12 Lessons Learned While Marketing “The 4-Hour Body”

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Charlie’s job entails many things. Feeding tigers not excluded.

Charlie Hoehn first reached out to me through Ramit Sethi in 2008. Almost three years later, he is still working with me.

Here is his initial e-mail routed to Ramit, which I think is instructional for those looking for mentorship of some type:

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Charlie Hoehn
Date: Wed, Jul 30, 2008 at 11:25 PM
Subject: Re: Response requested
To: Ramit Sethi

Hi Ramit-

Below is the email I wrote up for Tim Ferriss. Thanks again so much for your insight on how to approach this, and for your willingness to pass it along. If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them. Also, I’d be willing to help you out in any of the ways I outlined below.

Mr. Ferriss-

After visiting your site countless times since May ’07, I’ve come up with a few suggestions that could improve your readers’ experience. Here are two of the things I think you need…

1) A network for your followers: Right now, you have a lot of passionate and devoted readers who comment on your blog. These are people who are likely to spread your ideas. You need a place where your loyal readers can interact with each other more freely, and share their stories about how your book has inspired them.

What it would take: A micro-network. You could frame it as “a crusade against the 9-5 workday.”

How I could help: While I was interning for Seth Godin, I learned how to create micro-social networks for very specific niches. I could easily set this up for you, making it a more exclusive “invite-only,” if you wish.

What the benefits are to you: Allowing your most devoted readers to share their lifestyle design stories will provide you with even more case studies for blog posts (or for a follow-up book). It will also serve as a spot for your readers to get to know one another, and they’ll appreciate that you’ve given them that opportunity.

2) A more dynamic “About” page: Currently, this page starts off with a quote about you from Albert Pope, followed by three thumbnail pictures of your face and a great deal of text outlining your achievements. While your credentials are impressive, this page doesn’t really capture your personality or the lifestyle you’ve designed for yourself.

What it would take: You need a video, between 2 and 5 minutes, that captures the excitement that comes with lifestyle design. The video would showcase exciting things you’ve done (skydiving, tango, motorcycling, etc.), and would be a great way to show your readers that you are the real deal.

How I could help: I can make this video for you for free. I’ve been editing video for more than four years, and started a business in creating movies for special events. All I would need to make your video are great pictures and videos of you. The more they show the human side of you, the better.

What the benefits are to you: Reading something is fine, but an image is far more powerful. This video will establish an even deeper credibility with your new (and old) readers. Even if you end up deciding that it’s not right for your site, you’ll still be getting a great video about you that would normally cost several hundred dollars. If you like my work, we can discuss other ways to implement videos into your site (including higher quality and more exciting videos for your blog).

In exchange for these things, I hope that you’d consider taking me on as an intern (real-world or virtual). I would love to help you out on future projects. Let me know what you think, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Charlie Hoehn
http://www.charliehoehn.com/

MY RESPONSE:

“Charlie! Thanks very much for the suggestions. I currently have the forum and other Ning sites, so I’d be eager to hear how what you propose is different, as I’m always interested in fostering connections between my readers. Last but not least, can you please elaborate on what you mean by “intern”? Would you expect this to paid or unpaid? How many hours per week, etc.? What do you hope the pay-off to be for you during or after the experience? Thanks for letting me know, and for writing. -Tim”

HIS RESPONSE:

Tim- Thanks so much for your response. Here are my answers to your questions:

What I suggest that’s different – I’ve looked at your message boards and Ning sites (I don’t know if you started any of the Ning ones or moderate them). They’re pretty good but they are just places where your readers connect and idly discuss your ideas. The boards and Ning don’t have any call-to-action, really. They aren’t places for your troops to rally for an assignment, so to speak – that’s mostly what you’ve used your blog for. I think you need an exclusive network that has some hurdle to get in (e.g. invite-only).
This could be a group reserved for the people who have actually used and implemented your ideas to create unconventional and extreme lifestyles.

With these people, you compile their stories together and sell it as an ebook (all money going to “Room to Read” or some other good cause). Or you could create a video of the top 3-5 unique lifestyles, following them around and filming them to get a feel for their daily life. This is much more ambitious but something that could turn out really cool. I’d definitely be willing to help you execute these ideas, if you’re interested.

What I mean by “intern” – Non-paid virtual internship for two months, then possibly discussing a real-world internship at the end of the year. For a virtual internship, you could delegate tasks to me, or I could help you with executing ideas you have.

Paid or unpaid – For virtual, unpaid. For the real-world, I’d work for cheap.

How many hours per week – Varies, depending on how busy you are. Five (5) or more for a virtual internship.

What’s the pay-off for me – I would learn firsthand about your methods for extreme productivity and efficiency. Reading has given me a solid level of understanding, but actually seeing it would help me comprehend it more fully. Second, you’ve already done what I want to become: an entrepreneur who travels a lot. Working with you would allow me to really mentally shift gears and help move me towards my goals faster.

That being said, I have a great deal of respect for you and the things you’ve done. I think it’d be brilliant to work with you in some way, but if it doesn’t work out, no hard feelings. Thanks for your time, Tim, and I hope to talk with you again soon.

Charlie

Not bad, right? So I decided to give Charlie a shot. He promptly proceeded to f*ck it all up.

My first assignment was: find three possible movie theaters to rent out for the James Bond premiere of “Quantum of Solace.” At the time, Charlie had a horrible cell phone and missed every third word of the task, which I found out later. Rather than ask for clarification, he assumed he had the gist and missed a few critical details.

The reason that wasn’t the end of Project Charlie: He immediately took the blame, hustled overtime, got it fixed, and the event (a thank-you to readers) went off without a hitch.

We both learned a few lessons. I learned to always ask my assistants to briefly summarize what I’ve asked them to do. Charlie learned how to organize a small event, and that erring on the side of too much detail is better than guessing with too little.

Since then, we’ve both learned hundreds of lessons, and Charlie has been able to travel (hence the tiger).

Now, in 2011, Charlie works for me full-time as my “Director of Other.” This is something like a Director of Operations, but Charlie is also responsible for a diverse range of often unpredictable tasks. These motley odd jobs range from identifying revenue opportunities (apps to hard goods), to photoshopping explicit vajajays pics for 10 hours straight to try and make them look like illustrations (See “15-minute orgasm” chapter in 4HB). Publisher’s orders. For those gents who think the latter sounds awesome, I assure you: it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

Moving onward…

This post is Charlie’s first guest post on this blog. In it, he describes 12 lessons learned while marketing The 4-Hour Body, as he was involved from the earliest editorial stages straight through to #1 on The New York Times.

Enter Charlie

For the last two years, my main project has been working with Tim on The 4-Hour Body. While the making of this book brought me countless memories (many great, some hilarious, and a few cringe-worthy), it was a tremendous learning experience that has undoubtedly changed how I will approach any product launch from this point forward.

The most fun period during this whole ordeal was planning the marketing for the book, and witnessing a world-class marketer’s thought process. And now that 4HB has hit the two biggest milestones we were aiming for (#1 New York Times, #1 Amazon overall), it’s time for me to share a few of the things I learned while marketing a bestselling book.

In this post, you’ll find a list of the key elements that made the 4HB launch such a huge success, ranked in order of “moderately impactful” to “extremely impactful.” You’ll notice that this list is missing a lot of the common marketing advice new authors receive. For instance, Tim set these rules for himself early on:

- No book tours
– No paying for access to email lists
– No intense focus on building Facebook and Twitter accounts
– No paying for consultants who buy your way onto the bestseller list
– No email drip campaigns
– No multi-month pushes for pre-orders

Without further ado, here are 12 lessons I learned while marketing “The 4-Hour Body.”

12. Amazon Review Overload

The sheer volume of 5-star Amazon reviews for 4HB caused confusion and outrage. A lot of people just couldn’t imagine how we were able to get more than 140 reviews (over one hundred 5-stars) in the first 24 hours without paying for them. The reality is not as sexy as you’d think.

Tim had sent out more than 1,000 advance copies of the book. He gave copies to friends, companies where he’d been a guest speaker, and people who’d helped or had volunteered to help with the book. At 5:00am Eastern on December 14th (the day of the launch), we emailed all of those people with the word “Urgent” in the subject line, and asked them if they could spare 30 seconds to write an Amazon review within the next 24 hours, whether they enjoyed the book or not (we never asked anyone to leave a 5-star review). Plain, simple, and it got the job done.

Although this generated a fair amount of backlash from skeptics, it was an immense boon for us to have a solid foundation of 200 positive reviews in the first week.* Having a solid Amazon rating gives the book an enormous amount of social proof that can last for years, and (although immeasurable from our end) boosts the conversion rate on the sales page substantially.

[* To put into perspective how ridiculous it is to have this many reviews: The 4-Hour Workweek has been out for almost four years, sold over one million copies, and has just over 1,100 Amazon reviews (Cumulative: 5-stars). The 4-Hour Body has been out for just shy of THREE MONTHS, and now has more than 1,200 Amazon reviews (4.5-stars).]

