Gini Dietrich

The Spin Sucks Brand Ambassador Program: A Case Study

By: Gini Dietrich | April 24, 2014 | 

The Spin Sucks Brand Ambassador Program: A Case StudyBy Gini Dietrich

On February 18, we opened the application process to become a Spin Sucks brand ambassador for the book launch.

More than 800 (822, to be exact) people applied.

We narrowed it down to 160 (which included my team) of regular Spin Sucks contributors, commenters, and readers. We also included people we didn’t yet know, but wanted to get to know through the process.

They were asked to do three things:

  1. Read the book ahead of its launch (we provided a PDF galley copy);
  2. Write an honest review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, or their own blog; and
  3. Help us promote the book during launch week, which was March 30-April 6.

Our goal?

To make the New York Times bestseller list.

We created a private Facebook group and invited everyone to join us there. To say that was a brilliant idea is putting it mildly.

It became the destination on Facebook for a good six weeks (and completely overwhelming for me to manage).

Friendships were formed, I was made fun of pretty consistently (see above photo), and we solved some world problems.

The Plan

The plan included our brand ambassadors and…

  • We created a page with pre-written social media updates that were easy to either tweet or copy and paste into other social networks;
  • Tony Gnau and Lindsay Bell produced and shot a book video;
  • We approached 80 bloggers to read the book and provide an honest review on their blogs;
  • We created traditional media relations opportunities, including targeted pitches and NAPS;
  • We did social media advertising (on Facebook);
  • We generated pure social media efforts through all of our internal channels;
  • We created a Facebook contest;
  • We guest blogged from here to kingdom come;
  • We did some targeted email marketing;
  • I sent a daily update during launch week to the ambassadors; and
  • I went on the road for seven weeks to speak and spread the Spin Sucks message.

The Results

Well, we did not make the New York Times bestseller list.

I’m disappointed because we did everything exactly right.

The plan was carefully crafted and executed and the brand ambassadors went above and beyond.

The guy who was at the bottom of the list sold 15,533 books. We did not.


We had:

  • More than 70 blog posts written in all sorts of industries;
  • Five reviews on Barnes & Noble;
  • Eight reviews on Goodreads;
  • Seventy-nine reviews on Amazon (68 five star and 11 four star);
  • Close to 40 stories on blogs and in PR industry publications;
  • Nearly 20 podcast interviews; and
  • Almost 300 (280) unique clicks from the Facebook advertising (which drove sales).

We continue to do interviews and expect this fuse to continue to burn for a long time.

Most importantly, we were the #2 public relations book on Amazon for a week (and, as of this writing, are number six) AND the publisher (Pearson) is very happy with the results.

The Lessons

What’s disappointing (beyond not reaching our ultimate goal) is you can see that less than half of the brand ambassadors participated.

There have been a few who have emailed me privately to say they’re still planning on doing something so those people are forgiven.

But there were a good 50-60 people who did nothing except get a copy of the book for free.

I’m not sure how we could have avoided that, but because I just wrote a book called Spin Sucks and this blog champions ethics, I would have appreciated those people stepping aside to give their slot to someone who was on the alternate list of 672 people (and they could have kept their copy of the book!).

We also didn’t do earned media so well.

We preach to our clients that they need to start six months in advance of big events like this, but we started 30 days out.

So, while we’ll see some really good results in the coming months, it wasn’t in time to choreograph those stories during launch week.

But, the biggest lesson is you have to sell books in bulk to make The List.

Even if every brand ambassador had participated, they each would have had to sell 100 books. That’s not realistic.

I did offer to waive my speaking fee to two organizations who bought 300 books  during launch week, but the offer was made on March 30, which wasn’t enough time for anyone to get approval for that kind of buy.

If you’re going to do something similar, I recommend executing an entire plan around marketing to organizations that host events a good three months in advance.

Other than those three things, I do believe the plan was perfect and the execution was flawless.

The Brand Ambassadors

Mobilizing the brand ambassadors was the most fun part of this launch.

Without them and without my cracker jack team, I wouldn’t have been excited nor would we have sold as many books as we did.

Those who wrote blog posts follow (I should have alphabetized these):

Eden Spodek, Stacey Hood, Marcy Mechanic, and Javier Rodriguez also did a fantastic job of rallying troops and finding fun ways to keep people engaged.

And others, such as Mardee Handler, Gloria Bell, Giuliana Lonigro, Patti Agnew, Alison GravesAnneliz HannanGayle Joseph, Julie Harrison, Mandy Boyle, Wendy Roan, Kelli Matthews, Morgan Demmel, and Stewart Rogers, wrote reviews on all of the book sites, shared via the social networks, and sold some copies.

The work they all did was incredible. I’m flabbergasted at how much time they each spent in spreading the word and trying to help me reach the goal.

It is a great case study in how organizations can mobilize their loyal customers to build awareness and grow.

How You Can Help

I’d still like to sell 10,000 books this year and make my editor look like a hero.

So, if you haven’t already bought a copy, do it!

