TEI Talks - 6 - Selling to an Email List
11:12AM Oct 31, 2020
direct response marketing
Welcome to this ti talk number six of 18. We're going to talk about today, calls to action, post, opt in surveys, and other ways of selling to your email list. new format today, I'm going to try out, sorry about experimenting on you. But we have tools to make use of tools that will make use of today. As we go through this. Folks are watching this later, you'll find those clickable links below the video on the curriculum page. So again, our topic today is selling to your email list. And let me set a little bit of context before we get started with that. So we're talking about the first challenge in the expertise incubator. And that first challenge is to publish daily to an email list at least three times a week. And it specifically is publishing to an email list. We choose an email list as our channel as our medium to practice this challenge of thinking out loud. Because the email list gives us a really smooth ramp to a conversation with those who are on the email list. That broadcast message that can reach potentially a lot of people can very quickly and smoothly convert into an intimate conversation when someone hits reply. Additionally, email is a very fluid, medium, it's easy to try different things you can do a lot with email. And it's a sort of low cost to produce. It's a low cost to experiment with. That's why we like email for this first challenge of the expertise incubator. However, the fact that we're using email brings with it some interesting stuff. First of all, some baggage. So when you have an email@example.com or convertkit.com, or any number of other email marketing providers, you are operating in a context where the assumption is you're doing email marketing. And that's actually not quite what we're doing with the expertise incubator framework. We're doing something other than email marketing, but we are using the moving parts, the tools that are used in email marketing, but we're using them for a slightly different purpose. And I realized I need better language. For some of this. I've used accidentally, the term email marketing in this, this series of talks, just because when you think about having an email list and sending to an email list, the assumption is you're doing email marketing. And, again, that's not quite what we're doing with the expertise, thank you better framework. Maybe I should call it email thinking or thinking by writing. That's a term for which I have Jim Thornton to think maybe it's those things, I'm not satisfied with any of those terms, but it's not email marketing. But at the same time, we're using the same moving parts that would be used in email marketing, we have an email list, we have an email provider. And we have subscribers. And we're emailing them. So we're doing all the stuff that's done in email marketing, so we're really just a half step away from quote, doing email marketing, if that's what we want to do. So that's why I want to spend some time talking about what would you do if you did in fact want to, quote do email marketing. So on that note, doing marketing, I've had a realization that feels worth sharing. If you decide someday, hey, I'm going to do marketing. First of all, I almost always put that like in air quotes, do marketing. It's, it strikes me the same way, someone who's single and wakes up one day and says, I want to do marriage. And our response to them would be okay with who? And like, what is that going to look like for you? You don't just decide as a single person one day to do marriage. It's a relationship. And I feel like marketing is the same way I think about it in relational terms.
Anyway, let's say you decide you want to do marketing, you've got two opportunities in front of you if you've not really done much marketing before. And I think one of those opportunities is amazing. So the opportunity is, the first opportunity is to decide to do marketing, and to suck at it for probably a few years, and what you'll be doing is you'll be pursuing an attempt, I'm speaking now specifically about the context of email marketing, you'll be trying to create enough reader or subscriber value, that your email marketing can create short term monetary value for your business. And if you take this deal, that is the sort of default deal that's offered to you, by those who give advice about doing email marketing, then you will work to create just enough reader or subscriber value. And as much short term business monetary value as possible. That is what you will be encouraged to do in most cases. And so given that you're kind of a neophyte, you don't really know a lot about how to do marketing, you don't have a lot of experience doing it, then you will just sort of say, Well, this is what I should do. And I'm going to learn how to do this. And when I say you, you'll suck at it, what I mean is, you won't be very good at it. And that's very natural and normal. That's not like me saying there's something wrong with you. Instead, that's me saying, we all suck at it. At first, I know who I'm talking to here, I'm not talking to usually, professional marketers who work at big companies, I'm talking to people who run their own business and do their own marketing. And for us, we usually don't have a lot of training, or experience with marketing, per se. And even if we have some, it has to be adapted to the context that we're working in. So we all suck at it at first, and it takes a few years to get better at it. And that's our first opportunity is to focus on maximizing short term business monetary value. To do that, we'll have to figure out what is maybe not the bare minimum, what's just enough reader subscriber value to accomplish that larger goal of maximizing business monetary value. And we'll just kind of Bumble along and slowly get better, but will not be great at it. The other opportunity is to pursue a different combination of factors. We'll still suck at it by the way. But there's an opportunity in sucking at it, and being not great at it. So we can pursue a combination combination of trying to create reader or subscriber value. But we can try to maximize that. And we can try to maximize something other than short term monetary value. And what we can try to maximize in tandem with the readers subscriber value is our long term expertise value the value of our expertise compounded over years or decades. And we'll suck at this too. But this is a very different approach than the first approach. It makes us different. And it also has a second order consequence that it provides short term business monetary value. I want to show you a diagram that I think illustrates this. I've given you a link to this diagram in the chat. So if you go to that miro.com link, you can explore this on your own if it works for you to be exploring this while I'm talking great if you want to just you know watch sort of look over my shoulder as I explore it. Also great. When you publish to an email list, you can do three things. Maybe not all at once, but you can be doing three things. One is you can be creating future expertise value, you can be thinking out loud and creating value that is mostly going to accrue in the future.
