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A-B Testing Your Excellent Suggestions - Dilbert Blog

A-B Testing Your Excellent Suggestions

I got a ton of thoughtful and interesting suggestions for improving the sales of my book, How to Fail. And I think I figured out a way to test your best ideas.

Most of your comments could be summarized this way: People would buy this book if they knew it had useful/interesting content in it. (The 5-star user reviews on Amazon confirm that it does.) But the value of the book is well-hidden by the book cover design, the title choice, and my reputation as the Dilbert guy.

I can’t do standard A-B testing because it’s not practical to change the actual cover and title after publication. And I can’t do much to change how people view me as an author.

But here’s what I can do, and let me know if this seems like a workable plan.

I have taken two of the most valuable and provocative content bits from the book and put them in a brief slideshow format. This is a free sample. The hope is that once a person sees a teaser of the content, it makes the title, cover, and my reputation less important.

The risk is that any out-of-context point from the book will seem weak compared to how it is presented in the book itself. So I could be doing the equivalent of creating a movie trailer that convinces people not to see the movie. That’s actually a big risk in this case because the nature of the content defies simplification.

I picked the topics “Goals are for Losers” and “Passion is Bullshit” as my free sample teasers. But I will play with different keywords and teasers by using Google Adwords to see what gets the most clicks. The users won’t see the actual book title or cover or my name until after they have made their decisions on what interests them.

I’ll use a tracking URL to know who clicked on the free content and another to see who followed through to look at the book that is mentioned at the end.

I hope to have the free sample up by tomorrow. I wanted to use today to thank you for the advice and input, and to give you a chance improve on my plan if you see a hole in it.

What do you think? Would this plan answer the question of whether the book/title/author are holding back sales?

(By the way, what I am doing right now is something I call “practicing publicly.” That’s a system as opposed to a goal.)