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So last week, after a couple of months of preparation, I rolled out this new blog and published the very first post… and then I emailed my list to tell everyone about it.

And the server crashed.

Which was really, really lame… but on one level it was sorta funny – because there's this “conspiracy theory” out there about people intentionally crashing their servers during product launches.

The only problem with that theory is that it's completely insane. It would be an idiotic move.

OK, so once and for all… just in case there is any confusion – NO ONE who has a clue wants their server to go down when they launch. It's a horror show and an embarrassment when it happens.

The whole point of a launch is to do your best to focus all buying emotion onto your launch day. You don't want to frustrate people with a “Server Not Found” message at that moment.

There are all kinds of great analogies here… but just think about spending a lot of time getting a romantic partner ready for a special, romantic time, and then at the last second saying “never mind“… not good. Same thing with a product launch.

With my PLF 2.0 launch, my server crashed within 30 seconds of opening the shopping cart. The server was down for about 36 minutes.

That was an agonizing 36 minutes… and they cost me $20-30,000 in customer service costs. Those are hard costs I can quantify.

The costs I can't quantify are the lost sales because I frustrated people… I have no idea what that was, but I'm willing to bet it was at least $100,000 in sales. Maybe a lot more. I'm sure it also cost me a fortune in goodwill.

Not to mention what this does to your affiliates… it's pretty embarrassing to send an email to affiliates saying “Mail, mail, mail NOW” and then 15 minutes later to send an email that says “Don't mail, don't mail! We're having server problems”… not good. Really, really, really not good.

Trust me, you don't want your server to crash when you launch. It's a disaster.

Now there's a second thing… and that's the idea of “pretending” that your server crashed – and then using that as an excuse to send an email to your list telling them that the server crashed.

The theory is that it gives the marketer a reason to email the list a second time, and conceivably builds some social proof about demand for an offer.

I'm sure this happens. I have no idea how often, but I'm sure it happens. Personally, I think it's really lame. It's a lie, and I don't think good things happen when you lie to your list.

And besides, it's just way too easy to come up with other reasons to mail your list. No reason to make up a lie about a server crash.

In any case, our blog crash last week wasn't even for a real product launch… I was just launching this blog.

It was really nuts – the server was just overwhelmed by the traffic. That really shouldn't have happened – the traffic came from me emailing my list… but this is the deal, the traffic really shouldn't have been enough to take down the server.

And since the traffic was being driven from my email, it was somewhat “muted”… in other words, it wasn't like I said “we're going live at noon” and everyone was sitting at the site hitting the refresh button.

Now THAT is hard on a server.

But the traffic from an email is more gradual… and the spike will come on gradually over about the first 30 minutes after you mail.

In any case, our hosting company (Liquidweb's Storm On Demand) enabled an “advanced firewall” to stop ALL the traffic while they rebuilt everything from scratch… on a bigger, more powerful server.

(Lucky for us… that process only took about 20 minutes, because we were theoretically using a “cloud” hosting service… unfortunately, the Storm On Demand service doesn't scale automatically… at least as of now.)

In the end, once the dust settled, we decided to move everything over to a new host (once we realized the situation, that decision took about three seconds)… and our new host seems to have a more robust capability of scaling immediately whenever needed.

We finished that move yesterday… which means I'm free to put up a new post about it today.  🙂

So that's the deal with the server… and I hope I cleared a few things up. Bottom line, you don't want your server going down. And if you run into someone who acts like they know what they're talking about – and they suggest it would be good “social proof” if your server crashed… well all that means is that you're talking to a marketing moron.

OK, this post was originally going to be about the AMAZING reaction to my last blog entry — Powered By Internet Marketing – I was thrilled to see so many people share their thoughts… but I decided I needed to cover this whole “server crash” thing because there's SO much mis-information about it.

So I'm going to hold off until my next post to give my reaction to the awesome conversation in that last blog post… and then there's that little detail about announcing the winner of that Flip video camera – I'll do that in my next post as well.

So that's it for now. Just remember, you do NOT want any server crashes. They just plain suck.

– Jeff

P.S. I would love to hear your take on all this… the fabled “server crash” controversy, as well as all the other myths that fly around about product launches. Some of the stuff I hear is just plain weird… let me know your thoughts in the comments section…

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87 Replies to “Fake Server Crashes and Marketing Morons”

  1. I remember when the server went down for PLF 2.0. And it never crossed my mind that you were doing something to fake us out or build anticipation. I just thought ‘Damn a lot of people are going to get this thing’.

    The people that don’t trust it I think are not buyers anyway, but people wanting an reason to lay on the hate.

    However – for those that think using it as a tactic to build anticipation or social proof? They likely have a inferior product that people maybe shouldn’t be spending their money on anyway.

    Folks: Use Jeff’s Strategies in PLF for products that are truly WORTH putting that much effort into launching.

    • Shawn… you’re right – the people who are ranting are generally not going to be buyers anyway. I just wanted to post this so some folks don’t get taken in by the misinformed people on the various forums talking about “server crashes” as an actual tactic.

      I’ll never forget that sickening feeling with PLF 2.0 when I was sitting at my desk trying to log into my shopping cart and getting a “server not found”… so helpless.

      The real problem was that the site was actually up for about 60-90 seconds… and lots of people loaded the order page. After they entered their payment details and hit “buy” they got a “server not found” – so they didn’t know if the order went through or not.

      When the server eventually did come up, we instantly had HUNDREDS of support requests in the first few minutes. And those were not easy to answer… since some of the orders actually did go through in that first minute. Every support request took some investigation.

  2. What? You mean the server crash on your blog wasn’t just a fake to build social proof & anticipation for your blog posts?

    Man. I totally thought that’s exactly what you were doing.

    LOL.

    I know of a few instances where people definitely faked a server crash and guess what? It didn’t make me think of social proof. It made me find the unsubscribe button. One was for a product I was even considering buying.

    I know you’re smarter than that though. You’ve got enough social proof just cause you give away awesome stuff.

  3. Funny, Jeff! I see non-marketers in forums say stuff like that all the time…that the internet marketers have “fake” server crashes. They never stop to realize that staging a fake server crash would be akin to a new store filling the parking lot with cars so real customers couldn’t find a place to park and would just leave in frustration. Totally insane!

    Thanks for all the great content you always provide. I like the look of the blog, BTW – very sleek.