You can create current economic value for your business. In other words, you can sell things
And finally, you can create value for your readers and subscribers. I've touched on this already in this talk series. I've touched on some of these ideas, and I've sort of hinted at this diagram. But there's an elaboration of it that I want to take you through today. You can try to do all three of these things at once. But it's easier to do too. It's kind of like the old saying, and it, you know, you can have a system that's fast, reliable, and cheap. But you only get to pick two of those three things, it's really, really hard to have all three. I think this a similar dynamic is true when it comes to email marketing, or publishing to an email, let's see there did it again, use the term email marketing, because it's so common. But what I really mean is publishing to an email list because you may not be trying to, quote, do marketing, you might be instead focusing on investing in your future expertise by thinking out loud, and trying to create reader or subscriber value, and you might be ignoring the current economic value of that activity, you might not really care if you sell anything. And that's the approach that I advocate in the expertise incubator is a sort of working in public approach to really focusing on cultivating your expertise. Or you could be focused very heavily on current economic value, and creating just enough reader subscriber value to support that economic value creation. And if you did that, you would be doing something that looks a lot like direct response marketing. For zoom out a little bit on this. I know it's, you know, some of this stuff is not easy to see. But this list of seven attributes is what we tend to see in what's known as direct response marketing. A focus on addressing fears or using fear to to inspire action, solving problems that are really painful that are felt in the short term. Using data gating content, deploying calls to action, following where the market seems to be going, targeting people based on data and using that data to personalize your message. Those are some of the sort of primary characteristics of direct response marketing. And what I tend to refer to as brand marketing looks different. It's more focused on aspirations or transformation, at least in the services context, uses human insight to understand the market rather than data makes use of gifts a lot more frequently. Instead of calls to action, you're you're promoting memorable, unique offerings, you're trying to lead the market, you're present with the market rather than trying to gather data that helps you extract value from the market. And this is all based on relevance to what the market markets aspirations and transformational desires are. not to get too into that. But along one axis, the TI axis, you're doing something that looks like brand marketing. And along the other axis, you're doing something that looks like direct response marketing. And if we unpack these and start to look at them over time, we notice even more differences between them. Let me start with the thing we're almost familiar with, which is direct response marketing. In a timeframe that is oriented towards the short term months, rather than years or decades, we're focused on maximizing the current economic value of whatever marketing it is that we do. And we will do just enough reader or subscriber value creation to maximize that economic value. That really is what drives direct response marketing. And there's nothing wrong with that. It's fine. But it's good to know that this is how it works. This is the deal that direct response marketing puts on the table in front of us. Our method is trying to figure out how much reader or subscriber value can we create. We don't want to over invest because that would be inefficient. How much value Do we have to create for those people out there on our email list so that we can capture as much economic value as possible? Again, there's nothing like morally wrong with this or inherently wrong with this.
But this is what is underneath all the advice about direct response marketing. This is the water that that fish swims in. I'm going to skip over the brand marketing piece here and take us over to what TTI looks like, what the expertise incubator framework looks like. Our timeframe here is years, not months, that's it's closer to a sort of long term orientation. Our method is to focus on overlapping two things, reader value creation and future expertise value, we want to try to do both of those things at once in the publishing that we do to our email list. Our goal is to create future economic value for ourselves. But that goal is not. So I mean, first of all, we're willing to work at it for years. Second, the goal is in alignment with creating readers subscriber value and future expertise value. If we can do those two things, it's very likely that will generate future economic value for our business. So that's the future goal. And there is a second order effect, which is the creation of current economic value. But that's not the focus, that's something that happens as a byproduct of this combination. It looks a lot like brand marketing. So I believe but can't prove to a skeptic, that this second opportunity, the opportunity to suck at. Well, let me jump back here to suck at this. And when I say suck at it, we all suck at it. Okay, we're all beginners at the beginning. That's why that self forgiveness idea, so critical. So we're not going to be great at this. But if we take we pursue this combination of things I think it's going to build, it's going to create a better return on investment for you. And the investment is primarily your time. And I think it's going to build a better brand for your business, I think it's going to have a better long term result than starting out by trying to do direct response marketing. Now, not everyone who encounters this expertise in an incubator framework and decides, hey, I'm going to I'm going to do this. Not everyone is going to be deciding to do marketing for the first time, but a lot will be and it's because of this. What prompts most people to do marketing, for the first time most people like us, is some form of crisis. In our business and unsustainable status quo, we've got that feast or famine cycle going on. And we encounter the famine, phase four, what we're sure is going to be the last time because we're fed up with it. And our feeling is never again, I'm going to get out of this feast famine cycle by learning to market by learning to do marketing. And so something has to happen because the business is in a unsustainable situation. And that's what prompts most people to do marketing. And you really do need at some point to figure out how to earn visibility and trust in the market. So that demand for your services is less variables so that you have more control over that. So you really do need at some point to learn to do marketing. I'm not saying you don't need to. But I really hope for folks like us that we can feel that impulse. That's, that gets us serious about doing marketing. And then we can take the expertise incubator deal instead of the direct response deal, which will take longer to pay off. And so, you know, ideally, you would start the expertise incubator during a particularly sustainable phase of your business. But realistically, not everyone does that. But hopefully you can kind of smooth the path from that crisis moment that gets you serious about doing marketing with stuff
like outbound marketing or networking, and stuff that gives you enough bandwidth so that you can invest some time in this expertise. Thank you Better challenge and get through that investment phase to the payoff phase where the ROI starts to kick in. I think it takes it, I think it's realistic to think in terms of one to three years for that could be faster, you could get lucky. But if you're thinking in terms of one to three years, then you're thinking, I think in terms of the right timeframe. So I would love to see people take the T ideal, there's sort of two deals on the table, which one do you want feels like a game show? setup. I would love to see people take the T ideal because I'm, in most cases, that's going to produce a better long term return on investment. So actually, the fact that we suck at marketing, when we get started that it is, I think, a good thing because we can suck at something that has a better long term payoff. And I'd love to see more people take that deal. you embrace this first part of the expertise incubator framework, you're publishing daily, you're sinking a tremendous amount of effort into it your business. And I think it's totally reasonable for to at some point, maybe pretty quickly, but eventually, at some point, you want that effort to contribute to short term monetary value. That's fine. That's normal. You're not crazy. Okay? It's not going to subvert any of the principles of TDI. And I don't, I'm not saying avoid do this. But it will create a challenge. Because now, if we go back to this diagram, now you're trying to get three of those things. Maybe not in equal proportion. But you're trying to get all three of those things happening, instead of just two. And that's harder. That's like the IT person who's like, being told Well, it has to be cheap, fast and reliable. It has to be all three make it happen. It's a formidable challenge.
