TEI Talks 9 of 18 - List Growth
1:24AM Feb 7, 2021
Welcome to this TDI talk. Our topic today is list growth. As I was thinking about this talk, I don't know, to what extent I understand the mind of all self made experts, indeed experts, people like myself and my clients, but I think a lot of us would prefer to never have to think about list growth at all. We want to be at that place where the reach in the recognition for our thinking is so established and so broad, that we just don't have to think about it. It just happens. More, you know, it's becomes a self reinforcing cycle. And maybe that happens, maybe that's just a fantasy. But there certainly is a stage where less growth is a thing that you Well, if you want the the best possible reach for your thinking, it's something you need to think about. In the context of the expertise incubator, you start out this first challenge of daily publication. And some, I mean, this is not always true. But I've seen quite a few people go through this process, and worked with quite a few of them as they've gone through it. And you're in this context, that's largely a context of fear. What if I'm a fraud? What if a client sees this and loses respect for me? Or starts to doubt my work or my expertise? What if What if What if. So, it's a context of fear that we're operating in, and that's where we start. And that's quite common. Additionally, the structure of this first challenge of publishing something that you hope is worth reading, every day that you work for three months, it almost forces you to ship unfinished work. And that is somewhat by design. Because if you can be comfortable with shipping unfinished work, then you can be comfortable taking on bigger challenges. And so you're always shipping unfinished work. And that's, that's just not what we're trained to do in schooling. That's not what we're trained to do in client work where deliverables need to be finished and functional, and tested, and, and so on. So the whole thing is unnatural. Your instinct, therefore, is to hide it. To hide this thinking, this work that you're doing with the daily publication challenge. Eventually, that instinct starts to weaken, the effort at hiding, your work starts to shift and fade. And then at some point, you say, I am putting a lot of effort into this, it would be nice. If my thinking reached more people. I have seen people get comfortable and reach that point, that sort of transition between fear and desire and reach quickly, and I've seen it take quite a while. So I don't there's no, you know, standard benchmark that you're aiming for. But at some point, you will say, you know, put in a lot of work here. Sure, we'd like it to reach more people. email list grows, since you are publishing to an email list in ti. Email List growth is one way to achieve that greater reach. So let's talk about list growth. If I done a little better job setting the slide up one of these circles would be green and not translucent. Anyway. Bear in mind, when you start to explore this topic of list growth, you are entering an area where the internet and people on writing for the internet have a lot of advice for you. And some of that advice is good, but I want you to bear in mind the context. That advice is almost not always there are folks like a blank on his name, aren't I? The nada newsletter newsletter guy I interview this guy such as sweet, smart guy. Anyway,
you know there's advice coming from a we're talking to like major media publications. And that's the angle for the advice. But there's a lot of other advice that is coming from this direct response context where the sometimes implicit, I mean, always implicit, sometimes explicit goal is efficiency, we want to maximize current economic value by producing just enough subscriber value. That's the deal with direct response marketing. And that's fine in a lot of contexts. But just bear in mind that a lot of advice about this growth is is coming from this context, and it needs to be adapted, you need to at least bear in mind the contextual differences. So let's talk about some of the tools that you can use to pursue list growth. Here they are, thanks for attending my TED Talk. I'm kidding, this is an overview. And I'm going to explore each one of these with you by way of some examples and a few comments from me about them. My main goal today is to make sure you're aware of all the all the possibilities that could be suitable. And hopefully, that when you're ready to pursue list growth, hopefully that moves you towards being closer to make a decision to choose one or two of these and focus on them. So what we'll walk through these one by one here,
