How to Sell One Million Copies Before Your Product Even Releases

Ever since I learned that Jay-Z’s new album, ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’ was set to go platinum ahead of its official release, I have been quite interested in how he did it — the marketing part. Here’s what I took away from this marketing campaign that aspiring authors, artist, and other creatives can do as well to enhance their chances of selling one million (or any) copies.

Okay, here are the things I noticed:

1. He secured a partner. Samsung mobile, agreed to purchase 1 million copies of the album at $5 apiece prior to its release.

Action Step For You: Make a target list of thirty potential partners or endorsers. Set up the first meeting with the one you think is most likely to partner or endorse the product.

2. He had a special app. Samsung distributed the albums to Galaxy owners via a special app that allowed them to hear the album 72 hours before its official release.

Action Step For You: Create a launch team. These people help you by:  writing a short review on Amazon or another e-tailer site—good, bad, or ugly, spreading the word about the product on their existing platform, especially during the week of release, and by sharing ideas and brainstorming additional ways you might further expose the message to an even greater audience.

3. He made the Record Industry Association of America change their certification stance. The RIAA announced that it will start counting digital sales towards Gold and Platinum certification right away, rather than wait the traditional 30 days after an album’s release.

Action Step For You: OK, you might or might not do anything like that, but you can change your audiences mind by creating a can’t-say-no-offer. Create a massive incentive that gets people to take action. The offer could be as simple as: Buy my product from any retailer (online or off), e-mail me the receipt, and I’ll send you free bonuses worth $XXX. You can tease this for several weeks before the release date, encouraging people to wait.

4. He broadcast the news of his new LP via an advert during Game 5 of the NBA Finals.  It was a three-minute promo showing him working in the studio with other artist and talking about making music in the modern world.

Action Step For You: You may not be able to broadcast your news during a major event or via a major media outlet, but you can do radio interviews, make a YouTube video, do podcast interviews, contact journalist for a story, interact with fans on social media, etc.

5. The album cover release. He unveiled the album’s cover at England’s Salisbury Cathedral, next to an original copy of the Magna Carta.

Action Step For You: Engage your fans by allowing them to have input on your cover and/or the subtitle and copy line. Their input is invaluable. They see things you don’t see and can help you more clearly identify your target market. Not only will this make your final product better, it creates ownership for them in the outcome.

If you are writing a book, recording an album, recording a series, etc. it’s my hope that these takeaways will be helpful to you. I have no doubt that you can improve on them. But it at least gives you some ideas for selling and marketing your product.

Questions: What would selling one million copies make possible for you? What ideas do you have for making this campaign even more interactive?