A big welcome to Tucker Max. Thank you, Tucker for taking time out of your day to chat with us. Tucker has had a lot of success as an author. He’s basically jumped into a relatively new venture, new start-up called Book in a Box. I’ve been really intrigued with how Tucker has marketed that business. Today we’re going to discuss the process Tucker has gone through to promote the Book in a Box Service with, basically, a book. This is a great example of how to use a book to sell big ticket offers.
Book Writing and Publishing Service
We’re kind of in a unique position at my company because we’re doing something that is new and different and unusual. To briefly summarize it, what we’ve done is turn book writing and publishing into a service. If you wanted to write a book before and didn’t know what to do, you would have to read a bunch of books or watch video courses. Then you would have to sit down and do it yourself. One of the major trends in tech companies, and it’s for a reason, is essentially turning products into services. Very few people care about writing books. They care about turning their ideas into a book. Then they can use that book for other reasons. Only novelists want to have books. Business people want what books give them, credibility.
We created a way, by using interviewing, to spend about 15-20 hours on the phone with people. We get their idea out of their head and turn it into a fully published, professional book. There’s a lot of cool things about that. One of the cool things is that it’s a brand new service. No one really does this. No one really does actually anything close. The funny thing is we don’t even really compete with anyone because of that. Traditional publishing has a different model. Self-publishing is kind of a different model. This is kind of a new idea.
How to Educate People on a New Idea
A new thing is great because we have no competition. It sucks because you have to teach and educate customers about what you do. They all want to plug you into a different hole. That becomes the problem: how do you educate people? There are multiple ways to educate people. Cheaply, in it’s scale. One of the best ways to do that is through a book. You write a book that shows your expertise or teaches people what it is you do. What unique information or abilities you have. They will then see you as the authority. Or understand what it is that you do that is new. Then they either talk about you to other people, even if they don’t become a client, or decide to become a client.
What we did is we wrote a book called, The Book in a Box Method. Which explains the process that we use to turn ideas into books. I don’t know if I want to call it revolutionary, but it’s definitely new. This is not a way that’s ever really been taught, but it works very well. We walk through exactly what it is we do in the book.
- We start by positioning the book. Which essentially means understanding what goal the author is trying to achieve. What audience the author has to reach to get that goal. What do they know that’s interesting and valuable to that audience. Which is basically understanding, do they even have a book in them. Do they have a book in them that’s going to get something that they want?
- Once that question’s answered, then we structure their information. What they are going to put in the book. Then we create an outline from that. All of this is through interviews. We have sets of questions that we ask authors and we have templates that we use. We have freelancers, very talented smart people who spent decades as book editors and freelance writers, etc. They use these templates of questions. The book is the explanation of the process with the templates in it. We literally give away our “secrets.”
At first people were like, “What are you doing? How could you do that? That doesn’t make any sense.” Here’s the thing. Think about it like a restaurant. The best chefs on earth put there recipes in cookbooks. They use their exact recipes. Why do they do that? They do it for a couple reasons. The main one is you can’t copyright a recipe. Someone’s always going to figure out what it is they’re doing. Then that person figures it out and puts out their recipe book, they get the credit for the recipe and not the chef. Also, the cookbook essentially acts as advertising for their restaurant.
I love The French Laundry in Napa Valley. It’s one of the best restaurants in the world. I have Thomas Keller’s cookbooks. I read these recipes and most of them are ridiculous, what he does to make one, like a bisque. You think, how hard can that be to make, right? He has like 70 steps for 4 different processes. It’s insanely hard. Then I go to The French Laundry and I taste the bisque and I’m like, “Wow! I get now why this tastes so good. It’s incredibly time consuming.” I’m not going to do that. I’m going to go pay him to do it for me.
