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Married Man Sex Life: The Marketing Plan

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The elevator pitch is that I write a blog (Married Man Sex Life) that teaches how Nice Guy husbands can add a little bit of Bad Boy to moisten the wives panties, without turning him into a Total Douchebag and ruining everything.

Obviously I want to make money from this though, so here's my approach so far....

The blog is the a marketing platform for the book(s), the book(s) = expert, expert = the golden goose of coaching/speaking/whatever. The first two years of this project have been to simply break even, by which I mean earn about as much as I would have earned if I had an extra part-time job instead of blogging. I started MMSL www.marriedmansexlife.com on 1/1/2010, so coming up to the 2 year mark. $15,000 net for the first book so far... might hit $18,000 before it's life cycle ends, so that is a win and meets the first two year mark goal.
 
I always assumed the books would be stolen to some degree, but I'm also a unique product for the moment as well. No one else writes about application of pick up artist a.k.a "Game"theory for marriage. I purposely priced at a very reasonable $10 kindle/PDF and $20 print which Amazon discounted to $14.39 for ages. (Game stuff is usually that whole $199 value, but wait discounted to $129, and if you buy it right now it's $79 for a 80 page eBook!!!!! bullshit.)
 
I also purposely tried to intimidate any potential competitors in the marketplace that I was (1) first to publish and was the best and brightest on this topic, (2) going to revise my flagship book annually, (3) plan to do this for the next 30 years. The inspiration for this was the book "What Color Is Your Parachute" which makes up 93% of all job seeking books sold year after year. As yet, no one else has dared to publish anything in my tiny little niche within the larger Marriage/Sex market.
 
The flagship book is called "The Married Man Sex Life Primer 2011", or Primer 2011 for short.The plan is to drop the price for the 2011 edition down to $0.99 Kindle/PDF a few months before the 2012 edition is out. So the 2012 Primer sells at $10 and the 2011 Primer at $0.99 side-by-side on Amazon.Then rinse repeat that process for 2012/2013, 2013/2014....  Thus anyone can steal my 2011 Primer *now*, but it's devalued to $1 in a year and zero value in two years.  And yes it does require a meaningful upgrade to the Primer annually to make this work.
 
Then every year I plan to release a new book that stands alone and doesn't get annual updates. So ten years from now, I have the 2021 Primer, plus a backlist of ten other books. This is where I really start getting concerned about piracy. I can keep ahead of the curve with the Primer updates, but if someone rips off a backlist book, that's going to hurt me.
 
My primary problem for the moment is time - I still have to work full time. I'm 41, wife, two kids, the whole nine yards. So everything I'm doing with MMSL is evenings and weekends. The books really do have to pay over the short term, or I can't keep doing this.
 
Also I've had a period back in May where life was crazy - Jennifer (my wife) and I were on Inside Edition, and you would *think* that would have resulted in an epic influx of interest... nope, just an extra 1000 hits to the blog. I. Shit. You. Not.  All the mass media stuff has proved worthless to me, the blog > all.
 
Anyway, all this is in process. The 2012 edition is slated for Feb 1st 2012 release, and I'm squeaking out a second book "before Christmas". So how well my book model works will be roughly known by April 2012. 2012 might be huge, or less than 2011, I won't know until I'm there. Seriously, even another $10,000 means life is vastly easier for me and I can throw some money at book covers and so on.
 
The big win is that I've had around 500 emails from people saying MMSL saved their marriage from divorce / restarted their sex life / averted marrying the wrong person. So that's an epic win. I need more money for a better computer, better product presentation and not to have to go to work anymore so I can do this full time. Sure there's an element of personal greed, but it's really about getting to do the work I want.

So my basic questions are...

(1) Is this a viable plan for book sales long term?

(2) What can I do to increase sales/profitablity of the individual books?

(3)  Obviously I am bridging toward a speaking/coaching aspect of the business, but concrete ideas for doing that are something I'm struggling with. What's the next step?

(4)  What don't I know that I should have a question about? Seriously any ideas would be great. I can create content all day, but marketing I'm lost on.

Thanks! 

