How I Created a Six Figure Income Giving Away a Dead Guy’s Book

Howdy, everyone. I’m John, an independent marketer who specializes in performance marketing and affiliate sales. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know how dedicated I am to sharing my success secrets with the world. I’m also a pretty big fan of giving away free stuff, so you’ll notice that a lot of my blog posts are about how I’ve literally given away free stuff for people to try. That’s the kind of guy I am. Let’s get to the point.

I’ve had a lot of success in recent years, and it all started with a single book. If you told me then that I’d be giving away a dead guy’s book, I’d have thought you were joking. But here we are.

The Birth Of A Phenomenal Bestseller

It all started with a guy named Neil Patel. I was introduced to Neil a little over two years ago, and I was instantly struck by his brilliance and his sincerity. As a marketing professional who has worked with a lot of self-proclaimed gurus in his day, he had a completely different approach. He didn’t come across as cheesy or tryhard. He just came across as smart and straightforward. I appreciated that about him. Plus, he seemed like he actually cared about my success as much as he did about his own.

At the time, I was working with other marketers to develop a tool to measure the success of digital marketing campaigns. We hired a contractor to build the tool, codenamed “Penelope,” that would track all the metrics associated with a digital marketing campaign. One of the metrics tracked by Penelope was “sales.” Our contractor had built the tool on top of Salesforce, and up until that point, we’d been using it for our smaller marketing efforts.

Then one day, without warning, our contractor handed us a signed letter explaining that he was resigning and that he’d given the tool to a startup called Hello Fresh, whose CEO he’d befriended. The startup had offered him a massive amount of money to build the tool from the ground up and bring it to market. As you might imagine, we were a bit taken aback.

To be fair, our contractor had done a ton for us. He’d taken a huge gamble and bet that Hello Fresh would succeed where we’d failed, and he’d secured lucrative licensing deals. In fact, we had to fork out a large sum of money to secure the rights to use the tool. Nevertheless, we were still a bit taken aback by this turn of events. We didn’t want to lose the tool, and at the time, we had no idea how to build something from the ground up. (As it turns out, that’s kind of a theme with this story. We don’t always have the answers, and that’s OK; it just means we have to find them.)

That’s when I reached out to the Hello Fresh community for help. Because of my background and experience, I was asked to join their team as a marketing strategist. My role was to figure out a business and marketing plan for their fresh food delivery service. (Yes, you read that right. They literally wanted me to help them with marketing material and strategy for their food delivery service.)

At first, it felt a little weird being asked to join a company I’d never met in person. But the more I learned about Hello Fresh and its CEO, Hugh Scholz, the more I felt like this was a phenomenal opportunity. Not only was the company well-established with multiple locations across the UK, but they were also committed to sustainable business practices and environmental friendliness.

The more I learned about their business model, the more excited I became. Their entire supply chain was focused on quality and freshness, and they avoided using unnecessary packaging. Plus, they made all their food using only locally sourced and organic ingredients.

One of their biggest sellers was a dish called “fish finger” pie. The dish itself is rather unappetizing. What makes it unique is the filling inside—an incredibly crispy fish paste, otherwise known as “fish ball.” If you’ve never tried it, let me assure you that it does not sound like something that would appeal to the average person. But for some reason, it’s incredibly popular in Japan. (Weird.)

Even though the fish finger pie was their biggest seller, it had never really been marketed in an intelligent way to maximize its potential. Hello Fresh didn’t have a marketing budget, and they didn’t know how to effectively market something that doesn’t sound appealing at first. (Just kidding. They totally knew how to market it.)

To be fair, they probably didn’t need to— the product was just so good that customers were willing to overlook its unappetizing appearance. But in order to optimize the potential of their biggest seller, they needed to identify the main audience that it was aimed at. And since they didn’t have the money or expertise to do so, they turned to me.

The Birth Of A Dream Team

As I mentioned earlier, I have a pretty good track record when it comes to giving away free stuff. So when Hello Fresh asked me to help them with their marketing material and strategy, I felt pretty good about myself.

The fact that they wanted to work with me instead of another marketing agency was a big bonus. Not only did I have the skillset necessary to pull this off, but I also had the experience to know exactly what they needed and how to go about creating it.

The Task At Hand

With a bit of time off work, I got straight to work. My first challenge was to scope out the brand voice, style, and tone of their marketing material. (You can probably tell that this was a major priority for me. I love words and I like to use them carefully. Especially when I’m paid for them. Sometimes I even go so far as to say words just to see the smile on someone’s face.)

Based on my experience in the industry and my research into the company, I initially suggested that they adopt a “light touch” approach with their marketing. I didn’t want to come across as too sales-y, but I also didn’t want to alienate existing customers by coming across as too perfect or polished either. As a result, I proposed that they use simple, non-formal language.

For example, instead of the usual “Dear Customer,” Hello Fresh’s friendly emails start with “Hey.”

The CEO, Hugh Scholz, loved the idea and gave the green light. Since then, the company has adopted a less formal and more fun tone, using a range of colorful language and friendly, approachable copy that appeals to a broad audience.

The Results

Inevitably, the results of my work were far more effective than expected. Or at least, that’s what the company claims. Since implementing my ideas and strategies, they’ve seen an increase in revenues of over 50% year on year. (In case you’re curious, the tool I built with my colleagues at the time is still used by marketing and sales teams across the UK and worldwide, and it’s kept up to date with the latest algorithms and industry trends.)

As a result of my work, Hello Fresh was shortlisted for the Mailchimp UK Marketing Awards in the “Marketing Campaign of the Year” category. To celebrate, they invited me along to the awards ceremony and I got to walk the red carpet and accept my award in person. It was a pretty surreal moment. And it wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory selfie.

While all this was going on, I was also working with the CEO, Hugh Scholz, to write a book. The book, “The Perfect Market: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Marketers Who Want to Win,” co-authored by me and Hugh, was published in March 2019. (Yes, that’s right, I wrote a book with a dead guy. You’ll soon find out why—it’s a funny story.)

Hugh and I worked on the book for a while, getting feedback from marketing executives and case studies from Hello Fresh, before we were given the green light to publish the book. We were both nervous about putting our names on the book, but we were also really excited about the opportunity to share our knowledge and experience with the world. (Side note: If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I’m pretty big on transparency, so here’s a quick disclosure. I own a marketing agencies called Growthoid and we get a huge amount of mileage out of our blog. In fact, MarketingCharts has ranked Growthoid’s blog as the 13th most influential marketing blog in the world. Guess what? That’s me, right there.)