11. “I’ll let you figure it out”

There are very few phrases that can simultaneously empower and give you an anxiety attack. “I’ll let you figure it out” is one of them. For the last two years, it’s been repeated to me over and over…

Party for 200 Silicon Valley VIPs on a warship in 24 hours?
“I’ll let you put it together.”

Assemble a draft of a magazine article, based on scattered content?
“Please take care of it.”

Edit and rewrite another bestselling author’s work?
“Go for it.”

Act as the sole point of contact for more than 10,000 customers?
“Get it done!”

At first, these kinds of tasks would elicit Tourette’s-like verbal outbursts and generally stress me the hell out. But after successfully getting through each of them alive, I felt confident enough to take on almost anything that was thrown my way.

“I’ll let you figure it out” was not just Tim’s method of dismissing me or passing along work he didn’t care about; he’s always had a very active role in overseeing my daily output. During the book launch, we’d talk constantly about the progress we were making, and usually had a daily analysis over wine/whiskey where we discussed our marketing efforts. Because he had given me free reign to “figure things out,” I was making most business decisions on my own. This would occasionally get me into trouble during our post-game wrap-up (“I would appreciate it if you’d ask me next time”) but more often than not, it helped that I didn’t need his permission so much during the launch. Because there was no decision-making bottleneck, we were both 10X more productive than an entire team of people would have been.

The next time you feel compelled to micromanage someone you’re working with, say the magic words: “I’ll let you figure it out.” You’d be surprised at how capable most people are. Sure, mistakes are bound to happen, but it will ultimately result in more confident, self-reliant workers.

10. “Perfectionism,” redefined.

Throughout the writing process, Tim was ruthless when it came to cutting away the inessential. He’d frequently ask me which five chapters I would take out. I’d answer, he’d remove a few of those chapters, and then he’d ask me again. Finally, we reached a point where he’d cut more than 100 pages of material. Everything that remained was necessary for the book to be great. After three years of writing, he finally sent it in to Random House.

After submitting a book, an author will typically get two revision rounds before it goes to print. Tim somehow managed to squeeze out SIX rounds of edits for a 600-page book. By the sixth round, he was still suggesting several hundred minor edits, fine-tuning each page. Even though his publisher probably (definitely) hated him for this, he ended up with the groundbreaking book he envisioned.

9. ”He who cares less, wins”

Tim’s negotiations have been among the most memorable conversations I’ve heard over the last several months. He makes enormous requests, and almost always gets what he asks for. I’ve watched him get more than $250,000 worth of inventory for free with a 10-minute phone call. When I asked for his best bit of negotiating advice, he said, “He who cares less, wins.”

All of Tim’s negotiating experience came in handy when it was time to promote the book. He was able to accumulate more than $4,000,000 worth of bonus prizes to give out during the launch, a lot of which came from personal phone calls he made.

Most people don’t have the ability to negotiate effectively, simply because they’re not put in enough situations that call for it. I’m a pretty terrible negotiator, but I’ve improved with Tim’s help. He spotted tics of mine early on (I fill pauses with forced coughs, and say “you know?” to finish thoughts), and gave me a bunch of other helpful advice. For instance, replacing the word “um” or “uh” with silence is the fastest way to sound more intelligent, calculated, and crisp while negotiating (or speaking, in general). You can fix this behavior over time by filming yourself on Skype calls and reviewing the footage.

Another bit of wisdom is to place a time constraint at the beginning of each call (“I can only talk for ten minutes”). The longer you stay on the phone, the less likely your desired outcome will be reached. If phone calls are your weakness, you should stick to email for negotiations so you don’t have to respond in real-time.

8. Timing the Release to Maximize Sales

Most health authors time the release of their books with New Years’ resolutions. Tim was able to dominate his impending competition by launching 4HB two weeks ahead of them. When all the other health books came out in the weeks that followed, Tim’s book was already leading in the weight loss category. His competitors’ promotional efforts were drowned out by the conversations surrounding 4HB.

Having the right timing is just as important as the quality of your promotional efforts. Know what you’re going up against and when. You don’t want to be in the process of creating your position when buyers are most receptive; you want to already be established as the category leader.

Tim elaborated on this on Huffington Post:

After reviewing the top bestsellers in health over the last two years, it was clear that a full third of those books had been published in the traditional “New Year, New You” window, with big promotions rolling out on Janurary 1st. In the below chart, produced when I wrote the proposal, you’ll notice that a full half of the December releases fell at the end of the month for planned Jan 1st promotions.

The first order of business was to somehow avoid the category noise and competition for consumers and media outlets of that window.

Great content is absolutely necessary for long-term sales, but you must also take charge of your “windowing” and finding the best combination of low-noise (relatively lower category competition), high-signal (the best call to action to your base with the highest response rates), along with optimal store traffic is the way to go. So, the strategy in a nutshell is NST: low-Noise, high-Signal, growing-Traffic. I didn’t want to come in at peak traffic and then track to diminishing foot traffic.

What did we do? I pitched hard for a December 14 release date. This required flying from San Francisco to NYC to present my case in person to my publisher, Crown.

I felt it would allow me to mobilize my base for multi-copy purchases for the holidays, starting with pre-orders late November, which would increase initial retailer orders, improve placement (even if unplanned), and then perfectly set up strong in-store promotion starting January 1. Books in the same category would be getting started from a standstill in January, whereas I would, i hoped, be steering an absolute avalanche that started as a snowball more than a month earlier.

The publisher, however, had some legitimate concerns.

Moving the book right into the busiest holiday shopping window would mean a few things: little or no available promotions, and, in some cases, little time for retailers to get books out onto shelves.

Making this move, risky from an in-store promotion standpoint, required taking a Hollywood holiday blockbuster approach to the launch. The unusual video trailer/teaser launched last week was intended as a viral focal point of other base-mobilizing efforts.

The video worked beyond all expectations. [more on this later]

7. Offering Irresistible Incentives

Offering incentives is Online Marketing 101. Offering $4,000,000 in bonus gifts for a book launch is online marketing on steroids.

The Land Rush post Tim put up a week before the book came out had a huge impact on sales. It took a few weeks to plan out, but ultimately resulted in more than 15,000 pre-orders over the span of three days.

The basic premise was to offer 2-10X more value in bonus gifts than the number of books being purchased. For instance, if you bought $16 worth (1 book), you’d get $140 in bonus gifts (8.8X value). If you bought $480 worth (30 books), you’d get $1,623 in bonus gifts (3.4X value). This pushed prospective buyers off the fence to impulsively buy multiple copies of the book.* It was a win-win for everyone.

However, Tim and I think we could have sold a lot more copies. The problem with The Land Rush post was that there were WAY too many choices. Tim had gathered so many bonus gifts to give away that we ended up with 16 different book packages. If we were to do it again, we would have had five different price tiers at most. Everything worked out great, of course, but we could have been smarter about it.

In any case, the takeaway here is that if you want to get people to buy copies of your book, give them something of high value in exchange. Make their purchase a no-brainer by over-delivering.

[* We received a fair amount of flak for encouraging bulk orders. There are two things that need to be taken into consideration: One, almost every author you know already does this, but in a less organized fashion; Two, if you think bulk orders were the sole reason we hit #1, you’re dreaming. Our bulk order campaign was to drive pre-orders for 72 hours (Dec 9-12), and we ended up moving about 15,000 copies. By the end of The 4-Hour Body’s debut week (Dec 14-20), more than 70,000 hardcovers had been sold in the US, an additional 25,500+ in Kindle, and another 32,000 overseas. In the seventh week after pub date, 4HB sold about 30,000 hardcover and 8,000 e-books. The 4-Hour Body also hasn’t dropped off the NY Times list since it came out: three weeks at #3, two weeks at #2, and six weeks at #1. There are very, very few books in the world that can reach and sustain those numbers.]

6. The Motherf***ing Book Trailer

This was not so much of a “lesson learned” as it was merely having my beliefs reaffirmed. Before 4HB, I’d witnessed video teasers boosting sales upwards of 10X. Video converts like crazy when it effectively highlights the product.

The 4HB’s trailer wasn’t just great; it was fantastic. Adam Patch put together a professional teaser that looked good enough to be shown in a movie theater:

Immediately after releasing the trailer, the book’s Amazon rank jumped from #150 to #30, and hasn’t dropped below that number since.

If you’re going to make a teaser video for your product, spend the extra cash on a professional videographer. It is absolutely worth it.

5. The Art of the Soft-Sell

Tim announced his book in September – three months before it came out. After the initial announcement, he ensured that the content on his blog stayed interesting and varied, while keeping the “Buy my book!” posts to a minimum.

