January 12

My Thoughts on Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula

Marketing

31  comments

I got this message recently from someone on my email list.

Im a novice in this but i was studying a lot years ago. The thing that made me step back in it was that in my quest for knowledge i found out this thing about The Internet Marketing Syndicate.

https://omegavirginrevolt.wordpress.com/the-syndicate-the-internet-marketing-scam-organization-behind-game/

Could you if possible clear for me if there any truth on this Scam and what are the guys i need to avoid get info from?

The thing is that im from Brasil and i know now there are some Internet Marketers promoting similar stuff there. Similar to Lauch Formula of Jeff Walker. Is there any good in this stuff or are only hype?

Thank you in advance.

Here’s my response.

Hi ———.

Obviously, I’m not in a position to comment on the Syndicate, and I really know nothing about “game”. Of course, there is obvious and clear history linking a lot of these “marketers” together.

I am happy to talk about Jeff Walker’s “Product Launch Formula”. In my opinion, it works. That’s obvious, because everyone’s using it, and have been for ten years.

Why does it work? Because it systemizes a model of scarcity and pressure-selling. For me, that’s unethical. Sure, if you have *real* scarcity (like if you only have 2 boxes of the product left, or you’re offering coaching and there are only so many hours in the week) then that’s the truth and you can use it to increase urgency in your selling message. People have been doing that for thousands of years.

But PLF is about creating artificial scarcity. It says, “Instead of just offering the world what you sell, create a buzz around an limited window of opportunity.” Then there’s a lot of stuff around the tactics of how you build up that buzz, and create multiple opportunities to buy, etc., all stuff that’s been tested and pretty much perfected over the years.

At the end of the day, it’s fundamentally unethical. So the question is, what do you want? If you want to make as much money as possible, by persuading or coercing people into buying your stuff, use PLF.

I choose a different path. I prefer to build real trust over time (sometimes a long time) and to earn a small tribe of loyal followers. Not “get rich quick” addicts. People who are like me, and who want to build the same kind of world that I want to build.

It’s down to your own ethics and your own choice, my friend.

What do you think of PLF?

Jeff Walker PLF I’d love to hear your thoughts.
  • Have you tried Jeff’s Product Launch Formula?
  • Did it help you to sell your stuff effectively?
  • Do you think it helped you to sell ethically? (i.e. The right people were empowered to make the right choice for them, with all the information they needed, without being misled or manipulated?)
  • If you offer a guarantee, what percentage of buyers have claimed on it?
  • How have the client relationships panned out?
  • Perhaps you’ve just read Jeff’s “Launch” book? (I have, and found it very interesting.)

Please comment below, thanks.

About the author 

Ben Hunt

My job is to look at the world and wonder... "How can we make things better?"

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  1. Hey Ben I haven’t used PLF but as for false scarcity, it can be used to create that of course, but it you have a model where you release a course and provide live training or coaching for a period of time after release, then in my view it isn’t false scarcity. With that model it may be best to have a larger influx of people at once all starting the course at the same time.

    Of course a lot of marketers just tack on some dubiously useful Q&A calls as a reason for closing the cart. But that is not true across the board. So it seems to me that your problem is with the common implementation of the model rather than the model itself.

    1. Hi Will. Great points.

      Yes, there is such a thing as true scarcity. When I launched my “Pro Web Design Course” back in 2010, I started with a Foundation Group, which was my test bed for developing the content. I would meet with each member of the group once per week for half an hour (an incredible burden, looking back). That was true scarcity, precisely for the reason you mentioned: specific human involvement.

      And it’s clear that some of the “reasons why” that people use to inject that human involvement to give their launch a timeframe can be dubious.

  2. I have read the book and watched the video sequence. It is interesting and logical. But he gives the impression that you can buy it only once per year. That is not true. you can buy it anytime, just sign up for the video sequence with a different email address and you’ll have another opportunity to buy it. So that part is dishonest. I also can’t stand all the talk about how he was poor and he has kids and he’s just like everyone else, the same old format for selling I’ve seen too many times. I do admit I learned some things from the earlier video series (spring 2015) but now the videos seem to have less value and more poor-to-rich stories. I did not buy the $2000 product launch formula, if it was $500 I might have been tempted.

    1. The poor-to-rich story is part of the formula. It works by creating credibility (provided you haven’t seen it time and time and time again, that is).

      And you’re right, fake “evergreen launches” are clearly dishonest and manipulative.

  3. I use PLF to sell my online gardening course – haven’t taken Jeff’s course, but I use his freebies to do my launches. The PLF approach does help tremendously to sell the course, primarily because of the scarcity and the social proof nature of the promotion.

