Pottermore, Apple and "the secret will soon be revealed" form of real-time marketing

This morning at 7:00 am USA eastern time Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling revealed the secret of Pottemore.

According to the site: "Pottermore is a free website that builds an exciting online experience around the reading of the Harry Potter books."

Pottermore2 Several weeks ago on the Pottermore placeholder site, Rowling announced that Pottermore was coming (without providing details) and gave the exact time that the secret would be complete with a countdown clock.

Now we all know what Pottermore is

Now there is a new deadline: "Come back on 31st July to find out how you can get the chance to enter Pottermore early."

My family discussed the Pottermore announcement last night at dinner. It was a fun discussion. Then this morning my daughter was up early, had seen the announcement, and we discussed it again at breakfast.

And here I am blogging it in near real-time like thousands of others.

Google pottermore
(Screenshot taken two hours after Pottermore was revealed)

"The secret will soon be revealed" form of real time marketing

Most marketers let announcements dribble out. Typically, the media is alerted first via a press release (sometimes with "embargoes" on the news). But it is a rare company that alerts fans first. It is rarer still that the entire world is told that the announcement is coming and everyone finds out at once.

When you involve fans around an announcement date, they crowdsource your promotion for you! Millions of fans were talking up Pottermore on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs.

Apple's Steve Jobs is a master of this technique. He reveals what's in new products from the podium at events that fans and media alike flock to in droves. The date and time is known to all and fans eagerly wait what's new. Watch the first minute of this video of the iPhone 4 announcement and see his rockstar like following.

I recall that Dean Kamen announced the Segway the in 2001 using "the secret will be revealed" marketing. In the B2B world, PTC announced the company's new Creo design software last year using a similar approach.

Sometimes, when you have exciting news, the traditional approach to announcing to the world won't do. You need to build excitement and bring your fans on the journey of discovery.

Disclosure: I have done some advisory work with PTC.

David Meerman Scott

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