Now, if I didn’t have money, French Laundry is expensive. You can expect to pay $300-400 per person, just to get out the door. That’s not cheap, and people who can’t afford that, if they really really want to try Thomas Keller’s recipes, they can just do the work themselves. If their time’s not that valuable. We look at customers the same way. Our authors the same. If your time is not valuable, you can’t even afford us to begin with. Our service costs $20,000. There’s no advantage for us by keeping our information from you. It stops you from talking about us ever.
We give the book away for free on our site and then we charge 4$ or $5 for it on Amazon. Which is essentially free. Then those people can actually get a book done themselves. They can credit The Book in a Box Method, and they can talk about us to their friends.
For the people who can afford $20,000, who’s time is valuable, for them the book is a way to understand who and what we are and see our process to judge for themselves, “Oh wow, this is actually really smart.” If they get it, then they just say, “Screw it! I don’t want to do this myself. Even though it’s a great process, and it’s 10 times faster than normal. It’s still going to take me, let’s say 200 hours. I’d much rather just pay you 20 grand and only spend 20 hours on the phone and be done with it, and I get your expertise. So, I don’t actually have to read the book and learn how to do it.” Or they’ll try, they’ll start the process themselves. They’ll realize it actually is good and it works but having an expert guide you through it makes it not only faster but better.
Selling Big Ticket Items
That process is why we give the book away for free or near free. It validates a new method and it generates word of mouth and it actually brings clients in. It’s a model for using a book to sell a high tech service.
You can almost think of it like a test drive. If you want to go test drive a Chevy, they won’t let you take it off the lot or drive it without the salesman. You get in, you go around the block, you come back. You know what’s crazy, if you want to test drive a Mercedes, you know what they do? They give you the keys and let you take it for a weekend. It just seems crazy because a Mercedes is way more expensive than a Chevy but the models are different. A Mercedes is high end stuff. We’re going to tell you everything. We’re going to let you dive deep into it because our stuff is so good, that we expect you to see the value and either pay for it or if you don’t see the value, don’t pay for it. It’s the same idea, kind of giving it away. They give away the entire experience of the car.
There are a lot of reasons to write a book. We’ve been around about 18 months. We’ve got about 250 books. Obviously not all of our authors are offering high ticket services. We have a lot of authors that are coaches or consultants. We have a lot of authors that sell video courses or that sell teaching seminars. Or do speeches or are some sort of thought leader. All of those are executives. We have a lot of CEO’s. We just signed a couple, two actually, fortune 500 CEO’s. Those people all have different objectives.
It basically boils down to three things:
- Authority – They want to gain authority and visibility. A book gets you on the map. People take you seriously when you have a book. Even in a world now where there’s all these books and anyone can self-publish. The fact that you went through the effort to finish a book is immediately a signal to people that you are serious and that you have something to say. You can do the work to go through the difficult process of finishing a book. It’s a very positive signal. Just having a book at all.
- Professional Design – Now if the book is actually well designed and professionally published then that’s another really positive signal. People are like, “Oh wow! This person really has their stuff together. This thing looks great. The cover looks great. The description’s cool. The author photo looks good.” Those are obvious unconscious decisions for a lot of people, but they matter a lot. Just like when someone’s clothes matter or what kind of car they drive, you judge them by that. You judge a book by all those smaller things.
- Judge for Themselves – This is the most important thing. They’re interested in your topic and they buy your book or get your free book and they read it. They get to judge for themselves what it is you know. What you think. What you’re teaching them. What you’re saying. They don’t have to rely on your marketing materials. Or someone else saying something. They actually get to see first hand. It’s basically like a test run.
That was my point about the Mercedes versus the Chevy. Low status people have to horde and be secretive because they usually aren’t delivering something of quality. Mercedes is delivering something of high quality, BMW too. They want you to actually engage in it and take it out for a spin. An extended spin, so you can see how good it is. All the best coaches, all the best consultants have books that literally talk about exactly what you paid them to come in and do.