    As for ethics, in my opinion it’s definitely borderline because I could just leave the course open year round, but since it’s not a desperate need, people seem to need that scarcity to get them to make the buying decision. I don’t do fear-based selling, but I do have the scarcity component. I feel okay about it because the course itself is really good and although I’ve had around 500 people enrol in the course, I’ve given only about 10 refunds, and they’re almost always apologetic when asking for the refund, like “I’m sorry, but I just didn’t find the time to use it,” but ya, this is a worthwhile discussion.

    Even before PLF one of my early mentors Glenn Livingston said if he leaves out scarcity, his sales are cut in half. He always advocated real scarcity, but still, that’s a big drop. Those are my quick thoughts…

    1. Thanks Phil. Yes, Glenn is a great marketer. Look, there’s no question that scarcity sells, but you can have scarcity with honesty or scarcity with dishonesty.

      I’d love to know more about your course, by the way 🙂

  4. Lordy… Good stuff, as always.

    I’m taking PLF now. It’s helped to sell out a coaching program one of my clients was running – so it’s most definately been effective, for her and I.

    I agree with the statement about “artificial scarcity” and how it relates to ethics.

    Jeff positions that scarcity as “real” because the deadline is in fact at a specific time.

    However, that doesn’t change that the scarcity has been architected from the beginning.

    I think that gives his audience (primarily composed of passive coaches & skills-trainers) permission to justify high-pressure selling… “Well hey!? There Isssss a DEADLINE. Now I can finally hard close, as I’ve always wanted to do.”

    * By the way “passive” doesn’t mean “pushover”… I mean “kind-hearted people” who, under most circumstances, would never think of Selling as Manipulation.

    PLF to me is like how some animals camouflage to defend themselves or dance around in a certain way to get some sex… It’s a strategy for certain people to finally get a result, where other methods have failed… another tool for the toolbox.

    1. Thanks Colin. Interesting that you say “Jeff positions that scarcity as real“..

      As we’ve discussed, there is scarcity with a valid and real “reason why”, and there’s scarcity with a fake “reason why”. That’s the line in the sand for me.

  5. Benn, hello!
    Thank you for an interesting topic!
    We work in Russia. In our country and in the USSR as a whole marketing did not exist before. It was a planned economy. Therefore, we learn marketing from the West.
    After the collapse of the Union of imported goods have flooded. The goods were packaged beautifully and we rushed to buy them.
    After a while we saw the light. After all, the quality of our products was much higher. But this time, our producers have thinned great.
    It turned out that marketing can take up the quality. But in our country it was a very sad victory.
    Therefore what teaches Ben Hunt is very very important. Indeed, in modern conditions any honest manufacturer should own marketing.
    We can not hope for the buyer. Raining down on him a ton of information. We must be able to promote our products.
    And then honest people can really build a better world. Knowledge is power! 🙂
    PS Ben, for the last six months we have made about 10 projects. All use your ladder of recognition. This is a bomb! We continue to implement your technology. How great that you are!

  6. Wow. Is great to see that there are different “players” in this market. I will follow this post to keep learning with the comments. One of the reasons I started asking myself about if was better more authentic ways to market online was reading books like Business Model Generation and Value Proposition Design. I asked myself why the marketing need to be based in MadMan or The Engineering of Consent style instead of transparency?

  7. Hi Ben,

    I too know nothing about the syndicate thing. However, PLF… yes.

    I enrolled in PLF when it was first rolled out, 2007 I think.

    At that time, I didn’t have the need to use it though was keen to know about the various PLF models, believing in the future I would use PLF for my copywriting clients on their campaigns.

    Roll on a few years and a client of mine had purchased the PLF and wanted to test the process out to sell a product to his own database.

    So we worked on the internal PLF launch and pretty much used it as laid out in the instructions.

    It takes work.

    And because of that work, what we did do is make a six figure amount (between 400-450k) on a 1k plus, business product.

    How much profit was made and what returns he got, I don’t know.

    Were those who bought, misled? I don’t know. I suppose that would be reflected in the returns. And of course, no matter what kind of promotion you run, there’ll be people who buy with full intention and knowledge, but just won’t do a thing and return the product with the cellophane still intact and not a crease in sight.

    I do know when creating all the written moving parts for the internal launch, we did everything we could to drop every single bit of proof about the product, what it does, how to use it, how to create results, who else has used it, etc.

    The scarcity angle is nothing but a good old deadline, though wrapped up in a fancy bit of psychological jargon. And in a way, it’s a good thing because it does get people to take an action, something they may not necessarily have done if there was no deadline/scarcity in place.

    Is the whole process unethical? I don’t know. Of course, if you put that the offer is only open for 5 days and you go back to the website after 45 days and lo and behold… there’s a limited, scarce deal waiting for me!!… then yes, tis unethical.

    I do know that the relationship between my client and his customers is a good, long lasting reciprocal one and in fact, these kind of marketing ‘event’s’, break up the same old same old ways of campaign creating.

