational experience that presents a complete and effective online marketing strategy to help you immediately accelerate your business.

Don’t miss the opportunity to see Dan Pink, Sally Hogshead, punk legend Henry Rollins and many other incredible speakers live not to mention the secret sauce of it all: building real world relationships with other attendees. Get all the details right now at And we look forward to seeing you in Denver, Colorado this May. That’s

Welcome everybody, this is The Mainframe. I’m Tony Clark, and I’m the COO of Copyblogger Media, and I’m here with my co-host Chris Garrett, the CDO of Copyblogger Media.

Today we are talking about the critical importance of the pre-sell. In the first episode we talked about how we grew Copyblogger Media to an 8-figure company using the MVP, which is the Minimum Viable Product, and a MVA, the Minimum Viable Audience. And we went into more detail about that in episode two.

Now in this episode we are focusing on the next step in that process, launching your product.

How are you doing today Chris?

Chris Garrett: I’m doing great. I’ve got a full cup of coffee, ready to go.

The Key Reason Launches Fail

Tony Clark: Good. So let’s focus on one area to begin with, and it’s a big one. Why do launches fail?

Chris Garrett: Well, if you were asking me in particular why launches fail, it’s because I am scared to death of them! And I think a lot of people are like that. When it comes to selling, a lot of us get locked up and get defensive and think, “Well people are going to hate us because I’m asking for money” and you see that a lot. I’ve coached people through it as well.

Sonia tells a story of getting up on a stage at a big event where everybody expected sales pitches and she started by apologizing, and afterwards when she got down off the stage people were telling her off saying, “You shouldn’t do that. You shouldn’t apologize for having something to sell.” And we know that. The rational part of us says that we are selling something that s going to help people and it’s good and it works, but we still feel afraid. So one of the big reasons why launches fail is, we are just afraid of it.

Tony Clark: Yeah. That’s a great point. No matter how confident you are in what it is you are offering, there’s still that trepidation in the back of your head about having to sell it and is it something that people will want. Which carries us to our second reason why a lot of launches fail is, a product that somebody doesn’t want. And that’s because the research wasn’t done beforehand.

A product was built and then tried to be sold or marketed, versus building something for a specific audience, right?

Chris Garrett: Exactly. And I always say, you can have very little confidence in yourself, but have confidence in your value. Confidence in your knowledge, your experience and the service you deliver.

So when I give speeches, I am always nervous when I’m giving public talks, I focus on the content and with your product you can do the same. You can focus and have confidence in your product, your service, the delivery and the outcome because you’ve had that Minimum Viable Audience, who’s told you what they want and you’ve built a Minimum Viable Product, which delivers what they want. So you should have more confidence.

Tony Clark: Yeah that’s a great way of looking at it actually. So if you’re an introvert with not much of an ego, you might actually have a better shot at doing this because you can focus 100% on the product, instead of on yourself.

Chris Garrett: There is something to be said for humility. And not just from a marketing point of view, because people really do resonate with that, but also if you are transparently and authentically building something as a solution, then it will work better.

It’s like we weren’t arrogant enough with Rainmaker to say, “This is perfect. It’s ready for you to use. Buy it or not.” We said, “Okay we need some people to help us pilot this thing, and steer the ship a little bit” and people responded to that, both in terms of engagement and also giving us all that feedback. So we know we are building something people want and need, because they are telling us, “Okay, this is great and this needs a little bit more feature set” and all of those great things.

Tony Clark: Right, and that all started at the early stages of what we would even consider way back, is the pre-sell, which started originally with the podcast. Although it wasn’t a hard sell by any stretch, it was a way to start to engage the audience, warm up the audience, which the first step of the pre-sell is preparing your audience.

Chris Garrett: Exactly. And Brian started warming up the audience back when he was doing Entreproducer because he was talking about that whole “media not marketing” message and how you need to own your platform. All of those things started even earlier than the podcast. It was a previous podcast.

Tony Clark: Right, because the idea is you start generating buzz without making it a hard sell. One example that we see a lot now, which is common, is the teaser trailer. And we talk about this a lot.

