Earlier this month, Michelle Obama launched her new book, Becoming. In the first 24 hours of release, the book sold more than 725,000 copies, making it the single biggest selling day of the year for a title from her publisher. According to The Guardian, that amounted to a book sold every nine seconds.
By the end of its first week on the market, the book had sold more than 1.4 million copies, breaking the record for the biggest first-week sales ever for book retailer Barnes & Noble. I've long been a Michelle Obama fan-girl, and I knew she had a book coming out but was too busy with other things to pay attention.
That is until I started seeing folks posting on social media about what she's doing to heighten the buzz and impact of her book. As a result, I started paying attention. I also bought the book.
Obama partnered with Live Nation, the world's largest concert promoter, to launch a 10-city book tour across the country. And recently, dates have been added for the tour to continue in select cities in Europe. The former first lady is selling out large arenas for her tour, the same ones that sports teams and music icons headline for their own events.
The tour is simple, with Obama sitting down and talking with famed moderators including Oprah Winfrey and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. But even with its simplicity, it's making a powerful impact.
The strategy behind the book tour is one every business should take note of.
Experiences help you win more customers.
The way you see most people promote books is pretty common these days, in particular for non-fiction titles. The authors go on a bunch of podcasts. If they can land television appearances they seize the opportunity. Some authors will seek out further media coverage, such as in publications like this one.
Savvy authors will host their own live launch events, and work to schedule readings at bookstores as their own version of a book tour.
Like Obama, they understand that live experiences bring admirers closer to them. Readers get to hear more stories. They may get to ask questions. They get to see them live and in the flesh. For attendees of Obama's arena tour, it doesn't matter that most will watch her from a large jumbotron. The excitement and energy of being in the room with her is more than enough to provide delight.
Participating in experiences gives those who take part something memories that may be even more memorable and impactful than the product itself.
Attendees of Obama's tour can tell the story of how long they waited in a cyber-queue to buy a ticket, who they went to the event with, what they wore, and what they did afterward.
Creating these types of experiences requires more effort than encouraging readers to start a book club, and providing a discussion guide to spark dialogue.
But the extra work in producing such events is worth it. It gives your customers the gift of participating in an experience that can serve as a defining moment for them.
As you think about the products and services you are offering to your customers, make sure you bake in experiences as a part of your core strategy.
When Nike launched their React running shoe, they did so by launching experiential pop-up houses, in cities around the world. Candace Nelson added an experience to select locations of her Sprinkles bakeries, by incorporating the 24-hour cupcake ATM machine.
I created a strategy for one of my clients to launch a podcast and include two live recordings of the show at customer tradeshows. These experiences will help the brand connect their target listeners to the content at a deeper level.
Whether your core offering is a physical product or a service, incorporating unforgettable in-person experiences is both a worthwhile strategy and investment to increase your reach and brand awareness. It will also connect your customers more deeply to your brand, and help you make more sales.
You don't have to have the fame or backstory of Michelle Obama to pull this off. Filling stadiums with your events don't need to be a goal.
Focus instead on delivering remarkable experiences to your ideal customers that they'll want to tell everyone in their circle about.