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Strong book, very informative, but two things are missing
on June 23, 2014
"Launch" is a very informative yet pretty entertaining read aimed at small-business owners or starting-out entrepreneurs.
In this book, Jeff Walker does his best to describe why and how Mr. Everyman should start their online business with speed, creating a conversation in their market and gathering feedback and even pre-sales before your product is even created.
The book describes the "old school" way of starting a business incrementally - coming out with a product after 3 years working in secret in a basement, and expecting it to sell - as "Hope" marketing, and explains why this approach has failed time and time again.
What I liked about this book :
1. First off, the author seems to really know what he's talking about. It seems that every successful business author and trainer has learned from Jeff Walker's launch strategies and he uses a lot of case studies from them, and other students that are not in the "business" niche, to back up each chapter.
I have a strong aversion for untested theories, so I was glad to read page after page of actual step-by-step advice backed up with real-life examples. The author also provides "swipe copy" (tidbits and examples of email and sales scripts that you can use in your own product launch).
2. Speaking of providing additional content, this book also references a lot of additional free resources. From ranking the top software to use for your launch, to sharing case study videos, to extra "how-to" video modules, the author has clearly a goal of making this a complete, thorough course, and not just a book-form advertisement for his services (which is what I was most afraid of when getting my hands on this, because a lot of "Internet experts" tend to write their books as valueless sales letters for their other programs. "Launch" is not one of those and it's refreshing)
However these bonuses are not without a few problems (see below)
3. The structure of the book flows very fluidly, and I've often found myself thinking "yeah, but what if XYZ", only to have that question answered in the very next paragraph, page or chapter. It would almost make me think the author is reading my mind as we go - but the truth of the matter is, the content has been engineered to elicit those questions progressively and then answer them. To me, that's also an interesting thing with the launch process the author describes in Chapters 6 and 7: it is possible to create a conversation with your market, elicit their objections, and answer those objections elegantly, before trying to make the sale.
One other thing that I liked is, this is a very down-to-earth book. You won't feel that the author is talking down at you with a ton of marketing slang. Nor will this be the usual, "only numbers matter, get the sale at all costs" marketing book.
To the contrary, the case the author makes from the first to the last page of the book, is that you can both get a ton of sales, AND contribute a lot of value even to your non-buyers. And in the meanwhile, get a great fulfilling lifestyle. While I did find the tactics and tricks of a Product Launch (Chapters 6 through 10) mind-boggling, for me the actual climax of the book was Chapter 13 - the one about the life you can build from those launches, culminating with the story of the French guy that built his business to allow him to dance around the world with his girlfriend.
(I just googled him until I found the amazing YouTube video of that trip, and played it on loop on my computer for a while)
So that's what I enjoyed: getting down-to-earth how-to information from a qualified expert, and most of all being inspired to use it.
What I didn't like:
1. As I said, the book includes lots of reference links to additional content. A few of those links don't work (two of the pages I've visited had a "coming soon" message). Although there's already a lot to get from the book itself, I hope the author will fix these pages soon. I'd prefer seeing no reference links, rather than having the frustration of some of those links working and some not.
2. The book doesn't really explain the dynamics of maximizing customer value when a buyer is in the door. Sure, this "Product Launch" method that the author describes in detail can get you a lot of sales in a rapid fashion. But I believe that it is also important to make sure that each sale is as profitable as can be - and for that you need upsells and downsells, and continuity programs, attached to the selling process. That's the one thing missing from the book content in my opinion.
For those two reasons, I'm giving a 3-star review instead of 5.
Disclaimer: I got my hands on this book from a friend that had a pre-release review copy. It is possible that the missing elements I'm mentioning have been fixed in the final version (it's probably a testament to my overall positive opinion on this book, that I just bought an additional copy for myself.)
Who should buy this book :
If you're an entrepreneur, and you're starting out and looking for a solid, simple marketing plan to get your first customers in a door fast, then this book is for you. I would also believe that for an established company, this book might be the best investment ever since you would already have a list of prospective buyers available to experiment with - and the techniques within this book would help you gather feedback and engage your buyer base before putting your next product on the market.
Who should NOT buy this book :
If you're looking for a "business opportunity" and do not know yet what business you want to be in or what expertise you could package and sell, then I would advise against reading this book right now. It's probably too early for you and it would get you even more confused. In my opinion, "Launch!" is a book written for someone who already knows which market they are in and what result they want to sell to that market. If your business idea isn't very precise yet, I'd rather recommend other books like Chris Guillebeau's "The $100 Startup" - get inspired with those first, and then come back to "Launch" to get the strategies and tactics to get customers in the door.