  4. As a newbie, about to launch our first product, what specs should you look for in a server. I’m not expecting our launch to be huge, but want to make sure that as we grow, our server will be able to handle sudden peaks in traffic. Any suggestions?

    Thanks,

    Jim

  5. I don’t think too many people will question the validity of your server crashing, however, I would question your preparation for your launch seeing how you are the “Launch Guy.”

    Why not contact the server company beforehand and explain to them about the upcoming launch? Also, I can’t imagine you had 100k people flooding your website at one time.

    In the future, use another hosting company that supports cloud computing to off-shoot any traffic overloads. There are many companies out there especially the ones that host sites such as these daily coupon sites and it’s not even that expensive.

    Just my two cents.

  6. I do remember when this night club let people in real slow, so the line outside looked really long. When I got inside there was hardly anybody in there.

  7. great looking blog, Jeff. Marketers such as your self with a great reputation are not going to stage a fake server crash. But I’m sure some people think that is a common practice

    Would you mind telling us who your new hosting company is?

    Thanks for all you do, Jeff.

    Rick

  8. Thanks for your response, never thought about any kind of scam thing to move you forward.
    I’m going to launch my product that I have been working on for 16 months a Linear Motion Camera Slider a physical product for a select few .The last thing I would want is to have a server crash. Please post the most important thing …who did you go with that would be valuable info for us all . Please let us know!

    John Leeward, Miami Florida

    PS: Thanks for all your valuable info you give away……! Your a great professional.
    YOU ROCK !!!

  9. Hi Jeff, everyone!
    I cant imagin why some who calls him or herself a “marketer” would be so dumb to fake a crash…. your server crash youre gona loose CASH….. DAH!
    Knowing you Jeff the thoughth never crossed my mind 🙂

  10. Cynicism abounds online! My launches are small compared with yours, and yet the amount of cynical emails I get in my inbox is ridiculous.

    I guess at the end of the day this kind of reaction will never cease… but amongst all the negativity and cynicism are people who truly appreciate and value what you/we do.

    (In my experience the people who take action on advice given and get great results, and the people who *don’t* cry foul at every opportunity are the one and the same. Or is it just me?!)

    Anyway for the record… I think PLF is a masterwork. As an affiliate I was sadly unable to promote last time due to clash with my own launch, but I’m fully on board this time… without a doubt, PLF is the best Internet Marketing investment I ever made, and I wish all my subscribers had it, even if I didn’t get a penny (or is that cent?) in affiliate commissions. (Bu then of course the cynics reading this would say “Oh yeah, SURE Ed!” 🙂

  11. Hey Jeff,

    Man, you gotta be so careful once everyone is listening to you, huh?

    Anyone who’s lying to anyone about anything will eventually get greedy and will ultimately be caught lying about something that wasn’t even worth the risk of being caught in the first place, bringing it all back to zero. Huh.
    —- Mark Saunders

    I think it’s called karma or something… : )

    Mark Saunders

  12. Jeff

    I’ve never had a server crash, because I’ve never had a huge-normous launch like you and the others. BUT this is about to change … I prefer to teach people step by step how to make a living online slowly but totally surely.

    But I’m likely to do a service launch within few months. So now that you’ve completely scared the crap out of me, I’ll be looking to ensure any server we use can handle it. May I contact you for advice at the time?

    Jonathan

  13. Thanks for all the great content you always provide Jeff! Server Crash, if a marketer is using that to get attention (for a living) you might get it once. It’s weird how Murphy seems to show up…around the globe 😉

  14. Maybe it’s time to create an info product on how to prevent server crashes 🙂

    Anybody ever heard of load testing? Oh, wait, we’re all marketers that don’t have a clue about technical stuffz…

  15. Hi Jeff,
    I agree with you that using that as a “tactic” is, as you say “lame.”
    But I think that most of the people that know and do business with you wouldn’t put you in that class of marketer. That’s also why I used your affiliate link to buy a product from another “guru marketer” instead of any of the other marketers. Even though you haven’t made the bonus yet, I know it will be worthwhile to have because it came from Jeff Walker. Unfortunately that can’t be said of some folks online in the IM space. I’ve followed you for some years and haven’t seen anything even remotely slimy come from your court.
    I didn’t start out this note to be a testimonial, but so be it.
    Have a good evening all.

    • Thanks Kathy… btw, that bonus is gonna be cool. We’re editing the video right now (although it always seems like forever to get all the little details right after you cut the video.)

  16. Even though most server crashes are real and have nothing to do with marketing strategy, I can understand why some would be suspicious… It’s what we have become used to.

    For instance, I bought a WSO a couple of weeks ago and when I purchased, there was supposedly only 6 spots left for sale (yeah, right) After reading the ebook, I came back to leave a review and guess what?

    “Don’t miss out! Only 20 left!”

    Now, I’ve been around long enough not to be surprised by this, but I have to admit, I was a little ticked off. Here’s why:

    This guy had actually written an exceptional book around a technique that hasn’t been clearly understood up til now. But instead of relying on that, he misleads people into believing that he’s limiting release.

    If I were him, I’d milk this thing for all it’s worth (the product is truly unique), but I wouldn’t lie/mislead my buyers just to make the sale. As good as the book is, I don’t want to buy from him anymore.

    That’s why I appreciate Jeff (and actually open all of his emails!). He’s honest and I actually trust him.

    I’m not saying that we should all be boyscouts, but some more integrity across the IM landscape wouldn’t hurt.

  17. Jeff,

    I agree with you that someone would have to be foolish to actually want a server crash. One of my good friends experienced a crash during a launch and it cost him about $25,000 in sales. So you tell me if you would want that to happen. Most would say “Hell No!!”

    My business partner and I had a similar situation where we did a small launch with a big partner and when his people started ordering it took down our server. We had a backup plan and quickly got a new order link out. Lucky for us we were live on a webinar and could send the new information. But, right after that we got a dedicated server, and has Amazon S3 downloads in place. We have never had another melt down again.

    Everything you do, you live and learn. But you should always have a backup plan, especially when it comes to making money.

    See ya,
    Keith

  18. Hi Jeff,
    If you have some integrity as both an individual and Internet marketer you don’t need to worry how people perceive server crashes. Technology is not infallible and if people trust you, no problem.