Read it, write an honest review, and recommend it to others.

I’ll be forever indebted and you can always call on me to help you with your initiatives.

Thank you, from the very deepest part of my heart, to all of the brand ambassadors who participated.

Photo credit: Eden Spodek

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

  • Interesting results and learnings. A great case study. Thanks for sharing.. Also thank you for letting me be part of the Ambassador program. It’s been great fun. As you know, I loved the book. And YAY! Finally got to meet you IRL.

  • This is great information, Gini. I couldn’t be more disappointed that so many people took such a great opportunity and did nothing with it. Yes, getting the book is great but how can you, having read it and agreed to do the ambassador thing, not follow up on that? It makes me mad. Grrrrr. Anyway, I hope people will read your book, it’s so good and you deserve to sell over 100,000 copies not just because you are a fabu person but because the book is fabu and people can really benefit from the info it contains.

  • The thing that’s not included in this description, and the thing that’s so hugely important to the brand ambassador program, is all the community building that’s done BEFORE you even announced that there would be a brand ambassador program. It’s the most important part – you and the AD team put years of time and energy into developing the community and the loyalty before ever asking for anything in return.

  • Eleanor Pierce  So true! Well put.

  • It really was so much fun. I still can’t get over the number of people who gave of themselves to help you try and reach your goal. There really are some INCREDIBLE people in this world, and while I “know” and love many of them, and wish I could thank each one personally, I also have to add how proud I am to be part of an organization that can rally that kind of support, and to have a lady-boss who garners that level of respect and teamwork, as was shown those two weeks (or so) in April. The list?? Who cares. Yes, it would have been amazing – the icing on the cake. But wow, what a triumph, in every sense of the word.

  • I feel your pain, Gini. As I was preparing for my own book launch, I offered mine free to my email subscribers in exchange for (honest) Amazon reviews. I got the idea from another author who said she got a 50% compliance rate … and that’s exactly what I got, too.
    It’s one thing when strangers don’t live up to their commitment; it’s tougher when people you know don’t. After a couple of reminders, one actually said that he hadn’t gotten to it yet, but is working on his own book and would be coming to me for help when it’s ready.
    Uh, yeah. Okay. I will be JUST as helpful. And no more.

  • Eleanor Pierce  Truth! Gini, I think you sell yourself short on starting “late,” because you’ve been working for years to build this platform—one that many authors don’t have.

  • RobBiesenbach Eleanor Pierce  Well, keep in mind that two KEY, nay, ESSENTIAL, players on the Arment Dietrich team didn’t start until March. (I say that only kind of joking – these guys definitely had their hands full before Mary Anne and I got here).

  • Thank you for the open and honest case study. I’m sad we didn’t make the list. I was really hoping we would. Still, that doesn’t discredit the book (because it’s freaking amazing) or you (because you’re super freaking amazing) nor your team and faithful crazies. I’m baffled by those that didn’t participate — mostly by the number being so high. I didn’t expect that.

    And, you can use your earned media experience to reinforce the advice you give to clients — one, two, three weeks is NOT enough notice to hope for results. If you get something, praise the good Lord in heaven but it shouldn’t be expected. I’m sure you will see some fabulous coverage in the coming weeks / months though because this launch really isn’t over — it’s just begun.

  • Eleanor Pierce  True! So, BUILD relationships people!

  • Lara Wellman

    It was so much fun being a part of the ambassador program and as you know, I think your community is AMAZING.

    I’m sure you’ll reach your goal of 10,000 as people keep sharing how much they love the book.  Yesterday I was talking to someone reading the book for our book club and she said she was reading it while getting a pedicure and didn’t have a pen or a highlighter so was folding over pages she needed to come back to later because there were actions she had to take.  Then she says, “but I was folding every single page!!”

  • I truly felt honored to be a part of this and was showing an author friend of mine what an incredible job you and your team did of equipping us for launch week. I also appreciate the occasional reminder to keep talking about the book…as @katefinley mentioned, it’s not over. Forge ahead, Gini.

  • It was such a privilege to be part of the Ambassador team, and mentioned in the book too (what a lovely surprise that was). I think all of us crazies will come together over the coming months to make sure you blow right past that 10,000 book number!

  • LSSocialEngage  Which, in my opinion, was one of the best parts of the launch!

  • Eleanor Pierce  True…it would have been impossible had we not had such a great engaged community already.

  • belllindsay  Well, I care. But I’ll get over it.

  • RobBiesenbach  Don’t you just love when people come to you for help yet haven’t helped you when you needed them? Ugh! BTW, I have to buy YOUR book next. Sorry I missed the Q&A in real time last week.

  • RobBiesenbach  I think that’s what was most disappointing to me. Some (not all) of the people who didn’t end up participating have had no problem asking me for favors in the past. I certainly don’t do things for people with the idea that I’ll need something from them in the future, but a little courtesy to say, “Hey, can you give my slot to someone else?” would have been appreciated.

