How Michael Maidens made one million dollars by giving away his film

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(Literal) Text Transcription of the video :

Olivier Roland: Hey Mike.

Michael Maidens: Hi.

Olivier Roland: How are you?

Michael Maidens: Really good, thank you.

Olivier Roland: Michael, you are an Australian entrepreneur and you had a great success with a movie called “Hungry for Change.”

Michael Maidens: Yes.

Olivier Roland: And you did something incredible which is, you basically gave the movie away for free and you managed to sell it at the same time. So, it’s an incredible story.

I wanted to know more about it. So first, can you just tell what is your background? Were you always an entrepreneur or…?

Michael Maidens: Well, I’ve been an entrepreneur for about 15 years now. I was running a business software company for a long time. I was selling software all around Australia and then, I was into private consulting. And I was always fascinated. You’d have these amazing products? You know, I was driving amazing software. I was like “How do you reach these markets and find great customers?” And so, that led me then to obviously start exploring Internet marketing.

Initially, I was thinking “Well, I was just going to use that to keep on promoting my actual software”. And then, fell in love with internet marketing. I love the psychology of it, I love the…

Olivier Roland: So, you fell in love.

Michael Maidens: I did, yeah.

And the behavior, and understanding customer behavior and obviously the marketing. And so, that was my background into marketing online. It’s been amazing, I love it.

Olivier Roland: Okay, so you had this experience. How did you get the idea to use it to promote a movie?

Michael Maidens: Okay. One of the big ideas is obviously to give away some amazing content.

When you want to, you know, build a relationship with your prospects, your customers. So, it seemed a little bit risky but it was… What’s the best content, it’s the product. And then, you…

Olivier Roland: Yeah, that’s an interesting point of view.

Michael Maidens: Yes. However, it wasn’t just the product in terms of… We knew the product will have an impact and it was more about focusing on that impact.

At one stage, I was sitting there I was like “Okay, if you were  to think of the product as this third person sitting over here, and we said: Yeah, okay, Hungry for Change. The film. What would you like it to do? What would you like?”

And the film answered and it just said “I just want to be seen by as many people in the world as possible.” which is really an interesting place to approach marketing.

to approach marketing film

I was like “Okay, so let’s remove all the obstacles for that film to actually be seen by as many people in the world.” And we knew that it would spread because the impact of the film was so powerful.

Olivier Roland: What was the subject of the film?

Michael Maidens: The subject of the film was “The diet industry”. So, it’s in the health and wellness space. It’s about people who are always trapped in diets. And they’re going from one diet to the next diet. Nothing seems to be working. They’re getting frustrated, they think that it’s a problem with themselves.

In actual fact, the film actually identifies that they’re caught in what is actually sort of a marketing trap of the food industry.

Olivier Roland: Okay.

Michael Maidens: And it’s manufactured to keep you wanting to change products and buy. Keep on consuming their product.

Olivier Roland: So, the goal of the movie was to free people from these marketing tricks and help them to have a good health while eating.

Michael Maidens: Yeah, it did.

Olivier Roland: Well, okay.

Michael Maidens: And really empowering. So, the idea of the movie was to empower people. It was designed that at the end of the movie, you would feel like a big light bulb has just gone off in your mind.

And now, you feel empowered, and it was designed for you to really want to share that message with as many people as possible.

So, we saw how the actual launch rolled out so well. The initial people watched it. And then, it just grew and grew and grew. And we believe it was because so many people just shared it and it just went crazy.

Olivier Roland: But I suppose it was a difficult decision.

Michael Maidens: Very difficult.

Olivier Roland: I mean, to decide to give a movie for free.

Michael Maidens: Yeah and that was the whole product, like you’ve said. It was not just a little bit.

Olivier Roland: Yeah, So you couldn’t sell it…

Michael Maidens: It was not just a little bit.

Michael Maidens

Olivier Roland: Exactly.

Michael Maidens: Yeah. So, what would you want me to run through? How it unfolded?

Olivier Roland: Sure.

Michael Maidens: Okay. So, what we did was we had a 31-day window. We announced it on the first day and for the first 21 days, we just released little pieces of the film.

The trailer, you know a little snippet of some case studies that are in the middle of the film where some of the people had all this success.