 

initiated Oct 17, 2011 in Business Models by Athol Kay (710 points)   2 3 6
edited Oct 17, 2011 by Athol Kay
   

27 Responses

5 like 0 dislike
If handling questions directly is too much, what about people who buy a more expensive version get to join a private email list with you and a few other really "committed" folks to discuss these things?  That takes some of the weight off you, as others on the email list can respond and discuss stuff, but still offers something unique and special for those who pay more?

Alternatively, what if those who pay a higher amount effectively "subscribe," in that they get the future updates earlier or at a discount or something like that?

Or, what would be awesome, given the subject material, is if those who pay more could get access to the "other side" -- wives whose husbands have bought and used the book successfully, so they can get the female perspective on what works (might be challenging to line up that group, but if you could...).

Just tossing out some suggestions about different kinds of scarcities that might make people willing to pay more.
response added Oct 21, 2011 by Mike Masnick (23,010 points)   52 99 160
4 like 0 dislike
To add on to what the others before me said:

- Your price of $ 9.99 is a bit high. In a time when you can get apps for < $5, people have started thinking that digital goods should be priced around $5 and not more.

So what can you do about that? Lower the price. Your profits may go down, but you will make more in the long run as more people will be ready to sample your book. $9.99 a sample is a bit sharp, but $5 a sample might just cut it.

But what if you want to keep the price at $9.99? Actually, increase it. Make it $20. At the same time, make a $5 version. Buy the $15 version, and the buyer gets to ask the author (you) any two questions and they are guaranteed a response by email. That's incentive to buy the more expensive version and your chance to connect with your readers. Buy the $5 version and you get the book, and that's it. No questions for you.

That should cut down on the number of people emailing you, but on the other hand, those would probably be desperate people so you should be ready to cope with their troubles and provide good advice.

- Your idea of re-writing the book every year or so is good, but you have to ensure your new versions have good content and it's not just some minor rewrite. People will feel cheated otherwise.
response added Oct 21, 2011 by I B (710 points)   1 1 5
4 like 0 dislike

 

I'm a guy that's perfectly in your target audience, and knows at least 5 others in similar situations. We've spent lots of money on dancers, sites, etc. Most of us don't really want to cheat on our wives. Over the past two years, my external game has gotten a lot better. I've picked up a few girls' numbers just in the last month, but I'm never going to call. But promising you can raise my conversion rate at home? F*ing genius.
 
Let's be clear: You're selling sex. Do you have any idea what married men spend on sex? I take my wife away for the weekend, that's $300-$400. If I'm desperate and end up on a cam site? $80 for an hour or so, easily. Go out to a strip club? Much, much more than that. 
 
I understand, the real value of what you're selling isn't reflected in the PDF price, but if you can actually deliver on what you're promising, guys will be happy to make you rich. The only question is how much I'm going to believe you up front. The more evidence that your stuff works, the higher price I'll pay. Just make sure it's good evidence, not retarded claims - I'm totally desensitised to any claims of miracles or getting laid tonight.
 
Anonymity: You need the PDF version. I value anonymity very highly. Buying your stuff means I'm admitting: "I fail so hard, I need some other guy's advice to get my own wife into bed with me." I don't want my wife, my family, her family, my non-married friends, etc. to know this. I'm not going to put it on my Kindle (which is shared). I'm not going to have a hardcopy. I bought it with a prepaid credit card I bought with cash at a 7-11 and registered to a fake address. Then I downloaded it and saved it as "overroute_analysis.pdfx". (When I went to your site, the homepage talked about how you were killing the PDF. I found it ironic, because my reaction was "Oh well, to torrents I go then".)
 
Low price: I'm worried that you plan on dropping your price to 99 cents for the "old" edition. What message is that supposed to send to me? That your content is mostly filler, so that you can just drop the old stuff? If the 2011 gets me laid, why would it stop working in 2012? IMO, that detracts from the evidence that your approach works.
 
Content: One thing that may work is to split your books up into areas of interest. Make each one $5-$15 (or more, if you can target properly). The girl at CopyHackers.com did this, and it's brilliant. Of course, I bought the whole bundle. But, this allows you to add content without maing the older content look bad. It also allows people to demo it, by trying just one of the specific books.
 
