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3 Lessons Every Blogger Needs to Learn about Pumpkin Lattes and Anticipation

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I absolutely love pumpkin lattes. Actually, I love anything pumpkin-flavored and always look forward to fall since it’s pretty much the only time pumpkin items are available.

During the fall, it’s not unusual for me to have four or five pumpkin lattes every week, unapologetically. My addiction defense is that I can’t get them during the rest of the year! And in the frothy goodness of my favorite fall beverage, there’s a lesson about anticipation and blogging. Three lessons, actually, which are all important to learn if you want to be successful as a blogger.

Lesson #1: Creating hype early makes people excited.

Every year, as summer comes to a close, I start seeing advertisements for pumpkin lattes at Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, and lots of other places. Now, they could wait until it’s really fall to start offering pumpkin options, but they don’t, and for good reason. Starting earlier really makes me excited for fall, and as soon as the pumpkin flavor become available, I’m ready to whip out my wallet thanks to all the advertising I’ve been seeing.

When you’re getting ready to launch a new blog or a product with your blog, start talking about it as soon as you can. Don’t have the details worked out? No problem! Well before I launched Blog Zombies, for example, I started a mailing list about my new “secret project” and I released more and more information as I solidified my idea. Hundreds of people signed up on my mailing list before I ever wrote a single post, just because I talked about it and got the hype going early.

Lesson #2: Deliver on the high-quality promises you make.

Don’t make the mistake of running with lesson #1 and then not delivering on the hype you’ve created. I go crazy for pumpkin lattes every year because they are so darn tasty. If I got one and it was disappointing, future hype wouldn’t matter.

You don’t want your readers to be “meh” about the experience. The phrase “it’s good enough” is a really, really dangerous one. Put forward your best work with every single thing you do and be prepared to deliver on everything you promise. The only way anticipation will build is when the product is amazing. Disappoint your audience once and it will be a fight to get them excited ever again.

Lesson #3: Limited quantities create a buying frenzy.

Lastly, consider limiting the reader experience in some way to get more people involved. Every year, by the time December comes around, I start to get a little sick of pumpkin. I might even start to cheat a little on pumpkin with gingerbread. Shhh…don’t tell.

But then I start to realize that the season is almost over, and while my little indiscretion with gingerbread lattes was fun, it was just a fling. Every year, I ultimately realize I won’t be able to get pumpkin again for like, nine months. So, I start buying pumpkin lattes again like crazy.

Think about how you can create limited quantities – or perceived limited quantities – for your readers. I see people do this all the time with webinars. By saying “seating is limited,” webinar hosts get people to sign up, even though when you sign up actually doesn’t matter (if the webinar truly is full, you have to show up early – it doesn’t matter when you register). You could make one of your products available for a limited time instead (or a discounted price) if you don’t want to limit quantities.

Basically, you want the anticipation to build so much that your reader is afraid of missing out if they don’t take action immediately.

In summary, here are the three take-away lessons I’ve learned about pumpkin lattes and anticipation:

  • Start hyping your project early. Get people excited so they feel like they just can’t wait.
  • Deliver high-quality products so that people always get excited for them.
  • Limit quantities so that people are afraid of missing out.

As for me? I think it’s time I go have another pumpkin latte before they’re gone for the season again. Will you be at NMX in Las Vegas this January? Let me know so we can have pumpkin lattes together!

Blog Hype and Ethics

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When launching a new product, hype can account for a major percentage of your sales. Before the product is even in the hands of your readers, you want people to be buzzing about it as much as possible. Every time someone tweets or blogs about your upcoming launch, they are reaching readers who will potentially be putting dollars in your pocket.

And driving sales is a good thing – a very good thing…if you can create the hype ethically.

I’m part of a video game blog, and right now, one of the biggest shows in this black slim Xbox 360 industry is happening in L.A. – E3. It’s a press-only event with press conference from the three major players in the gaming industry, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. I just got done watching the Microsoft press conference, and it’s interesting how Twitter and other social networks are buzzing about the event.

Microsoft might not be a blog, but they are launching a product, too – a new Xbox 360, their flagship video game console. The new 360 is pretty cool, and they’re shipping it today…plus they gave one away to all the journalists who attended their event live.

The question many people are asking is this: Are these member of the press being bought with a free product? The console costs $299 in stores and isn’t even available until later this week, so it is a pretty major gift they’re giving away, conveniently to the people who will be writing their opinions about Microsoft over the next few days.

It’s a bit of a gray area, but I think as bloggers, there’s a lesson to be had here: If you do anything even a little unethical, people are going to call you on it, and the potential for that negativity to have a snowball effect is on your launch is very real.

This idea of being ethical can expand to blogging in general, not just product launches. Your readers can and will sniff out anything slimy that you’re doing. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make money from your blog. Blogging is a business, and you should absolutely use sales techniques to earn a living. Just be careful about how you’re doing it.

Some ethical hype tips:

  • Ask people for testimonials, not opinions. By providing a testimonial, they’re agreeing to recommend your product. Taking one positive remark from an email that was mostly constructive criticism and using it as a testimonial isn’t ethical. Everything has to be in context.
  • Deliver what you’re promising. If you’re selling a 100-page ebook and someone buys it only to discover that the book is in 48-pt font and every other page is just a giant stock photograph, that’s not going to sit well. Hype your product, but don’t stretch the truth to make it seem better than it is.
  • Stay true to your word about price increases. Is your product available to a certain group of people (like subscribers) for a lower price, or is it available at a lower price for a limited time? Make sure to increase the price how you promise. Otherwise, people who were convinced to purchase it because of the perceived discount will feel scammed.
  • Make great free samples, but an even better product. It’s a really good thing to give away valuable “samples” of your work through shorter ebooks, free videos, blog content, etc. However, people make a purchase of your product because they think they’re getting even more information. If everything in the product is available for free somewhere on your blog, they’ll wonder why they purchased it in the first place.
  • Never offer free products in exchange for a positive review. It’s just slimy. You can offer a free product in exchange for a review, but by it’s very nature, a review should be truthful. Be prepared for some people to not like the product you gave them.

In short…be honest and create products that deliver. This really isn’t rocket science, people. Which is a shame, because “rocket scientist” would look great on my resume.

To circle back to my original inspiration for this blog post – Microsoft giving away a ton of free Xbox 360s to game journalists. I do think that it created a lot of extra hype. People all over the world are tweeting and blogging about the giveaway, and that’s creating tons of buzz for the new product.

But do I think it is unethical? Not really. I don’t think they expect people to be more positive toward their press conference just because they got a big gift. People are still going to be opinionated, and there’s a lot of negative things to say about Microsoft. The giveaway was a publicity stunt, not a bribe, in my opinion, and that’s the kind of hype you want around your blog too.

Allison Boyer is a writer for BlogWorld Expo’s blog and the owner/manager of After Graduation. She thinks “blogger” looks awesome on her resume, too, so she’s not too sad about the rocket scientist thing.

Image Credit: Microsoft

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