Chris Garrett: Oh, we love these.

What Marketers Can Learn From Star Wars

Tony Clark: Yeah, waiting around. I remember the Star Wars teaser trailer for the new upcoming version, Star Wars Episode 7 dropped on Thanksgiving and I took time away from my family and friends to sit and wait for this trailer to drop, and it was a teaser trailer, it wasn’t even a full trailer.

Chris Garrett: It just shows your priorities Tony. You were sat there refreshing.

Tony Clark: Exactly. But that’s a great example of how Disney has done this. They have done it with Marvel, their Marvel properties. They’ve done it with the Star Wars properties. Really catering to that audience. Getting them warmed up and excited about something far enough in advance.

Yesterday we saw that they announced the next Star Wars movie and also the standalone Star Wars movie, Rogue One, and what I saw was interesting. I follow James Gunn, who did Guardians of the Galaxy, along with numerous other cool indy horror movies, and people have been asking him about it, because it’s about the same time the next Guardians of the Galaxy comes out. There are people actually planning to doubleheader, or planning their schedule, around movies that aren’t even going to be released for years because they are such fans. And this early warm up, this early excitement has already started to build. That’s a key part of a launch. Is getting people excited about what’s coming.

Chris Garrett: Yeah and it’s a perfect example because we know very, very little, but that’s actually increasing the buzz. We know there’s the name of the film, we know who’s going to be in it and that’s about it. We can speculate but we don’t know any facts yet.

How People Really Buy

Tony Clark: Right. Exactly. And you say this often, and I’ll let you go into detail because this is one of your favorite phrases is that “People buy, before they buy.” What does that mean?

Chris Garrett: What that means to me is, and I’ve seen it in person, I’ve seen it with coaching and I’ve seen it as a consumer, that you decide to buy something before you get your credit card out. And if you are given the opportunity to warm up to the idea and to fully understand the benefit, or even the future pleasure of a purchase, you don’t just buy, but you buy with confidence.

And just think about this in terms of your own behavior. Would you buy a car on impulse? Most of us probably wouldn’t. Even a laptop, there are debates going on about the new Apple MacBook saying, “Oh, it’s terrible” or “Oh, it’s gorgeous.” And everybody is discussing it. Chances are if you are going to buy a laptop, you are going to do a little bit of research.

If you can do the pre-sell correctly, at the very least you have established in people’s minds what the benefit or outcome or solution is. You know, what the problem you are solving is.

And a lot of the time, people need to be given a little bit of information about a problem, even a problem they have self identified to say, “Okay, this is bad and it’s not going to get any better by putting it off.

But then when you give people a vision of the future, you know the other side of the purchase and implementing the purchase, then they can imagine ownership. They have got time for it to settle in and ferment in their minds and then they are ready to buy.

So not only do you sell more, because people understand what it is that you are selling, but you also get fewer refunds because people have gone in with confidence, it has not been an impulse purchase, it s not been a pressured purchase. They’ve actually gone in happy and excited.

Tony Clark: Right, and that’s the key part of this whole warm up process is presenting the opportunity to solve a problem, which you have already identified using the steps that we covered in the first two podcasts. So you already know that your product will solve this problem. The warm up is to start getting people thinking about the fact that they have the problem and that you are offering a solution to that problem.

Chris Garrett: Yeah, and a good example from Copyblogger is, Brian, Demian and Jerod have recently been talking about Adaptive Content. We don’t actually sell the full solution that they are talking about yet, the vision of the future, but they are establishing right now that there is an Adaptive Content solution that will make people’s business work better.

And part of the Adaptive Content solution is what we have built with our membership features. But we are also saying, “Just think about what you are going to have in the future that is going to make this even better and easier.” So people are starting to come round to the idea and talk about it. So when we actually deliver the solution, they are ready to buy.

Communicating Your Launch Narrative With the Hero s Journey

Tony Clark: Exactly. That’s what we are really talking about here is developing a narrative and an overarching story. The Hero’s Journey is an example of taking people where they are now, to where they will be with the solution you are going to be offering. And the pre-sell part, the warm up part is really about getting them thinking about being that buyer, being that hero in that journey, coming from this problem area to the result that you are going to be providing.