So again, you're starting to see the patterns. This one's from a client of mine pulse, wale serverless. First, he's a serverless, consultant and expert. And same sort of thing here, an email course with five lessons. So you can already see some patterns there, in terms of how these things tend to be done. And the patterns are there for a reason. And the reason is, well, someone jokingly said to me, I just love this, they said the problem with direct response marketing is it works. And, you know, the seduction of something that works is to do more of it until it stops working. And that leads to all sorts of problems in natural ecosystems. And I think as well in business ecosystems. Anyway, the reason this pattern is so common is because it works. And it's not that hard to put together. And it does deliver a reasonably good deal for most people on both ends of it, both the creator and the consumer of the email course. So that's a tool you might consider using. The next is the lead magnet, otherwise known as a gated content asset. A thing sometimes it's a PDF before sort of universal accessibility of the content, but not always could be a video or something like that could be a spreadsheet calculator. It's a thing that people sign up to get access to. And we'll go back to Jonathan Starks website. And I'll show you that he has a section on his site called free resources. And I'll see here, I think we look at the like this five page proposal template, if I click that, scroll down the copy that's explaining what why this is worth doing. He's asking for my email address in exchange for this template. And it's a great deal for both of us. It's a great deal because for him because he's going to add me to his email list. And that's fine. That's sort of part of the normal expectation here would take one click for me to unsubscribe if I didn't want that. And then it's a good deal for the person downloading this template because they get something useful that they need and or at least curious about and hopefully can make use of. So that is the lead magnet, the so called lead magnet, also known as a gated content asset. It's another good tool for list growth. Now one of the things you will notice is that the pages for the most part where these things exist, are pages on a website. And that means that they can be in something if you want they can be redirected from other places that can be linked to from other places you can have the domain names whose sole purpose is to redirect all the traffic to that domain name to that page. And this is something I'll talk about a little bit more today. But it's an interesting thing. Because if you are looking at the numbers, the metrics, about your marketing that your website might deliver, or Google Analytics might deliver, or the software that you use to create the landing page, or the software that you use to insert the form and the page, all of those are going to tend to want to give you numbers that tell you about the so called performance of what you're doing. And it will be an opt in rate is usually the number that you'll see. And it'll be like, Oh, yeah, 3% or 30%, or whatever, of the people who had a computer that loaded this form, opted in, or, you know, the inverse number did not. And it is tempting to look at that number, and make it try to make decisions based on it. Or try to tell yourself a story that you're doing well, or not well, based on what that number says. And I'm not trying to set you up to totally dismiss the
value of these numbers, like opt in rates. But I do want to contextualize them pretty carefully. In a context of, there's a lot of things that matter. Those are not the only things that matter. So don't get too wrapped around your own axle about these things. It's good to have a nice healthy opt in rate. But the context matters. So if I go on a podcast, and at the end, the podcast host says so Philip, where can people learn more about you, and I say, Oh, go to coder to consultant COMM And check out the email course there. That page and the form on that page is going to get a much higher opt in rate than the same offer displayed throughout my entire site. And that is fine. That is natural is nothing wrong. They're the people who are landing on that page. And because they've heard me invite them to go there at the end of a podcast where maybe something that I said was interesting or resonant for them. Those people are so much more likely to fill out that form than all the traffic on my website that might be exposed to a similar form with a similar offer. So of course, the opt in rates going to be much higher for the landing page. And there's nothing like inherently good or bad about that. Just don't get seduced by chasing higher opt in rates. I think it leads to a sort of distorted thinking about how to really create value.