  • KateFinley  Oh we’ll definitely see results from the earned media efforts. Mary Anne is kicking butt on that front. We just should have started earlier to orchestrate all that stuff coming out at once.

  • Lara Wellman  LOL!! That makes me so happy to hear. Andy Crestodina’s book is like that for me. I love that.

  • Word Ninja  It’s a really good case study, even if we didn’t meet our goal. And that’s my fault. I didn’t realize how important the bulk orders are. Lesson learned.

  • I so appreciate your honesty. I am really stunned that many people committed to being an ambassador and didn’t pull through. That’s just plain rude. But, you learn a lot about yourself and your connections/community when you do something grandiose like this. As you’ve so eloquently done here, you’ve analyzed what worked, what didn’t and what you will do better next time. I am SO grateful to have been part of this journey. 🙂

  • rosemaryoneill  I love you for that and I love that I finally got to meet you – and spend AN HOUR with you in San Diego.

  • Nikki Little I hope you got your copy from Verizon! Next time I see you, I”ll draw a picture in it for you. And I hope whirly ball was fun!

  • I´ve said it before, but it´s worth repeating (every
    time I got the chance, actually :)): I loved being in the brand ambassador
    program. I got to meet (online) amazing people, I´ve made friendships with
    incredible talented people and had so much fun in the process. I´ll write about
    it on my blog ;). 
    What I did not expect Gini, was to find
    out that only half of the brand ambassadors participated.
    Really people?!! Let me ask you this: why did you
    bother subscribing???
    I don´t get it, really. Is as simple as saying: “I´ve
    change my mind” or “No, thank you”.
    Maybe it´s just me, but I still don´t understand why
    promise and not comply or, at least, say something… anything?
    Anyway, I´ve enjoyed every step. I was so excited,
    that, at the beginning, I saved all your instructions in a word paper on my
    desktop to have it at hand J.
    About the six months thing, I watched Gary Vaynerchuck
    before, while and after the launch of his latest book: Jab Jab Jab Right Hook and
    something of what he said stayed with me. He said: “when you launch a book, you
    begin promoting it nine months before, not six months, not one month or one
    With or without NYT title, the book is excellent and I
    plan on buying a couple more copies for my friends. I believe it will be a
    great birthday present for them. I do have a problem with my copy though: it
    breaks my heart to write on it, really.
    So, thank
    you Gini for taking me in this journey and thank you for sharing the study case
    with us.

  • ginidietrich I just got it yesterday! My coworker is currently reading it. And whirly ball was ridic…I’ll stick with tennis and running. 🙂

  • ginidietrich Thank you for giving me an opportunity to be an ambassador! Being outside of the core PR world, I truly appreciate making the cut. The book is fantastic and has yet to be placed on a bookshelf. It’s permanent home may be my desk. If you ever venture south of I-80, I’d love an autograph. 🙂

  • JodiEchakowitz

    Thanks for sharing your open and honest insights on the ambassador program. Some great recommendations for others to follow. I can’t wait to read my copy of the book!

  • ginidietrich Thanks again for sharing your experience and learnings so openly on the blog. Do you have a sense of the social amplification as a result of the launch campaign? 
    Thanks ginidietrich and the AD team for allowing me to participate in the Spin Sucks Brand Ambassadors program and become more engaged in the @spinsucks community. It was a wonderful opportunity and I had a blast. I signed up for an advanced copy of Spin Sucks The Book. Writing a review and blog post were a small price to pay in exchange. Little did I know I would gain so much more getting to know the other ambassadors better over the month prior to launch. Book sales will come. The BA program has only made your community stronger. Like Nikki Little, I’m grateful I was able to participate in this journey. As for people who volunteered and didn’t participate with no explanation… well there’s a word for that and it’s more their loss than yours. I can’t wait to see what you do next time!

  • mikekmcclure

    It was a lot of fun and I loved the book. Thanks for making me part of the team

  • I’m one of the failed ambassadors and I’m sorry for that.  Life gave me a big kick in the head a couple of months ago that threw off everything I was supposed to be doing.

    I am really sorry.

  • Thanks Gini! It was an amazing example of the benefits of community (and what a community it is . . .  I had no idea!), and how to launch a book. Good book too : ) Congratulations on your success!

  • Jason_LiveRealNow  That darn life getting in the way! I appreciate you coming clean. And don’t worry…the goal is to sell 10,000 by the end of the year. So if you can help out later this year, I will be forever indebted.

  • Nikki Little LOL!

  • I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction on that Private Group…and Eden/Stacey and company were tremendously creative with the “photo bombs”. I’ve been swamped for the last few months, while our company went through acquisition, and I still made time to check out that group.

    Oh yeah, the book was pretty good, too! I did write a blog, but I need to write a subset of that review on Amazon and Good Reads.

  • Kara I would LOVE to do that for you!

  • EdenSpodek I’m sure the social amplification was gigantic. Even I was tired of hearing about it by the end of the week. I couldn’t open Facebook without seeing it. I”m not sure how/if we tracked it, but I’ll find out!

