Book Review: LAUNCH, by Michael Stelzner

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What if a business success blueprint was handed to you?  What if someone who had already achieved stellar results with his own business could show you how it’s done?

Michael Stelzner, the founder of Social Media Examiner, has developed a complete toolkit for Web 2.0 success. He’s used it with amazing results … twice.  Now, with his new book LAUNCH, Mike shares his success formula.

How Does It Work?  The Elevation Principle

Stelzner lays out a formula he calls The Elevation Principle.  Here are the key ingredients:

  1. Share great content for free
  2. Find and engage experts to help you tell your story
  3. Build your email list and social media communities
  4.  Promote less … as counter-intuitive as it seems, marketing will reduce your success.

By offering your target audience great content, access to experts, and occasional recognition, all without the expectation of reciprocity, you can create an incredibly loyal tribe, primed to do business with you.  As founder of Copyblogger and social media expert Brian Clark is quoted as saying, “Give, give, give … and your profits will explode”!

Reaching Escape Velocity: Real Life Success Stories

Take a look at two businesses that used this winning formula:

Stelzner Consulting:

Before starting Social Media Examiner, Mike Stelzner established himself as “The King of Whitepapers”. When all his competitors were advertising “Hire a white paper writer”, Mike was using a content marketing approach;  he advertised, “What is a white paper?  FREE How-To Guide”.  He also sent monthly emails with valuable articles to his prospects, to remain top of mind. This simple model generated $30K/ month in writing contracts.

Social Media Examiner:

In 2009, Stelzner had an important business insight:  business owners and marketers were struggling to use social media tools to grow their businesses;  he saw a great need for an on-line magazine to explain social media.  By using the techniques detailed in LAUNCH, with only a $4000 budget, Social Media Examiner was born.  Within 12 months SME garnered 40,000 email subscribers, 450,000 page views, 20,000 facebook fans, became one of the top 25 business blogs, and earned $1 million!

The book offers many more examples, from Hubspot to Proctor & Gamble.  Each business grew sales through compelling content marketing.  By developing their own online properties, and eliminating the need to rely on traditional and costly marketing methods to reach a target audience, profits increased.

The Best Thing About This Book (And One Criticism)

There are lots of books on content marketing techniques. My favorite parts of LAUNCH are the richly detailed instructions for each part of the strategy:

  • “Primary Fuel”:  create daily how-to articles, case studies, expert interviews, white papers, and reviews.
  • “Nuclear Fuel”:  add special reports and research surveys, videos, contests, and micro-events to your mix
  • build an email list and grow social communities, then regularly engage and recognize your fan base.
  • establish your vision, set measurable goals, and define “personas” — the more you focus, the better your results.
  • use a multimedia, 60-day “velocity launch” (a proprietary marketing approach that is fully explained) to turbocharge results!

Now, for the criticism:  As much as I like this book, could it really, truly work for the rest of us?  i.e.,

“How to do I gain the support and contribution of experts, if I don’t have an audience yet, or even a track record”? 

Mike Stelzner was still pretty unknown in the social media world when he launched SME.  He suggests that you identify emerging experts — up and comers who will benefit from the exposure you can provide.  If you approach them creatively, as he did, and cultivate relationships, it can be done.

Should You Buy This Book?  Yes … and No! 

This book will inspire you to put these plans into action, and show you how.  So here’s my advice:

If you love to hold a book in your hands … to underline, dog ear key pages, and refer back to … then buy this book.

Or, save some bucks and still learn the formula.  After all, how credible would his system be if Mike did not follow his own advice?  He’s widely shared these principles through online interviews, videos, and a special website , where you can read the first chapter free.

And really, isn’t that the point?  Mike knows that if he shares his message freely, we’ll join the LAUNCH tribe whether or not he sells us the book.  Some of us will go on to sign up for future paid content, such as SME Success Summits.  Others will tell a friend.  That’s the beauty of his business model.

Your niche is waiting for you to lead them!

Is your business ready for the stratosphere? Learn how to rocket your business to success, just like Mike.  Buckle up, it’s going to be an exciting ride!

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About Rhonda Hurwitz

Rhonda Hurwitz, @rhondahurwitz on Twitter, is an internet marketer and business development strategist who helps businesses develop more effective online marketing strategies. I also blog at Forbes.com: http://blogs.forbes.com/people/rhondahurwitz/
This entry was posted in blogging, content marketing, social media in business development and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Book Review: LAUNCH, by Michael Stelzner

  1. Rhonda,

    Your summary says it all! Michael Stelzner has always been giving of his knowledge and knew the fine points in being top of mind. Glad he’s shared more of the workings behind the magic. Great ensemble for SME!

    • Ana, my takeaway was that ANYONE with a good business idea could execute this formula. It was really great to have a peak behind the curtain of SME and see how it works. It isn’t magic — actually well grounded in human psychology — but the results are magical, to use your phrase!

  2. Mike Barlow says:

    great advice — timely and useful! thanks!!!

  3. Souzapalooza says:

    I love Michael Stelzner! I read Social media Examinder in my RSS feed! I think he had a great perspective on the business. I’d love to read Launch and see what else I can learn from him!

    • Christene, I’m right there with you. You can learn great stuff everyday from SME. Unbelievable that it went from unknown to powerhouse in 6 months. Good timing, yes. Smart business plan, absolutely. But also, excellent execution of a great formula.

  4. Mighty nice review! Thanks so much!

    • Thanks, MIke. Not trying to butter you up … it was a really good, useful, inspiring book. I’d love to write up success stories one year from now, of businesses who took the advice from LAUNCH, and went from obscurity to new heights.

  5. Rhonda,
    Loved the honesty in your book review. You gained credibility with me by giving a thoughtful review which included telling us we had many avenues to get Mike’s good information besides running out to buy the book!

    • Thank you for your lovely comment … I am really someone who enjoys the details, so having a copy knowing I can look back at the specifics works best for me. And I really do plan to try out Mikes ideas, that’s how inspiring it was! As for the big picture, read what is available online, and you will learn the most important concepts. (By the way, you have a lovely blog! Traveling shortly, enjoyed your posts on France)

  6. The review makes me want to go out and buy the book. The principles you outline sound like the foundation of a solid plan to me. I look forward to reading about the details. I guess I’ll wait another day to see if I’ve won a copy, and then (assuming I haven’t) it’s off to the Village Bookstore to procure one.

    • Hey Chris,

      As a blogger and fellow online marketing type, I know you will appreciate this book. The details are really where the meat is … looking forward to talking with you about it once you read it. Good luck! Hope you win a copy:)

  7. I help authors launch their books and then maintain their social profile, and it’s amazing how averse they are to both thinking of themselves as a business and to marketing themselves. I follow Stelzner’s Social Media Examiner posts and am looking forward to getting all his tips in one package via LAUNCH. I’ll try to distill it for my clients, using some of his persuasive examples of what works.

    • Laura, your clients will certainly benefit from the examples and tips. LAUNCH really has it down to a science. Look how the simple act of giving books to 50 bloggers like me helped create a buzz and sales!

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