In fact the very best coaches and consultants usually put all of their secrets, or what they know in the book. They look at the book as the ultimate business card and the ultimate all purpose marketing tool to get the people they want. The high end clients who are willing to pay $100,000 a month retainer. Cameron Herold’s one of those. He is a client of ours doing 3 books with us. He coaches a CEO of a huge company. The material he teaches them and works through with them, you can get through his books for like 5 or 10 bucks. That’s how he gets hired by CEO’s he knows his material.
It’s helped us so much having this book out. We have so many people who will come through our sales process and have already read the book. Like, “Yeah I get your process, it makes total sense.” We don’t have to spend any time explaining how it works to them. We can go to the questions that matter. Which are, what are their objections? What are their obstacles to starting and how can we help them adjust them, so they can sign.
Marketing Doesn’t Start at Marketing
Everyone wants to jump to the question, “How do I market it?”Marketing doesn’t start at marketing. Marketing starts at the very first decisions you make.
The first step we call positioning. It’s what it’s called, positioning. You can almost think of it as figuring out if you should even write a book and what you should write about. The first decision you must make is what your goal is for the book. I don’t mean a fantasy. I don’t mean what’d you really like to happen. Everyone wants their book to sell a million copies. That’s not a realistic goal for pretty much anyone unless your name is J.K. Rowling. Don’t say that’s a goal. That’s a wish.
A goal is something, or a result is something that can happen from the book, that is realistic. That the book can actually help you achieve. For example, if you want to sell more services or products or you want to create leads. Or you want to be a professional speaker. Or you want to charge more for your speeches. Any of those things are specific results that a book can help you get.
Now once you understand exactly what result you need to get, or you want to get from the book. The next decision you have to make, or the next thing you have to understand is, what audience do I have to reach in order to get that result. If you’re writing a book to generate leads for your business, then the audience for your book are your customers for your business. That’s it. Only your customers. No one else. It is selling a service. It is the people who need that service. That is your only audience. As narrow as possible as you can make it, the better.
For example, we have authors who come in all the time who we ask, “Who’s the audience for your book?” They reply, “Everybody.” We’re like, “That’s not possible. No book has an audience of everybody. Not even the bible. There’s literally no book that has an audience of 7 billion people.” Then they’re like, “Okay, maybe not everybody. It’s women.” Hmmm…, “Nope. Again you’re wrong. There’s no book on earth that every woman wants to read. That doesn’t make sense.” So we keep chipping and chipping and chipping until we get to the target audience.
This just happened. This woman is a coach for young female entrepreneurs who are trying to move from the corporate world into starting their own business. You would think, obviously, she could narrow down her audience immediately. All she wanted to talk about is about how her book is applicable to everybody. She just argued with us about this. I had to say, “Listen, do you have clients who are everybody?” She says, “No.” “Who are your clients?” “Well they’re women and they’re all ages 25-35 and they all blah, blah blah.” Ok, “So why would you think your book is anything beyond that?” Then of course it comes out, “Well that’s what I was hoping.” Okay great, we all have fantasies. Those fantasies are fantastic but let’s keep them where they belong, in our dreams and not in our business decisions. We got her narrowed down to exactly who her audience is and it turned out her audience are exactly the people she is trying to get as consulting clients and coaching clients.
What Value do I have?
The last decision you have to make that impacts marketing, this essentially becomes the marketing decision. What do I have to say that is interesting and valuable for that audience? In the example I just referred to, she has a lot of very interesting things to say to teach young women in the corporate world how to transition to being an entrepreneur. Quite a bit actually. There’s a lot of evidence of it. She has dozens, maybe hundreds of people that she coaches and helped through this. She knows how they think. She knows what their problems are. She knows the obstacles they face. She knows how to beat them. That’s what the book is. It’s funny, she kind of argued, “Well if I give that away, if I talk about that, why are these women going to want to be clients?” I was replied, “Because of every single person, when they finish that book, they say two things. A good book. They say, that’s amazing, I want to do that, and then, what about me?”