As I just mentioned, this has been wonderfully effective for me in terms of growing my own email list is to guest on a podcast. That's not something everybody wants to do. It's not something everybody would do a good job at. But I seem to have done a reasonably good job at it often enough, where at the end of the podcast again, the podcast host almost always customarily says so Philip, where can people find out more about you, they don't always say that. But sometimes they do often enough. And I verbally point people to a landing page for an email course. So my call to action on the podcast is go to this, you know if this stuff was interesting to you, great. I've got an email course that goes into further depth go to coder to consultant comm or another one positioning Crash Course calm and see if it's interesting to you. That's been really effective. You could do the same thing at the end of the talk where you could have a site wide opt in, or sorry. Confusing two things that should not be confused. So you could do the same thing at the end of a talk where you have an opt in or a call to action to go visit a page that has some lead magnet or content asset. So several ways to deploy this idea. But the basic idea is you're doing something where you're displaying your thinking and your personality. And then you're inviting people to sign up for something. Lead Magnet email course something
using social to promote your email list is a thing that people do. Here's this guy, Benedict Evans, who is some sort of analyst. And he writes a weekly newsletter, he's got a premium paid segment and a free segment. And here he is on Twitter saying, you should sign up. Why? Because other people have interesting justification for why you should sign up. But there it is, to, for this to really work, you have to have already invested in sort of social reach, building some sort of following on social social media, where the following actually cares about what you have to say. So you know, on one hand is basically free to do this. And so you would say, Well, why not? And you might be right. And then on the other hand, you know, that mindset? Well, it's basically free to do stuff on the internet is a big part of why the internet is, has a lot of the problems that it has, is because so many things are so nearly free. So I think this is an argument to be tactful, and diplomatic, with your usage of social media to promote stuff, but there's no reason there's no inherent reason not to make use of whatever audience or reach or platform that you have is that social in nature, to remind people that they can sign up for an email list that you have. This is one I see use less frequently. I've attempted to do this, by the way, not as a list growth tool. But as a way of involving more people in the sort of weird, blobby virtual community that I seem to be at the center of. I've invited people to be guest authors on my email list. And some of them have said yes, and not followed through with finishing the thing that they said they were going to write, which I understand, I'm not trying to ask them to do free labor for me. But I'm also I haven't done this consistently enough to really have much else to say, but I have a client who does this beautifully. And so he has an email list. His name's Kyle Bowen. And His focus is on museums and cultural institutions. He has an email list, and he invites people to be guest authors on his email list. And let me see, I think I've got a screenshot I can show you. So you can see what that looks like. There's a Benedict Evans tweet. not cooperating. Kyle's gonna be so embarrassed when he sees this sorry, I don't have anything to show you there. But here's the idea. Again, Kyle has a an email list. And he invites people who are within the community. So he's not like inviting in, you know, Rockstar level famous guest experts. He's inviting people within the community to contribute their thinking through the vehicle of his email list. To to his audience. And so, you know, there's a sort of theory of value creation here, which is, you're you're being generous with your audience, you're doing work, you know, it takes work to find and recruit and deal with the guest author. Maybe that work is sort of already done, because you know them, but it takes work to do that. And so this is a sort of gift and it takes work for them to write it, they may not get anything directly in return. This is a real generous thing at its core. But you know, there's also this idea that, oh, this person did a thing that wasn't unusual, maybe they'll talk about it to their audience, and they that I will siphon off is not the right word. But you know, some of their audience will be interested in tuning into what I'm doing and stay tuned in. So I will gain subscribers from doing this. That's the basic idea behind it. I
don't see a ton of people doing this, but I think it's a really interesting idea that you might consider events, specifically events where people have to register by providing an email address, and then you stick them on the email list once they've registered for the event. That's the tool We're discussing here. And so you're running the event, again, there's a kind of thesis here of value creation, the event is valuable, people are interested in it, they sign up for it. So you've given them something of value and in return, maybe explicitly, or maybe just based on the assumption that they've given you your email address, you can do whatever you want with it. But you add them to your email list. That's the basic deal here. So it's a similar kind of thesis for value creation, as with guest authors, but it is a little bit more. Well, it's more work usually to put on an event like this friend of mine, listed with a real podcast, partner in crime, did an event recently called client con 30. speakers, I skipped over the word renowned, because I was one of the speakers. And I was like, Well, I don't know how renowned I am. But anyway, I'll let him off the hook there. 