Associate Programs Newsletter #244
John Evans came from nowhere and achieved $56,400 in sales in his first month, using smart tactics and a controversial sales letter.
If you produce ebooks or are thinking of doing so one day, you need to read this…
1. How John Evans launched his ebook – brilliantly
2. I cringed when I read Tim's sales letter
3. Thought for today: The harder the conflict…
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1. How John Evans launched his ebook – brilliantly
On May 18, someone you'd probably never heard of, John Evans, launched his first ebook.
He chose a horribly overcrowded field, Internet marketing. It's an industry in which newsletter publishers are swamped with offers to promote new ebooks, new software, new all sorts of stuff.
Against the odds, John succeeded brilliantly.
In his first month, his brand new site received 22,000 visitors and achieved an over-all conversion rate of 5.5%.
In that first month, he sold a remarkable 1,200 ebooks for $56,400.
Not bad for an Internet marketing newbie.
Chances are, you've heard about the book. It's “Success Alert – Conversations with Successful Internet Entrepreneurs” – https://www.associateprograms.com/john .
For it, John interviewed 60 outrageously successful Web entrepreneurs, 10 of whom made it into his book.
I was intrigued by John's success so I interviewed him to learn how he did it – how he found all the original material for the book and how he sold so many copies so quickly.
For people in a hurry (this article is long, with lots of useful detail), here's the condensed, one-sentence version: John teamed up to two professionals, Tim Warnock and Willie Crawford.
John, who's 38 and lives in London, may be new to Internet marketing, but he's not new to business.
“My background is quite diverse, which perhaps can be attributed to my sometimes short attention span,” John says.
“My first business was in timber, harvesting trees all across Scandinavia and Canada and shipping the timber all over the world. It was great fun albeit very hard work.”
He then went to college before becoming a commodity futures trader, a business in which he's still closely involved. He says it's probably his first love although ecommerce is catching up fast.
“My interest in ecommerce stems from the late 1990s when I had a guy working for me who was also a very successful affiliate marketer. His part-time income truly amazed me.”
This sparked John's interest in the power of the Internet.
“Ironically, I had not seen this guy for a few years until he showed up recently in my database as having bought my ebook. I bought him lunch as a result and may yet interview him about his continuing affiliate marketing success!”
One of the keys to the success of John's ebook is his methodical research.
He located 60 “outrageously successful” entrepreneurs.
To find them he used a variety of methods including:
*Contacting owners of sites he had already bought products from.
*Using a variety of government web sites promoting successful web businesses that have used government resources.
*Keeping endless copies of newspaper, magazine and journal entries of articles covering successful web businesses.
*Networking with business colleagues and friends.
*Using Google and doing searches for specific business models, such as membership sites.
*Listening to radio show interviews.
*Watching business segments on TV channels like CNN.
Then he persuaded the entrepreneurs to talk.
“A number of people have told me they were amazed that I got so many Internet entrepreneurs to tell all,” John says.
He explains that it was relatively easy to achieve for several reasons:
Almost without exception, these entrepreneurs were all amazingly open, friendly and generous with their time and were often extremely flattered that he had contacted them and demonstrated his knowledge of their Internet businesses.
The vast majority wanted the publicity, to help them sell more of their products and services.
A significant number actually want the public recognition to help their exit strategies – selling their businesses to household name companies.
Most are not seriously worried about competition having seen much of it come and go. They also feel they have a lot of critical mass in their respective marketplaces and so the barriers to entry are comfortably high.
John says he was completely open about his intentions and didn't guarantee publication in the first book following an interview.
He also guaranteed each entrepreneur an opportunity to add or amend their interviews once transcribed and edited. This created an atmosphere of trust and confidence.
To launch the ebook, John teamed up with Tim Warnock and Willie Crawford.
Tim wrote the sales letter and did all copywriting. Willie recruited super affiliates to the two-tier affiliate program and was responsible for general Internet marketing strategy.
“Willie also helped me set up the integrated ecommerce system I use at www.profitautomation.com (a re-badged version of the popular 1shoppingcart.com).”
John believes strongly in outsourcing aspects of a business where he lacks the requisite skills.
“Copywriting is something that can make or break your product and I do not possess anything like the requisite level of competence in this field – unlike Tim, who I consider a 6th Dan black-belt at it. I had contacted a number of copywriters before I found Tim through your newsletter back in April and frankly I didn't get the same feeling of passion or commitment to my success from them, as I did from Tim.”
John says he could waste many hours of his time learning these skills and still come up short. Also, he would rather focus on his areas of strength, such as product conception and development.
“The other important facet of my relationship with Tim is that he buys into my vision and he does see the world my way. This is not to be underestimated as the last thing I need to be doing is explaining the rationale for my actions. Tim also possesses a high degree of integrity and this is something I would never trade off.”
The article which led John to Tim was this thought-provoking one which Tim wrote: How to tap a huge undervalued market to win more sales
Tim has also been wonderfully helpful on the AssociatePrograms.com forum, giving affiliates tips on ways to increase their conversion rates.
The sales letter Tim wrote for John surprised me. Here it is: “Success Alert – Conversations with Successful Internet Entrepreneurs” – https://www.associateprograms.com/john . (More about that later.)
John says he found Willie Crawford “quite by accident”. However, it wasn't really an accident. Willie is a prominent, highly experienced marketer. He not only makes it his business to be found, he makes the most of excellent opportunities when they come his way.
