Tim Ferris is known for challenging long held assumptions about skills, business and everything else in between. In his latest book he uses the popular vehicle of cooking to impart what he’s learned about meta learning and how you can employ it in your life. But promoting and selling a book amid the din of the publishing circuit is tough at the best of times.
Bricks and mortar retail bookstores for the most part refused to stock his book over their objections to it being one of the very first Amazon Publishing releases, which threatened the traditional publishing business model. Tim Ferriss needed to find ways he could reach out to his readership that he had built up through the hugely successful book releases of the The 4 Hour Work Week and The 4 Hour Body as well as find new readers.
So when faced with being locked out of the traditional retail bookstore distribution channel and with few other outlets to promote his book, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Ferriss took an unconventional route to promoting and publishing, turning the industry on its head in the process.
This situation led to lots of research using innovative tools and techniques not usually applied to a business sector like publishing to look at alternative routes to market.
Finally he hit on something thanks to some advice from a friend. He needed to growth hack, but lacked a vehicle. Ferriss made a call to BitTorrent and talked over his solution with them. If he gave an electronic version of the book away for free using the power of P2P torrents sharing online, more people would engage with the book, and through this re-engineered sales funnel, would pay for the hard copy paper version to accompany the electronic versions as many people still prefer the physical user experience of paper and ink.
Soon after that call, he signed an agreement with BitTorrent that suited both parties. Here was a rare enough win-win. BitTorrent were seeking to expand their offering as a legal content distribution network for marketing books. And Tim Ferriss found a new route to promoting his content. Nobody was sure what would happen next.
Something magical happened. Amazingly, after launching the free e-book version (with exclusive online only content), sharing of the torrent grew massively in a short period of time with over 2 million downloads. The click through rate was over 210,000 downloads in the first week alone. The conversion rate was a previously unheard of conversion rate of 45%.
The most exciting thing of all was that leaving a clear landing page on the BitTorrent site with a link to the Amazon site where people could purchase the physical book or content bundle strongly resonated with readers worldwide, resulting in a staggering click through rate and purchase of over half a million hard copy versions in a short space of time. This stunned both Tim Ferris and Amazon as normal click through rates would be a fraction of what the 4 hour Chef book achieved. BitTorrent also got what they wanted out of the deal.
Essentially Ferriss has taken a medium of P2P torrent sharing which is attacked and feared by traditional media in equal measure, and harnessed its tremendous growth hacking power to reach millions of potential customers extremely quickly, efficiently and effectively better than anyone before. The book also reached the top of all major hard copy book selling charts around the world. This innovative approach was lauded in business circles for its impressive ROI (return on investment), and has created a blueprint in the publishing industry of how to leverage digital distribution methods in an innovative way.
Customers today are consuming media on multiple platforms, and appreciate getting perceived added value that enhances their user experience. Those who recognize and offer an easy way to consume their media on multiple platforms using innovative methods will win.
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