30 renowned speakers giving a live talk every day, from September 21, through October 30 2020. This was, you know, listing was sort of telling me about this event in the run up to it and during the event. And it was exhausting for him because of a lot of work. So a lot of coordination work. He also said, this is one of the in terms of a single thing I've done, maybe it's not fair to think of this as a single thing, because it was so much work. But he felt like it was very, very effective in providing people a reason to sign up for his email list. I mean, you could argue, well, they were signing up for the event, they weren't signing up for your list. But we've already talked about how that normally works. So I don't know what the numbers were, I mean, I do and either am conveniently forgetting or I really have forgotten. But I think it was on the order of over 1000 people who were added to list and email list. As a result of this event, which took a lot of effort, not anybody could do it list and was able to leverage his his well built and well maintained personal network to get yeses from a lot of these speakers. And just a ton of work. But it was really effective. And so you see all sorts of variations of this kind of thing, all the way from the really shitty, like online summit thing. That was, I guess people are still doing that. But it's it really seemed like it was super popular three, four years ago to do that maybe I've just constructed such an effective filter against that kind of thing in my life and my inbox that it's still going on, but I don't see it. But it's, it's a thing that happened a lot. And then there are really good, really high quality events. So I'm not trying to paint all of these with the same paintbrush, quality matters of the event that you're putting together. And then if you really are thinking, well, I want to do this event. And I'm just going to automatically add all the registrants to my email list, then you need to think about alignment. What do you spend your bandwidth doing on your email list? What kind of value Are you trying to create there? And will that be reasonably well aligned with the kind of people who would sign up for this event? Because if not, not going to be the end of the world. But you can expect a lot of those folks to have been added to your email list and then be like, What the fuck is this person sending me? What are they trying to sell me? Like, why are they emailing me. If the alignments not there, then you can expect a lot of that. And if you care about your reputation, then I think you would care about that kind of outcome. So I would suggest reading from my notes here, imagine the opt in process is a ticket sale. And the event or the quote unquote, the show that you're selling a ticket to is not just the event, but everything that you send to that email address afterwards. And your ultimate goal is a 0% refund rate and raving reviews from customers.
So, what I'm encouraging you to do is you're gonna do this event, maybe as a list growth thing. Don't mentally segment the event from what happens after that person that gets added to your email list. Don't think of those as two separate things. Think of them as all the same thing. If you do that, you will think more effectively, more productively about this whole lifecycle of this person being on your email list and produce better value for them. Events are a tool search, people might just use the old Google search or other search engines, or they just may discover your site somehow. And then, once they're, I doubt they'll join your email list as the first thing they do. But you know, maybe after the third, fourth article, they're like, wow, this is good stuff. I'm out of time here. But I want to stay in touch with this person. So I'm going to opt into their email list. Or maybe, you know, they'll respond to some more targeted offer of an email list opt in, but that's the thing that can grow your email list. And it sounds like, well, if you're like me, you feel like it's a thing you don't have a lot of control over. And I think to an extent, that's true, and to another in another way, that's not true. I think that this is really thanks to a ti participant, Jim Thornton, who's done a lot of work and thinking around discoverability and search for content for experts, if you can do work to make your the content that you're producing, more usable by search engines and by people. And as a result, build a relationship with more potential prospects or people who you could help. So check out Jim's website, content audience.com. Or wait, no, sorry, inbound found.com. He's recently consolidated website. Sorry, Jim. I'll have a link in the show notes. As they say, this is a tool that I'm going to use Kyle Bowen as an example. Again, he's used. And I'm just so impressed with his usage of it, because he's done a really good job of it. And it's easy to do a bad job with direct outreach. Because if you're like me, and your emotional labor budget, is sort of all used up with certain things that you're happy that it is already used up with. And then you think about doing any kind of outreach, the under the sort of underpinning of outreach is, is emotional labor is the willingness to put in emotional labor so that the outreach is good, helpful and relevant. And more and more, it needs to be hyper helpful and hyper relevant. And if nothing else, it has to be hyper relevant. Even if it's just sort of sort of good and sort of helpful, it has to be hyper relevant. And what makes that work is someone is willing to do emotional labor. And in a business like ours, that's usually us. Now you can mix in automation. Without reach, that is fine. But what you cannot do is do outreach without the emotional labor investment, it will suck, it will tarnish your reputation, and it probably won't work very well. So it's so impressive to see people get all those parts, right, and Kyle did that. So he gave a really wonderful at length explanation to the folks in the expertise incubator of what he was doing. They use some LinkedIn automation tools. He has a vertical focus, you may remember museums and cultural institutions. And he used some LinkedIn automation to connect with people in that vertical. They're not hard to find, because there's that sort of clear vertical focus. And there may have been a sort of demographic filter or he was looking for a certain type of job role, I don't remember but he had a really clear focus, which allowed him to automate reaching out with people and connecting. What normally happens next, when you're on the receiving end of that kind of automation is a really crappy sales pitch. Really fast, really crappy. Hey, let's hop on the phone and talk about whatever. And whatever is always like me selling you something pretty quickly.