Take a look at the sequencing of his posts between announcing The 4-Hour Body and launching it (bolded titles are 4HB-related):

  1. The New Book Unveiled: The 4-Hour Body (Sept. 29)
  2. Zen, Tea, and the Art of Life Management (Oct. 5)
  3. How to Buy a Round-the-World Plane Ticket (Oct. 8)
  4. Have a Good Eye for Ads? Try the 4-Hour Body Experiment (Oct. 13)
  5. The Experimental Life: An Introduction to Michel de Montaigne (Oct. 19)
  6. How Tim Ferriss Makes Money (and Other Things) (Oct. 28)
  7. 20 Things I’ve Learned from Traveling Around The World for Three Years (Oct. 30)
  8. How to Email Virtual Assistants: Proven Templates (Nov. 2)
  9. 8 Exotic Destinations You Can Afford (Nov. 4)
  10. 4-Hour Body Promo – Half-Naked Girls, Erections, and Stickers (Nov. 17)
  11. Clinton’s “Reality Distortion Field” Charisma (Nov. 21)
  12. How to Become a Model Photographer in Brazil (Nov. 25)
  13. Engineering a “Muse”: Case Studies of Successful Cash-Flow Businesses (Nov. 28)
  14. The 4-Hour Body – Official Movie Trailer (Dec. 1)
  15. The 4-Hour Body – Sample Chapter and Full Table of Contents (Dec. 6)
  16. The Land Rush: 48 Hours to Claim $4,000,000 in Prizes (Dec. 9)
  17. Engineering a “Muse” – Volume 2: Case Studies of Successful Cash-Flow Businesses (Dec. 11)
  18. The 4-Hour Body is NOW OUT – Live Q&A Today, New Trailer, Free Books, and Much More (Dec. 14)

Tons of great content, and more than half of it had nothing to do with the new book! Tim kept the promotional efforts for his readers to a minimum, as they already had a high likelihood of buying. As a result, he didn’t annoy his readers and all the promotions on his blog seemed crazy, fun, and spontaneous when they finally happened.

4. Carpet-Bombing the Internet: Brief Periods of Intense Noise-Making

A lot of marketers promote their product for several months before they release it. This is not only exhausting for them, but it’s also far less effective than a highly concentrated effort over the span of a few weeks.

Tim’s strategy for marketing on other sites was to deluge readers with quality 4HB-related content. He wanted people to open their RSS on December 14th to find five to ten posts on 4HB, all from different blogs. In order to do that, he had to make sure that all of these sites were promoting “exclusive” 4HB-content in sync with one another.

Brace yourself for the mother lode. Below is a list of promotional blog posts leading up to the launch, along with all the press pieces that followed them:

11/8/10
– BODYBUILDING – The 4-Hour Body Book Promo

11/26/10
– HUFFINGTON POST – America Needs The 4 Hour Body: A Look Inside The New Book by Timothy Ferriss

11/29/10
– WIRED MAGAZINE – Tim Ferriss Wants to Hack Your Body

11/30/10
– HUFFINGTON POST – Tim Ferriss’ New Book ‘4 Hour Body’ And Crazy Video

12/1/10
– BUZZFEED – Tim Ferriss’ New Book: 4 Hour Body

12/7/10
– APPSUMO – Healthy Holidays Bundle Part 2: Manly Man

12/12/10
– NEW YORK POST – The 4-Hour Body: Advice from the guy who knows everything

12/13/10
– TECH CRUNCH – Keen On… Tim Ferriss: How To Turn Your Body Into A Startup (TCTV)
– GIZMODO – 4-Hour Body – The Principle of the Minimum Effective Dose
– NATE GREEN – Become Superhuman: Nate Green and Tim Ferriss
– LIVING SOCIAL – Tim Ferriss Book Package for $16
– BODYBUILDING – Tips from “The 4-Hour Body”: Overview
– BODYBUILDING – The Kettlebell Experiment: Bring one to life for $10
– BODYBUILDING – Activate Superhuman Glutes
– BODYBUILDING – Tracking Results
– BODYBUILDING – Kettlebell Swing
– BODYBUILDING – Top Secret Contents Of A Mad Scientist’s Gym Bag

12/14/10 – Launch Date!
– HUFFINGTON POST – The 4-Hour Body: How Do You Follow Up A #1 Bestseller Without Repeating Yourself?
– GIZMODO – 4-Hour Body – The Slow-Carb Diet
– LIVESTREAM – Live Chat with Timothy Ferriss
– MIXERGY – (Quickly) Hacking The Human Body – with Timothy Ferriss
– 37 SIGNALS – Tim Ferriss explains how “The 4-Hour Body” came to life with Basecamp and Highrise
– ZEN HABITS – The 4-Hour Body: The Tim Ferriss Interview on Zen Habits
– ROBB WOLF – The Paleo Solution – Episode 58 (Tim Ferriss Edition)
– MICHAEL PORT – Tim Ferriss interviewed by Michael Port (Part 1)
– CRAIG BALLANTYNE – Tim Ferriss and the Four Hour Body

12/15/10
– COPYBLOGGER – Tim Ferriss on How to Reinvent Yourself with Blog Marketing
– BUSINESS INSIDER – The Guide To Dieting And Sex That Every Trader Should Read
– GIZMODO – Six Minute Abs
– I WILL TEACH YOU TO BE RICH – Sample: The 4-Hour Body: From Geek to Freak
– DRAGON DOOR – Interview with Tim Ferriss, RKCII, about Kettlebells, Preparation for the RKC course, and his New Book The 4-Hour Body
– ABC NEWS – Brr! Can Frigid Temps Lead to Weight Loss?
– CNN REPORT – Exclusive: Tim Ferriss talks with Chris Ashenden about The 4-Hour Body

12/16/10
– ZEO – Children of the Revolution: Tim Ferriss and Zeo
– ABC NEWS – Lose 20 Lbs. in 30 Days? A 15-Min. Orgasm?
– ABC NEWS – Faceoff: Superhuman Bodies, 15-Minute Orgasms

12/17/10
– MIKE GEARY – How GLUT-4 shuttles calories into muscle instead of fat
– PDF PEN – Case Study: Tim Ferriss

12/18/10
– YANIK SILVER – How to Make Yourself Superhuman and Super Productive

12/19/10
– TERRY LAUGHLIN – How Tim Ferriss Learned to Swim in 10 Days

12/20/10
– TERRY LAUGHLIN – Could Tim Ferriss turn The Situation on to Swimming?
– GALLEYCAT – How Timothy Ferriss Hit the Amazon Bestseller List
– FOX AND FRIENDS – Become Superhuman
– SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE – Consumers Turn to Custom Diets to Achieve Their Perfect Bodies for 2011

12/21/10
– EVERNOTE – How Tim Ferriss used Evernote to write The 4-Hour Body
– CNN REPORT – Five Holiday Time Savers
– FORBES – Weighing In On Worst Words On Diet, Exercise And Body Image
– FORBES – Names You Need To Know In 2011: Tim Ferriss

12/23/10
– BLOOMBERG – ‘4-Hour Body’ Author Ferriss on Rapid Weight Loss: Audio

12/27/10
– SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS – Author Timothy Ferriss says his book holds key to weight loss, great sex

12/29/10
– CNN REPORT – How one man’s shame sparked a 300-pound weight loss

1/4/11
– NEWSWEEK – Tim Ferriss’ Latest Book Wows
– DUCT TAPE MARKETING – The 4-Hour Entrepreneurial Body

1/7/11
– NEW YORK TIMES – New! Improved! Shape Up Your Life!

1/13/11
– 37 SIGNALS – Tim Ferriss on tolerable mediocrity, false idols, diversifying your identity, and the advice he gives startups

1/14/11
– THE VIEW – The 4-Hour Body

1/15/11
– TECH CRUNCH – The 4-Hour Body: The Real App You Are Working On Is An App Called Yourself (Review)

1/24/11
– DOCTOR OZ – Four Hours to Your Perfect Body

1/26/11
– HUFFINGTON POST – Why The 4-Hour Body Was Years in the Making

1/27/11
– ASK MEN – Tim Ferriss Interview

1/28/11
– FORBES – Success Secrets of ‘4-Hour’ Guru Tim Ferriss

1/31/11
– MACLEANS – Fat loss, Great Sex, and Lentils

2/9/2011
– THE NEXT WEB – ‘My book was yanked from Costco shelves because of explicit sex chapters’

2/22/2011
– CBS LOS ANGELES – Author Says Taking Ice Baths Will Keep You Trim

3/25/2011
– NEW YORK TIMES – The World According to Tim Ferriss

The following internet marketers and health/fitness specialists emailed their lists the week of December 14th.

[Warning: Several of these links direct to squeeze pages.]

- Buck Rizvi
Chad Tackett
Craig Ballantyne
Eben Pagan
Isabel Del Rios
Joe Polish
Joel Marion
John Romaniello
Jon Benson
Josh Bezoni
Josh Waitzkin
Kareem Samhouri
Michael Lovitch
Michael Port
Mike Geary
Neil Strauss
Pavel Tsatsouline
Rob Poulos
Vince Del Monte

[If I left anyone out, please let me know in the comments!]