Guarantee: Testing will show you, but for me, I'd rather believe I'm getting a top-quality product (which in turn is going to raise my confidence and success rate) and pay full price, than just do a "meh, why not" purchase. A money-back guarantee doesn't help me much, but a promise of "Read my book, put it into practise. If by next month, you're not getting at least 20% more sex, then email me and I'm going to help you out." The point is that the PDF is worth that much, and you're so confident, that you'll even answer a few questions if it doesn't work out. Apart from that, you might want to sell your time directly, but I don't think you need to offer a cheap "no time included" PDF version.
 
Porn: Have you considered doing selected cross-marketing for specific sites? Most porn on the Internet is crap. My wife expressed a bit of interest in watching porn with me. Am I going to go to a free tube site and show her some random "13 guys demean a girl as she pretends to like it" video? Hell no. Consider approaching a few high end sites (e.g. Beautiful Agony (non-nude!), X-Art, and perhaps a high quality couples cam site) and seeing what commissions you can get. 
 
Adverts: On the flip side, a lot of those sites might be able to send good traffic your way. Backpage and the like might also be a good place to find married guys that are rather desperate.
 
Community: I might be interested in personalised responses to my particular complaints, as someone mentioned here. But anonymity needs to be topmost. I also don't want anything too involved. I definately don't want emails coming in every day regarding new forum content. But, if you can get a community going, I'd pay for access to good summaries of the best content. 
 
I wish you the best luck.
response added Oct 22, 2011 by Jason Trodeau (260 points)   1 1 2
@jasont
Jason is on the right track here.  I don't have all the answers but try to quantify the value your product has to your target customer.  

What is the cost to a man of being in a marriage with no sex?  Compared to being single with no sex?
@jasont
Guarantee -- Jay Abraham talks about this a lot.  Its the concept of risk reversal.  If you have 100 potential customers, 1 or 2 will talk themselves into buying it.  If you put in a risk reversal clause 10-15 will pull the trigger, and 1-2 (or less) will ask for their money back.  

Credibility -- This is key also.  You may need to lay some additional groundwork.  Let me suggest a 50-50 gender split on testimonials.  But whatever you can do to convince the skeptical up front is important.  

Anonymity -- I agree that this is important for some people.  Guys who have wives that won't give up the good stuff probably don't want to be advertising the fact.  But you also have another target audience that is more long term.  That's the men and women who have great sex lives, and great marriages gifting the book to someone they care about.  So, anonymity where its wanted is important, but I think there is a potentially larger market in people who want to spread the goodness around.  

Niche groups.  Curious as to how Robert Kiyosaki sold so many freaking books?  He tied into the Amway people, who sold it heavily within their network, then once it sold enough copies it got on the bestseller lists, put into libraries, etc... and the success multiplied.  ---[I've been advocating the publish it yourself route so you need to sell fewer books to make a profit.  But if you can plug into enough niche groups and get on the bestseller lists maybe the traditional publishing route is better.  I still don't think so.  Just an opinion.] ---  

Niche groups to think about.   I know a guy who sends his kids through the sex-ed classes at his local unitarian universalist church because he says the classes are the best in town.  If you can get in touch with enough connectors who are in a position to recommend your material that would make a huge difference to long term repeat business.  Just set your mind to thinking about various niches, the ideas will come to you.
3 like 0 dislike
Honestly...you're trying to sell an infinite good. I know the brain power, time spent researching and writing, and all the other time (i'm not an author, please forgive my lack of knowledge on the book producing process) or limited resources, but the final product is essentially a bunch of 1s and 0s.

The key is to remember that you're selling an infinite good. My suggestion would be to price it low and hope that the infinite part of it produces a quantity of paying customers that make you more money in the long run. Not only does a low price lay into the conscious of the pirate (I'd rather spend the $2 and feel better about being a paying customer, plus I don't have to go through the trouble of trying to find it online and converting it into a format that I might want), but it potentially puts your book in the eyes of more customers.

