I love to read books. Not just articles, but full-length monsters. Sometimes I read fiction to escape into another world, other times I read business nonfiction to pick up on some new skills and knowledge – then share the best insights on this blog. Regardless of the topic, when I read a book, I don’t want to be a part of someone’s sales funnel.
What am I talking about?
Two examples of books designed as part of a sales funnel stick out in recent memory.
Both ran heavy Facebook ads and partnered with industry influencers to promote their books.
The promotions drew people in by offering a free book that solved a common business problem. The catch was that you had to pay shipping – which ended up being more than the cost of the book on Amazon (my gold standard for pricing), and you were also required to give up your email address to access this “special deal.”
While most businesses can tell you their cost per acquisition as it comes to getting prospect emails (usually a few dollars per person, but of course it differs from business to business), both Ray Edwards and Ryan Levesque completely mitigated their costs – instead getting people to pay for the pleasure of continuous sales tactics.
There’s nothing “free” about that. You’re the one who pays.
I’ll admit – I initially got caught up in the hype and also heard from other small business owners who liked the books. I took advantage of the promotional timing – both books were on sale on Amazon for a considerable discount ($5 or less for the Kindle versions), and didn’t require me to surrender my email address in order to read them.
How to Write Copy That Sells was useful to me as I’m an SEO Copywriter, and there were plenty of takeaways. But calling it a book was a stretch. It probably only took me an hour or so to read, which was the first red flag. The second was a call to action at the end of every chapter to join the author’s online course – “FREE” (a $197 value!) until you want the extras he’s pushing, of course.
So whatever. $5 to learn more from an expert may have been money well spent, but it was also a farce. This was not a book in the traditional sense.
But the book that actually got me more fired up and had me thinking about this new annoying practice of writing books designed as part of a sales funnel was Ask by Ryan Levesque.
I bought this one at the nice promotional price of $1.99 on Kindle and stored it away for a rainy day. I’m a member in a lot of supportive freelancer Facebook groups and noticed that someone had posted about the book, and recommended it. I figured that was the push I needed to give it a try, especially since it was only a few hours read.
Levesque starts the book by sharing a health struggle he faced that kicked his butt into gear regarding his business ventures. I’ll admit to being drawn in at that point – it’s hard not to connect with someone who shares their weakest moments.
But that was his only show of weakness in this book. The rest was a series of events in Levesque’s life where he claims he failed, but really achieved something huge. It’s kind of like people in a job interview who are asked the much-despised, “What’s your greatest weakness?” question, and answer with a roundabout positive like, “My weakness is that I try too hard.”
You’d have to read the book (or not, as I would recommend) to see exactly what I mean by this.