June 18, 2012


exceeding the goalIt's wonderful to think you've got an amazing idea. At some point you'll find out with clients agree. Conventional market research has limited value since we often don't know what we want until we see it.

The usual process is to Design-Make-Sell. You don't know if you have a winner until the end. That’s risky. There is another process: Design-Sell-Make. You’ll know if there’s a market before you start. You might as well fail early, cheap and in public. 

The Experiment

Today, Seth Godin ran an interesting experiment on Kickstarter. He wanted to raise $40,000 for his new book, The Icarus Deception. Within hours, he reached his goal. Here’s the page.

By the time I got online, the packages I wanted were gone. I selected the $111 No Brainer (8 hard covers, 2 signed copies of V for Vulnerable, and “the limited-edition, mammoth digital collection in print, a book heavy enough to kill a small mammal”). The option I wanted isn't available: ebook + audiobook. I guess I'll need to buy them separately.


Here are transferable three lessons from Seth’s experiment:
  1. Reciprocity works
  2. Attention precedes money
  3. Failure is an option

Reciprocity Works

Reciprocity is the first universal principle of influence, according to Robert Cialdini.

Seth's daily blog posts are free but very valuable. Readers with consciences will eventually feel an obligation to repay Seth in some way. There aren't many options. You can buy his books, attend his occasional live events and support his causes. You can also tell others about Seth --- which is probably most valuable in the long term.

Attention Precedes Money

The best way for an author to use the internet is to slowly build a following. Difficult, time-consuming and effective.
--- Seth Godin (Kickstarter, strangers and friends)
Attention matters. When your tribe/fans/network/audience pay you with attention, you're in a better position to get them to pay you with money later. It's important to grow your connections using the platforms of your choice. I focus on blogging, LinkedIn and Twitter.

How do you let visitors decide if you warrant their scarce attention? Show free samples of your work online. As you build your digital tapestry, you'll make ever-stronger impressions on subsequent visitors. As you find your voice, you'll transform from parrot to pundit for your connections.

Failure Is An Option

If I hadn’t made it, I would have kept my word and not made the book.
--- Seth Godin (Forbes)
With his large tribe, you might think that everything Seth does beats his expectations. That's unlikely. For his 50th birthday, he invited donations to a freshwater project. He didn't meet his $50,000 target but got 79.874% of the way there. Let’s call that 80%.

Seth has skeptics. On Quora, there’s a question about whether he writes all his own copy. He confirmed he did in 2012 and 2009 but there will be doubters. When he wrote about Ray Bradbury’s death, some thought he was ”shilling at a funeral”. Amusing.

Failure is an option when goals are ambitious.

Your Experiment

We can do what Seth did, though our results will vary.

I'm writing a book about Trust And You (why and how). I don't have a sense of the potential audience. I'm counting on my connections to buy copies and spread the word. After all, I’m writing for them.

I've already started the marketing. There are 147 tweets @trustandyou but only 13 Followers (down from 14 yesterday). That's disappointing since trust is an important topic that few tweet about. A Kickstarter campaign may be a good way to gauge the real appeal.

What are you doing that would benefit from estimating success in advance?


PS Maybe you have a side project. Try to earn attention.

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