    But as you know, some IM sleaze do use crashes as a marketing ploy. I don’t think it is very effective. I don’t stop and think the world is beating down the doors and I’d better get in on it.

    As others have noted, it is the fake scarcity that really insults your intelligence…or the “crossed of” copies left routine that makes me suspect.

  19. I’ve seen many marketers claim that their server crashed during a launch. A couple of years ago it seemed to be happening quite a lot… So… Have marketers gotten smarter about which hosting service they use or did the “technique” get overused and people caught on. Probably a bit of both. I participated as a JV partner in a launch where the server supposedly crashed around that time, but the sign-ups I received from the second e-mail to my list 5 days later were all in the 200 – 400 membership number range. I guess he either had really crappy hosting or he shouldn’t have had the memberships assigned by chronological numbering if he was trying to get “social proof”.
    When you claim a server crashed and people sign up two days later and their the 95th person to sign up… Maybe you shouldn’t have used that free hosting service. LMAO
    Good stuff, Jeff
    BTW, what river are you on in the pic? Kinda looks like the Arkansas up around Salida, but since you’re from Durango I’m thinking something in that area.

    • Gary… I’ve spent a TON of time on the Arkansas – I’ve kayaked all those stretches from the Numbers to the Royal Gorge many times. But that shot was actually taken on the Middle Fork of the Salmon in Idaho.

      And the pic of me standing on the raft… that’s on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon.

  20. Jeff, I agree nobody would/should be doing it and it never occurred to me you would do it.

    As Dave the Brave said, stress testing and load testing and other types of preparation should be part of these big launches and NEVER just trust the companies even the new cloud services; you should test.

    Of course, marketers also seem to trust programmers to design and develop systems instead of software architects; that’s like hiring a handyman to build your new house. It may appear to be a house but there will be problems (I’ve had a lot of big name marketers complain of their problems — just last weekend Frank Kern admitted to problems!)

    Having spent many years designing and architecting software systems I cringe when I hear this or see the results.

    Anyway, thanks for PLF and the other stuff you’ve given!

    David

  21. The bottom line is its not realistic to know everything or test for every possible contingency in a launch. There’s a balance between getting sh*t done, and planning and preparing. Spend too much time preparing and you’ll never get a launch out. Some preparation and planning is essential, but fast execution makes sales.

  22. Hey Jeff, Thanks for this post – maybe I’ve just become so jaded from seeing the message soooo many times over the past few years, and I have to admit the thought DID cross my mind that maybe some of those ‘server failures’ might have been fake.

    It’s great to get your take on it though, as you’ve built a reputation for being one of the very few ‘good guys’ 🙂

    I agree – people shouldn’t lie about their server crashing on a launch … let me see now, isn’t there some story about a kid called Peter and a wolf? Karma, man, karma.

    😀

  23. Anyone who thought or thinks that you would intentionally fake a server crash is someone you wouldn’t want as a customer anyway LOL
    Misleading buyers is NEVER a Plus for any company

  24. The new host is RackSpace Cloud. Nice, I actually emailed in that suggestion to you.

    Therefore, I am going to go ahead and take credit for that.

    ‘Yeah Jeff Walker had a problem with his hosting so I hooked him up.”

    Implied association as taught by F. Kern at List Control this past weekend 😉

    Just kidding.

  25. Jeff,

    Awesome post. I do have a few comments about this controversy…

    1) When respected guys in the industry like you say the server crashed, it is usually not an issue as far as the buyer is concerned. You “big” guys do such a great job with creating a frenzy, that when I go to your web site to buy your product, and I want it real bad, I don’t think I’m going to be turned off by a server crash. I’m probably thinking “Dang, I hope the offer is still there when I get a chance to come back to this site again” :-).

    So, those who really want your product, or at least ‘think’ they want your product (thanks to your great marketing) will always come back.

    2) On the flip side, it is really lame for a simple HTML page with a few images to go dow (this is the “saying the truth” case). I just can’t imagine how terrible the host must be for something as simple as a static HTML page with a few images (no database calls, no slick scripting, nothing) to crash just because a few thousand visitors hit it all at the same time. I’ve been programming since high school (many, many years ago ;-), and I have developed (individually, as well as part of a team) extremely complex, distributed, database-driven web applications that served hundreds of thousands of concurrent users (used to work for the #1 phone co. in the US). And the site never “crashed” like this – certainly not due to “high traffic”.

    Again, probably not fair to compare a million dollar server to a cheap shared host or even “cloud” host, but still… 🙂

    Glad that you moved to a more competent host. Would’ve been good if you’d given them a shout-out (also for us to know). Anyway, keep up the good work.

    – Ravi Jayagopal
    Founder & Co-Developer, DigitalAccessPass
    PS: BTW, I own PLF 2.0.

    • Ravi… with regards to my blog server going down last week – that shouldn’t have happened. The load wasn’t that large. Not happy with that host.

      WIth regards to the PLF 2.0 launch in 2008… we used a high-end dedicated machine at Rackspace. We were in constant contact with them ahead of the launch. They knew exactly when we were launching. We didn’t serve any video or images or even the sales letter off the server… EVERYTHING was served off s3 except a couple lines of code to call everything from s3. We didn’t have any analytics or split testing on the page (a tough thing for a market to give up.)

      Far as I can tell, it was too many simultaneous connections that took us down. Obviously, we should have been running multiple servers with some load balancing. That launch was just so much bigger than anything I had done in the past… I wasn’t ready for the demands it would place on the hardware.

      As you know… huge spikes are hard to handle. A couple of years ago when I tried to buy World Series tickets from the MLB.com it was just like a product launch… they announced the ticket sale ahead of time… and I was queued up and ready to go. Well, the server crashed. They had to put off ticket sales for a couple of days… and that’s when the first game was less than a week away. I figure Major League Baseball surely has more sys admins and hardware guys than a typical Internet marketer… but they couldn’t handle a big launch.

  26. I use the automatic failover service from NO-IP.com. If your server crashes it will instantly redirect to a backup server or hosting account. Totally worth it at around $150/year!

    Frank

  27. A fake server crash does not have to entail an actual server crash at all — how would you know if the server crashed 2 days ago or not? I’m sure there is a way to check if you really want to and have the right access, but unless you were trying to get into a page while it had crashed you’d never know it.

