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):

  • Barbara Nixon
  • Paul Sutton
  • Jon-Mikel Bailey
  • Alison Law
  • Mike Hale
  • Audrey Schroder
  • Rebecca Todd
  • Andrea Kempfer
  • Joe Cardillo
  • Betsy Decillis
  • Jensie Simkins
  • Jason Dykstra
  • Eden Spodek
  • Corina Manea
  • Lara Wellman
  • Brian Vickery
  • Wendy Scherer
  • Kanya Montemayor
  • Kevin Anselmo
  • Brian Meeks
  • Rachael Seda
  • Ken Jacobs
  • Dave Thackeray
  • Kara Vanskike
  • Heather Whaling
  • Rosemary O’Neill
  • Neicole Crepeau
  • Jessica Malnik
  • Mike McClure
  • Rebecca Welch
  • Jono Smith
  • Kevin Anselmo
  • Susan Cellura
  • Michael White
  • Jo Lynn Deal
  • Macy Koch
  • Dwayne Alicie
  • Christina Green
  • Adam Toporek
  • Jen Zingsheim
  • Lisa Denten
  • Amrita Chandra
  • Abbie Fink
  • Tony Gnau
  • Julie Long
  • Julie Long (twice!)
  • Corinne Dumont
  • Kimberly Crossland
  • Barbara Smith
  • Lauri Rottmayer
  • Lubna Sadik
  • Kate Finley
  • Zena Weist
  • Rob Biesenbach
  • Karen Wilson
  • Doug Rice
  • Shelley Pringle
  • Peter Osborne
  • Michael Bowers
  • Alicia Lawrence
  • Mike Schaffer
  • Brent Carnduff
  • Amanda Eastep
  • Paula Kiger
  • Sandee Suitt
  • Carrie Morgan
  • Nikki Little
  • Bill Dorman
  • Terreece Clark (super fun video of her six-year-old!)

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. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

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