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Fire and Fury and Product Marketing

Fire and fury by michael wolff

The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. Oscar Wilde

The book launch of Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff teaches much about today’s growth marketing and newsjacking. While product teams have been adopting agile practices, most marketing teams are still quite waterfall, wanting months and months of planning time.

(BTW, I’m not a member of either the Republican or Democratic parties. I didn’t vote for Trump or Clinton in 2016.)

After following a fairly traditional launch plan of talk shows and early release of book snippets, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House was released four days early, presumably as a result of a cease-and-desist letter from the President.

In a few hours, it was a best-seller.

fire and fury ranking

"Due to unprecedented demand, we are moving the on-sale date for all formats of 'Fire and Fury,' by Michael Wolff, to Friday, January 5 from the current on-sale date of Tuesday, January 9," a publisher’s spokeswoman told CNN. The move came hours after a personal attorney for President Trump sent a cease-and-desist letter to Henry Holt and Wolff demanding that the book not be released. Legal experts said an actual lawsuit is highly unlikely. Trump has a long history of challenging opponents with cease and desist letters. He also has a reputation for threatening lawsuits but not following through.

Trump tweeted about the book, skyrocketing awareness with his 46 million followers, who I imagine are both Trump supporters and just as many Trump detractors.

Wolff tweeted about the publisher's decision to speed up the release: “Here we go. You can buy it (and read it) tomorrow. Thank you, Mr. President.”

What seems amazing to me is for a publisher—who I imagine would be very slow to adapt—embraced the news and moved the release date in a few hours.

Yes, it’s important to make launch plans. It’s also important to elicit market feedback so you can adjust your plans. Is your messaging working? How are buyers responding? Your launch plan should embrace uncertainty.

Ask yourself continually: “What’s working? What isn’t working?” And make adjustments to your plan in real-time.

In this case, it seems Trump’s actions and the publisher’s quick reactions created a best-seller.

Launch planning is a key step in turning ideas into products, one that many product managers save to last. That's why many product marketing managers are taking up the slack. Read more in Turn Ideas Into Products, available in print, Kindle, and ePub.
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