    This would give people the impression that they either missed out on something special so they head on over, or that they were lucky to get in before the crash happened. It isn’t so much like filling the parking lot with cars as acting as if it had been full and apologizing to people who couldn’t find a space yesterday.

    It’s like the sales pages with the fake countdown timer or the slashed out number of copies left.

    That isn’t to say there aren’t legitimate crashes. They do happen. In your case I was able to read the post when I saw the email, but I was probably much later than your initial launch as I was away from my email for most of the day.

  28. Thanks for the real background on server crashes. Can you share the name of your new host or give tips on what to look for in a hosting plan to avoid server crashes? That would be great information to have.

    Thanks!

  29. OF COURSE you didn’t fake a server crash of your blog to build social proof! Ridiculous!

    Everyone knows that’s completely bogus and beneath you, Jeff!

    Shame! Shame on those haters who accuse you of such a practice!

    You REALLY faked the server crash so you could write this post to make everyone ask you what hosting service you use so you could give them your affiliate link and make more money!

    Duh! ;-D

  30. Hehe! I remember the original Stompernet launch and their servers lasted about 30 seconds before imploding. The talk at the time was that it was all fake but you only had to take a look at the video they released about 30 mins into the crash to really know.

    Brad Fallon, usually unflappable and Mr. Suave sitting in front of the camera looking like a rabbit caught in the headlights of a truck, pale-faced and sweating bullets! I thought he was going to start doing a little tap-dance to keep the buyers amused until they got going again!

    No way you could say that was a set up or that it was something they wanted to happen!

  31. I have to agree with #6, Stan, who rightly observed Jeff that, of all people, with knowlege of both server issues and product launches, one would have thought you would think before hand about possible server issues and obviate them, which, from your current post, does not appear to be what you did.

    Like Stan, I do find it to be a boo-boo that your server crashed with the launch of a blog. I mean how many people accessed the server simultaneously for a blog post that the server crashed? It would literally have to be several 10s of thousands at the exact same size for that to happen, or a poor hosting service.

    • Vishal… read my response to Ravi – for the PLF 2.0 launch we DID think about it, and we DID take a lot of steps. Obviously not enough… but things always appear simple from the outside looking in.

      For the blog launch, we thought we had a host that would scale… it was supposed to be a cloud solution – but it wasn’t, or at least it wasn’t dynamic. But frankly, that crash was an inconvenience… it didn’t have the horrible ramifications that the PLF 2.0 crash did. And we’ve moved hosts… and now we have a solution that will scale.

  32. I feel so smart for dm’ing you that you should
    blog the reality of this, and you did! 😉

    • Ed… I almost didn’t. But you were right all along… I started this blog post to just write a few sentences about it, but then when I got to thinking about all the mis-information out there, well… I got on a roll.

  33. That is the “hit it with a bigger hammer” approach when a small hammer didn’t fix the TV.

    You have caches being invalidated on every comment, not sure what caching you are using if any.
    With WordPress it is also much better to be prepared to scale horizontally than vertically.

    How were you offloading your comment subscriptions?

    I have been running Liquid Web Storm for 5 months, zero downtime which wasn’t my own fault. But the servers are configured by default for average use cases.
    You can configure them however you want.

    Then there is the downtime on resizing a server – guess what? Rackspace cloud isn’t any faster.

    “How long does a Cloud Server resize take?

    The amount of time a resize takes varies by server. If you have a brand new server with no additional data or software installed then you are looking at 10 minutes or less. However if you have data installed on your server and have been installing software then it can take up to 30 minutes or more. Expect a short period of downtime while your server is being resized. ”

    The one big difference with Rackspace currently is the API to allow you to horizontally scale faster, automatically, but you would still have to set everything up, and possibly pay more for additional control software.

  34. Vishal has a point. No disrespect Jeff but the thought of an internet marketing “guru” with an unreliable server seems a little unbelievable. However, whether a server crash is real or fake, there are soooo many marketers right now using plf style tactics with subject lines like “BANDWIDTH EXCEEDED…” to create social proof or scarcity for them, I truly wonder how many acheive their desired results? Competition is rife! Times have changed. Emails like that just don’t cut it anymore! For me, I read that one and go … yeah yeah … delete … unsubscribe 🙂

  35. Robert Scanlon

    Reply

    Unfortunately Jeff it has all the attributes of “the Boy who cried wolf” …. and old old story.

    Hence why many of the bigger marketers such as yourself get tarred with the same brush. YOU might not do it (the second scenario, claiming a crash as a “reason why” marketing move), but others do.

    I love my PLF, had it for ages and we use the principles all the time. I had a background many years ago in the music industry where we used all these promotional techniques for successful “event marketing” album launches, but it took PLF and a very big “Doh” slap on the head to realize it is just as applicable to online marketing.

    Also as a thought – my recollection is that in PLF1.0 you DO make a point of teaching how to turn ANYTHING that happens during a launch into a marketing angle. I know you’ve also said it has to be true, so I’m not suggesting that you are responsible for folks making stuff up, but I’m pretty sure that’s where many people with less honorable intentions would have thought “Oh yes … what a GREAT idea”.

    You know – the people who always had great “why my homework isn’t done yet” stories at school.

    I think an AUTHENTIC anticipation marketing build up is a wonderful thing … but there is a lot of fake plastic and boys crying wolf muddying these marketing tactics.

    end-of-2c

    And congrats on the new blog – looking forward to more of your thoughtful posts!

  36. …whoa…wait a minute…a server crash is one of the easiest ways to instantly create a “waiting list”.
    Is it wrong to think that the psychology of a waiting list is no longer valid? …pent up demand is pent up demand. I would say it trumps those that feel it’s lame web site or blog because it crashed during the launch.
    C’mon…the numbers don’t support a loss of sales in such an instance.
    Am I wrong in this ?
    Stephen

    • Stephen… yes, you’re wrong IMO. And my opinion is backed up with a LOT of data.

      Waiting lists are cool and all, but in general, the conversion from them is so-so. And it’s definitely nowhere near as effective as selling to someone coming to the site who’s really excited to buy when you launch. Not even close.

      And backing up a step… if a server is down, then how are you going to serve up an opt-in page for a waiting list?

      If you want to put up a form for a wait list after a launch closes, that’s awesome. But you certainly don’t need to lie about the server being down to send an email about a wait list.