  • mikekmcclure  Of all the people who had a great excuse, it was you. I was shocked to receive your review. You’re one of the good guys forever!

  •  Thanks, Brent! You’ve always been super supportive. I appreciate it.

  • dbvickery  LOL! Gee, thanks? And you had another grandbaby during that time. It was crazy!

  • It’s been a stacked couple of months for me, so I probably did something in the average range compared to Eden and other folks who worked it like Crazies. And I’m not even on the Facebooks… but still, such a pleasure to see you knock this out and we’ll get the next on one NYT list (I’d be happy to help orchestrate the bulk book buying outreach, pretty sure I could kick that can far down the road).

  • JoeCardillo  That was the biggest lesson. Without the bulk buys, it’s impossible to make The List. I mean, 15,000 books in one week? That’s crazy.

  • ginidietrich JoeCardillo  Totally. There’s a whole subset of people who’ve written about what it takes, and also you have to keep in mind there are people / publishers who buy huge chunks of their own book so you have to really hustle if you’re being ethical about the whole matter.

  • ginidietrich Yeah, what is with people? I try to help just about anyone who asks for it, for a variety of reasons—generosity and the old Karma thing. When people repeatedly don’t reciprocate it’s mind-boggling.
    And when they don’t bother to thank you?? It’s a deal-breaker. I gave up 45 minutes to do an informational interview with some kid and he didn’t thank me. I spent nearly an hour on the phone with a pretty senior-level person providing ideas and advice and heard nothing back.
    Anyway, a good learning from next time is to include that language in future ambassador groups—that if live gets in the way as it tends to do, please let me know so I can assign your slot to one of the hundreds of others who have volunteered to help.

  • mikekmcclure

    ginidietrich Awwww, shucks. Thanks.

  • JoeCardillo Yes…many, many people cheat. But, I don’t have a quarter of a million dollars so I’ll have to do it ethically.

  • RobBiesenbach He didn’t thank you? I’m astounded.

  • RobBiesenbach ginidietrich  I always file that away when people can’t be bothered to help, it’s information for the future for sure. Also, jab jab jab jab jab jab jab jab jab jab, right hook. =)

  • EdenSpodek Yes, Eden! Long ago I was promoting a show I was in and a friend wrote back a single word: UNSUBSCRIBE!! She had a point, I suppose. Maybe my promotion had gotten out of hand.
    But then she starts sending me emails promoting HER shows. After that, I never went. When you’re on my blacklist, you’re pretty much there for a decade or so, which is as long as it takes me to forget or get over it.

  • ginidietrich mine too! 😉

  • ginidietrich The kid I get. Kids can be dumb. The 50-year-old consultant/trainer/speaker who travels the world teaching major corporations how to communicate? Unconscionable.

  • TheRealSJR

    It was a real and rare pleasure being involved in this – thanks to Gini for including me. One thing is very clear; the Spin Sucks community is amazing and testament to the hard work and dedication Gini has put in over the years. The book is truly brilliant and I stand by every word of my 5-star review – it is set to sell a lot of copies in the coming months, and I’ll continue to do what I can to help.

  • I was happy to be a Brand Ambassador! 

    I wonder if some of the people that didn’t participate in the launch (which got pushed to the week of my family vacation, so my reviews were posted after, but better late than never, right?) felt like they missed it and it was too late to do anything. 

    I’m also a bit surprised at the number of those that didn’t do anything considering how active the whole Spin Sucks community is!

  • Also, did people feel they needed to actually READ the book to review it??? Duh.

  • ginidietrich EdenSpodek  If you did measure/track the campaign, I’d be very interested in seeing those insights as well (Blog post part 2)

  • RobBiesenbach  lol!

  • RobBiesenbach  LOL

  • TheRealSJR  You rock, kind sir!

  • MikeHale  Perhaps…but you did something post-vacation. Every little bit helps!

  • RobBiesenbach I don’t get that. The kid’s parents must not have taught him well.

  • RobBiesenbach EdenSpodek  Wow.

  • Kara ginidietrich Agree — I LOVE the fact that those of us outside the “core PR world” were included — I think it helps keep the mix of opinions/experiences/perspectives fresh …

  • RobBiesenbach  LOL.

  • coffeewithjulie

    JoeCardillo  I’m with you in the average range too, Joe. (I did meet the “ask” — shared on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and wrote a review on Amazon.) ginidietrich I wonder if perhaps it may have helped to mandate that ambassadors write a blog post? I don’t write about business on my personal blog (I don’t have a business-focused blog) and if that had been a requirement, I likely wouldn’t have put my hand up.

  • kanya632

    you so much for letting me be part of the Ambassador team, Gini! It was a
    blast, to say the least.  I was disappointed to hear we didn’t make the cut, but
    hey, there’s always next time *hint hint* ;-).