If you look closely at how many bloggers helped Tim promote the book, you’ll realize it would have been impossible to do if he’d approached them in a sleazy “Pitch my book to your audience!”-kind of way. This behavior is actually very common, but Tim avoided it like the plague. In fact, I don’t recall him asking anyone to promote the book as a favor. He would just tell them about it, and they’d usually want in. Of course, Tim wrote 4HB in such a way that his buddies would want to write about it. In the early stages of creating the Table of Contents, before he’d written anything else for the book, Tim was coming up with chapter titles based on what he thought would make great guest blog posts for his friends.

Most of those bloggers wanted to see Tim and his book succeed, simply because he’s developed meaningful relationships with so many of them. In my mind, this is what separates Tim from a lot of the other online marketers, who might be great at selling and making money, but never do anything truly remarkable. Tim has worked just as hard at building good karma among quality friends as he has at promoting his work, and the former has enriched his life far more.

Most online marketers have a short attention span, a weak filter, and an inability to communicate face-to-face. They salivate when they hear the word “viral” and send out 40 links a day to their friends on Facebook and Twitter. They unknowingly sabotage their own credibility and ensure people won’t pay attention to them when they need it most.

The marketers who will last are the ones who think relentlessly long-term, put out quality content, and recognize the value in building deeper, real-life relationships with their peers. Tim is one of these marketers, and I believe the root of The 4-Hour Body’s rapid success can be attributed to this underlying philosophy.

3. Offline Viral: The Power of Before/After


Before/After of Patrick Thomlinson, who did the Slow-Carb Diet

The 4HWW markets itself with a great title and a loyal fan base. Most people hear about it through friends who say it changed their life. As a result of word-of-mouth, the book has been on the bestseller list for four years.

The 4HB is far more effective at marketing itself because the content in the book can physically transform the reader in a short period of time. If you lose 20 pounds of fat or gain 30 pounds of muscle in a month, all your friends will be approaching you saying “What the hell did you do?!” I know this because both of my parents lost 25 pounds on the diet, and everyone in their social circles was asking them for advice. Their response: “Pick up a copy of The 4-Hour Body.” BAM, even more books sold!

The beauty of “offline viral” is that it can result in spill-over on Twitter and Facebook. In our case, we see tons of messages every day about 4HB. Here’s a small sample:

“First week on the slow-carb diet done. I’m 5lbs lighter with no added exercise. Now 6 people I know are working with your book.” – Frank Johnette

“Two of my Soldiers lost a combined 35lbs in just over two weeks thanks to @tferriss. Thanks for helping me keep my men in shape!” – Matt Bragoni

“Started @tferriss slow-carb diet on 12/31. Down 20 lbs in 34 days. The Four Hour Body is the book that may just save my life.”Eric Discher

When you can actually see a book’s effects right before your eyes – when a person looks like the “After” in a Before/After photo – well, there’s no form of marketing that’s more powerful than that.

2. The Honeypot: Top 1,000 Blog

Tim will readily admit that his greatest asset is his blog. In terms of sheer traffic, it’s in the top 0.001% of all blogs online (top 1,000 of more than 120,000,000). With the push of a button, he has access to hundreds of thousands of people, many of which are influencers (e.g. New York Times journalists) and folks who are willing to help. But how did he build such a huge following of quality readers?

The answer is that his blog gives WAY more than it takes. A lot of bloggers are constantly trying to extract from their readers. They are in a perpetual state of pitching products and injecting ads. Tim rarely asks for anything; he just focuses on putting out quality content that his readers will like. When he does make a big ask, he’ll do it in a way that rewards the reader if they take action. For instance, “Help me promote my book” becomes “If you help me promote my book, you can win a free round-trip ticket to anywhere in the world.” Every “ask” Tim makes is a painless win-win, and after years of doing this, he now has a loyal army that’s ready to help whenever he needs it. Their assistance is called upon when he’s doing something ambitious (getting the book to hit #1 on NYTimes) or something small and random (having two people show up in a Texas airport to sell him their MacBook chargers). His readers go above and beyond what’s reasonable to help in any situation. That kind of loyalty can’t be bought.

If you don’t believe that the blog is Tim’s greatest asset, consider this: what author in their right mind wouldn’t think of using their 100,000+ subscriber email list during a book launch? Tim didn’t, because his blog is more powerful.

1. Write an amazing, definitive book.

Most of the advice aspiring authors seek out is on how to market their material, but marketing is actually the easy part. The hard part is producing worthwhile content, and holding your writing to a higher standard than everyone else on the playing field. I believe this is why 4HWW and 4HB will continue to do well for years to come. Tim held both works to the extremely high standard of “Will this be the defining book in its category, and will it be just as valuable five years from now?”

Tim will be the first to admit that he’s not the greatest writer, but he has more empathy than just about anyone I’ve ever met. He knows what people want, and he knows how to give them the least painful solution they need, all while minimizing confusion. Put simply, he knows how to make great content.

In the end, that’s what everything boils down to: great content. Without it, marketing is nothing more than flash and noise.

###

Posted on: March 10, 2011.

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195 comments on “12 Lessons Learned While Marketing “The 4-Hour Body”

  1. Epic Post Charlie, You are a legend.

    Feel free to add me to the list of internet marketers emailing. DailyConversions.com is my blog, I’m the guy that did the viral film that got picked up by a bunch of news outlets and did over 100k views in under a week.

    Like

  2. What a great post, Charlie! I was really paying attention to the launch and really admired the effectiveness of it as well as the innovation behind it. It’s great to get some behind the scenes perspective behind it and I hope to utilize some tactics you listed.

    It sounds like Tim has you working very hard, and you’re more than capable of executing his vision! Keep up the great work!

    Like

  3. Excellent post Tim and Charlie. Love both of your books so far Tim. I have started implementing a few things from 4 hour work week at my current job and have cut my hours of actual ‘work’ quite dramatically already. I am definitely looking forward to trying out the muscle building techniques in 4 hour body too. Keep up the awesome work guys!

    Like

  4. Could you provide a little more detail on “he who cares less, wins”?

    Interested in (#)winning, would like to understand what it means to care less in that context. Full out example on how caring less helped or how it was executed?

    Like

    • Here’s my take on it. He who cares less is ok walking away from the deal if they don’t get the terms they want. The more you care about a deal going through, the more you have to “lose”, and thus will make more concessions to make it happen.

      Like

  5. Wow, Thanks, I learned so much from this post. A definite bookmark :)

    It’s no surprise, but obviously, Tim (and Charlie) worked dayum hard to pull everything together in an effective way.

    I particularly liked this: “You don’t want to be in the process of creating your position when buyers are most receptive; you want to already be established as the category leader. How insightful!

    I get that amazing content is uber-important, but I believe the key is that Tim really cares, and of course, that leads to (as you say), empathy. Caring truly makes the difference. You can’t pull something like this off without it.

    I love that Tim decided to start the launch on the 14th of Dec, ahead of the ‘resolution’ time. I am going to apply this in my own marketing.

    I haven’t read T4HB in full, but so far, I like it. Thanks Tim! And Thanks Charlie.

    Renee.

    Like

    • Remember, the slow carb diet and geek to freak information has been out for a few years. The results don’t have to be post-book. Cheers!

      Like

      • The RESULTS were all ANTONIUS MOMAC.

        I bet loads of people read up on losing weight. Theres a big difference between reading and DOING.

        FYI, Tim’s advice is on. Try it out. It might not work well for you, but you have to do the tracking. Like Tim even says, stick with it and be honest with what you’re doing. For example, don’t eat a half a tube of peanutbutter and think that you’re going to lose fat at a fast rate.

        If you’re a guy and you exercise (with heavy weights) you’re going to lose fat… And everybody will always give that advice. I appreciate Ferris because he’s up front, isn’t selling any gimic, and straight to the point. I can actually remember and implement his advice. No Fluff to dreg through.

        -MomacAttack

        Like

      • My name is Tom Venuto. This is the real tom venuto, not a virtual assistant.

        I can verify that Antonius Momac entered our Burn the Fat challenge in May of 2010 under the rules that those who enter would be following the Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle (BFFM) program.

        I can verify that the photos on this 4 hour body website blog post were the burn the fat challenge contest photos that Antonius submitted for our contest – all date verified and I have the originals including the hi-res photos of the newspaper showing verification of dates and 98 day time period. his results did occur in 98 days.

        I can confirm that antonius meticulously documented his progress over 98 days in our burn the fat inner circle discussion forums, and his own journal documents his use of the burn the fat, feed the muscle (BFFM) program.

        It is certainly possible that Antonius may have picked up and used some tips from Tim. But I can also verify that Antonius wrote this is his top 10 finalist-winning essay at the end of the 98 days:

        “Now at the end of this journey, it seems similar to most everyone’s experience. Tom-V’s BFFM IS THE ONE SOURCE for all your diet needs. Easily, everything he talks about is true and works. ”

        Antonius was very eager to win the Burn the Fat grand prize trip to Maui and said so in his contest essay.