      Not sure what you’re referring to about numbers not supporting a loss of sales – when I launched PLF 2.0 I did $1.1 million in sales in the first hour after the server came back up. I think that I easily could have lost 10% of sales… based on all the angry emails I got from people about not being able to access the site. Doing the math, 10% of the first hour sales would be $110,000.00. If you took 10% of the entire launch it would be a lot more.

  37. Okay–so I seldom weigh in on controversy, yet this one is too near and dear to my heart. Coming from a guy who has crashed a server during a launch, not once, not twice, but three times in the last 6 months (you’d think I’d learn to be more insistent with clients on their capacity)–I am COMPLETELY with Jeff on this… Crashing a server is a moronic move for amateurs with no clue of the problems that follow, the money they lose and the goodwill that is forever gone. The last time probably cost the client $50K and me at least 2 years of premature white hair. Demand is all fine and good and there are plenty of better ways to create it. Manufacturing problems is flat out foolish…come up with a scarcity play or something a little more creative. If you crash a server, you just screwed up, plain and simple.

  38. Great post Jeff.

    I also think lies and hype only hurts sales especially if you’re in this thing for the long run. Goodwill is the best currency and lies and hype from marketers just plain destroys that.

    Really psyched to read more posts now that you have this blog up and running! 🙂

    Cheers, Charl

  39. We had a server crash once during a launch for Teaching Sells. Jeff’s 100% right, it sucks. And you lose sales. It does not make you look cool, it is not good social proof, it is just frustration and a barrier exactly when you want everything to be smooth.

    Stuff just happens. Even when you have your act together. You put out email with something wrong in it (I have done this way too many times, trust me, I am not pulling a sneaky trick on anyone, I’m just a dope), some piece of hardware fails when you need it to hold, there’s a detail you thought you dealt with but it turns out you didn’t get it exactly right.

    I dunno, some of the people who seem to make it their life’s work to “expose” these “scams” make me wonder what all that complaining can possibly be doing to make their life better.

  40. walter daniels

    Reply

    I agree, no one same wants a server crash. However, unless, like Google, you own your own server farm,it can happen. You have no control over how many other people the system is having to deal with. If at the same time you launch, someone else is too, one or both of you can get hosed. Not by intent, but by chance. All you can do is apologize, and go on.

  41. Can I change the subject!
    You said there is a brand new plf coming out very soon… brand new from soup to nuts. Can you give us just a peek behind the curtains and tantalize us?
    I am about to present launches to a consumer products company and to a major auction house and if everything is new again, uh oh!
    It’s interesting. Because as we come upon opportunities we bounce them around in our heads and shape the offers just so… it will be great fun to incorporate your new thinking because…my objective, being offline, is to keep plf totally impenetrable to traditional marketers. It’s stealth marketing to muggles.
    I encourage everyone to think about trying plf offline. That’s where it’s been for me.
    All the best, always,
    Jay

  42. I’ve never had a server crash during a launch, but some clients didn’t thoroughly test their shopping carts and then had to scramble to fix some of the backend pieces.

    Fortunately, orders were still captured; it just created a lot of extra manual labor for those initial orders where the cart wasn’t configured properly.

    Anyway, having experienced technical problems during a launch, I can say that it’s not something you want to fake — and definitely not something you want to have happen. Causes way too much stress.

    Ryan

  43. Gotta weigh in on this one!

    (I’ve just read every comment here, hoping to learn the name of the new server company too!)

    One thing I have noticed with the big gurus is that they really seem ordinary people with an unusually high skill level in a few areas…technology & legals not being those areas!

    Jeff, I think, is an ideas man, inventing marketing techniques & so on…not everyone knows everything about everything, all the time, remember. I would not worry in the least or question the crash in any way at all, as I’m totally awe inspired by the fact I can type into my lap top & suddenly…it’s on the internet & available to the whole world…whooom!.

    With the super fast advances in technologies, I’m amazed there aren’t more crashes!

    I’m not a cynic or the least bit skeptical, but one thing I am is…I am totally aware of my responses to ANY marketing copy!
    I am an easy sell… totally seeing the point the marketer is putting forth & I think, here in lies the secret.
    So, decide ahead of time if you want to put yourself in the position to be influenced into the emotional state where you just have to buy it, can’t live without it!
    Just wonder, will it serve you in your pursuit of your goals to-day?

    So, server crashes are a dumb thing to pretend happened.
    If it really did happen…accept the fact & get on with life. Give a call to the marketer afterward & ask to buy one!
    Can totally understand the image perception, stress, frustration…but hey!
    Look at how lucky we are…awesome stuff happening faster than anyone can type & we are able to take part in it!
    Kindest,
    Poppie

    • Poppie… you make an excellent point. I’ve got some pretty good marketing skilz, but yes… amazingly enough, I am human. And I’m not all powerful. In fact, a couple of hours ago, after reading the comments in this thread, I decided that would have to be one of my upcoming posts – a confession that I actually don’t have superpowers in every area of Internet business. 🙂

  44. Jeff,

    I appreciate how you never just sweep things under the rug. You always explain what’s happening and because of that I actually believe you when you say your server crashed. There are some marketers out there that I’ve actually seen be less than honest so when they say it I think BS.

    Also, thanks for demonstrating how to maintain a relationship with your readers by explaining how you fixed the problem without sounding like you are making excuses.

  45. Twitter’s servers over capacity every day and that’s just annoying, and Ticketek is a lot better than it used to be at initial ticket release, however, there’s always some landing page of sorts. So these bigger players have system that works by providing feedback that they’re “over capacity” and please come back later.

    Anyways Jeff we’ll always come back later for you even when we have to assume that “your server’s down” 🙂

  46. I think in Jeff’s case a server crash is a stupid thing to do but.,..

    I have done or consulted in 22 launches now since 2000 and I can tell you the server crash thing is done by loads of people as a ‘last throw of the dice’ thing in order to get the last piece of business they can.

    I don’t agree with it but it does work in terms of numbers – sales are made from the people ‘teetering’ on the edge.

    A lie is a lie but so many launches use so much hype that in reality they are lying to their people all thru their launch as much as the people who say their server crashed.