If those women, for example, go start a business without her, they would have done it. They haven’t. They need help. That’s why they read her book. If they can afford her help, after they read the book, if it’s good, they’re going to go hire her. Everyone wants that individual coach. Everyone wants that individualized help. Even if the book is step-by-step, you still want someone to hold your hand through that. If you can afford it, that’s what you’re going to go. You’re going to go with the best coach you can.
I know it sounds like you’re talking about the book. I am. That actually determines the marketing. If she writes a book that is totally interesting and really valuable to 25-35 year old women looking to move from the corporate world to entrepreneurship. Then her marketing is easy. Why is it easy? She has to do only two things. She has to figure out where those women are. What media sources do they use. You know they read Elite Daily, or they read Refinery29. She has to figure out what it is they read or what is they watch on TV. She just needs to get her book in those sources. If they read Elite Daily, which is news to millennials. Then all she has to do is get her book covered in Elite Daily. It’s going to be easy to get her book covered in Elite Daily. You know why? When she pitches it, the editor’s of Elite Daily will say, “Oh yeah. This is directly applicable to our readers. We want to cover it.”
Now if she tried to convince herself her books are for everyone or position it for everyone, that would be a marketing disaster. Fortune, which is a magazine for older men, generally, and more established companies. They don’t care for the market. They’re not going to cover her book . There’s no hook they care about.
All the decisions she made that seem like book decisions are actually marketing decisions. If you position your product correctly (this applies to an app, a physical product or a book) and it is quality, then all you have to do is get in front of the people who’s problems you’re solving. They will not just use it, they will talk about it to their friends and it will spread rapidly on it’s own. Not totally, but for the most part, your fans are going to do the work for you, because it is doing something for them.
Coverage as an Author Vs. Coverage as a Coach Without a Book
You’re always going to get more coverage as an author because that is a status signifier that is higher than almost anything else you can have. I mean, maybe research scientist is a little bit higher, but only in certain fields. Nobel prize winner, stuff like that. As soon as you say author, there’s status and credibility because you have ideas and you have taken the effort to put into a book.
Let’s assume for a second that you did a good job. If you bang out some crappy word document and upload it on Amazon with some book cover that you did in MS Paint, no one’s going to take it seriously. It’s got to be professional. It’s got to be well done. It has to get a minimum standard of professionalism and quality. If you hit that minimum standard, people immediately take you seriously. A book now, to professionals, is a lot like what a college degree used to be 30 years ago.
College degrees don’t hold much weight anymore because everyone has one. Even professional degrees at this point are like, “Okay, that’s kind of cool.” There’s about 200,000 lawyers, but there aren’t 200,000 people writing books about law. If you’re a lawyer and an author, you’re automatically in the top 10% of lawyers. Go down the list of any profession, that’s going to be something the same.
Narrowing Your Audience
Here’s why narrowing focus is extremely important to marketing. First off, let’s be starkly honest: almost no one has something to say that is applicable to a broad audience. It is not impossible, but it is virtually unheard of that anyone’s going to write something that even a million people care about. That’s a huge amount. Think about this for a second, the most popular book of the last I think 50 years, just judging by sales, commercial book is 50 Shades of Grey. I think the series of books sold 100 million copies. Let’s just call it 100 million women. I think it sold that in all languages, I’m not sure. Actually no, that’s in English. Let’s say there’s about a billion English speaking people, right? Half of those women. The most popular book on earth sold to about 10% of the total population. Maybe 20% if you assume that book is only for women. Maybe 20%, the most popular.
Harry Potter, the numbers are going to be about the same. The absolutely most popular books, about anywhere from 15-25%, maybe a third of people engage with and read. Those are the one or two hero books that define centuries, only none of them get a penetration of more than a third. Trying to write for a broad audience is a fools arrogance. You just don’t have anything to say that’s applicable for a broad audience.