It does follow the social proof, the case study… all the formulas of nice marketing. And just really got people excited about watching the full film on the 21st of the month.

In that period from the first of the month of… it was 1st of March 2012, all the way through to the 21st of March 2012, we had 70,000 people give us their email address.

Olivier Roland: Wow.

Michael Maidens: To be able to watch the film when it goes live on the 21st.

Olivier Roland: Wow.

Michael Maidens: So, that was amazing. For the first 32 hours, we were getting 1,000 people an hour.

Olivier Roland: Really? It’s incredible!

Michael Maidens: Yeah.

Olivier Roland: Wow.

Michael Maidens: 1,000 opt-ins per hour.

Olivier Roland: It’s incredible!

Michael Maidens: Yeah. So then, once it went live on the 21st, everyone could see the film for the first time and they could watch the whole 90-minute film.

Olivier Roland: Was it on YouTube?

Michael Maidens: It was… We hosted it on Vimeo.

Olivier Roland: Oh, Vimeo. Alright.

Michael Maidens: It was just embedded inside a page which we controlled, it was on our URL.

And straight underneath the actual film, when they could watch it, was then a banner with an offer to buy either the DVD version or the recipe book which we made a recipe book which is, I’ll get back to what we did a recipe book, or they could buy them both in a package, in a bundle.

Michael Maidens to sell dvd version film

Olivier Roland: But it was totally optional.

Michael Maidens: Yes.

Olivier Roland: You could watch the entire movie for free.

Michael Maidens: Entire movie for free.

Olivier Roland: Ok, so you open and what happened?

Michael Maidens: It went crazy.

Olivier Roland: Yeah.

Michael Maidens: For the next 10 days, the size of the launch list grew from 70,000 people to 220,000 people.

Olivier Roland: Wow, it’s incredible.

Michael Maidens: Yeah.

Olivier Roland: Especially since… usually, when you do a launch, when you open cart, you don’t have any more new leads coming because you closed PLC’s.

Michael Maidens: Yeah.

Olivier Roland: So, wow.

Michael Maidens: So, this became… it was like PLC’s and then, it was an even better. You know, PLC…

Olivier Roland: Yeah.

Michael Maidens: …but the cart was open at the same time. It wasn’t really a sales video but there was in-built obviousness that they should buy it and want to continue their journey because it wasn’t….

The thing about this documentary was, it’s not one of those things you just want to watch once. It’s not like another film where once you understand the plot and who dies and he doesn’t die, or then… you don’t really want to watch it again.

But this was an empowering film where people want to watch it again and we’ve had people telling us that they watch it every week, the actual documentary every week. So that, they can stay in that really powerful nutritious mindset.

We knew it would go well.

Olivier Roland: You knew they would be compelled to buy this DVD.

Michael Maidens: And it became such a reference point for people. Maybe at the end of 10 days, they thought “Where can I see this again if I want to go back and watch it?” So…

Olivier Roland: Because you told them that it was only for 10 days that they could watch the movie freely.

Michael Maidens: Yes.

Olivier Roland: Okay.

Michael Maidens: Yes, watch the movie freely for 10 days.

Olivier Roland: Okay.

Michael Maidens: And in that 10 days, we had obviously launched specials which was the only place the DVD was available to purchase was on our site. You couldn’t purchase it from stores, you couldn’t watch it on Netflix,

Olivier Roland: Okay.

Michael Maidens: and you couldn’t watch it anywhere. The recipe book was the logical next step after watching the film. That was the open lid, like the… You know, in a way the film became the reason why they want to buy the recipe book as well.

So, it wasn’t the full product they got for free, it wasn’t as if we gave them an electronic version of the recipe book as well. But, they would watch the DVD, that they could purchase the DVD, the recipe book or the bundle.

They could watch them as well, they could purchase them as well.

So, in those 21 days… Sorry, in those 10 days, we had 21,000 sales.

Olivier Roland: 21,000.

Michael Maidens: Yeah. 21,000 people after watching the film that 450,000 people watched the film. It’s what the Vimeo stats tell us.

Olivier Roland: In 10 days. Oh my God.

Michael Maidens: In 10 days, yeah.

Olivier Roland: Oh my God. Half a million.

Michael Maidens: Yeah.

Olivier Roland: Almost. Wow.

