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Sell My Product Before I Make It?

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arobinson04

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Jul 7, 2013
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Hey Everyone!

I'm launching a new business in the "job hunting" space.

I've spent the last month building a small list and running surveys to learn more about them, their struggles, their desires, and how I can help them.

I want to sell an ebook and I have a pretty good idea of the content it should contain.

BUT, that's obviously going to require a time investment.

Here's My Plan:
I want to sell my ebook, BEFORE I actually create it.

Here's how I'm thinking of doing it:
  1. Write the copy
  2. Create the landing page/funnel
  3. Follow up for buyers with an even better offer
For step 3, once the customer purchases the ebook, I'd follow up with them and say something along the lines of...

"Hey There! I see you just purchased my ebook. It's actually still being created, and I launched the webpage a bit too soon.

Here's what I can do for you.

You can either receive a full refund, or you can take the $9.99 you paid for the ebook and use it to schedule a 1 hour coaching session with me (and I usually charge WAY more than $9.99 for one of these sessions."
I'd only do this for the first few customers. But with the goal of validating I can actually make this work.

I'd want to try this both with my existing (small) email list, AND by running an offer to cold traffic.

I'd love to hear if anyone has done something similar and what the results/lessons learned were.

Thanks!

- Tony
 

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Nick M.

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One thing I'd check if I were you is whether or not this would actually be legal. When a customer buys a product, you are legally required to provide it. I'm not sure if offering a refund (or even the coaching session alternative) is legal because you are not providing the product they bought.
 

arobinson04

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Jul 7, 2013
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One thing I'd check if I were you is whether or not this would actually be legal. When a customer buys a product, you are legally required to provide it. I'm not sure if offering a refund (or even the coaching session alternative) is legal because you are not providing the product they bought.

Good point... But If I recall, I think I remember reading in the 4 Hour Work Week that he used a similar concept to test his offers.
 

Nick M.

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True, it was similar. But he never actually asked for credit cards or payment.

Referencing the book right now. He advocated testing a couple ways:
1. Opening up an Ebay auction to determine the price without buying the item. He said to cancel at the last minute so no one actually paid.
2. With a website, having three pages. The first is the sales page with product information. The second has the complete pricing and asks for contact information. The third says that the product is on backorder.

He notes that for the Ebay auction, he cancels specifically to avoid the legal issues of not having the product to ship. He makes no such claim for the website. Though he also never says to collect payment info. He does say to include the complete pricing (i.e. plus shipping) so he knows that no one fills out the contact info just to see the price.

I couldn't find anything with a quick internet search (2 minutes), but you should be fine as long as you don't collect payment info.
 

arobinson04

Contributor
Jul 7, 2013
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True, it was similar. But he never actually asked for credit cards or payment.

Referencing the book right now. He advocated testing a couple ways:
1. Opening up an Ebay auction to determine the price without buying the item. He said to cancel at the last minute so no one actually paid.
2. With a website, having three pages. The first is the sales page with product information. The second has the complete pricing and asks for contact information. The third says that the product is on backorder.

He notes that for the Ebay auction, he cancels specifically to avoid the legal issues of not having the product to ship. He makes no such claim for the website. Though he also never says to collect payment info. He does say to include the complete pricing (i.e. plus shipping) so he knows that no one fills out the contact info just to see the price.

I couldn't find anything with a quick internet search (2 minutes), but you should be fine as long as you don't collect payment info.

Thank you for the detailed response on this one. I really appreciate it. Definitely something to think about.

Curious if anyone else has tried something similar??
 

Rabby

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Books are sometimes sold on pre-order, so that may be something to look into. You'll need to maintain records and refund each customer if the book doesn't come though. You're a fiduciary of their money in that case, which is a liability; you haven't completed a transaction with them, only made a promise in exchange for currency.

The safer, maybe easier (no e-commerce required yet), less ethically challenging way might be just set up a pre-order page and not take any money. Get their email address and/or shipping info (if there's a print copy), and when you're satisfied that the market is hungry enough for your book, go ahead and finish it. They won't all pay for it, but a subset will, and you can test your marketing and the customer's needs.

If you already have users, readers, customers, etc who know you, you can also try surveying them. "Which of these topics would help you the most with ____." That sort of thing. I've done this when adding a feature/product within my existing business, and the feedback is really valuable. You might find out the book you plan to write can be improved before you start.

If you haven't written non-fiction, keep in mind that it seems easier before you start writing. It's pretty easy to underestimate deadlines, at least until you get in a good writing routine and take control of any premature editing impulses.
 

Walter Hay

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One thing I'd check if I were you is whether or not this would actually be legal. When a customer buys a product, you are legally required to provide it. I'm not sure if offering a refund (or even the coaching session alternative) is legal because you are not providing the product they bought.
The OP seems to be proposing a "Bait and Switch" method, which is a very risky course of action. In many jurisdictions it is illegal.

If the copy is written, I see no good reason to not have it available for anyone who orders.

Why risk losing goodwill and losing orders from people who want to order?

Walter
 

LeoistheSun

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Thank you for the detailed response on this one. I really appreciate it. Definitely something to think about.

Curious if anyone else has tried something similar??

I have. I had a button with a price. As they clicked it, it took them to a page that said "coming soon" and have them enter their email.

Also I tracked the link clicks to see how many people CLICKED vs SIGNED UP.
 

arobinson04

Contributor
Jul 7, 2013
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Hey everyone!

Just wanted to post a quick update. I ran with my initial idea.

I did this for the first 5 customers who purchased (Super small sample size). But all of them were pretty happy they were getting an hour of coaching for just $9.99.

It gave me the confidence I needed to finish off the actual product (which I did this weekend).

Thanks for the input!
 

PersistentlyHungry

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Hey everyone!

Just wanted to post a quick update. I ran with my initial idea.

I did this for the first 5 customers who purchased (Super small sample size). But all of them were pretty happy they were getting an hour of coaching for just $9.99.

It gave me the confidence I needed to finish off the actual product (which I did this weekend).

Thanks for the input!

Would you share you website? I'm curious to see how
your soft-test looks like, to get an idea how I can test my own.

Cheers :)
 

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