    Just my 2C’s

  47. Jeff I’m sure you are correct about so called fake server crashes. The fact is a less robust server can easily do down when people are sitting there constantly hitting refresh like you said. I am on lots of lists though (I like to know who’s doing what) and you’re also right some lame marketers DO use the “crash” as a reason to re-mail and add hype..You’re right – it’s a worthless practice as anybody who’s been on a couple of lists for any time soon knows who’s trying to “blag” them and who’s genuine.. After all the same people seem to have these crashes constantly… wouldn’t a savvy marketer simply move his hosting Immediately after One Crash? I know I would – so in effect I think less of the person who’s regularly having these crashes and that means I think less of the material they’re selling..

  48. David Davis

    Reply

    Regardless whether this “crash” was fake or not,
    the following statement sounds very interesting to me:
    “36 minutes… and they cost me $20-30,000 in customer service costs.”

    Does it mean we can soon expect a course on
    “How to pay your customer service staff $50,000 per hour?”

    Also, the statement of losing “at least $100,000 in sales” is a very interesting one.
    I mean, Jeff, during that launch you sold out, right?
    So, if you sold everything out, how could you then “lose sales”?
    That’s not possible according to my logic.

  49. Jeff, while I love all the great content you keep posting, this one is bit off for me. Being in online business for past 5 years, I know enough about servers and stuff.

    I can bet $10 that the server technology used today – and even in the past 5 years too – are strong enough to withstand any sudden hike in traffic, even on those $5/month shared hosting environment! Why don’t you make your server co. public and let’s see what do they have to say about it. I’m sure they wouldn’t want to see you after that.

    I’d still say, these are just plain gimmicks and nothing else – C’mon, find a better excuse now! And, please continue the great blog post series as usual – I’d ‘pretend’ this post never happened 🙂

    • Michelle… sorry, you’re just plain wrong. A $5/month shared server will not hold up to much of a traffic spike. If they could, then the term “Slashdot Effect” wouldn’t even exist. And, ummmm… I *have* made my server company public in the original post and in these comments. I named my blog server host in the original post, and I named my PLF 2.0 host in comment #32 and plenty of other places over the years.

      David… yes, I do pay my customer service staff a LOT more than some people. But my products are not $7 ebooks, and I like to have premier customer support… I personally think I’ve got the best support in the business. Please look at my earlier replies… the minute the server came up we had hundreds of customer service requests, and that was just the start of it. That was the short answer… when the server came up, we had database issues that continued all day. I had to more than triple customer service staffing for 3+ weeks. As far as selling out… we didn’t have a hard cap on PLF 2.0 – it was all the issues that led to me putting a cap on 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3. Everything always appears simpler on the outside… everything is always more complicated, costs more, and takes longer on the inside.

  50. Jeff,
    Over the years I’ve casually wondered how many crashes were staged but over the years you’ve also gained my trust so what you say makes sense. I notice that you shared two servers you’ve used that didn’t work to your expectation and you then said,
    “In the end, once the dust settled, we decided to move everything over to a new host … and our new host seems to have a more robust capability of scaling immediately whenever needed.”

    It’s all find and dandy to know the name of the servers that didn’t work but is there a chance you’d share one that did? “That would be valuable information for us since we’re about ready to use your PLF2.0 and would really prefer not to have to create a new blog about our servers going down.

    Thanks again for the great info. I’m looking forward to new blog posts from you.
    Steve A

  51. My first two launches caused my server to crash. My best estimate is that it cost me AT LEAST $40k in sales for my first launch and another $100k or so during my second launch last December… ouch. I can’t be sure but based on the launches I’ve done without server crashes that’s my guess.

    By chance I met Daniel Dent from OmegaSphere on the marketer’s cruise in January this year. I’d seen him at a few other IM events before and we’d chatted briefly but I’m really happy I ran into him again and we had a chance for a real conversation. His company is focused on high-end hosting for people whose businesses have grown beyond a simple shared account. They’ve got customers doing millions of pageviews & emails.

    Their website is pretty awful and doesn’t really give you a good idea of what they do. When I got back from the cruise I pulled up their URL and it didn’t really sound like what I was looking for, but I spoke with someone on the phone who explained they get enough business from word of mouth that they haven’t really updated their website in years.

    I decided to give them a try for one of my sites for my next launch. They handled the site move and even did a “simulated launch” where they made sure that it could handle the traffic. My launch went off without a hitch and we did a cool $200,000 in a few hours. Unreal. I’ve been in business for 10 years now and I’d never seen such a thing.

    Their hosting may not be cheap but sometimes that’s a good thing. Their support is excellent and when I look at my bottom line I get way more sales and the cost is a drop in the bucket.

    Something that surprised me: it isn’t just our launch sales that have improved. Our day-to-day sales are higher and we are getting more search engine traffic. Turns out having your site load fast actually matters.

  52. There are more idiots in the Warrior Forum slandering your name, Jeff.

    We (my husband and I) love PLF 2.0. It taught us so much. Would love to jump in on the forth-coming launch, but I doubt that’ll be happening.

    Anyway, I love your design of Thesis here. It’s near as nice as mine 😉

  53. I am floored by the folks who come on here and are essentially calling Jeff a liar. Whether implied ‘other people fake crashes’ or following some clearly fake compliment ‘I love your stuff’ BUT…. your a liar.

    What is wrong with you people?

    As for what server he is using now. It is RackSpace Cloud as I noted in comment #28. If you look up the whois record for his domain you will see the name servers are stabletransit.com those are RackSpace name servers.

    http://www.google.com/search?q=DNS1.STABLETRANSIT.COM+&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

  54. walter daniels

    Reply

    I’m not Jeff, nor do I play him at the bank (but, I’d like to :-)). No matter what he pays CS people, it takes time to respond to every service request. 0.001 sec. to generate, 10-30 minutes to read, fix, and respond. As he says, when it happens, it never is just a simple fix. The system processes say 10K items per sec. When it goes down, who knows how many of those items were in process of being written. Depending on the complexity of the writes, half a dozen or more files are open, and potentially corrupted. If it’s a “network” DB, the relationships are guaranteed to be corrupted. In another life, I was a Net. Op. manager. So, I know.
    On the sales, it isn’t the direct sales, It’s the lost future potential sales that hurt. When the server screws up, and people have problems, they get PO’d. As a result, they go away, and never come back. That’s the real loss.