And what Kyle did instead was made an offer. That was to join his email list. Hey, I have an email list. You know, feel free to say no, but if you'd be if you're interested in this topic, that's what we talked about on this email list. We'd love to have you here someone
I'm just getting tired. Right now thinking about the emotional labor it would take for me to implement something like that. Kyle implemented it beautifully. It added lots of people to his email list. And not just people who were, you know, sort of throwaway email addresses, but people who cared about the topic that he invited them to hear more about. So what we would think of as really good email list subscribers. So you can use direct outreach, to build an email list. You can use amplification, which is a sort of not a super precise term for a not a super precise idea. But amplification is when someone else sort of amplifies the signal of what you're trying to do. They they spread the word, they help increase the reach for whatever whatever it is you're doing. And if what you're doing is an email list, then that often looks like them sharing something you've written on a platform that they have. And other people get exposed to your thinking and have the option to opt in. So this works best Of course, if this other person who's amplifying your content, your message has a sort of relevant or similar audience. pulsewave example from before serverless first.com. Paul has had success with this. And the way I described it just now I described it as a passive thing that happens to you. Doesn't have to be, it could be a thing that you nudge in that direction. There's a gross way to do that. And and not gross way to do that the not gross way is to be present in your space. That would look like being subscribed to the email lists of others who do something similar to what you do. And then going beyond that, to have a real human relationship with them. And from that basis, it is not weird and gross for you to email them and say, Hey, I wrote an article that I think your audience would enjoy. I just wanted to let you know. Now what happens next, you don't know you don't control. But that's what I mean, when I say you can nudge things in the direction of other folks being interested in amplifying what you're writing. Easy to take that stuff too far. Paul is super smart, and a super, super sweet guy. So if you met him, I doubt that you would imagine him doing this kind of thing. In fact, you might think, Wow, he just the way it comes across, I just don't imagine him ever, like doing anything that would cross any kind of line and he doesn't. But he's willing to take the risk, to do the emotional labor to be courageous in promoting his thinking because he knows it has value. And he knows that more people can benefit from it. If he reaches out to others in a market that he is present in and says hey, I wrote a thing. Maybe your audience would be interested. So that's amplification.
One of the things I've talked about thus far are things where you're doing something, you're making something happen. And one of the ways that email lists grow email lists grow, is this sort of Kismet Have you didn't do anything? Someone just stumbled across your email list. I have no idea how Brian Clark ended up on my email list. He's since unsubscribed which is a wonderful growing experience for me. The day that Paul Jarvis unsubscribed from my email list was another such growing experience. So I have no idea how you know some of these folks who've ended up on my email list here about me, but doing long, consistent value creating work in public can lead to this sort of Kismet of other people mentioning your work. Just a few days ago, my friend listings Hey, Brian Harris mentioned your email list in one of his paid courses. Brian Harris runs a website called video fruit. And I'm not really sure what he does anymore. He started out sort of doing these really interesting tear downs of how people were achieving marketing growth. And he's probably doing cool stuff, but apparently selling a course, that mentions my email list. Now, maybe he mentioned that as a warning of what not to do. That's possible. I've not seen the inside of the course. But assuming that he mentions it in some sort of positive light, that's kind of cool. And not something I ever could have engineered or made happen. It just doing the work for four or five years, will get you to places like that. And will that benefit me? Yeah, probably not in some kind of monetary sense. But just in terms of reach and impact, it's an incremental benefit. So it's worth thinking, that'll happen someday, maybe? Can't plan on it, or gonna guarantee it or an engineer it but if and when it does happen? How will people who find what you do interesting, who just discovered you through this weird connection? How will they opt in to your email list, you should have at least a few things present for them, I think.