Here's why it's challenging. I mean, I gave just one reason, which is, you're trying to do three things, instead of two, trying to juggle three balls instead of two. You'll also probably start looking for advice. How do I do this? How do I sell to an email list? That might be your your search query. And you'll get advice. There's plenty of advice out there about how to sell to an email list. There's folks saying it's Oh, it's just it's amazing. It outperforms any other marketing channel. It's incredible love, email, marketing, blah, blah, blah. And that advice won't be wrong, but it will be coming from a context called direct response marketing. So the value configuration around the advice that you'll get is different than this context. We're working in the expertise incubator. So as a reminder, the advice that you'll get is a timeframe of months. And it's focused on creating just enough reader subscriber value to maximize current economic value.
supply to indirect economic value? I think so. Thanks for the question, Sammy. I think it applies to indirect economic value, if I understand correctly, and feel free to, you know, clarify there. Let's go back in service of answering your question to this guy. So with ti you're really kind of building future economic value, which might look like expertise that you would apply directly through consulting, but it might be expertise that gets turned in intellectual property, something that you could sell sort of, without your direct involvement to apply the expertise. It could look like a number of things. I have examples of people who have embraced the TI framework and in, let's say around six months, seen opportunity like consulting opportunities show up. That Don't think they would have had access to before. And maybe it comes out of the publishing the daily emailing, and maybe it comes out of the research phase. The research phase has you doing stuff that is so different than most of what your peers are doing, that it creates this really compelling differentiation for some clients. And you just you look like a more advanced consultant than maybe you really are, because you're doing this research. So I have, I've seen that happen, where the current economic value, I think matches what you're talking about with indirect economic value. And again, feel free to clarify if I'm not getting that quite right. In, Daniel, you're asking a great question. And it's one that is not I don't know that I'm even satisfied with my own answer. But if we take a look at this, this model, the way I would differentiate the TDI framework from brand marketing, and first of all, brand marketing is something we normally start thinking about the world of products more so than services, because it's uncommon. brand marketing is uncommon in the world of services, you do see it with big consulting companies like Accenture and so forth, they're doing brand marketing kind of things. But it's, it's hard to point to a lot of great examples in the solo consulting world, or the very small end of that business spectrum. Where they're using brand marketing, I need to work on coming up with better examples. And part of it is because I am trying to push the market in that direction. So not a lot of people do it. I don't think it's like laziness that I haven't collected a lot of examples. It's I can be lazy. But I haven't been lazy about that. It's just that there's not a lot of examples out there. Because it's an uncommon thing. It's much more common for folks in our world, to practice to do no marketing at all, or practice some version of direct response marketing. But you'll notice in this diagram that brand marketing is more concerned with current economic value. That's, I guess, the simple one sentence of how I would differentiate the expertise incubator framework from brand marketing is the expertise incubator framework allows current economic value to just kind of happen as a second order effect of the focus, which is over on the left under method. And that focuses creating reader subscriber value and future expertise value by thinking out loud to an email list. brand marketing is very concerned with creating value for their audience. But they also need to create current economic value through that marketing.
Hopefully, that's a pretty decent stab at trying to differentiate those two. So again, you say, wow, I am doing this daily publishing thing. I'd like you to produce some current economic value for my business because I sure I'm putting a lot of time into it. And I would say, great, but beware, the advice that you find when you look around is going to be coming from a direct response context. And there's nothing inherently wrong, I want to stress with direct response marketing, but it's, it's going for a different thing. That's the thing about direct response marketing is it's going for a different thing.
We with the expertise incubator framework, are going for a different thing. So maybe you can import some ideas from that direct response marketing world and kind of craft them in to what you're doing. But it's kind of like grafting to trees. It's not easy. I want to spend some time today though, giving some suggestions. Additionally, if you are doing the expertise incubator framework, you're publishing daily, you decide you want to, you know, have that activity produce some current economic value for your business. Another problem is most of you don't like selling. I don't love selling. So I get it. My concept is, Wow, my expertise should be so self evidently valuable that I don't have to sell. I want to be like the brain. surgeon who doesn't have to sell their services, they just get an inflow of people who need brain surgery because the expertise is self evidently valuable. At some level, that's kind of what I want. I'll just say for now, it's not, I don't really mean to support this idea very much here, even though I believe it's true, it's just not the focus of this talk. Selling is not persuading or convincing. And really, it does have a lot of similarities to consulting, there's this idea of the consultative sale, for example. So I don't think you have to love selling and wish you could spend all your time selling, to make selling to an email list work for you. Another challenge that comes up, when you reach this point where you say, you know, maybe I would like to get some current economic value from this activity, you will be accustomed to creating reader value in one way, which is by thinking out loud, for your lists, that might be something they learned from seeing you think out loud, or work in public. And that way, you might stimulate or entertain them. By doing that, you might kind of expand their horizons, you might inspire them. So, you know, thinking out loud in front of an email list does create reader subscriber value, but that's a particular way to do it. And now you're going to worry, rightly so that you're changing modes. And you're, and this question comes out, well, how can I sell without subtracting reader or subscriber value without diminishing that? There's an analogy I've heard from friends of mine. And it's not I don't think it's wrong, per se, but it really encapsulates this idea. You'll hear some folks talk about email marketing, as or content marketing, in general, actually, they'll talk about it with this metaphor of every time you send something valuable worthwhile to your list, you are making a deposit to a bank account, that bank account is I don't know, their goodwill, or something. And then every time you sell something you're withdrawing from that bank account. I understand the analogy. I don't agree with it. But I do think it's a very conservative way to think about this relationship that you would have with your email list. And it keeps you from doing things that you might regret. So it's a useful analogy. I'm just not sure I agree with it. Because I have seen the act of selling be sort of like to extend the bank analogy. You're making deposits into a bank account, and then you take out a loan, but the loan has this incredible payoff, because they'd let you acquire an asset that then gives you more money. Did not not great job of explaining that. But I think the analogy kind of breaks down. And I'm not sure I fundamentally agree with it. But it is a useful analogy. And it reminds us that there are kind of it feels like there are these different modes. One is just giving, you know, in a really unrestrained you know, generous way. And then it feels like when we start selling something we're now taking rather than giving. And again, I'm not sure I agree with that premise, but that's what it feels like. So it's challenging. When you have this feeling
like Well, I'm publishing a lot to this email list, I'm creating value for them. Can I get some current immediate economic value from that work? These challenges are the ones that come up.