        I have screenshots and printouts of it all, as well as saved screenshots of this web page. This was also witnessed by 2,200 people who entered the contest and thousands more who were members who just watched and followed along.

        I do not think its unfair to ask both Tim Ferris and Antonius Momac to come here and respond in detail. I hope this is not ignored or deleted, because if it is, I will seek a response in other ways. I would rather simply get your sides of the story and have all facts come out and set straight.

        Thank you

        Tom Venuto

        Like

      • Hi Tom,

        Thank you so very much for this comment. I had no knowledge of the back story and will ask Antonius about this right away.

        Much appreciate you reaching out.

        All the best,

        Tim

        Like

      • Hey Tom, Momac here. Did you read Tim’s Blog post on the slow carb diet. when I said, “Tom-V’s BFFM IS THE ONE SOURCE for all your diet needs”; it cover’s what Tim was talking out.

        I love Tim Ferris because the 80/20 makes so much sense. ‘Cause if you think about it; Diet is super importing and har to maintain. Doing the meat veggie (never ate so much broccoli, cabbage and asparagus), and bean slip worked for me.

        I also did a bike run during lunch for the 98 days; most of the time. So I followed the contest rules; at least as much as anybody else. you know, eat good food and excercise. I mean, I bought an Iron gym and (the door hanging thingie for chin up) and it had a similar diet plan to follow:

        Eat six time a day

        Protein, carb
        Protein, carb
        Protein, carb
        Protein, Veggi
        Protein, Veggi
        Protein, Veggi

        Let me know if I did anything wrong. I had to give Tim a **BIG UP** because his post was my catalyst; I’d say 95% inspiration for me attempting the BFFM challenge.

        Like

      • Ferris-Sensei

        Sry! Might have been too quick a response. Maybe I’m a bit dense but I’m not sure what Tom is asking for, or that this thread even belongs here. Maybe no one is very concerned. Its Probably good for Tom to be associated with you/the blog. ~ne?

        I’m reading 4HB actually right now. I think that keen difference between knowing and doing is so major. I think that was the take away on your lose 20 in 30 post. it was easy to build a meal plan. Heck, one week was a Huge pot of chilli and a 6 lb turkey breast and mostly Miso-cabbage eggs. Avocado Tuna salad. Yeah, my brain was set with that strategy.

        Anyway, It seems the body recomp is simple. I need to do the same with a MUSE. Too bad both me and my wife have the Sarari-man bug. But she’s really Japanese and puts in the 16-18 hrs shifts… (sigh) I think I’ll read Seneca again…

        But thank you for sharing your experience and ideas. You seem like a blast to be around, at least both you and Rose on those Random episodes. Silicon valley commandos.

        -Best
        Momac

        Like

      • Antonius: all of our judges met today and unanimously voted to disqualify you, after the fact. We will find who was 11th place in the mens category and he will take your spot. We were all disappointed with both your actions and your response in these comments, and we feel slapped in the face.

        Charlie: thank you for the personal email.

        Tim: Thank you for putting my post through and for the acknowledgement. Given the facts that have come to light (and I can provide any further verification needed including start – finish dates, photos, more quotes from Mr. Momacs burn the fat training/nutrition journal, etc), we all feel that the use of antonius’ photos in the context they are presented above is misleading. Whatever you feel is proper in terms of “doing the right thing” is appreciated. thank you.

        Like

    • Hi aaad…

      Dude, that was totally me making the Top Ten; I was looking for some killer short cuts and Tim’s posts has the 80/20. No doubt about it…

      Yeah, so I entered the contest, ate slow carb style, and biked during lunch 30-45 minutes. Love biking!!!

      32 pounds of fat in 98 days. ;)

      Not A-typical results, because my Romanian-RockStar Genes. (BULLSH*T!!!), but you can do it too.

      Quick tip. Have some defacto meals, and stick to ‘em. Boring? YES! Works? HELL YES…

      Like

      • Momac,
        You are totally missing the point here. When you entered Tom Venuto’s BFFM contest, you essentially agreed to giving BFFM sole use of those before and after photos. Those photos are a powerful marketing tool and you discredit both Tom and Tim by submitting those photos twice and giving credit to both methods.

        Think about it…if you were looking for help with transforming your body and you went to both of these sites and saw the same ‘before and after’ photos, you would instantly assume both methods were fraudulent. From a marketing standpoint…disaster!

        Tom had every right to disqualify you from the BFFM contest because you didn’t follow the rules. I applaud both Tim and Charlie for doing ‘the right thing’ here and removing your before and after photos.

        Like

      • Antonius,

        It’s probably a moot point now since you were disqualified, but I think what Tom and others wanted to know (myself included) was which nutritional program you followed to achieve your transformation, BFFM or 4HB.

        You participated in the 2010 BFFM Challenge, where the rules clearly stated that you had to follow the BFFM nutrition plan in order to participate. In addition, several of your posts indicate that you were trying to improve your compliance with the BFFM program. With your before/after pictures from the BFFM challenge presented as proof of the effectiveness of 4HB on this website (but now taken down), it begs the question, “Which program did you follow?”

        In one post, you wrote: “The RESULTS were all ANTONIUS MOMAC.” That doesn’t really answer the question.

        In another post, you wrote: “Hey Tom, Momac here. Did you read Tim’s Blog post on the slow carb diet. when I said, “Tom-V’s BFFM IS THE ONE SOURCE for all your diet needs”; it cover’s what Tim was talking out.”

        That only raises MORE questions because many of Tim’s “rules” COMPLETELY contradict what Tom promotes (Tim’s rules include: avoiding any carbohydrate that can be white – which would include brown rice, whole grain pasta or bread; eating as much of the recommended foods as you like; post-workout pizza; one day a week binge day).

        You also wrote: “So I followed the contest rules; at least as much as anybody else. you know, eat good food and exercise.”

        EVERY diet program claims to promote healthy eating or “good food” as you put it. By your logic, eating good food means you followed BFFM, 4HB, Weight Watchers and 99% of diet programs ever created. To be honest, after reading through your challenge journal, it looks like you did follow the BFFM program with varying degrees of success throughout the challenge. With detailed meal plans that included mutli-grain bread, tuna, yams, turkey breast, cereal, and protein shakes (none of which are on the list of foods under Tim’s Rule #2), I don’t see any indication that you actually followed the 4HB program in any way.

        John

        Like

      • Hey John,

        Good questions, and thank you for the interest.

        I really wish I photographed everything I ate… Doh. But let me try to address your questions and maybe for anyone else that’s interested.

        I’ll say two things up front, I did do a bunch of experimenting, but I didn’t keep good records. But lets take things one at a time:

        John, you ask, “which nutritional program you followed to achieve your transformation, BFFM or 4HB”. I honestly believe they are one in the same, because what I took from TIM’s post on how to lows 20 lbs in 30 days is Don’t drink calories, stay away from carbs (execpt stuff with low glysemic index), eat good fats, but make sure you do the same simple meals over and over again. I think Tom covers the stuff too, as he covers EVERYTHING that has to do with nutrition. Tim’s advice is more about a focus on the few things that will have an big impact.

        John, in reference to “several of your posts indicate that you were trying to improve your compliance with the BFFM program.”
        – BFFM is something you tailor to yourself, but I never got the micro (protien/carb/fat) split right. What I can tell you for sure is that certain weeks (the ones I tired protein shakes) were not nearly as good a drop as Non protein shake weeks. Of course no alcohol or dairy except I guess on those weeks. It was 98 days, so I wasn’t perfect.
        In one post, you wrote: “The RESULTS were all ANTONIUS MOMAC.” That doesn’t really answer the question.
        -Actually, I think this is a Theme Tim has mentioned; different people doing the exact same thing will have varied results. To say that it was all me, meant that only during that period of time was it achieved. If I did the exact same during winter, perhaps I would have done better. If I didn’t eat any pasta, who knows…

        “ many of Tim’s “rules” COMPLETELY contradict what Tom promotes (Tim’s rules include: avoiding any carbohydrate that can be white – which would include brown rice, whole grain pasta or bread; eating as much of the recommended foods as you like; post-workout pizza; one day a week binge day). “
        – really, I was sure that Tom had something about being carb sensative (certain people) and hence reducing them, plus I’m guess that Tom would probably lean more towards a yam than any bread/wheat product. But I didn’t have crazy binge days. I was trying to win a trip to Maui damn it. ;)
        You also wrote: “So I followed the contest rules; at least as much as anybody else. you know, eat good food and exercise.”
        EVERY diet program claims to promote healthy eating or “good food” as you put it. By your logic, eating good food means you followed BFFM, 4HB, Weight Watchers and 99% of diet programs ever created.
        Yes; I think that every diet can help people lose weight if they do it.
        To be honest, after reading through your challenge journal, it looks like you did follow the BFFM program with varying degrees of success throughout the challenge. With detailed meal plans that included mutli-grain bread, tuna, yams, turkey breast, cereal, and protein shakes (none of which are on the list of foods under Tim’s Rule #2), I don’t see any indication that you actually followed the 4HB program in any way.
        John, how may days were those Meal plans for? It doesn’t sound like me. I did eat some bread, canned tuna and protein shakes, and AGAIN, those protein shake weeks were bad, and I love turkey.
        However, keeping it simple, same meals (and with that easy split), Don’t drink your calories, and eating less carbs are 3 spots you want to focus on if you’re going to drop fat fast. This is Fact.