Let's talk about the other set of tools, brand marketing tools, all the ones I've talked about thus far, are somewhat direct response in nature, although I should probably take that, that idea of Kismet and move it under the brand marketing, but it's not really a tool, it's just a thing that can happen. So anyway, let's talk about brand marketing tools. You can have ungraded content, so you can have valuable stuff. Stuff that's valuable enough that you could put an opt in form in front of it, and ask people to trade you an email address to get access to that stuff. And you can just not have the opt in form. That's more characteristic of brand marketing than direct response marketing. And I don't know, it sounds kind of like a terrible way to build an email list. I think, honestly, I think it works great, because the people end up on your email list. We're not at any point made to give you their email address to get something else. They signed up for the email list because they wanted to sign up for an email list. I mean, maybe they accidentally did, or something like that. But it's almost certain that they wanted to sign up for your email list. And an example that I should have had the foresight, sorry, the forethought to pull it up on the screen share for you, but I don't is from a CDI participant, Tom Miller. And Tom now primarily works with a CPA that's focused on the craft brewing industry called small batch standard. So if you look up Tom online, you'll probably see him looking more like an employee actually, than an indie consultant at this point. Anyway, Tom took this idea of ungated content into that world, the pandemic hit February March here in the United States of last year, the coronavirus pandemic and was extremely disruptive to, you know, huge swaths of the economy, including craft breweries. Those are businesses that very often rely, as I understand it, on taproom revenues, people coming in and eating at a you know, brew pub type restaurant or drinking, they're at a bar or whatever it is, like that's a significant part of their revenue typically. And so small batch standard has a lot of clients in economic pain. And they took some of their IP packaged it up as a spreadsheet, a cash flow Planner Tool. The normal thing to do with that would be to put an opt in gate in front of it. It's nothing is another moral or ethical conversation. This is just genre. This is what's normal, hey, this is valuable. This is going to help some people who are in pain. It's going to deliver real value for them. We should get something in return. something tangible, something like an email address, something that grows our list. That's the normal mindset that gets used in a situation like that. Tom said, Nope, no opt in gate. Here it is. Please share it with anybody you think that could benefit from this. And so they published it as a Google Sheet. And that no opt in. So that is ungraded content that could have easily been gated, and it would have been a totally fair deal, I suppose, to put an opt in form in front of it, you wouldn't be really, you know, getting an unfair deal or cheating people out of an email address had a lot of value. But their mental calculus was, this will be better for our reputation than anything we could put behind an opt in gate would be. And we'd like to lower the friction on spreading it. So it reaches as many people as possible on gated content asset. Beautiful, I think, show you something that I think, oh, there's Jim's website. Actually, the wrong one. Sorry, Jim. There we go. This is what I was looking for. So this is from David Baker, colleague and friend of mine. And having a really clear, fresh point of view, helps so much with brand marketing.