Here's our task.
How can we pursue current economic value without interfering with subscriber value? And is it possible to align the two? Can we do this? This may not be attainable, by the way but can we do this? Can we pursue current economic value and actually have that be almost like a bridge to reader subscriber audience value
Not sure it's attainable, but that would be our ideal if we can make it happen, because then switching back here. If we could do that we could do all three of these things. Maybe. We'll see.
Let's look at some options for pursuing current economic value in order of increasing intrusiveness to subscriber value. So let's look at these from minimally intrusive, to potentially more intrusive. So here's the first one, it's a thing that I call a post opt in survey. And I'm going to describe it verbally. And then I want to go to some screen share, so you can see what I'm talking about. So, verbally, here's what a post opt in survey is. people join your email list by opting in. I mean, there's other ways they can end up on your email list, you can do things like just adding them without their permission, which is definitely a gray area bordering on not legal in most places. Anyway, they opt in, they go to a forum on your website or something like that, and they opt into your email list. After they opt in, at some point, they're on your email list, if you do a single opt in, then they get right there on your email list. If you do what's called a double opt in, then they have to confirm that they really wanted to be on your email list. After that point, where they're on your email list, most email marketing software, pretty sure MailChimp can do this, I know ConvertKit can do this, and lots of other platforms should be able to do this. They get sent to a page somewhere. And on that page, there's a survey. And you ask them, whatever you want, it's up to them, whether they complete the survey, then being on the email list does not depend on them completing the survey. But they complete the survey, and you can get some information. So one piece of information you could get is Do you need help now? Are you wanting to buy something now? Are you ready to buy? Is there something I could do to help you make a buying decision? Those are all things that's totally fine to ask about on this post opt in survey. And I want to show you two examples. One of them is mine. And then another is an expertise incubator participant who implemented this idea, I think, better than I did for a client of his. But anyway, that's the post optim survey. And what I've found is that people I'm making generalizations people seem to be in a kind of like, Yes, I will. I like a moment when they join an email list. So I'm really surprised at the level of participation in my post opt in survey. The level of sharing really generous sharing of this is what's going on with me, this is what's on my mind, there seems to be something about that moment, when someone joins an email list that they're not again, when I say someone I'm generalizing, it's not true of everyone, but they're just kind of like in a sort of talkative mood, it seems like and so right after they've joined the email list, following that up with a survey gets, I think really interesting results now of course, it's a not as this survey is not a scientific instrument, we're not going to use it to make public policy decisions or you know, test the safety of something or anything like that. But it is so it's a biased sample that we're drawing from what the survey that is all fine if we just understand that that's the context the information is coming from. So I think the post opt in surveys potentially the least intrusive, the least, like diminishing of subscriber value, in fact, I think you can make an argument that for for some folks, it's it's a benefits a value to them, gives them a voice, lets them get something off their chest, lets them put words to a feeling they've had all That can have value. So I want to show you the one that I have set up. We're going to start with the survey. I don't think it's all that important that you like, read and digest this, but I'll just point out a few things about it. So at the top, it explains the purpose. Real quick, you're new here, I'd like to learn why that'd be more helpful, share as much or as little as you like, all questions are optional.
So it's a very concise statement of this is why you're here. This is what's happened. And I hope that by saying all questions are optional, folks, feel free to say, No, thanks. This is not for me, if that's kind of where their heads that. I asked where folks are in their career, trying to get a sense of how many people are specialized, etc. What's your vision for impact? What's your number one question about a list of things that I could help with, and I will very often pull from these questions and answer them to the rest of my email list. And then finally, if you'd like me to be in touch about my services, please leave your email address here, I will simply send you an overview of my services and let you initiate any questions you have about them. I won't follow up or annoy you. So that's a promise that it's safe to tell me that you might be interested in my services. That that's what my survey looks like. So again, folks opt in, they get sent directly to this, and then they do whatever they decide they want to do with it.
Daniel, I wish I could have a conversation with you about the idea that selling reduces the bank account. I'd love to hear more about your perspective. Sammy, to your question. People usually answer I think there's a real kind of like, if we graphed it out how many questions along the x axis, it would be like a really U shaped curve? They either answer None? like they'll or they usually answer one, the first one, where are you in your career? Or the answer all of them. That's what that distribution would look like. So in my case, if folks indicate that they're a generalist, there's a very high chance that they will fill out none of the other questions. And in my view, that is because if they're a generalist, they don't have a vision for impact. They don't have that idea of how they would like to affect the market in a positive way. Because they haven't specialized. And then if they have gotten further than that, usually, all these other questions start to make sense to them. So that's normally what I see.
This is my ConvertKit account. I want to just spend a half a minute talking about how this is set up just so you have a sense, I described it verbally, but I want to make sure that you have a visual that corresponds with that. So this is a form where folks can join my email or actually can opt in for an email course. And this is all going to be specific to ConvertKit. But almost all of this is is transferable elsewhere. So here's the form. If I go to the settings for this form, ConvertKit has this leftover language from when they were a less mature product where they call the double opt in email, they call it an incentive email. And here is the part that when they finish opting in, because I use double opt in on my email list. When folks finished opting in, they are redirected automatically to the form I just showed you, which is created by air table. So they they end up here after they confirm that they really do want to join my email list.
That's how it works.
Here's another one. This is somebody who's been through the expertise incubator, Tom Miller, and a client of his small batch standard and this is the same thing after you join their email list and decide that you want to opt in, I'm not sure if they use double opt in or not, I can't remember. But you end up on this form and I love the language that he uses here. Are you potentially interested in engaging with small batch standard to help you achieve your objectives? And I imagine if we choose Yes, we'll get asked to provide an email address or something like that. Would you be open to scheduling a short follow up call to explore your answers further? Again, I really, really like the language they're using there. To me, it's very, you know, respectful, but also very clear and direct. It's saying, hey, do you need help with this.
That's what a post opt in survey looks like. And back here, there are links to these, you can check these out on your own their links to them in the mind map that I linked to earlier, which is the same mind map I'm showing you here. You won't be able to log into my ConvertKit account and see how that set up. But that's the only thing I think you can't see.