  • pralison

    In defense of brand ambassadors perceived as less than stellar — in the event I might be considered one of them…Before you paint us all with the slacker brush, please consider: It’s possible that like me, some brand ambassadors did things within their circles to promote the book that weren’t visible to you — like promoting it within their corporate PR departments, purchasing the book from Amazon, etc.

  • jenzings

    I enjoyed being an ambassador! It was fun, and more to the point–I really do think the book deserves a spot on any PR/Communication pros’ shelf. I actually referenced the book when talking to another participant at the New Hampshire Writers’ Day who wanted to know more about how to protect her blog content, and how Google treats duplicate content.

    So, thank you Gini–the Facebook group was also a fun aspect of this project.

  • ginidietrich I don’t know what else to add to all of these on-target comments. First, I appreciate the way you did this case study … definitely helps us all learn (and you to process things…). The only experience I have to compare it against is the fact that I am involved in “Team Buzz Builder” through Weaving Influence so I’ve tried to compare this launch to thath experience ….and it’s a bit apples and oranges. In both cases we agree to read/promote, we get copies of the books (in their case the actual hard copy vs a galley but still … the book), and we have guidance/reminders from a staff. It seems like one of the things to dig deeper on is the “what does it take to get on the NYT list” for example the minimum sold, the bulk buys issue … etc. All in all, ethics and integrity will always win in the long run …

  • ginidietrich dbvickery  Ah yeah, good point!

  • Hey there miss,
    As we’ve conversed about privately, I think this shows that the NYT Bestseller List continues yo be a pipe dream that has to be gamed to “win” (at least as far as business books go).
    There are several examples (some public, others less so but still known about) where authors have spent their own money (or hired an agency to do so) to bulk purchase books to give away (as opposed to getting actual businesses to bulk purchase and give to attendees or employees), in order to get on “The List”.
    While that might look great for a bio or blog badge, at some point or other the reality behind the accolade usually becomes public – is that hit on your reputation worth the extra couple of thousand dollars for your speaking fee?
    You had a great launch strategy, and kudos to you for putting so much into place – while the NYT list may be a nice cache, it’s peer and client acceptance of your work that – ultimately – means much more.

  • coffeewithjulie JoeCardillo ginidietrich I had the same quandary with my blog! It’s not a marketing or business oriented blog…so I reviewed Gini in the context of how you know someone is a friend vs. acquaintance. = )

  • NancyDavis

    I wanted to be a brand ambassador, but missed the boat. All I have is a pair of useless paddles. Really, I would have loved to be of help in one way or another. I hope I still can help.

  • ginidietrich EdenSpodek  I never tired of hearing about it!

  • dbvickery ginidietrich  The Private Group really was the bomb-diggety. Reminded me how much I LOVE all the people in this community. 
    One reason it worked really well for me, though, is that I am a “Facebook-centric” persona. There are others, of course. Worth the effort to explore platform-agnostic community? Private group through the blog linked to other social platforms?

  • ginidietrich RobBiesenbachit was the best western romance with an outlaw theme ever

  • DwayneAlicie dbvickeryginidietrichtell me about this facebook again

  • amritachandra

    As a brand ambassador, this was a fascinating read. I could tell as a participant and fellow marketer that a lot of thought had gone into planning for the launch. I really enjoyed my experience and FWIW it’s made me want to spend more time in the SpinSucks community.

    I also want to mention that you were so much more engaged with us than I expected, for someone who is so popular and so busy 🙂 So many authors ask a lot of their “fans” but don’t return the favour. I already respected you before this event, but now I am blown away by your support of those of us who participated.

    I’m not surprised that you have such a loyal and passionate community, that I’m happy to be a new member of.

  • DwayneAlicie dbvickeryginidietrichHmmm…now WHERE would someone get a private community…hmmmm

  • DwayneAlicie ginidietrichEdenSpodekhearing about what? I always read comments first from bottom to top then the post. All I can figure out is there was an Ambassador from Chile who visited Gini wanting her to reoresent Chilean Sea Bass Industry?

  • ginidietrich Nikki Littlewhat pray be this whirly ball you speak of?

  • ginidietrich KateFinleyhindsight is always 20/20 so you will tweak it next time. And definitely need to get you on late night TV! Hey you have a book call john stewart!

  • tonylandscapes

    Thanks Gini for being transparent in sharing the good, the bad & the ugly of the process! I haven’t bought the book yet, but plan to soon.

  • Howie Goldfarb ginidietrich My favorite was the zombie invasion!

  • I love how transparent you are Gini – you show us what works and what hasn’t, and that’s awesome.

    This post underlines one of the reasons I didn’t apply for the ambassador program – I knew I wouldn’t have time to get through the book that quickly and write a review. And lo: I’m still only about halfway through.

    The half I’ve read is awesome, and I want everyone I work with to read it, but still – nowhere near ready to write my blog post yet.

    But I’ll be doing what I can in an unofficial ambassador capacity to boost your sales.  Because if everyone understood what an ethical approach to public relations looked like, how much more pleasant would all our jobs be?

