Amber Vilhauer is a leading digital strategist but she’s so much more.
The founder of NGNG (No Guts No Glory) has come up with a system more ingenious than any I’ve ever seen when it comes to helping authors corral their network to support their book launches. Longtime listeners know that I’m a pretty jaded person who’s tough to impress so you know how much it means when I say that when Amber shared her system and copy and videos with me, I was as blown away as I’ve been by any strategy I’ve seen during my decades in publishing.
In this episode, she breaks that strategy down by explaining how authors should approach the people they know, what to say when they do and how to make sure that getting support for a book launch is just as much about giving as it is receiving.
Anna David: Even though, Amber, what you may not know is that I’ve written two emails about you to my newsletter list. That’s how impressed I am by you.
Amber: Girl, come on.
Anna David: Because it’s, I told you when we spoke, I am just blown away by your level of organization and your brilliance with even the small things. So, your assistant sent me I said, oh, send me a bio and pictures and she sends me the most exquisite link to the most exquisite page. I have known many people, including myself who have tried to have bio pages, media pages, it just was perfect. So I redid mine.
Anna David: Then I put it in my newsletter as an example, please go look at Amber’s page. I was at a holiday party last night and someone comes up to me and said, I loved that woman, she said that woman, your last name’s hard to pronounce, that woman’s page in your newsletter. So it’s making waves.
Amber: Oh my gosh, you’re so amazing. Gosh, I just want to keep you by my side all day every day.
Anna David: No, I just know I never blow smoke my my listeners know that.
Amber: I know that about you. So that’s why it means so much. But listen, Anna, I really there’s something here and I want to build upon that. And next year and the year after.
Anna David: That means so much. So let me tell listeners who who why I’m so blown away. So we’re introduced by previous podcast guest, Kay Allison. And I know just like me, you’re introduced to people all the time. And you’re like, yeah, hi. Okay. Why didn’t you ask me before you did the intro. But I had heard about you. And I’m like, I really want to meet her. You showed me your system for book marketing, and I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I’ve never seen anything like it. So would you describe what it is you show your clients how to do?
Amber: Yes, well, I do all sorts of things. So for 15 years, I’ve had my company NGNG, which stands for No Guts, No Glory. And we started out as a website and branding company, I was a total geek, I taught myself code, I started blogging about the stuff I was I was just learning about online from SEO to copywriting and affiliate marketing and funnels and webinars and membership programs. And as soon as I could prove that I could really crush something, I would open it up as a service to one of my clients. Well, 15 years later, I find myself in a really unique position. Because I’ve seen a lot, I’ve been a part of a lot, I know a lot, I’ve executed a lot, I’ve perfected a lot, and I know that in order to make the strongest and most positive impact on the world that I can, I need to also document what I know so that I can have a brilliant team that helps me in the execution of it. And along the way, Anna, the world wanted me for book launches. And I actually resisted it. I resisted it for years, I did not promote that I do book launches, it was just something I did from time to time. And I didn’t want to do it because I think launches are stressful and chaotic, and I wanted a calmer life than that. But as the world continued, it was actually Mike Michalowicz who came to me a few years ago. And he’s like, listen, you have to do my book launch. And I said, ah, it’s Mike. Fine. I’ll do your book launch. And then Mike told everybody and that was that it was undeniable. I had to fall in love with it, which I did. So thank you Mike Michalowicz, you are always gonna be my friend. But what I can bring into a book launch is different than pretty much anybody I’ve ever seen. Because a lot of people who manage about book launches, coaches, execution teams, publishing companies, etc, is they’re all about the launch itself, that day, let’s drum up some support. Ask everybody that you know, to pitch it on your behalf. And let’s poof get it out there. Oh, and then you’re on your own good luck. And so an author is sitting here and man, they don’t know anything about marketing. Usually, they don’t like it. They just want to write their book. That’s where they fell in love with this process, not being the next Instagram star. And the thoughts of that makes them want to cringe usually. They also don’t look at themselves, usually as a business owner, and they just want to speak, they just want to help people, right? And so I’ve really observed this, and I’m such a lover of people, Anna, so I really
Anna David: I can tell.
Amber: I get to know my authors. They come in, I don’t judge where they came from. And I just say, Listen, believe it or not you’re a business owner. I’m going to help you fall in love with marketing. I’m going to help you get the lined monetization model because I need you to make money off of this book. The book alone isn’t going to do it. I’m sorry to crush that idea of selling millions of copies.
Anna David: Preach!