The second way that you can sell to an email list, what I would describe as launch segmentation. So
your email list as much people on it, some of them are ready to spend some money for a thing that you could help them with. But not all of them. segmentation is this idea that you put your parts of the folks, the members on your email list, but some of them into a sort of separate bucket, they're still on the main list, but they are put in a sub category of the email list and sent different things. I in the past have used this when launching something. I don't love the word launch, not really sure why people use it so much, but introducing a new service to my email list or to the market at General. So launch segmentation, would be saying to your entire email list, Hey, are you interested in this thing? If so, let me know. And I'll put you in a bucket. And then when I talk about this thing more in the future, I'll just send that information just to that bucket SCID of launch segmentation, and it does add complexity. But I think in a lot of cases, it's worth it because it lets people choose people on your email list and let them choose how, how much they hear from you and to what extent they hear about your paid services. So the way I would have used this in the past, or the way I have used this in the past is basically saying, hey, in some amount of time, I'm going to be doing this thing. I'm going to be opening up registrations for a course or a workshop or, you know, whatever it is. And then I asked if you would like to hear more about this thing. When that time gets closer, click here. And, you know, more and more email marketing platforms are moving towards incorporating a lot of automation. So you can set up what's called a trigger link, someone clicks that link. It adds what's called a tag, which is a sort of label to their account in your email marketing software. And now you have a way to identify all the people who've said, Yeah, I'm interested in that thing. And then you can send stuff just specifically to them. So you know, the thing might be running a workshop or a seminar or some event, perhaps that aligns with buying intent like a webinar.
If you're going to do this, you're going to have to repeat your calls to action. It's gonna feel weird at first, but you just have to
jump back here. Just say a few more things about this. So again, the idea is what I would refer to as launch segmentation. You're giving your email list an opportunity to say I am or am not interested in this thing. And those who are interested, they hear from you more about that thing, in addition to what you're sending the rest of your email list. That's the core idea. It's pretty. I mean, it adds some complexity, but it's not that hard to implement. And if you're going to do this, you need to remind people multiple times, I used to say, you know, the absolute first rule of email marketing, is you never asked for something just once you repeat your request. And that can feel weird. But you have to remember that it's only a very small segment of your email list that is so highly engaged, and paying attention, that they'll even notice that most people, it's like, you know, not the first time you repeat that call to action that they notice that you repeat it multiple times. And then eventually they say, Oh, yeah, I am interested in that, or things have changed. And now the timing is right. So if you're going to say, hey, click here, if you're interested in hearing more about this thing, I would encourage you to do it multiple times in the way that I'll describe momentarily. So do it the right way?
That's a good question. Flex, I'm engineering. The question is, do you do do the call to action in every email to the segment? So let's see. I mean, I'm gonna, I'll try to use I'll use some an example from my world. And I'll try to construct an example that's in a more sort of pure consulting context. Let's say that, well, in my world, I'd like to, actually, so funny, my wife was like, tell them that you're starting a cohort in January, okay, let's use that as an example. So I run these paid cohorts of expertise, incubator, 700 bucks a month, groups of five people. And I just offer support and infrastructure to support folks who are integrate, who are embracing this challenge. So I have an email list, it's around 1900 people typically is the size of my email list. And I'm emailing them these days, about four times a week. So to turn this idea into an example, what I'll start doing maybe six weeks before January, so around the middle of the way through November, is I would, for every email I send, send out for those six weeks, well, let me get a little more detailed. So I would periodically spend an entire email talking about the thing that I want to sell, I'd like to get five people in this cohort, that would be great. So periodically, throughout those six weeks in the lead up to the beginning of that thing, I would say, Hey, I'm getting a cohort together, it's for ti, this is what ti is, you might want to check out these videos, I would try to create subscriber reader subscriber value. And I would dedicate the entire email to that. And I would end those emails with a call to action that says if this, if you might even might be interested in this, just click here. And I'll add you to a segment in my email list. And I'll tell you more about ti. And then other emails throughout that six week, I would also have that call to action. At the end. I'm thinking my way through this as I do this in front of you. Maybe it will be four weeks. And then the last two weeks of the year, I would start emailing that segment that I had built over the previous four weeks with a lot more information about the expertise incubator, all designed to just help people decide if this is a good thing for them if they want to do it now if they want to do it later. So it would be like a sales sequence. That's what direct response marketers would call it. And that's, I mean, that's a fair name for it. But it would be just to that segment. And that sales sequence just to that segment of people who said yeah, I might be interested would have a call to action. And the call to action is hey, if you think this is Gonna make sense for you to get started in January with this cohort and pay to do that? Let me know because I want to hop on the phone and just make sure that you all your questions are answered. And it's not going to be a sales call, I don't pressure people. But that's the next step to joining this thing. So that call to action would also be repeated. But you've got to remember that those emails are going to a smaller group of people who have said, Yeah, I think I'm interested in this. So what I have the CTA, in every email to the segment? Yeah, I would. Because they have said, I'm interested. So I think that it's not pressure, it's just a higher frequency of here's what you do for next step, I think that's appropriate in the context of that sub segment. Looks like I might be getting on the phone, Daniel. And we can have that conversation about whether it's a withdrawal or not, or how that how that is experienced to you. Awesome. So that would be in my world, let's imagine that I do more consulting than I do. And that that's the primary thing I do. In that world.
