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May 23, 2007
Lessons from a 40-date book tour
Our Citizen Marketers book tour wrapped up this week, so we'd like to recap the idea behind it, a few stats and some thoughts for anyone who might contemplate something similar.
In October 2006, we dreamed up a crazy idea to create a reader-generated book tour consisting of 40 events in 40 business days. Why 40? Forty sounds nutty. Forty, we hoped, would generate word of mouth. We asked readers to pick a date between Feb. 1 and March 30, 2007, buy 200 books, cover travel and one of us would deliver an hour-long presentation.
- Generate publicity for the book in local markets
- Sell a large number of books in a short period of time
- Generate inquiries for paid speaking engagements for the next 16 months
Would 40 talks in 40 days work? We had no idea. As far as we knew, a blog-based, reader-driven book tour had never before been attempted.
But it made sense to us. It seemed like the only way to do a tour for a book that documents the dawning age of customer-driven participation. We hired a few assistants to help us coordinate logistics as we turned the traditional tour model upside down by determining demand ahead of time, rather than trying to create demand somewhere it may not exist. Here are some of the details:
- Total events: 40
- Final tour dates: Jan. 25 - May 21, 2007
- Total approximate number of people at events: 4,187
- Participating organizations: 18 associations, 6 companies, 6 ad/pr agencies, 5 conference planners, 3 universities (some companies did 2 events)
- Number of books sold: 7,445
- Miles traveled: 54,176 (flown and driven)
- Blog subscriber increase from 15,735 to 47,798 during tour, via Feedburner. (The jump in subscribers on 2/18 is due to Feedburner adding Google Reader subscribers.The hiccups in May are due to a Google problem in reporting subscriber counts to Feedburner.)
- Blog mentions of "Citizen Marketers" during tour, via Blogpulse
- Photos taken: 98
- Best hotel: Hotel Parisi in San Diego (Jackie), Graves 601 in Minneapolis (Ben)
- Best airport: Detroit, MI (Jackie), Boise, ID (Ben)
We were surprised, and even a bit overwhelmed by interest in the idea. Some organizations wanted a tour stop outside our timeframe of 40 business days. So we extended the tour a week on the front end and about five weeks on the back end. (We booked two additional two dates in May, but we asked those organizations to buy more books than the 200 in the original offer.) We are thrilled to have met the 40 talks goal, even though it took a little longer.
In hindsight, it would have been better to have given readers at least three, if not four months advance notice than the 2.5 months we did. Associations with chapter meetings often have their new-year programs finalized by September or October.
Our book sales goal was 8,000. We came in at 7,445. Two events were booked by a literary event planner who sold books on-site. A few of the universities didn't buy books as they made the book mandatory reading for their marketing classes. We allowed a few organizations to purchase books on their own rather than using a partner like 800-CEO-READ.
In hindsight, we should have required every organization to purchase through 800-CEO-READ. They have an excellent inventory, accounting and delivery system whereas a retailer like Amazon tends to keep inventory levels based on individual purchase levels, not bulk purchases. That turned out to be a problem for a few tour dates. A tour stop should get a book into the hands of every attendee. The on-site bookseller idea doesn't work.
We've already booked one paid speaking gig as a result of the tour, with another half-dozen in various stages of discussion.
Was it worth it? Absolutely. We connected with decision-making people in all types of organizations who are customer-focused change agents for their companies, organizations, and clients. They're the ones who convinced their management, colleagues, and association chapters that social media and citizen marketers are having a significant impact on influence. We sold a lot of books, and a number of speaking gigs are in the works.
It was a long tour, though, and we can't imagine one of us having done all of those dates solo. Compared to the road-warrior sales people who travel several days per week, every week, we're wimps.
- Plan at least 6 months out from the first event. If you're an author, that may mean planning starts before the manuscript is finished.
- Set a minimum book purchase amount and have all books purchased through a single supplier. That way, the supplier is invested in the tour's success as well.
- Take plenty of pictures along the way.
- If you use A/V that includes sound and/or video, expect that the A/V will go haywire during a few presentations. Have a story prepared while technicians scramble to fix the problem.
- For travel expenses, we found that a flat fee works best for everyone. No receipts, no photocopying, no hassle.
- When traveling this much, bring plenty of Airborne.