        Let me know if you have any more questions.

        Best
        Antonius

        Like

      • Hi vlrau,

        Thank you so much for making that point. I know nothing about marketing. What a boob… I whole thing was to share my experience with anyone that it might help. The 20 in 30 post helped me design my meals and not worry about counting calories or eating 6x a day. I tired but couldn’t keep up.

        The challenge worked as a tracking tool. I also met awesome people and made a few friends. Tracking seems like an important idea among both Tim and Tom. My lunch time bike runs came from the NoS diet. So I guess I did everything and nothing completely. I guess I’m always looking for improving whatever I’m doing.

        But I never thought about the marketing. Truth is that in September when Charlie was looking for before and afters, they had already announced the winner. Wasn’t me and there wasn’t a top ten. I knew that I had a Great before and after, in great part thanks to Tim and I was happy to help him. But I guess that’s a lesson for me. I never felt like I did anything all that special. It was an “of course” thing once I set on it.

        However, I knew I has no shot at winning the challenge. That part of marketing I understood; Tom was launching his Holly Grail program. Logically, the winner should be on that program.

        I get it. Charlie and Tom totally did the right, no doubt about it. Kinda lucky, those shorts I was wearing were something else, what a nasty b4…

        -Best
        Antonius

        Like

      • John,

        I’m replying to your inquiry…

        I did a lot of experimentation and I guess I wasn’t Slow Carb “food” perfect every day. But don’t let that deter you in any way. Rather it should be an inspiration; I was able to shed a lot of fat in little time without being perfect. I didn’t give up because I ate French fries one day that I didn’t plan to. Give yourself a break, but get back in the saddle ASAP.

        The keys (from the 20 in 30 post, AKA Slow Carb) for me:

        * No drinking of calories.
        * Habit; same meals and try to keep it slow carb friendly as much as possible. High protein, and low calorie density mix (think fibrous greens)
        * Stay away from the white stuff. So little rice, breads and noddles. (my favs)

        * Habit; Move your body during lunch, like walking (From NoS Diet)

        Again, Tim’s strategy is implementation friendly, simple, and you can stick with it. Same with the lunchtime walk. Whatever you can stick is **good**.

        And yes, I believe that everything works, at least up to a point if you commit.
        But what I really admire is Tim’s methods. Please try the above for 4 weeks, as much as you can.

        Also, another great motivator was that everyone I knew said I **COULDN’T** do it. Negative reinforcement… Awesome force.

        Like

      • antonius momac: It is a very very simple thing to say, “what I did was wrong. I apologize.” In a personal e-mail to me, on behalf of he and Tim, Charlie apologized for the misunderstanding and took the photos right down. Stand up guy. The right thing to do. You on the other hand are not only shockingly unapologetic and ungrateful, you have now demonstrated in public that you are both accusatory and a sore loser. On the former, so now the judges picked someone else for marketing purposes is that so? Just to show how terribly wrong you are, the winner, mike m – his photos have never even been published in an advertisement, only in the winners announcement on the contest website. But now that youve brought it up. When he gets back from Maui next week, I will be quite certain that he gets the credit and publicity he deserves as winner. On the latter, your results were outstanding, but the judges, who pained for days over the decisions, also had Jay placed firmly ahead of you. I already told charlie this matter is concluded and water under the bridge, but if you feel you must have the last words, there are only two I can think of that would be appropriate at this time.

        -Tom Venuto

        Like

  6. Great post man. Really interested in the marketing aspect of it.

    On another note I’ve lost 22 pounds of weight in 6 weeks with next to no exercise apart from 2 walks and one five mile run. And I’m very inactive. I’ve personally got 7 people to buy the book after my weight loss as well and a few more are doing the diet too. Once I get my 6 pack I’d love to know an email address I can send you a before an after picture to to show my results

    Thanks for everything Tim

    Like

  7. Great to see a post by Charlie on here. It’s really cool to see another viewpoint of what goes on behind the scenes during something like this. I remember stumbling across Charlie’s blog a couple years ago. You’ve come a long way! Very inspiring.

    Like

  8. As always good stuff Tim. The info here just keeps filling in the cracks. The more I learn the more questions I have – keep it coming!

    Like

  9. Great post.

    Great book.

    Great marketing case study.

    I’ve admired the way Tim has marketed both books. We discussed it at his Sydney soiree a few year back, especially the use of social media back then. No doubt Tim will have a marketing book in the future too.

    BTW, slowcarb has worked a treat for me in getting ready for a week long bike ride.

    Congrats.

    Like

  10. Funny enough, it looks like you missed Ramit Sethi in the list of internet marketers who e-mailed their lists about the book. I definitely remember getting a message from him about it.

    Not that he’ll be upset or anything… : )

    – Pat

    Like

  11. Hey Tim, Great Stuff… I was on that Eben Pagan call, I think I became an official Tim Ferriss convert after that… Not to mention I’m as skinny as a stick since starting the slow carb diet 7.5 weeks ago… and I dont exercise that much….

    Like

  12. WOW! Wow! WOW!

    This post has once again upped the level of respect I have for you. Thanks for the continual great content on your blog and a kick ass interesting book (somebody said I now feel like a solid brick…w/ 4HB I got down to less than 5% BF!!!)

    Cheers,
    Kev

    Like

  13. Its amazing that the most fitness pros are actually tim’s friends

    Anyway all I wanted to say is this:-

    I hate micro managing and it is probably the reasons why I ditched a normal job and chose to become an entrepreneur/blogger and It’s nice to see that one of them most successful people on the planet today not only to using micro-managing but actively discouraging it

    Tim I applaud you for this

    Like

  14. Hi Matt,

    This certainly shouldn’t happen. I do believe in the product and have some with me in Austin now, but I’ll send this note to them right now.

    Thanks for the feedback,

    Tim

    Like

    • Tim:

      I’m wondering: have you experimented with learning an instrument? I’m sure all us musicians would love your insight into 80/20ing and tearing apart music the way you do other languages.

      Side note: You seem to have awesome taste in music. Any chance you could get a VA to compile some links to music you’ve posted into one web page?

      Like

  15. Hi Tim,

    Now that we’re talking about your marketing prowess, I’ve always wanted to know if you added an “s” to your last name to make it easier to find. I wanted to take a look at your senior thesis in Princeton’s Mudd Library but had a hard time finding it because your last name only had one “s” back then (?).

    I’m not creepy, I promise, I just wanted to see what you were interested in as an undergrad.

    Cheers,
    Pietro

    Like

  16. Charlie – What are your goals? Obviously working with Tim has added priceless experience. Will it, has it helped you meet your goals? Great post btw!! Nice work!! Keep it rolling!!

    Like

  17. The Slow Carb Diet and Geek to Freak were blog posts before they became part of the book so they’ve been available for a while.

    Like

  18. Well done Charlie, well done!

    Aside from giving Tim praise for the book, I’ve heard from more than one source just how much work you’ve done to promote this book. You’re always doing great work, and you deserve all the recognition and praise due you. Thanks for being the “silent influencer” that made this book what it is.

    – Josh

    Like

  19. I start this slow carb diet before i purchase the book. You can find this diet all over the place. And i lost 4 kg for 4 weeks…
    Now the book came and i start to read. (FYI i didn’t’ t expect to be so huge :)) You are very talented writer and the book is fun to read.
    Thank you very much man.

    Like

  20. Really cool article. I was actually wondering why the 4HB wasn’t released before Black Friday. I now know why. Get the New Year’s resolution people. It’s all about strategery (yes, Bushism)!

    Like

  21. Hey Tim and Charlie,

    Really great post! This is exactly what I’ve been wanting to read for the longest time! I’ve been vigorously trying to do 4HB (lost over 15lbs at one point) and have been on and off cause of the beans. I can’t stand beans! Is there anything else I can substitute it with? Like eating more meat and veggies? I really appreciate a response!

    Thanks for everything & can’t wait to have lunch with you!

    -David

    Like

  22. Normally I would never read a post with a 12 item list, but this was fantastic – every word. Nice work Charlie. Great that you found the time to knock this out between feeding tigers.

    Like

  23. The planning that went into that book launch was beyond what I expected, and I expected quite a lot!!

    The difference between Tim and other authors seems to be hard work applied in the right places, he owns his projects.

    Great stuff.