Ideally, I told you what I want, I want my expertise to be so self evidently valuable, that just opportunity rains off of the you know, just drops off the trees, when I walk by, that's what I want. That's not realistic, at least not right now. So, here's what I would do, if I was doing consulting, I would, I would be looking, you know, six to 12 months out, depending on how long the sales cycle is. And I would be saying, Okay, now this project is going to wind up around, then I need some more conversations happening. So that I'm not in a feast or famine cycle. And I have this email list, it's small, but you know, parts of it seemed to be engaged, people seem to be interested in what I'm doing. I'm going to offer the email list, an opportunity to be a part of a, an online event, webinar, or maybe, maybe something else. Feel like webinars are, you know, becoming a sort of saturated channel. That's why I hesitate a little bit about saying webinar versus something else. But it's, it's short, it's focused. And the topic of this experience that I want to create for people is really geared at folks who are around that moment when they're going to buy something in the next six to 12 months. And when I say something, I mean the kind of thing I sell. So what I would do is I spend some time in my regular daily emails saying, Hey, I'm running this event, that's my placeholder for the webinar, or whatever it is, it happens on this date. If it's of interest to you, I'd love to, you know, have you be involved, click here to tell me that if you even might be interested, and then I'll tell you more about it when we get closer to it. So you can make a decision about whether it's a good use of your time. And that would be the call to action to the whole list. And that would again be creating a segment of the list. And then that segment would get more sort of intense frequent communication leading up to the event. So that's how I would implement it. And again, that that second examples is if I do more consulting, I feel like the event would be a better way to provide value to these folks than saying, hey, my current project winds up in three months. I don't want to be broke. So can you hire me and give me some money? I mean, like that's, I guess true to say that but it feels like a little bit needy and weird to say that so I would not do it that way.
Let's talk about calls to action. I got to tell you about my most memorable call to action experience. Involve this guy. His name's James Arthur Ray. This is him. I mean, this is a snapshot from his website, screenshot from his website now. This is him a while ago. I don't know doing the perp walk as they say. I think he was released. I don't know when exactly this photo was made, but he was released from prison where he was imprisoned for manslaughter. And that came about very, I think, sadly, because he was leading while leading is not quite the right word he was he was responsible for a some kind of retreat where there was a sweat lodge ceremony, and it wasn't managed properly at all, some people died, at least, I think two people died. So, you know, it was convicted of manslaughter, did some time. That was him a while ago, this was him. When my wife, ex wife became very interested in something about what he was doing. And we went to this thing, this event in Portland, Oregon. So this is James Arthur Ray, you know, some years ago, and I remember going to this event, it was at a hotel or Convention Center in Portland, Oregon, he went in, there were chairs, there was a stage pretty minimal setup, but there were lights and speakers. And you know, he got up on stage stage and started, you know, giving his talk and doing his spiel. And then at a certain point, there was like a, like an assistant, like a roadie, or something like that, who closed the doors, the room, turned off the house lights. And it was time to coincide with a certain point in his presentation. And he this really loud, like techno music comes on. And these strobe lights, this is my memory of it, which is imperfect I know. But this is how I remembered his called action, strobe lights and this techno music, and he's like, get out your checkbook. Now he like really raised the intensity of what he was saying. And write a check for whatever it was $1,000 for some, you know, thing that was like the, you know, it would be considered a sort of entry level thing offer in the direct response marketing world, it would be considered a, you know, the upfront offer. And he just was yelling at the the people there and demanding that they get out a checkbook and write him a check. It was insane. I've never experienced anything like that. It was an IRL context. But you know, we see stuff not unlike that. You know, all the all the time online. So
you can get pretty forceful with calls to action. I don't think you should at all, be anywhere near that forceful. Daniel asks, What's my opinion about the quality of an email list? I may have mentioned this in a previous talk. But I think I mean, what I'm looking for is in Well, let me interrupt myself, Daniel, and say that this is all in the context of the expertise incubator framework. In that context, I want to see conversations, I want to see people clicking reply, and saying something, I disagree with your, you know, or I do think you're wrong here. Or I think you're right. And this really is great, or this changed how I'm saying things or what I'm saying is I want to see the opposite of silence and being ignored. To me for the purposes of the expertise incubator that says an email list is a quality email list. That's not a thing that most email marketing software makes it easy to see or know. And that's unfortunate, but Oh, well. You can tell pretty easily by looking at your inbox. in other contexts, I would look for different things. But in this context, that's what I'm looking for in terms of list quality. So James Arthur Ray, demonstrated to me how insanely over the top crazy pressure you know, there's probably other words for manipulative a call to action can be. Here's what I think you should do. If you're going to have calls to action, your email.
probably obvious stuff to most of you. Be Direct, you don't have to beat around the bush. If you're saying, here's the next step, if you want to move towards hiring me, then you can just say that or, you know, some variation thereof. Be clear, don't try to make excuses. Don't try to wrap a simple message in language that's not necessary. And be polite. Those are the foundations of how you would approach a call to action. Direct, clear, polite. And I really wanted to show you and did this example of what Tom did in setting up this post opt in survey. Because I think, right here, let me highlight it for you. This is such a great example. It's clear, it's direct. It's polite. It's not like hesitating, I feel like actually mine. This, see if I can highlight that Well, anyway, we'll just make it bigger for you. This feels like it's waffling a little bit, feels like it's holding back a little bit. I like Tom's approach better because he's really doing this. Clear, polite, direct. Remember that? Well, I'm using fancy language here, respect the probabilistic nature of an email list really remember this. So this is an email list with a hypothetical email list with 150 people subscribed to it. And 10 of those are unaware of what how you can help them. Maybe they're even aware that they have some need, or some problem or some aspiration that you can be a part of 30 are aware 70 are seeking more education before they buy 30 are considering options. And 10 are just like ready to purchase or already have purchased? Well, your call to action might be oriented towards people who are considering options, you got to remember that that is just 30 out of those hundred 50 people. So the other hundred and 20 I think you should think about how your call to action is going to be received by them, are they going to feel left out or they're going to feel something else? Maybe you want them to feel left out, I doubt that. But maybe you do. So remember that people are at different stages of a process on your email list. Your call to action is only going to be appropriate for a very small number at any time at the best of circumstances. That's just how it works. Because the email list includes a cross section of people you don't control who's on there. Remember that when you're thinking about calls to action, I think in terms of grammar, and if then statement is a really nice way to construct a polite but clear call to action respects your readers autonomy as a decision maker. Let me jump ahead to an example. Here's an example if your team spends more than two meetings a week fixing a problem that you can help with, then you are likely to get return on investment from you know, my service, whatever it is. And I'd be happy to speak to you about how to do that hit reply to start a conversation. So it's clear, it's direct. It's polite, because it uses an if then statement, and it says I'm not going to make any assumptions about you. If you're ready, you'll know. And here's one way to understand how you're ready. If this is the symptom that you're seeing, you have a problem I can help with. And what you're doing is you're giving them the information they need to make a decision. At first, if you've never done this before, it might feel like being pushy. And again, remember that I have confessed that I want it just to be obvious to people that they need my help that the value is there, that you know all that stuff. I want that to be obvious. I don't want to have to explain it but really you do have to explain it and you have to help people make the decision. So at first it might feel like being pushy, to give this kind of information.