Michael Maidens: And 21,000 orders and the average sale was just under $50, so that’s why we just tipped over 1 million dollars that came.

Olivier Roland: In 10 days.

Michael Maidens: And it was in the bank. It wasn’t like… you know, one dollar trials. It was in there.

Olivier Roland: Yeah. Like promise of all…It was like real money.

Michael Maidens: One dollar trials. It was in there.

Olivier Roland: Wow.

Michael Maidens: That was amazing.

Olivier Roland: How to make $1,000,000 in 10 days while giving your product for free? Isn’t it incredible?

Michael Maidens: Yeah and I think the impact that the… It was counterintuitive like… Everyone was like “Well, why would people want to buy it?”

And I think that’s why I got so much attention. Everyone just went “Wow, you got to watch this, it’s free for the next 10 days”.

Olivier Roland: Do you think like entrepreneurs could use this model in their business? Because I mean is it something that you can use in different business models or just is it very specific to the movie industry?

Michael Maidens: Yeah. I think that’s why you’d have to obviously be careful and make sure that it did work case by case.

I think it’s one of those examples where people come for the product and they stay for the community. Or maybe, it was a souvenir for their experience or maybe they were so moved by it, they wanted to buy it for their friends or their parents.

Or, they know that this message needed to travel beyond just them. So, if there’s those little components in your product, yeah, but if it’s just… you know, maybe yeah… it could work, it may…

Olivier Roland: I think the biggest point of what made it possible was the feeling of these people. I mean, they were… It plugged into their belief and that, they need to be in good health, they need to eat healthy and they have to avoid marketing tricks and stuff.

good health marketing michael maidens book

Michael Maidens: Yes.

Olivier Roland: I don’t know if they felt like they found someone who can lead them and help them to do exactly what they wanted. Maybe, they wanted to spread the word and help you.

So, it’s about a feeling of creating a tribe community around something that is very important for them, right?

Michael Maidens: Yeah.

Olivier Roland: Do you agree?

Michael Maidens: Yeah, oh, 100%. And the community has just grown and grown and grown since then. And what we did do beforehand is we realized through doing a survey, through surveying the newsletter, the initial newsletter list, that these people were actually healthy, they weren’t sick and they wanted to stay healthy.

But in the survey, we found out that they actually had either a parent or someone that they knew, someone’s close friend that was sick.

So, we sort knew that we were… our first reach was… were people that were, almost our soldiers, that they could then take the word out to that next level.

So, it was almost like we were marketing to the converted and giving them a tool to then go and take to their circle of…

Olivier Roland: Marketing to the converted.

Michael Maidens: Yes.

Olivier Roland: Interesting. Yeah, very interesting point.

Michael Maidens: And then, we gave them a tool for them to take it to their circle of influence.

Olivier Roland: So they could spread the word out. Very interesting.

I think the bigger thing we can take from this example is, if you can give people that are already converted to your cause something that they can use to convert more people, they will buy your stuff like crazy.

Michael Maidens: Yeah.

Olivier Roland: And it’s totally in the theory of Seth Godin in his book “All marketers are liars” because it says basically that you have to sell to people who already believe the story. You don’t want to sell your products to people, that you have to convince of your story.

And it’s so much more powerful, and we have an incredible example.

Michael Maidens: Yeah.

Olivier Roland: And so now, the movie continues to sell.

Michael Maidens: It does.

Olivier Roland: Yeah. Like big time?

Michael Maidens: Yeah.

Olivier Roland: Did you do another launch?

Michael Maidens: Yeah, we have relaunched that maybe two or three times. And it’s still just…

Olivier Roland: With exactly the same model each time?

Michael Maidens: Yes.

Olivier Roland: Every time it …

Michael Maidens: It hasn’t done 1 million dollars. It did maybe 2/3 of that the next time and things like bonuses. And you just… you can make the launch scarcity a lot more interesting.

It was a lot of fun.

Olivier Roland: Okay. Well, thanks Michael for…

Michael Maidens: Thank you.

Olivier Roland: This incredible story.

So, I hope it inspired you to do something new perhaps to test something in your business. But you got the point, try to give something, to sell something to people that already believe in your story and you can help them to spread the word out. And they will be very awesome fans and customers.

Okay. Thanks Michael.

Michael Maidens: You’re welcome

Olivier Roland: Yes, see you next time.

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