Keep in mind that the next edition comes out...those people paying $2 aren't going to spend $9.99 next time...no matter how much the loved the first one. If $2 makes it worth it, financially, then pop out edition 2 at the same price point and drop the first one down to $.99 (why not?)
response added Oct 21, 2011 by Justin Daniel (200 points)   1 1 2
3 like 0 dislike
How about making the ebook a voucher for the paper book? Something like: buy the ebook at $0.99, get $5 off the dead tree. Sure, you'll get some people who will shop around and buy the ebook just for the discount, but more likely, I would expect people to read the ebook, and then think to themselves: Hey, this is great! I could get the paper version for my friend/book-case at $5 off!
response added Oct 21, 2011 by Promethee Feu (480 points)   1 2 5
@prometheefeu I like that idea too.  Or at least have the ebook be a coupon for *something* including future versions or those other books, or live consultation or whatever.
3 like 0 dislike
Good, you lowered the price! Now it would be good to spread the news to your followers/fans.

Tweet about it. Facebook it. If you have a webpage, write a post about it. Have your friends write about it. Get the news out to a wide group.

When you promise to answer questions, you don't make time guarantees. You could write the answer anytime you like. Although I understand that in this particular field, quick answers are what people really need, but it is not always possible.

Or make it a sort of raffle, where if you buy the higher-priced book, you enter a raffle and you answer one (or a couple) of "winning" questions each week or as per your schedule. It all depends on how large your audience is though.
response added Oct 21, 2011 by I B (710 points)   1 1 5
@inf With a large enough audience why not make it a raffle for a much larger prize like a coaching session?
@prometheefeu Why not? :)
@inf
"if you buy the higher-priced book, you enter a raffle and you answer one (or a couple) of "winning" questions each week or as per your schedule"

I think this is a really great idea.  It would take the pressure off of potentially having to privately answer numerous questions.

Maybe a weekly or daily entry on a blog where you answer readers questions. The people who purchased a hard copy get priority over the regular fans who bought the more inexpensive e-book version.
3 like 0 dislike
I bought the book at the 3.99 price after reading about it here on Techdirt. I love the book and think you have a lot to offer.

I would not have purchased the book at the 9.99 price, the 3.99 was an impulse buy, and the book to me seemed more humorous then serious at the time of purchase.

I did not buy it thinking that I would get more sex, but that frankly may have already happened. And it did help explain a number of things that I had wondered about in the past.

The thing that I am most impressed about in this whole experiment is the relative ease with which you can change the price.  There is no way you would have been able experiment with the price like this in a traditional book publishing deal.

Back to the price, If I were in a sexless marraige or doing some serious research into properly selecting a wife, and felt that your book could deliver the goods, I would be willing to pay significantly more than the prices suggested here. I can imagine paying way more very easliy.

I wonder and suspect, that there is not really two different target markets for your book, the casual reader like me that will be intrigued and entertained they will never pay the higher price, they either don't have or don't perceive the need, and the the reader that has some serious problems/concerns to address.

I think you can get the first person to buy just by having the book out there and and getting people to talk about the "Do these pants make my butt look fat" solution. It has humor, is easily understood and practical.

For the second group I think the book needs to be priced a lot higher but needs to include several of the suggestions already made here. I love the access to a shared forum / mailing list / for group discussion / coaching, I also think the high priced personal / direct contact options are very viable in this situation.

Maybe you need two different books, the primer (quick / fun / insightfull)  and then the definitive or treatise version,  the 400 level college course where the customer wants to really dig in.

Hmmm, mentioning that makes me think of somethig else. If you could come up with an actuall course people could take. Had this course been available in the catalog to me at school, I can't imagine many young people that would not be signing up for this on thier schedule.

Maybe you could work up a curriclum? Then your larger version could be one of those crazy expensive college books young people line up to pay for.
response added Nov 8, 2011 by Wayne Andersen (220 points)   1 1 2
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I'll let a few others weigh in on some of the other points before I have a chance to dig into them all, but I wanted to kick off a response by noting that I really like your idea of releasing a new version each year, and effectively "end of lifing" the old version while offering it at a much cheaper price.  It's unclear if you did that with a 2010/2011 book change.

Either way I'm curious to see what happens when you shift the 2011 book down to $0.99.  I recognize why you priced yours at $9.99, but my gut reaction was that's too expensive for an ebook.  I know you're comparing it to other things in the market, but I think you may be limiting your audience there.  Yes, there is a certain market of folks willing to spend a lot of money on such things, but my sense (and this is very much a guess at this point) is that the overall market for such content if it's super cheap goes up by quite a lot.