  55. Jeff:

    There is an African proverb that says, “you cannot throw a stone at every dog that barks at you” so let the haters and nay sayers go about their negativity. Don’t drain yourself of positive energy by trying to respond to comments from the negative folks.
    Your explanation was enough. Keep up the great work!

  56. Well….I actually know of internet marketers that HAVE faked server crashes, and have faked “Blowing out the conference call lines” to make themselves look bigger and more important then they really are. This really does happen! Not saying that it happened here… after all, this was a blog launch…and it seems very unlikely. But it is another form of posturing with people. Biz-op people are famous for this kind of stuff.

    In fact, I was on a call a year or so ago, where a very well known marketer (won’t name names here) was doing a teleconference… and was telling people that because of the rush on the phone lines, they had maxed out the system. Then, about a minute later, they accidentally hit the button that gave the caller count for the call…. and there was only 8 callers! Everyone on the call heard the call count! HA! (It was an 8 person blow-out! ) What’s worst, is that he recorded that call, and didn’t even edit that part out when he used the call as an audio file in his product. So, now when you buy his product, you can listen to the blunder over and over again!

    I believe you when you say that “No one that has a clue” wants the servers to crash… But there are a few clue-less folks out there! I wouldn’t put anything past people. Unfortunately, this kind of stuff has given IM’ers out there a bad name!

  57. well I’m sure that your thousand dollar mistakes make you million dollar in sales because you learned a lot from them.

  58. The level of cynicism should surprise no one. There are about a million marketers out there — offline and online — doing very dishonest things every day of the week. Maybe more.

    I know it is a fact because I constantly double check various claims — as much as I have time and energy for — and it is rather astonishing how many of the claims and practices are very dishonest. Believe me…

    Not saying you, Jeff. I don’t really know you and haven’t done business with you — yet. I do hear good things. But you gotta admit, after one sees and experiences and double checks things enough, it should not be all that surprising that the game becomes suspicion and conspiracy theory first, and trust only after it’s been earned.

    Just IMHO.

  59. Jeff,

    I had commented earlier (and you responded too to my comment). But I just realized that I forgot to mention something very relevant…

    Why to focus on just “Time-Restricted Launches” when you can do a Perpetual Product Launch for life? Of course, one of the reasons you would do a 1-day launch is to create scarcity. But most of the times, it is because most site owners don’t realize that they could “drip” the content – I call it a ContentResponder – and then do a perpetual launch forever!

    1-day launches may not work in every niche – such sites should focus on just dripping the content over a period of time, so that the guy who joins today doesn’t have access to the same content as the gal who joined 6 months ago.

    That way, you do a phased launch, no issues with traffic or resource over-utilization or crashes. And you won’t get buried in tech & customer support issues all on one day. They all happen gradually.

    Just a thought 🙂

    – Ravi Jayagopal

    • Ravi… you make a good point. In general, there’s a lot of confusion about product launches and about what I teach in my Product Launch Formula. People think it’s about putting a product on the market for a day and then pulling it off. The reality is that for a majority of launches the product stays on the market perpetually.

      In Product Launch Formula, I teach many different styles of launch… and I also teach the Business Launch Formula – where you use the launch to basically launch and keep re-launching a business. In my new PLF, I’m also going to be teaching the “Circle of Awesome”, which is basically one of the ways that I like to build a business by alternating internal launches with JV launches.

      It’s funny – one thing I’ve actually NEVER talked about is the big guru launches. I’ve always focused on launches by “regular” folks – the people that no one has heard of who are killing it in all kinds of tiny little niches that most people have never heard of. These are folks like John Gallagher in “edible and medicinal plants and herbs” and Jane Savoie in “dressage aka horse ballet” and Andrew Jones in “first aid for your pets”…

      HOWEVER, I recently decided that my next video is going to be about the big guru launches – because there’s so much mis-information about them. I’ve actually been shooting that video over the last few days.

  60. Some Marketers DO say stuff like”the demand for this was so great when we launched the server crashed) to make you believe that everyone is buying their product and you should too otherwise you are missing out on something great. Fact. It’s the sheep mentality and some people I guess fall for it.

  61. Hi Jeff,

    Good point about the MLB site going down during the World Series ticket promotion.

    That’s one of the few exceptions I can think of outside the Internet Marketing realm.

    I think the reason there’s such a belief in the “faked server crash” is because there’s an assumption (not saying it’s right, just saying human assumption for better or worse) that you guys are so smart & have done so many of these million dollar day type launches that you would get more adept at not having the server crashes happen.

    Especially with the Filsaime, Frank Kern, Tony Robbins associations, a lot of folks assume you guys would get better each successive launch & not have major problems.
    Not saying it’s a fair assumption, just telling you what I see and hear.

    Personally, I’ve never seen Ticketmaster, MovieFone, Amazon or even Cirque du Soleil’s site crash despite huge traffic & ticket sales.

    So, a lot of people assume the Internet gurus are just as smart or smarter than the big brand name guys but don’t realize that your pockets probably aren’t as deep as the big dogs.

    Not saying it’s right, just saying that’s the assumptions at work.

    Doesn’t help you much, I know, but that’s perception will only increase as you get bigger too. The bigger you get & the more you guys talk about how much money you raked in during your million dollars a nanosecond launch, people are going to assume you’re too big to fail.

    If you think I’m off track, look at how people say the banks & auto companies & insurance companies were too big for Washington to let them fail.

    Part of the audience is always going to have that mentality…for better or worse.

    Personally, I always assume a server crash during one of your launches jut means that Jason Moffatt passed out on the floor and rolled over, accidentally unplugging your server. 🙂

    Michael

  62. Hahaha Michael,
    Very Funny!

    I’m in this conversation & I’m back for another bite at this cherry…

    I’d like to ask one Question here, as I’m beginning to wonder about this more & more after reading comments online in general, that doubters, skeptics & cynics make.
    Do doubters, skeptics & cynics make any money online or is that attitude a “no go” for biz?
    I’d like to hear some replies from them.
    Do they actually action anything & find out that things actually DO GO wrong?
    Do they action anything & find that there’s always a different answer or another way of doing things than first envisioned?
    Do they ever action anything & find they don’t know all the answers, did overlook some details, did screw up at times & still have the courage to dust themselves off & get on with it?
    Do they ever action anything or are they always picking fault to mask their fear of taking forwards action that may well result in “bombing out”?