Amber: Yeah, but there’s a business here and then I start to educate them as to why that’s a good thing and how they I reframe their mindset in every possible way to see that this is an opportunity to actually make the transformation they want to make in the world. But in order to do that, we have to look at this as a business, which means that I have to come in and teach you what you need to know about how your website can actually attract and qualified buyers, you can make an emotional connection with them right out of the gates, you can guide them step by step on what you want them to do through video, you don’t even have to be there. That website is your salesperson for you. So you don’t have to feel like you have to be a high pressure salesperson. Then I’m going to help you with your marketing. And with your marketing, you can’t be the one to do it, which is actually when they feel that sign of relief. But you shouldn’t be doing your marketing. But I also don’t want you to hire an agency that’s going to charge you one to $5,000 a month to do something that you could be doing internally. So instead, I’m going to teach you how to fish, I’m going to help you find a very capable, amazing, talented, creative marketing assistant, I call this person a CMA. I want to find that person that you align with that you really feel safe with. And that gets you and I want to train that person on everything I know about internet marketing, so that that person can optimize your videos on YouTube and write your blog posts and help do all your social media for you and manage your email list and all of that for $30 an hour, less than 10 hours a week. Okay, this is a game changer for authors, because now it looks like they’re everywhere, their marketing is consistent, and they don’t have to do it. So I help them overcome a lot of those fears. When we actually move into book launch season, then that’s when I teach them something I’m really proud of that does make me stand out here in this way as well. And also what I think you were asking me about originally before this very long answer, but I teach them a signature relationship management operation. Now the world of book launch right now, especially because so many people are launching books, it tends to be pretty transactional. Hey, Anna, I’m launching a book in two months, I really need a favor. Can you please send an email to your list? Can you put it on social media? Can you buy bulk copies? Because I’m trying to do this and I need the help. So can you help me? That’s putting a strain on relationships. And Anna’s over here thinking like, I have 15 friends asking me to pitch them, I have my own message I’m trying to get out. I don’t have time for this right now. And this isn’t aligned for me. But then you feel obligated and things get weird, right?
Anna David: Right.
Amber: I see this about humanity. And I think, okay, we can’t make it about Amber, the author or even Anna, what we have to do is reposition this whole concept into it being about the cause. So Anna, I’m really a big believer of human connection. And I’m just seeing how much in the world right now, trust is broken everywhere. And the only way that we’re going to move forward and be better together is if we can just find a way to be open and trust each other again, and connect. And I wrote this book because I believe in it. And if I don’t get this book out, Anna, I just don’t even know what’s going to happen next. So I’m really trying to do this for the cause. And you know, it you strike me as a person who really believes in connection too, and if you stand by this cause is there a win-win that we can create, where I can help your business and you can help mine and we can fix this world together? That’s a very different approach than, can you send an email to your email list for me and pitch my book? So that’s kind of the relationship management operation at a high level. And the last thing I’ll say is when we launch the book, that’s just day one of your book’s journey, we would have already in advance created a plan to actually get that message out there at scale, continue book sales, get you monetizing to cover the cost of the platform development and all of that. So you actually have a sustainable brand moving forward.
Anna David: I love it. I love it. And so the way that you walk people through it, there’s there’s tier one and tier two. One is a group that, you know, one is a group you want to be connected with. And tier two is who you already know is that is that really how it goes?
Amber: Yes, yeah. So you’re gonna have people that you naturally know in your network. And you’re not going to think of those people when you first get started. You’re going to think, I don’t know anybody. But when you actually start to thought jog, you know, all sorts of people that you’ve met, either through prospecting calls, client calls, you showed up at the same event, you were in a mastermind together, look at your Facebook contacts, your LinkedIn, who did you talk to in the last calendar year in your, you know, Google Calendar, who’s in your phone, when you start to really look around? You know a lot more people than you think you do. And that’s kind of the first step. And only once you have kind of re-sparked that relationship, you revived it, you sort of have mutually shared your intentions trying to suss out, if you can have a collaboration together moving forward and be more intentional about that relationship, then you can kind of start looking at who would I like to know, you know, I want to know, Brené Brown, or I want to know, whomever it is, that’s great. Add those people to your list and allow this snowball to start to form and build momentum and then leverage that. And then there are really direct and creative ways to get the Brené Browns on your side. But don’t start there. You got to start within your own network, I can help you overcome the nerves that you have around it, because I’m telling you, it will be a firework show, and you will thank me every single day if you just trust me on this piece.
Anna David: So to connect, I mean, so it’s first asking the people you know who they know. But I also love that you sort of have this strategy. I know about people using gift boxes for their launch. But your strategy involves doing that even earlier, kind of, let’s say you’re getting to know someone you you want to know, sending them something. What do you send them?