  • Howie Goldfarb Think bumper cars plus lacrosse…plus chaos! Played it at a conference for my client (Verizon) in Chicago. It’s hard! You have to navigate your bumper car while trying to get a whiffle ball in a lacrosse-like carrier and throw it at a circle on a backboard (like in basketball) to score. Too chaotic for my liking…but fun!

  • rosemaryoneill DwayneAlicie dbvickery ginidietrich  Where everybody knows your name…

  • Howie Goldfarb DwayneAlicie ginidietrich Sea Bass? Yum!

  • This entire process was just so much fun. Although some of  the brand ambassadors (cough, cough EdenSpodek ) sky rocketed off the awesome scale so far that I often hung my head in shame that I wasn’t doing as much promoting as I should be. But what I loved the most about this entire launch is we practiced what we preached and built a successful campaign around relationships, trust, and community.

  • Patti Agnew

    Thank you, ginidietrich, for the opportunity! It was fun to promote the book and get to know the Spin Sucks community a little better.

  • rdopping

    Well. I bought the book at least. And i happen to like spin. It doesn’t suck. It’s the awesomest thing ever.

  • Sorry to hear you didn’t make the list! But you did prove one thing at least — you have a strong, loyal following. (And I think that matters most to publishers anyway.) 
    If I hadn’t been laid off, I would’ve gladly featured you again on my former company’s site. But, oh well. I’ll definitely write you an honest review on Goodreads when I’m finished at least.  🙂

  • FWIW, every time I have participated as a brand ambassador we have received feedback about the people who don’t do anything or who barely pull their weight.

    I think it is a consistent challenge and that some of it is explained as “people.” Sometimes they fall short because good intentions don’t translate into execution and sometimes they just fall short.
    But I expect the transparency on your part about this will lead to business. Someone will appreciate the honesty and that will be the reason you get the business and not the competition.

  • Did I mention when I saw you how happy I was to be part of this? Getting to connect even more with your amazing community was only second to being able to read the book early. (What can I say? Every now and then a girl has to have something cool to brag about. 😉 Getting to see you speak right after it was all over was icing on the cake. 
    Now that I’ve done my duty and read your book to review, I have to go back and read it again and write down all the stuff I need to do! I really think this is essential reading for anyone doing digital marketing – you did a great job writing a truly useful book. So, thank you for that, and I’ll keep telling everyone in my world that they need to read it so I can help you get to 10,000!

  • LauraPetrolino <blushing> There were lots of awesome brand ambassadors and individual members were only as good as the group as a whole. As a whole, it’s a darn good group.

  • Thanks for featuring my blog post review of your book in this case study. Like many others have said, I absolutely love that you are so transparent about what works and what doesn’t.

  • Thanks for featuring my blog post review of your book in this case study. Like many others have said, I absolutely love that you are so transparent about what works and what doesn’t.

  • I’m back in my office, so whatever I won feel free to go ahead and let me know….

    What I lacked in star power I tried to make up in enthusiasm; it was a pleasure (and fun) being part of the process and even though you didn’t reach your ultimate goal it appears it was successful for you. 

    I do find it interesting some applied but did not play; just makes you want to go hmmm…..

    Happy Friday to you.

  • This postscript of your book launch is another excellent example of your superior skills in the digital communications sphere. Rather than coveting the critical lessons of your experience, you have lived by the principles and ethics of your profession by sharing the good, bad and a bit of the ugly for the betterment of anyone publishing a book.  It’s also an excellent representation of the fundamentals of any campaign: descriptive detail of the goals, audience, tools, methods, measurement and most importantly sharing the modifications for improvement. For me, the sharing of your candid thoughts on what actions (timeline) could perhaps have been better implemented is the gold. We (the community) only reap that value because of the your incredible work and continued efforts in helping us all be better professionals, publishers and digital communication marketers.   

    I am honored to have been asked to be part of your brand ambassadors group especially since not a blogger, I could not offer that avenue of incredible support. I respect each of the contributions of the aforementioned list and will continue to wear my badge proudly as member of the Spin Sucks community.  As for the future, however you choose your ambassadors, know that I excel at KP duties 😉

  • annelizhannan  LOL! You DO excel at KP duties. Thanks, Anneliz. I’m certainly disappointed we didn’t make the original goal, but people keep telling me it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

  • bdorman264  And happy Friday to you, kind sir!

  • jessicamalnik  It’s my pleasure and thank YOU for all of your help!

  • Karen_C_Wilson  You did tell me. LOL!! You and Lara Wellman are so good to me. I love you both and can’t wait for our Twitter chat next week!

  • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes  Well, I certainly hope so! But I also hope it helps other authors. There are ways to get on The List without cheating, but you have to be extremely diligent about the bulk buys during your launch week.

  • JRHalloran  And I am going to do what I can to help you find a new job!

  • rdopping  You are a pain in the butt.

  • Patti Agnew And, you have added a hilarious bent to the stuff we do. You’re very, very funny!

  • LauraPetrolino EdenSpodek  And it’s REALLY hard for anyone to beat you!