    In fact, you probably don’t need to invest in the full blown PLF programme right away. There are various PLF materials that JW has put out and I’m sure that anyone interested in PLF for their business, would get a good enough education to test out a mini version of the formula and track what happens.

    Raja

  8. Hi Ben and all,
    Here is the link to the original video “Scamworld” by The Verge:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0LZ6DNCgrY

    Pay particular attention to Frank Kern explaining why the actual product is irrelevant, and can be created in “four minutes”! Also Frank himself talks about how important a syndicate is in the success of the launch. Bear in mind that this video was made back in 2012, things haven’t improved since then.

    1. Hi Terry. Yes, Scamworld is worth watching.

      I do believe that this group has either raised their ethical game in the past few years, or is wanting to give the impression that they have. Either way things are moving in the right direction.

  9. I teach childbirth classes (as Ben well knows). I have recently decided that as I cant seem to get any more than 4 on a course, im going to try up selling to the “Very Important Pregnancy” class (an extra £59), pack the class out with value and restrict the class for 4 couples only to keep the bookings steady. This so far in its first month has worked and i have a full weeekend class for the first time in 3 years. I just now need to work out how many couples i can take on a course and keep the scarcity factor.

    However it is important to me me that my parents get spoilt on their class and this doesn’t become a selling tactic for just a regular class. Even if my class, prices and content are similar to other local classes, if i use selling tactics i want them to be real and have real benefit to my parents

  10. Ben,
    I came across this page after doing some research on the best way to launch a product/service.

    Your insight was very refreshing and in line with what I was thinking – be ethical.

    But I am even more impressed with the comments left by others. So I have a huge THANK YOU to everyone above who took time to share. Really awesome insight. It gives me some ideas that I need to make sure I include in my business.

    I will look further into the work you do and will invite you to connect… I enjoy helping people on their journey as so many have helped me on mine. (FYI – I just returned home after a 1 year trip across Canada from coast to coast with my wife and daughter – teenacrosscanada.com)
    Cheers and continued success!

  11. I have very mixed feelings on all of this. Yes, the world is full of fakes and phonies and bullshit artists. That’s just the way it is. For instance, our politicians — they put these get rich quick through digital product marketing people to shame. Change you can believe in, make American great again, etc etc. I long ago gave up getting upset when people lie to me to sell me something. I run into it too many times a day. Tenants in my rental apartments lie to me, the guy who comes to unplug my blocked septic system lies to me, real estate agents lie to me. I worked on Wall Street in my twenties. It’s a cesspool, full of brilliant avaricious people who lie through their teeth. And sometimes I encounter honest, straightforward people with big hearts who do what they say they will, and I’m pleasantly surprised.

    But I watch these free videos from Jeff Walker and Egan Pagan or whatever his name is and I get something out of them. There’s a logic there that I’m able to take in my own direction, to build on in my own way. These videos and downloadable PDFs etc., and books, (Jeff Walker’s book Launch costs $10 on Amazon) get me thinking in opportunity-oriented ways. Is Launch worth $10? Yes, I think it is if someone has a good idea, is willing to work hard and take risk, and persist when things don’t immediately work out.

    I won’t use the artificial scarcity technique — my market is too savvy for that, and you don’t make friends by tricking them — but that’s not Jeff Walker’s entire repertoire. I appreciate a lot of the free stuff these guys put out there.

    1. Absolutely Rod. There’s a lot of value in what all these marketers teach, I’ve never said otherwise. I think it’s a shame firstly that trickery works, and secondly that it seems to be so embedded in the canon of marketing “best practice”.

  12. I read the book and found it interesting too. I found Jeff’s promotional videos useful as well, but I can’t see that the course itself is value for money. Agree totally with you that being straight with people is the best policy, both for peace of mind and for sustainable business success.

    The one book that everyone in business should read is ‘The Secret of Selling Anything’ by Harry Browne. Despite what has always struck me as a somewhat cheesy title, it is the opposite of what most “selling” books and courses tell you. In summary: 1) Find out what problem the prospect wants solving, and what it’s worth to them; 2) If you can’t provide a solution, thank them for their time and move on; 3) If you can, explain to them how you will do it, how long it will take and what it will cost them.

  13. Hi. I found this post while looking for Jeff Walkers reviews. Reading the comments and the original question I find we are talking about two (or maybe three) different things.
    The scam thing seems actually bad, as there is always a bunch of opportunists that really exist only to dry your pockets. But I wouldn’t place Jeff Walker and his formula on the same bag. It has helped real people to sell real products. Maybe the all the people buying these end products are driven by some unclear motivations and do not actually need to buy, but scarcity only responds for part of the reason someone will buy.
    I have started researching for Jeff while evaluating if I would buy the Brazilian version of PLF, a guy that has somehow licensed the formula and sells the exactly same program here. While watching the videos I have searched for almost all of their testimonial clients and they are real, working, business. Not all use the scarcity formula is a bad way, actually most of the clients in the reviews use scarcity in a understandable manner.
    In the end people are looking for formulas that help them achieve something specific and I think PLF is one of them, while not the only one. Others as Ramit Seth with I Will teach you to be reach are more quality and behavioral driven.

