Gini Dietrich

The Spin Sucks Brand Ambassador Program: A Case Study

By: Gini Dietrich | April 24, 2014 | 
147

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.

BUT…

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.

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147 Comments on "The Spin Sucks Brand Ambassador Program: A Case Study"

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LSSocialEngage
2 years 5 months ago

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.

LauriRottmayer
2 years 5 months ago

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.

Eleanor Pierce
2 years 5 months ago

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.

LSSocialEngage
2 years 5 months ago

Eleanor Pierce  So true! Well put.

belllindsay
2 years 5 months ago
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??… Read more »
RobBiesenbach
2 years 5 months ago
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… Read more »
RobBiesenbach
2 years 5 months ago

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.

Eleanor Pierce
2 years 5 months ago

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).

KateFinley
2 years 5 months ago
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… Read more »
corinamanea
2 years 5 months ago

Eleanor Pierce  True! So, BUILD relationships people!

Lara Wellman
Lara Wellman
2 years 5 months ago
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… Read more »
Word Ninja
2 years 5 months ago

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.

rosemaryoneill
2 years 5 months ago

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!

ginidietrich
2 years 5 months ago

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

ginidietrich
2 years 5 months ago

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

ginidietrich
2 years 5 months ago

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

EdenSpodek
2 years 5 months ago

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.

ginidietrich
2 years 5 months ago

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.

ginidietrich
2 years 5 months ago

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.

ginidietrich
2 years 5 months ago

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

ginidietrich
2 years 5 months ago

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.

Nikki Little
2 years 5 months ago

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. 🙂

ginidietrich
2 years 5 months ago

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.

ginidietrich
2 years 5 months ago

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!

corinamanea
2 years 5 months ago
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,… Read more »
Nikki Little
2 years 5 months ago

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

Kara
2 years 5 months ago

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
JodiEchakowitz
2 years 5 months ago

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!

EdenSpodek
2 years 5 months ago
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… Read more »
mikekmcclure
mikekmcclure
2 years 5 months ago

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

Jason_LiveRealNow
2 years 5 months ago

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.

Brent@Echelonseo.com
2 years 5 months ago

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!

ginidietrich
2 years 5 months ago

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.

ginidietrich
2 years 5 months ago

Nikki Little LOL!

dbvickery
2 years 5 months ago

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.

ginidietrich
2 years 5 months ago

Kara I would LOVE to do that for you!

ginidietrich
2 years 5 months ago

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!

ginidietrich
2 years 5 months ago

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!

ginidietrich
2 years 5 months ago

Brent@Echelonseo.com  Thanks, Brent! You’ve always been super supportive. I appreciate it.

ginidietrich
2 years 5 months ago

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

JoeCardillo
2 years 5 months ago

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).

ginidietrich
2 years 5 months ago

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.

JoeCardillo
2 years 5 months ago

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.

RobBiesenbach
2 years 5 months ago
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… Read more »
mikekmcclure
mikekmcclure
2 years 5 months ago

ginidietrich Awwww, shucks. Thanks.

ginidietrich
2 years 5 months ago

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.

ginidietrich
2 years 5 months ago

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

JoeCardillo
2 years 5 months ago

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. =)

RobBiesenbach
2 years 5 months ago

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.

LSSocialEngage
2 years 5 months ago

ginidietrich mine too! 😉

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