  • Kato42  I appreciate your unofficial brand ambassador help. Thank you!

  • tonylandscapes  Thanks, Tony!

  • amritachandra  I’ll be honest that is was really hard to keep up, but it was important to me to do so and I made it a priority. Plus, it was really fun! You all were a blast to hang out with.

  • NancyDavis  You can use the paddles!

  • pralison  Thank you, Alison! And I will be happy to add you to the list of those who helped. I appreciate it!

  • jenzings  You know what I loved about it? Getting to know you better…and now I have a nickname for you.

  • kanya632  OMG. You are going to kill me!

  • coffeewithjulie A blog post was not required…they were a lot easier for me to track than to track all the social media updates and who they came from. I added you to the list. It was a simple oversight on my part.

  • DwayneAlicie That is a really good idea…but expensive to build it. Something to consider for next time. I like it!

  • ginidietrich That’s a terrific quote, someone ought to put that in a book;) 

    As far as the disappointment, I certainly empathize with you but the bulk book sales caveat is a tough one in marketing finances. It is obviously a reality as with most things, however an unfair measurement of success. Like political campaigns, often it is not the best candidate that wins but the most money behind the candidate. After reading your post today about MrD my suggestion would be just to dance away the things you can’t truly control and take a bow for the ones you could and certainly did. Have a great birthday weekend.

  • annelizhannan xoxo

  • annelizhannan xoxo

  • coffeewithjulie

    Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes  Yes, I suspect that like you’ve experienced in other brand ambassador programs, people sometimes are unable to fulfil their initial good intentions. Which makes me wonder: Why was there a limited number of ambassadors … Why not accept as many as possible who want to help out?

  • coffeewithjulie

    amritachandra Me too! I can’t believe how involved and responsive Gini was considering her insane schedule!! I am twice as loyal and passionate now.

  • coffeewithjulie Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes  For us, there was no way I could manage more than 800 ambassadors. I had a  hard enough time with the 70 or so who were active. Plus, we had a limit on how many people we could send the galley to.

  • KateNolan

    ginidietrich I’m late to the game, but chiming in anyway! (I’m so, so behind on my SpinSucks reading).
    That sucks that some of the ambassadors couldn’t pull through on the requests. You have to expect some failure rate, but it’s always a bit disappointing to see the actual numbers, especially when you’ve built relationships with people. Like others have said though, you should have a huge amount of pride in what you’ve done building this community. Your honesty as an entrepreneur is part of what makes this site so engaging. (I kind of hate the whole “engagement” thing in marketing right now, but it is the best word for it!)
    For what it’s worth I didn’t apply to be an ambassador because 1) I knew my capacity to follow through with reading and writing an honest, thoughtful review was pretty low at the moment and 2) my business/marketing circle is pretty small, so I thought I’d leave the task to those with more expansive reach.
    Also, I think there should be a concerted effort in guerrilla marketing to those corps/execs who don’t approve of the word “sucks”. Maybe books just start appearing on their doorstep… 😉

    • I hope you didn’t think I wrote that part of the post to shame some of you who didn’t apply! That was not my intent at all. I TOTALLY understand being busy and reading a book isn’t a small undertaking. My only disappointment was in those who accepted the free book and I never heard from them again. I would have appreciated a, “Hey, this isn’t something I can do right now. May I give me spot to another applicant?” There are lots of people who are doing stuff post-launch, which is also great. Just those people who disappeared into the ether are those who are disappointing.

  • ginidietrich  You have no idea how much that means to me.  🙂

  • jenzings

    ginidietrich – Ha! Yes, the nickname…you are one of the privileged few who know it!

  • amanporter

    What I really enjoy about this post is the fact that you pretty much have the entire process you went through and a case analysis all in one. I don’t think I could say it any better than Anne Liz Hannon in that “the sharing of your candid thoughts” helps us all. 
    Thank you

  • Tracy Brisson

    I lLOVE your honest case study. I think book marketing is very similar to social media marketing, in that there are a lot of “experts” and resources online where people tell you that if you do this, you will achieve that… And it is really not that easy nor completely in our control. 

    I published a book last year and did a lot of what you did, plus some other things around ebooks, and I learned a lot about what to expect from others in helping me market it. I did ambassadors, contests, and other partnerships and my review percentage was still so low.I’ve found that to be true for a lot of non-fiction. I did a contest with Goodreads and was so excited that almost 1,000 people registered for a copy. Goodreads said that winners would be reminded to review multiple times. I  remember the moment I sat in a coffee shop with the sun shining in, autographing books for the winners and putting together pretty packages with stickers, all with the biggest smile on my face. But… not one of the five winners gave me a review and a month later I found one of the copies I’d gifted on eBay and Amazon, marked up because it was personally signed by me. Upon further investigation, I saw that he had a whole store of free books he had won via these contests and was marking up for a profit. Basically, theft. 