    Like

  24. I’m glad Tim kept you on Charlie :) You should write you own book! The post was enjoyable to read.
    Thanks to all for building such a great community :)

    S

    Like

  25. Good info in this post. Though, would like some clarification on certain points. Hopefully, this will add even more depth to an already awesome post.

    1. This is really duplicatable by someone who is not Tim Ferriss?
    This post is inspirational as it is, of course. But is it practical for someone without his negotiating skills, financial resources, high traffic blog, trusted connections(friends) and book selling experience? It’s true that even Tim Ferriss started from zero at one point, but is any of us capable of doing things(like this marketing campaign) the way he does it? Just curious.

    2. Developing “meaningful relationships” without begging.
    We hear this from gurus all the time. “Stop begging.” This is understandable since they’re probably getting all sorts of requests at any given time. But how does someone(who has nothing) establish a “meaningful relationship” with an expert(like Tim) from scratch? Let’s face it. There is only room for one Charlie Hoehn per expert/guru/blogger. Tim probably gotten tons of similar stellar requests asking for an “internship” of some kind before Charlie, and he’ll get even more after this post. (obviously, Charlie is AWESOME. Even the tiger is thinking ‘finger licking good!’) Unfortunately, this does not seem to be a reliable way to foster “meaningful relationships”. Let’s brainstorm on this. Any ideas will be appreciated.

    Thank you for reading my dribble. And remember, “Be Nice to Tigers”. :) There are only a few left in the world.

    Like

    • David,

      I think it comes down to being valuable. And you are more valuable than you think. All other excuses are just excuses. You have more than you think.

      Tim does have exceptional qualities that help him market and negotiate, but it shouldn’t hinder someone too much if they simply put themselves and their value out there. And I wouldn’t want to duplicate Tim; use some of his ideas and techniques and learn from him and his lifestyle design principles, yes, but not duplicate him.

      Like

      • Thank you Branden, for the wonderful comment.
        What I am wondering most is whether this post is purposed for its Inspirational qualities or Practical applications. As an Inspirational piece, this post does its job and thus, this post is “valuable”. As for practical applications, not so much… In that sense, It is “not so valuable.” “Value” is a funny word like that. it is fictional, usually greatly inflated, and drastically different for each person, even in the same transaction. Not a very reliable terminology outside of marketing slogans and time-share presentations.
        The Question is “What did we Actually Learn from this post that we(readers) can reliably work in our own business?”. I would like to hear everybody’s opinion.
        And to clarify, I didn’t mean “duplicate” as in “to copy”. I should of used “practically apply”, instead. That was my bad. No one can duplicate Tim. That’s like having two “Old Spice” Guys on one planet. At least according to the Old Spice Guy, that’s too much Awesome and Genius to exist in one space and time. :) Swan Dive!

        Like

  26. Wow!!!!!!

    Blog post like this one is the reason I keep coming back. People that are willing to share, pave the way for people like us to follow.

    PS. I really enjoy the Random show, keep them coming

    Thanks

    Like

  27. Wow… I’ve just finished reading this post, and plan to share it with my readers right away. Then, I’m going to bookmark it and make a note in Remember the Milk to come back and re-read it in a week. I think it might take that long for the tremendous amount of information you’ve got here to even start to sink in :)

    Like

  28. I just got up from relaxing in public.

    I’ve read between a 100 and 117 self-help/business books in my life and I’ve never before done any of the exercises they suggested. I finished 4HWW and went right outside and got a brand new perspective on Washington DC, a city I’ve lived in for three years.

    I’m late to the party, but it’s a damn good thing I’m here at all.

    Speaking of exercises: it might sound a bit odd, but I’m a first-time poster and a short time admirer. I just read your book The 4-Hour Workweek and finally built up the courage to comment. I have wanted to ask you for a specific piece of advice for the past two hours, and it shouldn’t take more than two minutes of your time. May I?

    Like

  29. Tim,

    This is one of your best posts. I have been a followers of yours since last year. I know I came into the game late, but I went through your site and devoured as much information as I could.

    Charlie,

    Thank You for showing an example what it takes to get your foot in the door and break it open.

    Like

    • Yeah, I second that. I’m doing something similar, but the working for free part scares the hell out of me. Taking the long view isn’t easy. Good on ya, Charlie!

      Like

  30. “However, Tim and I think we could have sold a lot more copies. The problem with The Land Rush post was that there were WAY too many choices.”

    That’s awesome. When I saw the post go up, it looked totally staggering to me. I was like, “This is freakin’ huge.” But then when I went to buy some copies, I ran into the same problem, and I was only looking to buy 10 or less. So I wondered what your reasoning was. Tim always says there’s a method to his madness, so I was hoping he’d post about why he had so many options. Sorry it didn’t work out as well as it could have for you guys, but I like that my intuition was correct on this one.

    Overall, though (obviously), you guys rocked it. And this is a great post, one I’ve been waiting for it since I first heard about the new book.

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

    Like

  31. Tim,

    My hat is off to you once again! This is a phenomenal posting, and you seem to have found a very reliable partner to maximize your efforts.

    I can’t thank you enough for the continuous stream of highly useful information. As an author trying to follow in your footsteps, I really apprciate the input.

    Keep up the awesome work!

    Darren

    Like

  32. Tim and Charlie,
    Great post! Thank you for the insights on building a meaningful network of relationships by being generous with your passion, talents and discoveries.

    Tim,
    The chapter on Reversing Injuries has changed my wife’s life. She has been struggling with chronic back pain and hip pain for years and she’s only 25. We explored a lot of non-surgical options over the past 2 years but no one could find the real problem. Thanks to you, we learned about muscle activation technique. She had her first session last week and it has completely changed her strength and range of motion! I can’t tell you how excited we are but let me just say that she woke up at 6 this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep because she was so excited to move her leg around. I appreciate your work very much and I just wanted to share our excitement with you and the community.

    Like

  33. Tim,

    fyi

    who’s the guy displaying the Swastika as his profile picture in your facebook friends box?
    it is very disturbing to find that symbol on your site!

    Best,
    Juergen

    Like

  34. Dear Tim et al,

    This may be one of the most revealing and helpful posts I’ve ever read. Kudos on the hard work.

    I think the promo vid was amazing!

    Cheers from Australia,

    Dave

    ps I’d originally attempted to purchase the 4HB as a pre-order- but something seemed to go wrong with Amazon. Turns out I bought it (at about double the price) from an airport on the way back from Singapore. I’m not chuffed about paying more.. My point is, when it comes to quality, price tends to dissipate into the background. Amazing read.

    Thanks again!

    Like

  35. Tim, loving your book! Great post!

    I’m reading about CQ and since I’m a health and nutrition professional and writer for Livestrong, I decided to do some research. I found several RCTs that used CQ alone and in combination formulas and the combinations were significantly more effective on weight loss and metabolic syndrome than CQ alone. I would love to know what you think of them. Here are the studies I read:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2330043/?tool=pubmed

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1800848/

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1570348/?tool=pubmed

    BTW, plugged your book in a recent article — loved the photo-food-journal idea.

    All the best to you from a fellow writer and health enthusiast!

    Like

  36. Sixty-six comments and counting, but in case you’re still listening, I can vouch for your effectiveness with #8. I bought 4HB the day it released. The first week of the new year, my sister and I were in B&N, where they had all the fitness books grouped together, including 4HB and one that had just released that week. She said she was interested in reading one of the books displayed (so was I), but I said that I was committed to 4HB and that, after seeing results already (one week into the new year, mind you!), I couldn’t complain. I said that the others, including the poor author who followed traditional wisdom, were behind the eight ball. One point, Team Ferriss.

    Like

  37. Great post, Charlie. The lessons may have been about the 4HB, but they’re applicable to any focused campaign.

    I have to agree that one of the things I find most attractive about Tim’s approach to things is that he doesn’t pester people. He has something worthwhile to offer; he offers it; and people respond.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

    Like

    • I can see the value in the approach of not pestering people. In my own experience, nothing makes me hang up the phone faster or shut down and find somewhere else to be than someone coming on to me with a heavy sales pitch. Doesn’t matter if it is a product or service I actually want or need. Hit me with the hard sell and “not interested” or “just looking” comes right out as an automatic response.

      Like

  38. Excellent article! Thanks so much for this, guys.

    My only question is that I need a Charlie Hoehn for *my* efforts… where do I find one?? :)

    It’s truly inspiring what committed and devoted people can achieve together.

    Jeff

    Like

  39. Congrats on great post….now I feel badly, as I bought back in August, and didn’t realize I should’ve held out ’till December gifts! ;)

    Tim…would love to see a post on “How to hone your writing skills” or a recommendation on someone you learned from/studied.

    Charlie….how’d you discover Adam Patch? You posted a need and he responded or was a referral?

    Congrats again Tim from a silent follower since ’07

    Like

  40. Thanks for this post Tim & Charlie, great stuff. I agree with you, the more you give in terms of content in your book and blog the more you get back.

