What do the entrepreneur at the kitchen table and the frustrated corporate marketing exec have in common? Both struggle with launching things. Both have been burned by the broken promises of marketing in our rapidly changing economy.

Modern consumers are more educated and informed than ever before. They’ve got your number and, most of all, they don’t want to be marketed and sold to. So where does that leave you and your idea? How can you cut through the clutter and rise above it all?

The Elevation Principle

“People want valuable insight, access to great people, and recognition before they want products and services.” This is the thesis offered early on in the new book Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Above the Competition by Michael A. Stelzner, the founder of Social Media Examiner. Those people that you want to reach with your widget or website? The ones that don’t want to be marketed to? What they do want is to have their problems solved — preferably by a trusted expert. So how do you do this?

Launch’s stage-by-stage, rocket-like assembly lays this out effectively and formulaically for you through The Elevation Principle. This theory states that Great Content + Other People – Marketing Messages = Growth.

Great Content Is Food for the Mind
As the book is built around the metaphor of launching a rocket into space, the great content you need to produce is broken into two categories. First, there’s the ‘primary fuel’ you need to keep your rocket moving. This is the basic stuff we all create each day and week. How-to articles, interviews, reviews, case studies, and the like. This builds your body of work. But what about that big tank in the center of the rocket?

This booster is the ‘nuclear fuel’ that gives you that kick you need to breakthrough and get where you’re going. This is the harder-to-produce content like research reports, white papers, and events. This propels your subscribers, leads, customers, and ultimately your business into orbit. A classic example of nuclear fuel is Disney’s development of theme parks, which leveraged their existing content while taking their experience to a whole new level of engagement.

Lift Up Other People
Rockets don’t fly themselves, an early chapter in Launch announces. So who consumes all of this great content? To lift off, you’ll need to engage three types of people:

  1. Reader base — your general audience, which may or may not yet be prospects and customers (yet) but whose problems you understand
  2. Outside experts — people outside your company who have access to knowledge your readers value; leveraging experts can help your idea take flight
  3. Fire starters — super-experts who can help you reach the next frontier

Each of these groups is absolutely critical to helping you and your brand achieve escape velocity. You could say Launch is a book about content marketing but that’s an oversimplification. If you take another step back, you’ll realize that the great content is really powered by a deep belief in helping people solve their problems and the impact this has on your business. As Stelzner says, as “you lift people up they will lift you up.”

The Last Chapter

Launch's Michael Stelzner

As a marketer you might raise an eyebrow to learn that there is only one chapter about marketing messages in Launch and it’s the very last one! Alas, though a tough pill to swallow, Stelzner’s Braveheart-like plea to hold, hold, HOLD (!) the marketing messages is critical to successful implementation of the Elevation Principle.

Remember all of those people who don’t what to be sold to? We’ve helped create that stigma, as so many of us marketers (this blogger-included) are hard-wired to ask for the sale too early. Launch tells us to focus instead on creating and sharing compelling content that you give to your audience.

Wait — give?!? We aren’t using marketing messages and we’re giving our thought leadership away?!? More revolutionary thinking but Stelzner — who has built successful businesses around both social media and white paper development using these proven principles — reassures that even giving away some of your best ideas and content in a blog post or report will never replace you and what your business have to offer. Further, he goes on to say “something free can lead to future fees.” By focusing on great content for other people and caging your overt marketing messages, Launch blazes a trail for marketers that is based on restraint.

So, Should You Read It?

Dog-earred, written in, and stuffed with papers, my copy of Launch is a mess already. But that’s what you do with a book of action. If you are a person of action, then Launch is a book for you. While heavy on examples from Stelzner’s own successful ventures, Launch also features diverse case studies ranging from solo bloggers to major corporations.

Will this be the first time you’ve heard of some of the ideas and concepts in Launch? Maybe not. But this will be the time you finally thread them all together and make something big out of the pieces. You see, how Stelzner packages this process here is a key element to the book’s power. The launch/rocket/space metaphor is airtight. It is a flawlessly built brand story. From the formula of the Elevation Principle to primary and nuclear fuel and even the dangers of friction and drag, this parable not only dynamically illustrates the content but it packages it in an extremely memorable and easily sharable format.

You can’t launch a business, brand, or rocket to the moon without a plan. And this book reads like a mission-control manual stuffed with the step-by-step processes and examples you need to achieve escape velocity. That’s why Launch is a good fit for both the entrepreneur and the corporate marketer. For many of the executives I see every day and also for my wife the yoga teacher struggling to stand out from the competition. We’re all looking to stage a launch, which leads me to my gift to you …

You’ve got a big idea — I just know it! Imagine you are an astronaut on the elevator to your rocket ship. Take a quick moment in the comments below and tell me what your flight plan is. No business or idea is too big or too small. From here three things will happen:

  1. I’ll respond to every comment and give you my advice on next steps applying knowledge I gained from Launch.
  2. Of these flight plan comments, I’ll personally pick who I will send a FREE copy of Launch to. I’ll announce the winner here on Friday, July 1st.
  3. BTW – Anyone can read the first chapter of Launch for FREE at ElevationPrinciple.com.

Everyone’s a winner! Who’s ready for lift-off? Whats your big idea? Comment below and you could win a copy of Michael Stelzner’s Launch!