The tour dates
JAN 25 - Las Vegas, GolinHarris private event (Jackie Huba)
FEB 06 - Greenville, SC: Brains on Fire private event (Jackie Huba)
FEB 07 - Nashville, TN: American Marketing Association public event (Jackie Huba)
FEB 08 - Chicago, IL: Shedd Aquarium private event (Ben McConnell)
FEB 13 - Chicago, IL: Business Marketing Association public event (Ben McConnell)
FEB 16 - Tampa, FL: Assoc. of College Honor Societies private event (Ben McConnell)
FEB 22 - Dublin, OH: Online Computer Library Center private event (Ben McConnell)
FEB 22 - Boston, MA: Northeastern University private event (Jackie Huba)
FEB 23 - Boston, MA: Digitas private event (Jackie Huba)
FEB 28 - Dover, DE: Hachik Distributors private event (Jackie Huba)
MAR 05 - Mountain View, CA: Intuit private event (Jackie Huba)
MAR 06 - San Diego, CA: Intuit private event (Jackie Huba)
MAR 08 - Toronto: Canadian Music Week conference public event (Ben McConnell)
MAR 08 - Seattle, WA: Seattle Chamber of Commerice private event (Jackie Huba)
MAR 08 - Seattle, WA: Starbucks private event (Jackie Huba)
MAR 12 - Las Vegas, NV: Community 2.0 Conference public event (Ben McConnell)
MAR 13 - Chicago, IL: American Marketing Association, public event (Jackie Huba)
MAR 14 - Hutchinson, MN: Hutchinson Chamber of Commerce (Ben MCConnell)
MAR 14 - Kansas City, MO: H&R Block, private event (Jackie Huba)
MAR 15 - Boston: Mass. Technology Leadership Council public event (Jackie Huba)
MAR 16 - St. Louis, MO: Business Network International private event (Ben McConnell)
MAR 21 - Rochester, NY: American Marketing Association public event (Jackie Huba)
MAR 22 - Milwaukee, WI: 800-CEO-READ Leave Smarter public event (Ben & Jackie)
MAR 27 - New York, NY: Ogilvy PR private event (Jackie Huba)
MAR 29 - Seattle, WA: Microsoft private event (Ben McConnell)
MAR 30 - Seattle, WA: Microsoft private event (Jackie Huba)
APR 02 - Dekalb, IL: Northern Illinois University public event (Jackie Huba)
APR 05 - Akron, OH: Akron Press Club public event (Ben McConnell)
APR 05 - Kent, OH: Kent State University private event (Ben McConnell)
APR 11 - Philadelphia, PA: Public Relations Society of America public event (Ben)
APR 11 - Philadelphia, Maxwell PR, private event (Ben McConnell)
APR 12 - Toronto: Canadian Marketing Association's WOM Conference (Jackie Huba)
APR 13 - Pittsburgh, PA: Brand Mill public event (Jackie Huba)
APR 17 - Albuquerque, NM: New Mexico Ad. Federation public event (Ben McConnell)
APR 19 - Basing Ridge, NJ: American Marketing Assoc. public event (Jackie Huba)
APR 19 - Boise, ID: Kickstart 2007, public event (Ben McConnell)
APR 24 - Berkeley, CA: Customer Reference Forum public event (Ben McConnell)
APR 26 - Portland, OR: Kitchen '07 Confernence public event (Ben McConnell)
MAY 16 - Phoenix, AZ: American Marketing Association public event (Jackie Huba)
MAY 21 - Seattle, WA: Seattle Direct Marketing Assoc. conference (Ben McConnell)
Other blogs that reference Lessons from a 40-date book tour:
» What's More Important, Sales or Relationships? from hyku | blog - Josh Hallett
Jackie Huba posts a recap of their recent book tour to promote Citizen Marketers. She lists a number of stats, two of which are shown below: - Number of books sold: 7,445 - Blog subscriber increase from 15,735 to 47,798... [Read More]
» Book a Book Tour with Your Blog from Ten Keyboards
Welcome. If you like what you read here, you may want to subscribe to my Ten Keyboards articles. Thanks for visiting!Book tours for an author can be a lot of work and a shot in the dark as well. What works, what doesnt? In Lessons from ... [Read More]
Amazing. Simply amazing. In the age of digital social networks and connectivity, this illustrates the power of good 'ol fashioned hitting the road.
I still can't believe how many subscribers y'all have. Wow. Thanks for sharing your learnings!
Jackie, great meeting you earlier today. I enjoyed the chat.
Welcome home Jackie and Ben. Did Mini make the tour too?
Fantastic data collection. The lessons learned are woderful as well.
Now you get to write another book and do it all again!
Next time you want to do this, you could use Eventful.com's Demand to create a reader-generated competition or something. It's pretty easy to do.
Mini was not able to make the tour, though I know she wanted to come : ) She stayed at home with the pet sitter.
Wonderful article! Mike Sandy's book, I'm Finally in Business for Myself...Now What? really helped me decide to start a small business. Check it out at http://finallyinbusiness.blogspot.com/
Thanks so much for sharing this information! And Congratulations on your successes.