But if you're being clear, direct, polite, it's not pushy. All you're doing is Just making a case for what I do has value. By the way, if you don't believe that, I get it. But that's the problem you should focus on first, why does what you do not have value. And you're just making a case for the value of what you sell. And you're respecting the autonomy of the folks that you're putting this call to action in front of, you get to decide, it's up to you, I would avoid fear of missing out FOMO. Meaning, doing things intentionally to create fear of loss or loss aversion or fear of missing out, it's not hard to do. And I think it sucks to be on the receiving end of that. I'm not sure if it's quite as popular now. But there was a period of time where conversion rate optimisation people had convinced marketers that in those annoying pop ups that are seems like ubiquitous all over the place. So you go to a website, there's a pop up, hey, do you want to, you know, put your email address in here to get our free guide to, you know, photography tips or whatever. And then, you know, you can dismiss or get rid of those pop ups. And the button to do that would attempt to really in a really pointed way, remind you what you're missing out on. And so it would be like you could put in your email address. Or if you wanted to get rid of the pop up, the button would say something like, yeah, I'm okay, being a mediocre photographer. It's so tasteless, and so inappropriate for someone who has valuable expertise to say that I assume you're playing the long game here, a lot of this is based on the assumption that you are. So using that kind of fear of missing out, I think is something you should avoid. overuse of curiosity is another thing. It's incredibly effective. earlier in my career, I've used that. I don't regret it, per se, but I just feel like it's inappropriate. You'll see this used a lot with actually, you might still see this on the sales page for the positioning manual. it'll it'll change when the new version of that book comes out. But on I remember spending a lot of time writing what Eugene Schwartz would refer to as fascinations, these little teasers of like, you know, on page 77, you'll find out the three ways that specialization can help you deal with the feast famine cycle, or that's one example. I won't spend a lot of time on it. Over use of curiosity, I think is something to be avoided. You're playing, you're manipulating people's emotional hardwiring in a way that I think is not helpful. And just, you know, making demands like you're crazy, if you don't take me up on this offer, click here to, you know, sign up for this webinar. It's just tasteless, and probably not very effective anyway. But even if it was, I wouldn't advise it. To avoid that stuff.
Just under review here of the guidance, be direct, be clear, be polite. Remember, not everyone's at the same place on your email list. But that's why that launch segmentation idea, I think is really helpful. I like using if then statements and calls to action. And there's some things I would avoid beyond just those particular formulations of CTAs. There's a lot out there in terms of, you know, advice about selling to an email list. And I have taken the liberty here of flagging the stuff that I think is not going to be helpful to you if you're embracing this expertise incubator framework. And so what I'm about to say is particular to that context, it's not particular to every context by any means. Extremely granular segmentation, I would avoid. There are software products that help you do this. There are and there's advice that you should do this, that you should really, essentially almost have multiple email lists, depending on where people are and buying cycle or what have you. And there may be a time and a place for this But I think not in the context of the expertise incubator framework, the kind of personalization you should be doing. If you're trying to, if you've built up a small list by publishing daily, and you want to start, you know, selling to that list, I think the kind of personalization you should do is achieved through narrow focus. It's not through fancy software, on your website or in your email list. That kind of stuff can be good in other contexts, I think just not here. So the one way that I do advocate, segmenting is based on someone's readiness to buy. But you can do other things to do that, like, you know, periodic calls to action, hey, if this has become a current need for you, if you're if you're starting to budget for this, you know, click here. So I can put you on a list of folks that I send specific information to something like that. The other thing that concerns me about really granular segmentation is I think it increases your workload. And moving back to our, our model here, I think it moves you away from this red circle, simply because of the workload of trying to have an email list or a website that speaks to what a half dozen different audiences. There may be a time and a place for that kind of investment. But I don't think when you're embracing the TI framework is the time and the place for that. I know I'm running a little long here. So I'm probably pick up the pace a little bit. I would avoid extremely granular segmentation, I would avoid complex, what are referred to as digital marketing funnels. I'm just gonna pull one or two things from this. I think when I did a Google search for digital marketing funnel, this was the first search result that came up. And it's, you know, it's it's a, there's plenty of information out there about well, what is the digital marketing funnel? How do you set one up? What's the best one? What I like about this article is it just hints that how complex this whole thing is, they talk you through three different kinds of funnels, the hourglass funnel, the looping funnel, the micro moments, if we just look at the first one, they have identified 1-234-567-8910 stages at which someone could be in a journey through a buying process. And I'm not going to try to characterize the advice that's out there about digital marketing funnels other than to say, well, to say this, there's so many assumptions that go into constructing a digital marketing funnel. And that's what I worry about
is if we are told, okay, we should have content that's for people at, you know, these various stages, we need to have content that helps people who are at the engagement stage, figure out what to do next, and people who are at the evaluation stage, you know, we should have content specifically for them. First of all, this is advice for big companies, not for soloists like us. And this is advice that I worry about, because early on before we really know our audience, we're going to make assumptions. And a lot of those assumptions are just going to be mistaken or bad. So I think you can consider something like a digital marketing funnel. If you have some kind of service that's like a more like a product is not a consultative sale required standardized price and scope. So transactional are pain oriented in nature. Like I think digital marketing funnels work fine for stuff like that. But I do worry about it for other things. So if you hear that, you got to have a digital marketing funnel to sell to an email list. That person may not be wrong, but they might be speaking to a different context and we're in. Likewise, I would be wary of marketing automation, things like lead scoring, branching flows to move people through an email sequence or stuff that you know promises to connect your email list with your website with an SMS messaging system, yada, yada, like all that stuff in a different context can be fine. I don't think it's a great fit for what we're doing with the expertise. incubator framework. So I would tend to avoid that stuff. Let me just make a quick note, observation about return on investment. What I've noticed, for myself, at least, and I think for others, is the first time if you have an email list, and you come up with some new thing that you want to offer them some new service, some new thing, generally, and