And this is just one example picked somewhat based on recency more than anything. But I think it shows the strength of David's point of view. It's asking a provocative question. It's challenging, a way that things are normally done in David's space. And it's, you know, using that point of view to explain something. So this is a good reference, I think for I mean, there's other really good references, too. But this is one that was easy to pull up for you a reference for strong, clear, sharp point of view. And I think that really helps, because the question that folks are going to have to answer, maybe they don't do it explicitly. But why should I add this person to my inbox? Point of View really helps them answer that in the affirmative. I was getting a haircut last week. And talking about pet ducks, with Emily, the stylist and my wife, and I want pet ducks. We're not really set up for that right now. But we think they're adorable. She had pet ducks growing up. And she was talking about them and said, You know, one day they just disappeared. I said, What happened? fearing the worst, I suppose. And she said, Oh, well, we figured it out later. We lived at that time next to a river. And our little, you know, adolescence, adolescent age, ducks were hanging out in the yard, and they saw some big adult ducks swimming by and they just went and joined up with them, and became part of their family. And I thought that that really is sort of how brand marketing works. It is it's something about the little baby ducks, seeing the big docks and saying Oh, my people, and swimming away with them and going on a journey with them. You'll notice that the direct response tools I've listed far outnumber the brand marketing tools. Because brand marketing is not really a tool. It's more of a mindset. It grows, your email lists the way gravity attracts objects to it. So it's not really a tool, it's more of a force or a mindset. So I think you should, for sure, make use of some direct response tools early on, and then you should evolve as quickly as possible to using brand marketing tools. Just as a quick review, I'm just going to read these to you to the direct response tools are an email course, lead magnet, you can have more of these than just one by the way. You can guest on a podcast or give a talk somewhere and have a call to action to go to a landing page or an email course or a lead magnet. You can do social promotion, guest authors, events where you require registration and then folks get added to your email list. Search can connect you with folks who are interested in what you're doing and they join your email list. You can do direct outreach via LinkedIn. You can have your work be amplified by others. You can nudge things in that direction or you can just do the long Working in public thing and just let it happen, it probably will. And then you can use ungated content assets. So we've got these tools, how do we deploy them? There's really two perspectives here. I think you could you use one as you could say, I want to start with the ones that are easiest to start with. That's been how I've done a lot of things myself, certainly not the only way to do things. But you know, the idea is that these, doing something easy gets you a small win that builds momentum, and then you can tackle things that are harder. So there's kind of a bootstrapping mindset you could apply. And when I think about that, I think the tools that are relatively easier to use are lead magnets direct outreach, you have to do the emotional labor with the direct outreach. But mechanically, it's just dead simple and so easy.
social promotion is easy, but it depends on having that platform that you've built on social which is its own sort of trade off. And the email course relatively harder stuff like podcast guesting you could be just like, naturally great at it. But most people are going to find it, I think higher effort, higher emotional risk. And maybe just like legitimately harder to get on podcasts. Guest authors, just more moving parts, they're more to manage registration required events can be extremely difficult, depending on the event size and scope, inbound search and amplification, those are all stuff in the relatively harder column. So you might say, All right. It's not perfect, but what I'm publishing is pretty good. I want more reach. I'm going to start where it's easiest to get that and so I think you look at the lead magnet, direct outreach, social promotion or an email course. The other thing you might the other mindset, or sort of lens you might look at this through is the velocity of results. What will get me results the quickest. And you're saying, if it's hard, I don't care, I want fast results. And that's fine. So if you wanted results relatively faster, I would prioritize podcasts guesting social promotion, depending on your reach, guest authors, events, and amplification. And the relatively slower would be things like direct outreach, and inbound search, like direct outreach is slow, because you have to do that emotional labor, you have to care about people you're reaching out too. And if you try to turn up the, you know, the volume knob too much on direct outreach, it usually screws it up pretty badly. So that's a slow and steady kind of thing, inbound searches, certainly, for most folks slow and steady. And then yeah, it kind of depends, you know, of course, lead magnet, those could be fast, or they could be slower, depending on a lot of factors. When I look at these lists, I I noticed I can help notice there's almost no overlap between ease and velocity except for the social thing. So it really is a sort of two distinctly different sets of tools that you would use, depending on what your goal is.