Amber: Absolutely. So imagine like a little Amazon box, except the box is designed based on your book cover or your website branding. There’s such an opportunity to add color. I even have this client Zander Fryer. And he has this book, I hope it’s okay to say out loud, it’s the Shit You Don’t Learn In College. And he’s a superstar influencer for the college crowd. And when you get his box, there’s the book cover kind of on the front. And when you open it up on the inside of the box is a manifesto that he wrote that is honestly one of the most inspired pieces of content I’ve ever read. And you wouldn’t think that every single side of that box can be designed. Why does that matter? Because it stands out. It’s different. It evokes emotion, it makes me want to connect, it makes me stand behind his cause. Then on the inside of the box, there’s a copy of his book that signed there’s a postcard that might talk about why he wrote the book and what his vision is for this book and how he’s creates this call to action, like a battle cry that you join his cause and we shift humanity together, right. And then maybe there’s something else included in that. I mean, Zander did a journal. I’ve had other clients like this Cole Berschback, she had a pencil that we found and engraved her tagline on the side of the pencil. And when you stick it in soil and water it, it turns into a cilantro plant. And her tagline was, here we grow. And it was a pickup like a parenting coaching kind of company. So there’s all sorts of fun things that you can do to create an impression. And if you send that gift box out to the people that you know, or want to know, it’s something different than just a book in a mail with a printout letter that’s a generic template that everybody else got. And it’s not even signed, right. That’s what most people do. It doesn’t take much to move the needle and make an impression. I even had a client, Kevin Simpson, who ordered 700 700 of these gift boxes. He sent them out to his clients, his friends and media contacts. And then boom
Anna David: Wow.
Amber: I bet you can guess what happened next.
Anna David: Wow. And you even have your process goes so deep. There’s even when you send a box to somebody, here’s showed them a video so that they can have like instructions on how to unbox it and show it on social media. You’ve thought of everything.
Amber: Yes. So after we send out the box, I’ll give this document to my clients. And it’ll say here’s a lot of different things that we can do with the box. So so there’s like a video I’ve had influencers do a live stream to their audience.
Anna David: Yeah.
Amber: Oh my gosh, I just got this box from Kary Oberbrunner. And here’s what’s in it and this 20-minute pitch fest for Kary and his book, just because Paul Dunn got the box. And so Paul was the one that went live or take photos, write it for Amazon reviews, and people just get spun up in the experience of it all, Anna, so it feels less like a chore. I have to do this, another thing on my to do list and all of a sudden it becomes something that feels invigorating and fun. It’s better together. You’re a part of something special, like everybody wants to be a part of that.
Anna David: I love it. And so if anyone listening, is like, wait a minute, I can’t afford to send 700 boxes, there are a lot of strategies that require no money. So one of the brilliant things that you instruct people to do is just to basically send out that list like as Amber said, people send out, hey can you share, but this is something strategically sent out and says how can you help me and it’s literally a checkbox, right?
Amber: Yes. When somebody says, well, sure, I mean, I can help. I don’t know how I can help right now, then the next step is we send them to a web page that says, listen, there’s no pressure here. Here are all of the ways in which you could support the book launch, just check the ones that you’re most interested in. And there’s probably like a dozen to 15 different options. Do you know? Do you want to host me on your podcast? Do you want to submit an endorsement? Do you want to just introduce me to somebody that you might know that might benefit from this message? Should we co-host a webinar? Or would you like me to speak on your stage, whether in person or virtually? Do you want to hire me to come in and support your mastermind or whatever? Do you want to post on social? Send an email to your following? Do you want to have an Instagram Live? As you know, fill in the blank, what else do you want to do? And I’ve had people do all sorts of amazing things. And so that is absolutely a way that you can elicit support without having to send a gift box. I would say that maybe, I don’t know, 50% of our clients end up sending out the gift box. And to your point, if somebody’s thinking, oh, gosh, I’m on a limited budget here. That’s exactly why I approach the book launch the way that I do. Because if it were only about the book launch, yeah, that would be a real concern. Instead, I’m looking at your whole business. So then I think to myself, okay, if we’re on a budget, how do we make you money fast? Makes me think of a client named David. He had a sort of fractional CFO business, I had four months to launch the book. He hires me in September, the launch is in December, by the end of September, within a month of working together, I got David set up to run an event. And it was supposed to be virtual, he ended up later really wanting to do it in person, but should have been virtual charge $5,000, a person he got, you know, 10 or 15 people in the room, bam, I helped him with the agenda, I set up the logistics, it cost him nothing to get that started. Now he had some seed money so that he could have the kind of launch that he really wanted to have. So just know that regardless of how much time you have to launch or what your circumstances, there is always a way forward, that doesn’t have to put you in a position of stress and chaos. Because anybody who’s putting you in a position of stress and chaos, shame on them, everybody’s job should be to protect you and your energy so that you can shine as the bright light that you are. So your energy has to be protected in this process every step of the way.