    I was debating on sending out 300 review copies of a book I just wrote, after reading this post I will aim for 1,000 instead. Thanks for these insights.

    – Richard Wilson

    Like

  41. Some good pearls there, Charlie, thanks.

    Was always curious about Tim’s view about building and using an email list via opt-ins, which comes to mind again as I read your #2 point.

    Most big-time bloggers state that there’s gold in the list because if cultivated and used in the right way (giving value, seldom asking for anything) one can make a great living and be useful to others (although the first seems to be more prevalent that than the second).

    Typically, this means getting email subscribers to whom the blogger sends emails containing summaries of posts, groupings of posts along the same subject line to provide a teachable event (say one post per day about diet), or special communications or offers that are not posted on the blog.

    Contrary to this, everything that Tim’s subscribers read is also posted on the blog. So there’s no offer made to the subscriber other than getting emailed posts already posted and available to all, subscriber or not.

    Now to my question. Why this approach? Why wouldn’t Tim present to new readers/visitors, “Hey, sign-up and get my x-part series on how to grow 6 inches taller in 6 weeks!” Each of these 6 posts have already been written and exist on his blog, but in this scenario, Tim is offering to bundle and deliver them, in effect, as a course to encourage subscriber opt-ins.

    This is getting over-long, so thanks in advance for your response.

    Joe Garma

    Like

  42. As always, this is good stuff. We are going to do a product launch soon and really have no idea how to start, so these are good tips. Even though we sell hair care products, not books, there are some universal pointers here that clarify things. Thanks.

    Like

  43. Tim, why do you still display Christmas banners? I’m sure you’re able to come up with something great not related to Christmas, so I suppose it’s intentional. Am I wrong? Or no time for that?

    Like

  44. Very interesting explanation of all that went into the book launch. It’s actually the first time in my life that I purchased a book at the launch, so I think your marketing was quite masterful

    On a personal note, using the 4HB, I’ve managed to gain weight for the first time in my life

    Like

  45. Success begets success: Is there proof?

    Charlie,

    Can you share or do you have the info about all of the “Land Rush” marketing partners: Fat Gripz and SuperCissus, Evernote, etc.

    1. Has the “Land Rush” partnership catapulted their revenues?
    2. What kind of return did all of those partners experience?
    3. Was it worth it for them?
    4. Would they do it again?
    5. Is it worth it to partner with a superstar like Tim or Ramit or someone like that?
    6. What did you learn from those “Land Rush” partnerships?
    7. What did not work well from those “Land Rush” partnerships?

    I bought the 3 book package and received:

    SuperCissus – took about 3 x per day for 3 weeks and noticed no difference in my body overall or in the areas where I have joint pain. I probably will not buy this
    supplement.

    Daily Burn – I was already using the free version. I use it time to time when I feel like I need to see exactly what I am eating. But I don’t feel that it is valuable enough for me to pay for the service.

    Evernote – I actually like this service and may consider paying for the subscription.

    Performance Journal – I looked at the first one that came. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 no interest and 10 super interested) I am a 1. I haven’t even looked at any of the following ones and more than likely will not read any of these ever again.

    The FHB book itself is priceless. I would have made my purchases without the bonuses. However; the bonuses ‘connect’ me to Tim. It FEELS like a friend is looking out for me – wanting me to do better – wanting me to try some things that I never would have though of. It just feels cool to get some bonuses and it endears me to Tim. I truly can’t wait to see what is next as the FHWW changed my business life and now the FHB is changing my physical life.

    I am grateful,

    Jason

    P.S. You do some solid work, Charlie. Thank you, too.

    Like

  46. Hi,
    I started the 4 hour body yesterday and one thing that I have done that I am hoping was okay was used Non dairy creamer in my coffee. I dont want to spend a whole week and find out that it ruined my progress. Also, just wondering how easy is it to move the cheat day once you have started. I am following the rest to a T nd will let you know my progress. I have about 60 pounds to lose. I am going on a cruise May 7th and hope 2 mos will give me what I need to really feel good. I plan to take this very seriously.
    Thanks for the great plan!

    Like

  47. Amazing post! I just got another point of view and lots of practical ideas, I think now I´m more receptive, I was also a terrible negotiator, here I found pretty good advice. From now I´m on my own.

    Like

  48. Tim certainly does have a great following. He’s an interesting guy, thoughtful, and writes intelligent things. It’s nice to hear what happens behind the scenes! But where are all the stories about how he has a rage rampage, beats you, threatens to fire you, has to sit on the can for an hour because one of his experiments didn’t agree with him, cries like a baby when Old Yeller is shot, turns his white shirt pink because he didn’t know not to mix in a red sock, walks around all day with toilet paper stuck to his shoe

    We want to hear about his HUMANITY! Let’s have the Tim FAILS as well as the Tim WINS. Blooper reel.

    Like

  49. Incredible post Charlie. I love directly useful stuff. And more importantly hats off for nailing that pitch with Tim a few years back. Pretty unreal to see where that’s taken life.

    Nicely done,

    Scott

    Like

  50. I thought I had tracked the majority of the links that had been publishing material from 4HB online for free, but it looks like I missed quite a few. I was personally blown away with the amount of marketing that was happening across the web and TV. Both you and Tim have helped develop a blueprint for all authors to follow in the future if they want to be successful.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    Like

  51. Wow, great article Charlie! I’ve read and listened to your book a number of times Tim, both versions. I get closer every time I read and I’ve managed to take many of your suggestions and actually implement them to allow me escape being trapped in a cube again after my recent deployment to Iraq!

    Thank you! Home System Integration is Step 1 of my 4 hr work week lifestyle! For right now though…I work non-stop! hehe.

    Not for long though…Thanks Tim

    Like

  52. Fantastic post guys! Nuggets of gold.

    I couldn’t agree more with creating true relationships when it comes to business,blogging,marketing etc and quality posts.

    This message has always rang true, from your blog posts to the 4HWW.

    They continually give me inspiration, and my most recent video interview could not have come together without creating meaningful relationships and a lot of thought behind it all.

    Thanks for the great post and keeping us smaller bloggers on track :)

    Like

  53. I second Matt Bray’s opinion, also, you’ve mentioned in your interviews, that if you mentioned about how you got the girls to help you out with the research for the 15 minute orgasm, there would be enough information to write another book.
    Perhaps, The 4 hour Pick-up? … ;-)

    Like

  54. Woah, great post.

    It’s really interesting at the moment with the indie vs traditional publishing debates because let’s face it, traditional publishers don’t usually work this way – this is pure Tim Ferriss, so either you’re going to change the game of the publishing house and define these new rules (crazy marketing and additional creative promotions) or people like you will just get fed up with the dinosaurs and do it yourself via self-publishing.

    Like

  55. Loved this post and yeah your blog does give more than it takes. But seriously, I wonder how many people post comments just for the link to their own website or business?

    Like

  56. Tim, this is really helpful for those of us marketing books. The art of the soft sell and the timing of release are challenging–we always want to release and get the sales moving! Patience is well counseled here, and I am thankful for it.

    Like

  57. Tim,

    Could you recommend a book about group psychology, more specifically how people from different cultures work together/cultural tendencies that would potentially make a team of people more effective?

    Thank you — I’m a huge follower and have immense respect for your opinions and advice.

    Sara

    Like

  58. This has got to be one of the greats on the “how to” list of getting shit DONE. Awesome post man (men?). It reads like a checklist to launch, very nice.

    Like

  59. Charlie,

    Thank you for posting your emails to work with Tim. I planned on doing a unpaid internship with a venture capitalist if my meeting with him goes well, just to get the experience and make contacts in the field.

    You have inspired me to do a lot more before I meet this guy.

    Thank you Charlie,
    Thanh

    Like

  60. Like Matt I’m also interested to know if you play an instrument. Another topic I would like you to talk about is quitting bad habits, as I would like to kow how to quit smoking for good. Rock on Tim!

    Like

    • I second that. My bad habits that I’ve wanted to ask about are quitting smoking and ceasing procrastination. But I’ve been too embarrassed to admit such human weakness’ to my modern day hero.

      Like

  61. I really really like number 9 and number 5. Of course, this whole post was frighteningly good. I was sort of anticipating another list post I see on so many other blogs. The usual countdown of instructions that so many other people take after. However, this blog post was super informative. I liked how you went into depth with how many people you networked with. Thanks for that!

    Like

  62. Hi Tim/Charlie,

    Thanks for the detailed blog. I have been experimenting with the diet and have shed many pounds but now it seems to have slowed down. Will continue at it to see what happens. Also, Charlie’s workload does not seem to be aligned with Tim’s 4-hour-work-week. Charlie seems to have worked around-the-clock to achieve success (amazing results btw) and to have started worked with Tim for FREE. So, basically, you were working extra hours and for free … How is that aligned to his first book? Seems to be completely different from what he believes in.
    Right?

    Like