Here's how it happened…
“I sent emails to a number of Internet marketing big hitters requesting testimonials for my new ebook and Willie happened to be one of them,” John says.
While some kindly responded and gave great testimonials, Willie's email said: “Thanks for a tremendous book that stands WAY above any Internet marketing book that I have EVER read.”
At the end of this email he added the subtle one-liner: “How can I help you promote it?”
After an exchange of emails, Willie proposed marketing the ebook through a joint venture.
“We finalized a contract and then we set up a two-tier affiliate program with Willie on one tier and any super affiliates he brought on board being assigned to him on the other tier.”
This arrangement appealed to John for a number of reasons:
*Clear pay for performance model with Willie making an override commission on all his recruited super affiliate sales.
*Willie's networking skills for bringing super affiliates on board super fast.
*Willie's high level of Internet marketing expertise and integrity.
*Willie's commitment to, and belief in, the product.
*John and Willie discussed a list of Internet marketing big hitters and super affiliates that John had compiled.
“There were a minority of people on the list that I knew myself but for the most part Willie knew each of them – at least so he could comfortably call or email them.'
The overriding selection criterion applied was their maximum reach – the number of people those “big hitters” could contact.
“We came up with a list of around 75 people we wanted to target.”
At Willie's suggestion, these super affiliates were contacted in different ways depending on their relationships with John and Willie.
They were either:
Mailed a specially designed package.
Met in person at Internet marketing conferences.
In the first month about 30 super affiliates actively promoted the ebook. More have come on board since.
Here are some affiliate sales examples for the first month:
Super Affiliate 1 – Books sold 180, conversion rate 5.99%
Super Affiliate 2 – Books sold 118, conversion rate 3.41%
Super Affiliate 3 – Books sold 111, conversion rate 5.84%
I asked John why he thought his ebook launch was successful while many others are failing.
“Well, I invested a considerable amount of time into developing the product. Just editing a 304-page book is also no small feat and I think it is demonstrated in the perceived quality, judging by all the positive feedback. There was also a heck of a lot of research that went into it before I decided to pull the trigger and develop it.”
He also surrounded himself and was supported by quality professionals like Tim Warnock and Willie Crawford.
“It is absolutely critical to get your sales letter to convert well through effective copywriting and endless testing of the copy. This is what Tim brought to the party.
“Also, you need to be able to reach your target market fast and this is what Willie was able to do for me through his large Internet marketing-related network. We constructed a win-win joint venture deal, which leveraged both Willie's network and his considerable Internet marketing skills.
“At the end of the day though, had I not produced a high quality product, neither of these guys would have looked at me.”
Two of the tools John uses and strongly recommends are:
http://www.profitautomation.com – superb integrated ecommerce system enabling the management of sales, leads, affiliate program, email management, ad tracking, utoresponders and more.
http://www.smartracking.biz – for web stats, sales copy testing and much more. “This is the ultimate solution,” John says.
One unexpected problem that John encountered when the book was launched was the avalanche of email he received.
While most of the email was positive, confirming receipt of funds via credit card and Paypal etc., he received a number of emails from customers asking about PDF files, how to get the Adobe reader, how to download the ebook and the bonus, whether they could read the ebook on a Mac, whether the ebook was a scam and wanting John to reply in person.
“I resolved the email workload by producing a number of standard email templates so it was easy to simply cut and paste the relevant responses.”
If you're launching a new product, John recommends you invest a little time and set up your customer service system in advance. “It is made easier if you compile a number of standard templates in anticipation of likely questions.”
In a crowded market, John is obviously working very hard to make his affiliate program a winner.
The affiliate program is two-tier and pays lifetime commissions.
“We review all affiliate applications to preserve the integrity of our program and to respect our existing affiliates.”
Future products will be based on a similar theme and involve printed manuals, CDs, DVDs and seminars.
“We are also just launching the Success Alert discussion forum so we can easily interact with people interested in making a living online. We aim to stand out from the crowd by: 1. Producing high quality, unique products that we feel will be in very high demand. 2. Delivering a range of excellent tools for our affiliates and supporting them fully.”
If you're looking for a genuinely high quality product backed by true professionals, check out “Success Alert – Conversations with Successful Internet Entrepreneurs” –
I strongly recommend it.[UPDATE: I've made a special arrangement with John so you can get a $20 discount off Volume 2. Just use the following code: SA2AG.]
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2. I cringed when I read Tim's sales letter
On our affiliate forum, Tim Warnock has made many helpful suggestions to affiliates who want to increase their conversion rates.
I've come to expect that if I see the name “Tim Warnock” on a post on the forum, I can expect to read some powerful tips.
However, when I first saw the sales letter Tim wrote for John's book, “Success Alert – Conversations with Successful Internet Entrepreneurs” I was shocked and disappointed.
I cringed when I saw it.
All that excited hype – https://www.associateprograms.com/john – seemed to me to be unnecessary to promote such a good book.
What do you think? Some people think it's awful but some people love it.
Before you rush to judgement, remember that this is the successful sales letter that achieved $56,400 in sales in just one month for someone we'd never heard of before.
Why on earth did Tim write a sales letter like that?
I asked him to explain.
His answers were fascinating…
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3. Thought for today: The harder the conflict…
“The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value.” – Thomas Paine.
[NOTE: By arrangement with John Evans, newsletter subscribers received a slightly more detailed interview with John than the one published in this newsletter archive.]
All the best