    1. I agree PLF is helping real people with real businesses, Patrick. One of my concerns is that it is not necessarily applicable or appropriate to the majority of businesses or products. Of course, we know scarcity can work, but it should always and only be used in an honest way.

  14. It is now 2017 and Jeff Walker is on the last days of his latest launch of his formulae

    I have followed the ads and think it looks like a great clean system

    – but I have also become smothered by every man and his dog using the exact same strategy (inclusive of rags to riches backstory)

    so I went on to google and tried to find ….what comes next…. ..after everyone is sick to death of this sequence,

    (because surely it has already saturated the market)

  15. Cordial discussion. I enjoyed reading your insights and the perspectives of those who responded. I just viewed Jeff Walker’s intro today, and I have to say that it is sometimes very difficult to get people to take action–even action they sincerely want to take–and Jeff’s presentation did not seem unethical to me. Structured, yes. Urgent, Maybe. I appreciate the counterpoints in the discussions.

  16. I have found Jeff to be a very “stand up guy” He is straightforward and because of that he helps people grow their business through well tested programs and strategies which, PLF aside could actually defined the core goals and desired outcomes for every entrepreneur every day. You might find replacing the word scarcity with motivation and or insight. I work in the field of Organizational Development and, in my opinion ( and only my opinion) Jeff Walkers PLF is the best program out there!!!

  17. Hi,

    1) In PLF there is always a 30 days money back guarantee. So if people felt pressured and bought by impulse they have 30 days to rethink, evaluate the product and ask for a full refund.

    2) In PLF, people are selling real and good products, customers are not being cheated into buying a fake or fony product. If so, the seller would be hated after a short time, affecting his ability to sell again. And some PLF sellers have been selling for years and they have a good realionship with its customers.

    So by those two aspects of PLF, can we conclude that all PLF techniques are ethical? I don’t think so because the techniques influence people on a sub/inconscient level causing an urge to buy which makes people buy without their full reasoning/judgement on a conscient level.

    But, again, if customers have 30 days to ask for a full refund it looks very fair. It’s like saying: “okay, I may have tricked you with my selling techniques, but think along 30 days, have a taste of my product and let me know if you decide to give up the purchase”. This looks very ethical. I dont know if we could say it compensates or corrects but for sure it softens any unethical techniche used.

    It’s true that some people get embaressed or shy and don’t ask for the money back. So they get harmed by the PLF. But that’s on them?

    About the scarsity, I don’t see any problem generating it. If I have a product and if I sell more selling it a few times for a few days a year instead of selling 24/7 the whole year, what’s the problem on choosing when to sell my product? Could I sell it all year long? Yes. But I choose not to because it’s better for my business. I see it simply as a business choice. If Mc Donalds decides to sell Mc Cheddars only three times a year, that’s their choice. Actually they do that for some sandwiches and I don’t see that as unethical.

    What do you think?

    1. Hi Andre. All fair points. I think we can agree that PLF treads the line between persuasion and manipulation that all marketers do. At this point in my own journey, it isn’t something that appeals to me personally, but I wouldn’t call it wrong.

  18. Hmmmm, I am a strategic level marketer, certified by the Chartered Institute of Marketing with an MBA from a top UK business school. I studied the PLF years ago when there was a lot of hype because of the syndicate.

    It’s very difficult to implement and extremely tactical if you do not have an understanding of market forces. PLF falls down on the notion of scarcity. It does not take into account competitive forces: you can use the Porters 5 Forces model to understand where PLF falls down. competitors with rival products/services will add to market supply not scarcity , substitute products (disruption, an alternative that does the job you want) , the power of buyers in an industry (they can dictate terms of trade with you), the power of suppliers (they can dictate your cost base and capability to deliver a product / service – often volume discounts makes it difficult to promote artificial scarcity when you want to turnover stock, and the threat of new entrants: unless it is difficult to enter your market new products and services always come into your markets increasing supply and lowering prices for all. You can’t do anything about it unless you innovate around profitable customer niche segments in your industry

  19. I bought Jeff's original PLF at an astronomical price 12 years ago – all photocopied manuals & tapes which put me to sleep. I emailed Jeff that it didn't work, what could I do, but he never replied. I emailed as late as last year, no cigar. Yet I keep getting his promo emails ceaselessly 12 years later. I'm happy he made over $30 million. But if if you have one dissatisfied customer, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven! If you cannot provide customer supportundefinedmoney-back guaranteeundefinedadvice on your product, what is the use of the hype? Just Ichabod.

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