Remember, by way of conclusion, the contextual differences. A lot of the advice out there is fine. It's just coming from this context of direct response marketing, where the efficiency is the goal, want to create as much current economic value as we can with the least expenditure of time, effort, emotional labor, etc. And so we're going to minimize that and try to create just enough subscriber value to maximize our economic goals, which is again, fine. You might be hearing that saying, Philip, you're an idiot for questioning. Now, why wouldn't anybody do that? Why wouldn't everybody do that? My answer is, well, the whole ti framework is really about creating future economic value. So I have a different perspective on this. But that aside, just remember where the advice is coming from. Because that context, the source context of being direct response, marketing might push you to do things in a way that's a little a little pushy. But you can use the tools in a more restrained way, and they're still very effective and helpful for list growth. If you find yourself thinking about reach and growth, and you're probably ready to begin, and that is more important than anything else is just getting started. There's that quote, I don't know from Kurtz out or somebody like that, you know, beginning has boldness, power or magic in it, it does. And then at least to the middle part that's not so fun and easy. But begin, if you're ready, don't hold back from starting something of a direct response nature is going to be more effective at actual list growth. Now, if you do things wrong, if you push things too hard, it might give you undesirable list growth, meaning people who are on your list but have no interest in what you're saying. And you know that maybe the worst practical outcome there is you get a lot of spam reports or something. Anyway, something of a direct response nature is where you want to start, for the most part, you don't usually start at brand marketing, if you know, getting from maybe 100. subscribers to 1000 is your goal, you need to use direct response marketing tools. And that's going to work better than just kind of a general vague appeal of like, hey, join my list.
If I had to pick one method to start with, it would be the email course. And part of that I'm sure is biased. By my own experience, maybe there's some other person out there who's had like, amazing killer success with lead magnets, or something else. Email courses worked really well, for me, they helped me feel good about asking for an email address. Because there's no other way to deliver an email course. I mean, yeah, you could take the email course and turn it into a PDF, and now you've got a lead magnet. And then you could put that PDF on your website without an opt in. And now you've got an ungraded content asset, you could do that. And I've sort of moved in that direction more and more, but when starting out, I think email courses are just a really nice balance of things. Because there are certain plenty of topics that arguably are better consumed, when dripped out via an email course. So I think you can believe in the value of the thing you're creating, you can feel good about asking for an email address, because there's no other way to deliver it. And you can actually make an impact and how people think, I think the fate of a lot of lead magnets is just sitting, occupying a few kilobytes of space on someone's drive somewhere, they don't get consumed or used very much. So if I had to pick one method to start with, it would be the email course. Thinking back, not that far, to when I was new, and a lot of this stuff. Everything that feels like an imperfection in creating that first email course is probably actually an advantage of some kind. So let's say you say great, I'm at this point, I feel like I want to get more reach, more impact for my thinking, email list grow. Sounds good. email lists, email course, idea. Sure. Let's do it. And then you start coming up with all the reasons why it's going to suck. And most of those, I think, are actually advantages. If you're like, Oh, god, it's gonna be so short, I only have like, two or three lessons in this email course that I'm thinking of that I'd say great, less writing for you to do, you'll ship it faster, fewer days, where you're sitting there trying to self sabotage by not shipping it. And then you're like, Okay, fine. But the emails themselves are going to be pretty short, maybe six, seven paragraphs? I don't know that seems kind of basic, like is that really worth asking someone to opt in for and I'm going to say good. That's less work for you and less cognitive load for your readers. Go for it. That's an advantage. And then maybe you say something like that? I don't know what to sell. Most email courses sell something, what should I pitch at the end of it? I'm gonna say good. Don't Pitch Anything, just helps Subscribers get used to hearing from you. Give them some value through the email course. And then at the end of the course, add them to your email list and figure out the selling thing later. So I'm not sure that you could come up with any a like, barrier to doing an email course that I couldn't flip into some kind of advantage. I think it's a good starting point. Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of these ideas.