you offer to your email list, you get pretty good results, at least not terrible results the first time. And then the second time you put that same offer in front of your email list, you get results that are not as good. Because you have in the first time you offered it absorbed the latent demand for that thing, meaning there was some demand there, maybe you didn't know about it, maybe you did, you put this thing together, and you got a great response the first time. And the second time, the response was not as good. A lot of that is because you just soaked up whatever demand was there the first time. So when you try something new, you get this ROI. That seems like pretty impressive. And that can encourage you to build complexity into your business. This has not worked out well. For me, I like to keep things simple. I think this is why a lot of stuff that's built on a digital marketing funnel is wanting to get like a testimonial from me right away. I'm just maybe I'll elaborate on this later. But I want to walk briefly through a framework for thinking about marketing options. Since we're on the topic of selling marketing options. I'm going to zoom in on this. I think this is a useful framework for thinking about different marketing options. And I bring it up because we're on the topic. And I think it might be useful to you. Again, you've got a link to this mind map if you want to explore it more later. This is all in the context of a business like mine, a business like yours, small. The thing that you're ultimately selling is expertise. And you're trying to eventually decouple that from your, your time and your direct involvement at some level. So any marketing channel that uses RSS, so podcast distribution is based on RSS, you know, reading blog posts can be done through RSS. And if you don't know what RSS is, I'm sorry. But there's lots of stuff on the internet that will tell you what it is. I won't take the time here. That's the stuff I've noticed, if we group it all together, there's something about it that is compatible with the way that we need to do our marketing. And again, my agenda here is to get more of us doing something that looks like brand marketing. So RSS seems to be a natural fit. I think anything based on RSS is good. Likewise with email, email with complex segmentation, complex automation,
complex personalization, lead scoring, I would treat that with caution. It's not that it's inherently bad. I just think it's not a great fit for our context, especially when we're starting out. things that make use of curated small group real time interaction. this live stream is an example of that. Those tend to be good. Those tend to just be a good fit for what we're doing. Ben Thompson the author's tritech re has this idea of aggregators, which are companies that aggregate an audience and then essentially monetize access to that audience. So Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, twitch may be tuned to a certain extent, Google, certainly Twitter to an extent, those are all aggregators. And you might wonder whether using those is a good fit or not. And I think I'll just point out a few cases here. I think amazon for selling and distributing a book is actually good. All of these are trade offs and choosing to, you know, publish and distribute. using Amazon is a trade off. But I think it's generally a good one for folks like us doing what we're doing. Stuff like using YouTube to record videos and distribute those for distributing your thinking. Not always good, but I think it leans towards good. syndicating what you're doing to social media meaning just kind of thinking of social media as an outlet syndication outlet for what you're doing. Good depends on contextual factors. There's this guy, Simon wardley, who I think is a wonderful example of that. And I don't have time to like really dive into what he's doing. But you'll see him. He's got a wiki. Where is this idea of this framework of it's, it's a lightweight strategy framework for businesses called wardley. mapping. There's a lot of detail about wardley mapping in his wiki. He has a book published on medium, you can find lots of talks that he's done for other people's audiences on YouTube, and he has a sort of real time conversation with his audience by Twitter. I think he's a good example of using other people's platforms in a way that doesn't really threaten his business at all, to distribute his thinking. So it's a good model to look at. I think amplifying what you're doing with organic access to somebody else's audience, it's good. So you know, you publish something to your email list, and then someone else with a larger list, republishes it to their email list, that's good. And very organic, paid access to an audience depends on a lot of stuff. targeted outreach, good, less targeted outreach, I would treat with caution, and funnels and marketing automation, I would also treat with caution. So that's a sort of working framework, in progress, a work in progress framework for thinking about where you might allocate your effort. We're going beyond the original idea of this talk, which is just to talk about how you would sell to an email list. But it seemed contextually appropriate. So quick recap. As we wrap up here. Remember, we're talking about a certain time in your business's lifecycle. A time when you've said okay, investing in my expertise makes sense. And I want to embrace this semi structured framework called the expertise, incubator. All everything I've said really applies to that context. And when you do that, you'll probably be at this moment, when you suck at marketing. Because we all do to start out in, I think there's this wonderful opportunity, you can suck at doing it the normal way, or you can suck at doing it this different way that I'm advocating for here. I just think that the results of sucking at it, the different way will be better in the long term. There's always this tension, it seems between creating current economic value and future economic value.
In a way, that's really what this talk is about is saying, well, maybe you can resolve that tension partially, perhaps not fully. But partially by being really thoughtful about your usage of calls to action and segmentation, and post opt in surveys. I think those can help partially resolve that tension and help you get some current economic value out of the work that you're doing with the daily publishing, I would avoid things that are creating really high granularity in terms of personalization or segmentation, those could be useful later. At first, I think they're not helpful. And in the context that we're talking about here. I would favor things that use RSS or kind of simple broadcast he uses of email and simple segmentation. All right.
Here we go. I think you can think about just by way of conclusion here, I think you can think about these three circles as a sort of portfolio that represent an investment that you're making. And if you're investing in a portfolio, it's unlikely that you would invest equally in all three of these things at all times. I mean, maybe you would. But you might think of managing your portfolio as sort of shifting emphasis on two out of these three things over time. And so you might spend a season investing really heavily in future expertise value, and creating and learning how to create reader subscriber value. And then that season might sort of naturally come to a conclusion and then you shift the focus to current economic value and reader subscriber value, that would be fine. That's really, I think, very consistent with the idea behind the expertise incubator is that this is a portfolio that you're investing in. takes effort, risk, taking And you're trying to create a long term result. So think in those terms, don't be afraid of this idea of selling to your email list. I think you can find ways to do it that don't destroy reader value, and they do create some current economic value. Just know that you're now juggling three balls instead of two. So there's an additional challenge that comes with that. All right. Thank you.