Chris Garrett: And the trick is to deliver the right information at the right time and we’ve all seen this where people have tried too hard and over delivered.

Sonia and I have done webinars before where we have given people 90 minutes of solid information and people have felt like they didn’t need to buy anything afterwards. They went away saying, “I can’t believe you gave all that away for free.” It’s like they already feel like they made the purchase but they didn’t spend any money. Because it’s like “I’m completely satisfied and full up. I don’t need it.”

Or, this is even worse, people over deliver in the wrong information. One of the big criticisms I have of The Game of Thrones books, the Song of Ice and Fire books is, he’ll spend like 20 pages describing the oils dripping down the chin of the guy that’s eating the turkey leg. I don’t need to read that. I skip all of that. It’s like you are giving me a lot of information but it’s not value.

Tony Clark: Right. Right. Or you are giving the wrong kind of information or changing the narrative halfway through.

We talk about this a lot, it s not really a hero’s journey, it’s more of a villain’s journey, but a lot of people think of Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker as an important character in the Star Wars series.

Chris Garrett: It’s a redemption story.

Tony Clark: Right, it is. And then you have one type of redemption story that’s portrayed in the original trilogy that everybody loved and they felt confident and they have sort of built this back story in their head of what Anakin was like, and then the prequels come out and he turned him into a whiney little, well this is a family friendly show, so I won t, but…

Chris Garrett: We can all imagine the words you were trying to say.

Tony Clark: But the idea is now the narrative has changed, so even though you are delivering, you are delivering the wrong narrative and that’s an important part of a launch is making sure your narrative, that journey, stays focused on the right things, at the right time and you do that through engaging with your audience and getting their feedback through that process.

Chris Garrett: Exactly. And what you should always do with the Hero’s Journey is talk about adversity and talk about the problems. What did you overcome?

A hero s journey where everything goes right, is not only boring, it feels unrealistic. You ve got that second act where everything goes wrong. You need to use it. I m not saying make things up but draw from your actual experience. And this is another warning, if you do make things up, people will find out and they will call you on it.

Tony Clark: Yeah that s true. That goes back to the narrative. See this part of the launch, this pre-launch period, this pre-sell/pre-launch is actually my favorite part because you can really tell the story of the solution you are offering. And if you are really confident in the solution, which we always are, because we have built it around something that we know that people have a problem for, you can deliver this story in a way that really gets people pumped up. You do want to highlight the positives, you do want to highlight the key things that you are going to be offering but you can do it without really overselling what you are going to be providing.

Chris Garrett: Yeah and if you build it around reality, then you ve got a lot to draw on but you can also say, This is where I was, this it is what I had to overcome, this is where I am now. And you can be honest. And that Hero s Journey kind of case study works really well with customers as well. So once you have got through that first launch, if you do it the MVP way, they are going to be very engaged and they are going to give you those testimonials and case studies.

Tony Clark: Yes it s going to help with the next launch.

Chris Garrett: Exactly.

Tony Clark: Because really, launch is iterative and we ll go into that in future episodes, in the next episode when we talk about the launch itself. But that s a good point. That s part of the whole process.

Chris Garrett: And they are going to be excited to tell you the results because they are so engaged and they are so connected with you. And that connection is where you are going to get all of that feedback.

But if you tell people This is what to expect if you give people a roadmap and say, I m not going to go into detail in each stage but this is what you have to do. This is what you have to implement to get the best results. Then people know what they are getting. They know what to expect. You are not giving people a shopping list. You are not saying, This is what my solution includes, you know 300 pages, 40 hours of video. What you are saying is, These are the stages and that s a very different thing. And it gives people context.

Tony Clark: Right and that roadmap leads into the next step of your pre-launch period, is that level of engagement where they can really start engaging with you and offering their objections, which you can then look at how you are going to overcome in your copy, both in the launch and continuing through the pre-launch process.

Chris Garrett: If you don t do the engagement at this stage, they are still going to give you their objections, but they are going to give you it mid-launch when you are