    My Goodreads story is not the only story I have of interacting with shady people as I tried to market the book. I get it that people often do have good intentions to do reviews and help, but the excitement of having my book clouded my pragmatism at times and every other budding author should read your post for that reason. 
    Other book lessons I learned. 

    (1)  Listen to Gini: bulk sales! That had never come up in all my pre-launch research or consultations. It took me forever to figure out that I needed to market to colleges and that is still a work in progress. 

    (2) Be wary of Amazon. They promise the world to authors, but like their Goodreads contests, a lot of it comes with a catch. Diversify the avenues where people can find the book for better results.

    (3) Projected sales will really vary for your book based on its category and you can do a lot of research and number crunching on your category before you write/propose your book. I had a colleague who relatively easily sold 10K copies of his book on Evernote in less than a year. I thought if I hustled, I could do the same. I realized later his sales were easy because there were so few books on Evernote more than his tactics. My book was on resumes and it took me 9 months to realize the top resume book in my category backed by one of the biggest international publishers has never sold 10K copies in a year… So yeah. 

    While I am not a PR person, I will pick up your book because I love your blog and especially this post. 🙂 Thanks!

    • My jaw is on the ground about the guy who sold your book for a mark-up because it was signed. People truly amaze me.

      I hope you like the book. It’s written for the business leader to better understand PR so hopefully it’s a good read for you!

  • Marcy Mechanic

    Gini, I was honored to be a part of the Spin Sucks book launch. You hit all the high notes here and were on target as to what probably needed more lead time. I think you did an amazing job – and I hope this is just the beginning for what can be done with Spin Sucks. (Don’t forget, Ken Jacobs thinks he is starring in the Musical!)

  • amanporter  You’re welcome! Thanks for saying so.

  • Marcy Mechanic  Oh. Right. The Musical.

  • KatherineBull

    In my seven years of publishing books –
    over 90 of them –  this campaign was hands down one of the absolute best
    I’ve ever witnessed. Gini knows me well enough to know that I don’t make
    statements like this lightly. Others on here know that about me too. I watched in
    wonder at the work people did, the camaraderie and the flawless execution of
    the plan Gini and her team presented to us pre-publication. 
    The New
    York Times list is a really tough nut to crack. Banish the thought of “No
    kidding, Katherine, that is SO obvious” right now because it is not as
    obvious as one would think. It is not so obvious when you consider that sales
    numbers matter but that there are other factors – factors that nobody but
    people in the survey dept. at NYT know – that make making the list 100x harder.
    If you
    read the Wikipedia entry, you’ll learn that “”The exact method for
    compiling the data obtained from the booksellers is classified as a”
     (  A
    trade secret! Wow. Let that sink in…even publishers don’t know exactly what
    goes into choosing the list every week! We can make some educated guesses but
    we don’t really know. 
    I can
    tell you all – unequivocally – that Pearson is VERY happy (x100) with sales of
    Spin Sucks. Also not said lightly… and what makes us even happier is when a
    book continues to sell well week in and week out. Books that have great sales
    the first week and then drop to 20/week, according to our Bible, Nielsen
    Bookscan, are not considered successful. It doesn’t really matter, does it, if
    you can get the newfangled airplane in the air once and it crashes every other
    time, right? 
    This is in NO way meant to downplay those books that do make the list. Those
    authors worked hard to get there and they had a dash of luck on their side.)
    course, we would love to have one of our books make the NY Times list.
    “I” would love it as the editor of a book. (Hey, it looks great on a
    resume!)  But, what we/I love MORE is consistent triple digit sales every
    week for the next 12 months and beyond. I can’t reveal exact numbers but Spin
    Sucks is doing  just that now. The phrase “It’s not a sprint; it’s a
    marathon,” is batted around fairly casually but for those of us in
    publishing, it IS our mantra.  What
    else matters? Amazon and B&N rankings; great reviews on retail sites, with a few not so
    great ones thrown in because it shows balance; positive blog postings from
    respected experts; and an author who never stops believing in his/her book. 
    know what else matters? Making the Bookscan Top 200 business books list. That
    is a much greater accomplishment than people realize. I’ve published 40+
    biz-tech books in the last three years and have had five books make that list.
    Spin Sucks sold enough in one week to make that list and it is a HUGE
    I’m proud of Gini, proud of Spin Sucks and
    proud of this community. It means a lot to me that Gini gave me the opportunity-
    for the second time – to sign her book and the privilege of being her editor.
     Thank you, Gini. You done good! 🙂

  • KatherineBull  Could someone do some PR for the Bookscan Top 200 list? Then I could brag about making that and put it on all my communications and increase my speaking fee and RULE THE WORLD!

  • RachelBrown

    Thanks for sharing
    all of your advice on how to implement a brand amabassador program. I think
    this is such a helpful blog for everyone who has experience being a brand
    ambassador or is trying to start a program like yours. Although the outcome
    wasn’t what you hoped, it really seemed like you hit all of the facets of this
    program you possibly could. I commend your efforts and am interested to check
    out your book. Good luck reaching 10,000 sales, I’m sure you will J

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