Here’s what’s cool, if you go down to a super narrow audience, the more narrow audience you go down to, the more chance you have of being the only expert there and being the only solution for those people. To give you an example, there’s a lot of women that are trying to teach women how to be entrepreneurs. There are not a lot who are focused only on a certain age group.
Using our example woman again, Young millennial, women of color, moving from corporate world to entrepreneurship. That is a deeply narrow niche. Let’s say there’s maybe a 100,000 women in the niche, maybe 50,000 women. Maybe even 25,000 women, that’s it, 25,000 women. If I am a young woman of color looking to move from corporate world to entrepreneurship, and I go looking for guidance. I see, let’s say Marie Forleo who has a big audience and she kind of does some entrepreneurship. Some of it’s life advice, some of this, some of that. I kind of like it, it’s all right. She seems nice, but it’s not exactly for me.
I look on Amazon, because that is a search engine for professionals. I’m looking for advice. I see 20 books about women and entrepreneurship and maybe 10 of those are about moving from corporate world to entrepreneurship. Now those are more applicable and then maybe 5 of those are by young women. Then here’s the one that a woman of color wrote and it’s for me. That’s for me. I’m that person. Now you go to the head of the line for whatever segments of the population is that minor niche and you get all of them. They are all going to want the person or the company or the positioning that talks to them, specifically.
People Want to Feel Special
Everyone thinks they’re different. Everyone thinks they’re special. Everyone thinks their issues are unique and everyone thinks that they need a special customized program that fits them. The woman of color could read free books. She could literally go online to perseus.org and read Socrates and Aristotle and Plato, who are old Greek white men who lived 2000 years ago. She could probably learn almost the exact same lessons. Or she could read Buddhist stuff, there’s any number of things. Most people don’t want to do that work. They want to be spoon fed. The more you are like them or you tell them, “I am for you.” Whoever you is. The more likely they are to jettison everything else because you, by identifying closely with, and by doing the work for them, they are far more likely to buy from you then anyone else.
Dominate a Niche
Now once you dominate a niche, it’s really easy to spread from it. In fact the queen of all media did this. Oprah. Oprah started with housewives in the mid-west who were watching TV at 10 AM. That’s literally where Oprah started. In the early 80’s in Baltimore, she essentially got demoted because of station politics and she got the dead, what was considered totally dead, air. You’re probably old enough, I am too, to remember that cable wasn’t wide spread and the only stuff on during the day was soap operas.
At 10 AM, everyone’s at work. The only people watching TV are housewives. The thinking at the time, the foolish thinking was that housewives were not very bright and only cared about the stupid soap operas. So nothing can compete with those. I mean we’re talking about the 70’s and the early 80’s so it’s pretty sexist in media then. That was the thinking. Oprah basically had to fill an hour and she decided to turn it into a talk show in Baltimore. She realized exactly who her audience was and she decided she was going to talk to them, like they were her friends, and she did. She nailed that audience and they moved to Chicago and then grew and grew that audience until all of a sudden she had a base. That base has carried her now to her own network and basically the biggest star in media for decades.
You can get the book, it’s just like I talked about, you can get it for free. You go to bookinabox.com/book Put in your email address and you can get it for free, the PDF. Or you can go to Amazon and it’s like 4 or 5 bucks. It describes our process. If you want to do it yourself, the book has all the templates. All the instructions. It’s literally what we use to teach our freelancers how to do it. If you want to hire us, go to bookinabox.com.
Daniel’s Real Fast Results Tips: Using Books to Sell Big Ticket Items
- Let people “test drive” your material.
- When people do pick up the phone to call you, they’re prime.
- You can do great things just by using the concept Oprah did.
Tucker Max and Zach Orbront – The Book in a Box Method
Free PDF Version of Book in a Box Method
Books by Cameron Herold
Books by Marie Forleo
Greek Literature – perseus.org
Hire Tucker Max – bookinabox.com