That is, I can see a lot of people seeing such a book at $10 and thinking "interesting idea, but not sure it's worth $10."  But at $0.99 the risk is low enough that lots more people will do it -- and you may effectively expand your market quite a bit.  Even better, some of those $0.99 buyers (not a large amount, but some) may decide that buying the latest version is really worth "upgrading" as well -- though that may depend heavily on how well you explain what's new in the latest version.

Either way, when it comes to ebooks, some of the empirical evidence out there suggests that between $0.99 and $3.99 is the real sweet spot: http://cherylktardif.blogspot.com/2011/02/what-is-perfect-price-for-ebooks.html  and that $9.99 is just seen as too high by many people.  

I realize it's scary to drop the price when some people are willing to pay the $9.99, but if you can attact a much wider audience, it might be worth it.  I do wonder if you might be able to set up some sort of "tiered" system where people who *are* willing to pay $9.99 get some sort of extra value, beyond just the book.  This way you can do a bit more price discrimination.

What "extras" could you add?  Off the top of my head, what about the ability to ask you 2 questions over email that you promise to answer.  Or something along those lines?

Anyway, those are my initial thoughts on the pricing side.  I'll come back later and try to present some ideas for other things you can do to structure the business model to bring in more people willing to buy.

response added Oct 18, 2011 by Mike Masnick (23,010 points)   52 99 160
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Experiment in progress. I just pushed the buttons that dropped the Kindle and PDF down to $3.99. It's going to take up to 24 hours for it to cycle through the system and go live though.

The $ for questions idea is still problematic in that the questions are never simple to answer. So say ten dollars a question could easily turn into a ten dollar an hour job that I can never finish. The transition to make with questions is into "coaching" and high fee/low client list.

The current emailed questions are for the most part helpful to me. Frequently a question reply turns into a post.

response added Oct 21, 2011 by Athol Kay (710 points)   2 3 6
@atholk I don't know if I would necessarily see it as a $10 an hour job, though I certainly get the point that it could become overwhelming. I see it as an opportunity to build up a community around your work. It would be less of a product-sold-by-a-smart-guy and more smart-advice-guy-who-happens-to-have-products-for-sale. With advice books, there is a need to be able to trust that the person giving the advice knows a thing or two.

I think posting the questions/answers on a forum is a great idea. That way people can read the forum first to get the most out of their money (to avoid repeating questions already asked).
2 like 0 dislike
How about doing your own small speaking event? I don't know if Amazon tells you where your readers are. But if it does, find where you have a good number of readers and let them know you plan on doing an event in their town. Keep the price middling to low for the first time. Give a discount for people who bought your book. Give them a discount which they can use to invite a friend. Go there, give your spiel, talk to them, take questions. Tell people the first 10 people who sign up get a signed copy.
response added Oct 21, 2011 by Promethee Feu (480 points)   1 2 5
@prometheefeu Also a great idea!  One suggestion on top of this: perhaps use a platform like Eventful, which lets people in a certain location "request" your appearance, so you can figure out where there's a critical mass of people who might be willing to come see you speak to make it worthwhile.
@mmasnick  Will have to look into Eventful.

The obvious move with a speaking event is to video it and have a DVD for sale as well.
@atholk It may be hard but don't try to always think in terms of "can I sell that?" but think in terms of "will my readers get something out of it?". Try to find opportunities. Example? "Buy my book, get the DVD half price". Or just bundle it with the paper-format book, if possible.
@atholk

What about a livecast conference?
@inf

Which is not to say you can't try to sell the DVD too. But you might want to consider something more. For instance: Video your talk and sell it. Then, offer the DVD for free (or really cheap) to people attending your next event.
@inf  The practical realities of packing, shipping, customer service, handling money make bundling books/items very difficult.

I actually lose profit on print book sales if I pack and ship myself, as opposed to Amazon selling the copy for me and me doing nothing but getting a check.
@atholk Excuse my unfamiliarity with the publishing business. I had not considered that aspect of it: packaging. Nevertheless, you could still offer the video for download. That would eliminate packaging etc. Just get a good hosting server somewhere and put the video as a digital copy there? You can even have people purchase it directly through a service like Paypal if you want.

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