Does pre-launch content work?

A friend and I have running debate over “pre-launch” content.

His argument is:

You can dramatically increase sales by sending your subscribers content that “frames” an offer ahead of time.

Then when you introduce the product, they'll be predisposed to buy.

This is one of the basic premises behind the famed Product Launch Formula, which many an entrepreneur has used successfully.

I agree with this approach in theory.

However there's a question of timing.

“Pre-suasion” like this is essentially an attempt at educating the customer.

And educational efforts take time—a LOT of time.

And repetition—a LOT of repetition.

And in the majority of cases, they fail.

One famous example of this is the efforts in the late 1800s and early 1900s to popularize toothbrushing and toothpaste.

Dentists and doctors banged the drum of tooth decay for decades before the public finally started paying attention.

(What finally won out in the end was an appeal to vanity. Check out Claude Hopkins My Life In Advertising for the story.)

Given that education is such a long-term slog, sending a handful of pre-launch emails or a “sideways sales letter” before you open the cart going isn't likely to make much of a dent.

Where an educational approach can start to increase awareness and position people to buy is when you make it a major, consistent theme of your marketing.

A great example of this is longtime subscriber and business coach Jonathan Stark.

Jonathan's made it his life's mission to rid the world of billing by the hour.

When you find your way into his orbit, you're going to hear this consistent message—don't charge customers for your time, charge for the results you deliver.

Every email, every podcast episode, every social media post hits this same theme.

Over time it sinks in—you start to shift the way you think about how you interact with customers.

Then when Jonathan releases a product to help you with the HOW of restructuring your business away from billing by the hour, you're ready.

Pre-launch content can work—if you're willing to beat the drum for the long term.

P.S. I'm doing an interesting live test of this premise starting this week.

On one of my lists, I'm doing an A/B split test.

One segment is going into the affiliate's pre-launch content sales funnel.

The other is getting a direct pitch that sends them to a sales page.

Which approach will win?

I'll report back in a couple of weeks when I find out.