Anna David: And one of the nice things in terms of protecting energy is if you go, I don’t want to have to keep asking people and asking people. The amazing thing about Amber’s system is you ask once, and then you have a support team that is doing all the follow up. So if it makes you uncomfortable to ask, it’s just working through that once basically.
Amber: Yeah, that’s right. So what I would try to do in the sense of like the creative marketing assistant I spoke to earlier, we can use that person or another person on the team, or I can help you find another person more of like a project manager. But let’s say for the purposes of this operation, it’s going to be almost a communications manager, right? So if I’m, again, the author, we’re role playing here, and I ask Anna to be a part of my book launch. And she says, Well, sure. I guess I could help what what’s the next step. I could then say, I’m so thankful, I’m going to introduce you to Megan, who’s my communications manager, she’s going to walk you through all of the different options. I don’t want to get in the way and make you feel pressured. So you do what’s in the highest and best for you, Anna, because I want to protect our friendship. And please know anything that I can be doing for you to support just knock on my door anytime. I’ll let you two take it from here. Megan then introduces herself, Anna, oh my gosh, well, I’m here to make it a win-win. So please let me know what your vision is in your business, how I can support you. Here’s that form that you can fill out to check the boxes on what is exciting to you. I’m here, if you want to hop on a call, if that’s easier, or just take you know, take your time here, on the back end of Anna filling out that form, Meghan can then go straight to great, I see that you would like to have Amber on your podcast, I can facilitate that booking right now based on what’s convenient in your schedule. I see that you also asked to submit an Amazon review. Here’s a document that teaches you step by step how to submit that review on Amazon, as well as some helpful hints to get it accepted because Amazon is actually pretty, you know, tricky these days. And we want to make sure that it gets published. And then I see you also wanted to post on social media. So here’s some example graphics. Here’s some example copy. And you know, Anna, we’re just so thankful for you. We’ll promote you to our network during the launch as a supporter and drive some business back to you. If there’s anything else I can do for you in this process, please let me know. Then there’s also documentation where Meghan knows to send reminder emails just before the book launch in case Anna gets busy, forgets, then there’s still that custom, personalized, warm, friendly communication, right around the launch window. So that at the end of the day, it’s a win-win, everybody wins. Nobody was stressed out, it didn’t put a strain on the relationship, there wasn’t unnecessary pressure. And ultimately, me as the quote, author, well, I got to just focus on the outreach, nurturing relationships, and then it’s my responsibility to keep those relationships nurtured in the future. So it doesn’t look like I’m just somebody who only reaches out when I need something, because nobody wants more friends like that.
Anna David: Okay, we have to get close to wrapping up. I’m so proud of myself for watching the time though. One final thing that I wanted to ask if someone’s listening, and they’re like, what, what do you mean? What kind of business could I have from this? You talked about your client who had the event? What are some other possibilities if they want to make their investment back on the book 10 to 100 times?
Amber: Oh, my gosh, it could really be anything Anna. And you know, all of my conversations are extremely custom. I don’t share ideas twice, usually. So it could be I was just talking to a client yesterday, she’s going to start doing a girl’s night out like a once a month sort of membership, almost. I’ve talked to other clients about hosting retreats, like a meditation, sort of wellness sharing, you know, open conversation retreat, it could be a mastermind, one of my clients built him an $8 million first year business before the book even launched, we had started that monetization model. And it was literally just a mastermind where people got together virtually once a month. It could be that you want to do some sort of consulting or group coaching. A lot of times people come to me and they say, I really want to do a course. And I think why do you want to do a course? And they don’t have a good answer except to say, well, because that’s what I should do, it’s what everybody else is doing. That’s what I was told to do, right? Wrong. If you don’t want to manage a community and be in that course constantly making updates and onboard another team of people. Then you’re a course you have no business running a course right? So you just need to understand what your options are, know who you are, and the type of lifestyle that you want to have. Then hire somebody who knows the options and can help filter them out so that you stay in alignment with how you want to spend your time, but there’s always a way forward.
Anna David: I love it. So Amber, if people want to find out more about you find out more about your services. What should they do?
Amber: Just google me, I’m everywhere. You can’t miss me. NGNG Enterprises is the name of the company. So just remember No Guts, No Glory. You can also go to amberv.com because nobody knows how to say, spell or remember Vilhauer. So amberv.com could get you there. I’m all over social. My YouTube channel is packed with amazing value. And I don’t say that with ego. I just put it all out there for people so that I can help more authors. And just anytime I’m such an easy person to reach out to, I’m here for you. I believe in authors. I want you to succeed. So just let me know how I can help.
Anna David: I love it Amber. Thank you so much. And you guys, thank you for listening.
Amber: Thank you.
Find more at: www.ongoodauthoritypod.com
Follow me on IG: @AnnaBDavid
Get my free weekly secrets at: www.authoritysecrets.club