    I’m very interested to see if that type of attitude can sustain a business that in essence is fraught with the possibility of many mishaps & down times?

    Looking forwards to answers from doubters, skeptics & cynics who are a raging success online!
    Kindest,
    Poppie

  63. Robert Scanlon

    Reply

    @Poppie

    That’s more than one question LOL!

    I would consider myself a skeptic and cynic of many many supposed “guru” claims, including “my server just couldn’t handle it all” spins. In my mind the snake-oil salesman is alive and well on the internet, so keep your radar up folks and don’t get suckered.

    I’m not skeptical of Jeff at all (I own PLF1.0 and it is a sensational product and helped us in several launches and still is). I restrict my consumption to a tiny handful of experts I trust.

    Raging success? Depends on your criteria. We’re doing OK since our first launch in 2008 and look to continuous improvement and learning from everything – successes AND “failures”.

    Reading between the lines and guessing, I’d say you seem to be hypothesizing that cynics and skeptics are in general not successful.

    I don’t believe in generalizations but I would agree that certain hang outs (eg the warrior forum which I don’t frequent at all these days so I could be completely exposing my own generalization admissions!) seem to be heavily populated by negative-minded folks who think everything is a scam or “they just say that to get my money”.

    I believe there is truth in what I think you might be saying that these people may simply do that to cover-up a lack of action or progress on their own behalf. Who knows and who cares.

    I think the second part of Jeff’s point – that the “claiming of a server crash/shopping cart malfunction” as an angle or excuse to sell again … is prevalent and I take them all with a grain of salt.

    As to the first part … having had a server meltdown myself and “lost” 200 members (Learning: backup your data more regularly and don’t believe your host even if they say they back up your data!) I would absolutely agree that deliberately staging one would be … well … odd.

    Truth in advertising & marketing! It will bring us more karma and a sustainable business than a half-truth or lie or just ridiculous “spin” used for short-term gain.

    I love selling and have been in it for most of my life … the reason sales is often given a bad name in my opinion is because there is a significant number of salespeople around who are prepared to say anything just to get a sale. Including “my server went down” or “my shopping cart couldn’t handle it”.

    Thanks Jeff for provoking this convo!

  64. I don’t know anything about launches, server crushes etc. since I’m just 16 and starting out in IM, but I’m quite sure that a server crushes sucksZ.
    and for those who are doing fake server crushes… be carefull.. cause your business may also crush.. bwahaha ..LOl

  65. @Poppie

    I have yet to meet a successful business person — that stayed successful for any length of time — who did not use their mental abilities to analyze. And analysis requires more than simple faith and action. It requires verification (which starts with doubt), quantification and paying close attention to results.

    When one does that, consistently, then one becomes more and less cynical, more and less skeptical — depending on the context, and depending on exactly who is saying or doing what.

    The little boy who cries wolf over and over gradually loses credibility, but the actual wolf never does.

    As I said, the level of cynicism out there should surprise no one, but that is not to say it is right or that I recommend it. What I do recommend is to be skeptical anytime one is dealing with the unknown, untested, unproven.

    And there is a huge difference between being a cynic and being a skeptic. A cynic simply doesn’t believe. Period. A skeptic looks diligently for evidence, and if it can be found, then believes. Huge difference.

  66. I’d have to second what @Richard said. There is a difference between a skeptic and a cynic. I tend to be a skeptic and try to judge each incident on its own merits. As for what Jeff is describing in his blog crashing, I can’t see any reason for him to fake this so I believe what he says.

    What I have trouble believing (although I’m sure it happens) is the guys and gals who say “Only the first 1000” or “Only until midnight” but come back a day or two later with the “Our server crashed …” story. I know it happens sometimes, but I’m also sure it can just be a selling ploy too.

  67. I’m eagerly awaiting the release of product launch formula 3.0. Any clue when it will be launched? Isn’t it supposed to be this June?

  68. Robert & Richard,
    You are both correct in a way…
    I guess I was meaning the “negos”!
    The negative mindset, that “believes/assumes” every marketer is a scammer!

    You know what I mean.

    I added skeptical & cynical to that mindset description idea, only because at the very negative end of the scale, they do fit in!

    Not you guys tho”…as doing commonsense research which clears up not knowing how a “particular thing” works & becoming knowledgeable on the subject, is not the cynical, skepticism that was meant here!

    What you’re talking about is purely opening your mind to learning & not continuing on & remaining in the negative mindsets previously mentioned!

    Get your sails up & get out in the open seas & learn to tak & jib against & with the wind…
    That’s what I’m saying to those attitudes…don’t lurk forever in the shadows of fear by branding the unknown areas not yet researched or learned by yourself, as fakers, scammers & such.

    There’s just so much to learn, life is an exciting adventure for sure…it is never a bore!

    Kindest,
    Poppie

  69. @Poppie – “don’t lurk forever in the shadows of fear by branding the unknown areas not yet researched or learned by yourself, as fakers, scammers & such.”

    Absotively, posilutely, 100% in agreement with you.

  70. Hey, what is your new hosting company by the way? Also, is this your first blog with Thesis? I’ve seen it more and more, how is it working out for you?
    All of your stuff is awesome, and being a JV is even one of the best traings you provide…watching it live in action… Good luck on PLF 3.0 and hope the server stays up 😉

  71. Pingback: Wow… My Servers Actually Crashed

  72. You know, at this stage of my life and career, the major fear that I have is that when I
    get to launching my first product, which is almost ready (just have the cover to finish)
    that it could just maybe attract a lot of interest and sales and the possibility of a server
    crash. It is always on the back of my mind and think it is probably paralysing me in
    some ways. The “what if” and the non-techie skills are really an issue cos where am
    at it would mean another brain draining, time consuming task to get it right and it could
    be the thing that would end my motivation. Have been a continuous scholar trying to
    learn programs, then sort out the kinks the software comes out with and we haven’t even touched the issues of protection of digital download and oh! of course, there was the writing of the book too. I don’t need any more technical challenges in this arena and any info I can gain now to prevent any crashes would be the most welcome thin.

  73. Jeff,

    Obviously i dont care if you publish my comments. I’m just leaving a visible reference that I was here and as for this post … Good learning experience (via a post rather than a launch). You didnt mention the site that is scaleable … That would be good to know.

    Brett

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