Academy for Wayward Authors: Scale Your Marketing Systems to Deliver Customer Delight

Understanding how businesses scale in the publishing industry

Authors love seeing practical applications of marketing and advertising—the step-by-step of some gambit that has delivered a result. Go to conferences and see those rooms that fill up first.

The laptops open, pens start scribbling, and phones are lifted into the air, snapping pictures of slides.

After the conference, that application is applied. The ad is run by the tactic executed.

More often than not, there is some level of success. Then it fades.

It doesn’t scale.

What happened?

Is it me?

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The most common issue is that when people apply a common tactic, that tactic loses efficacy. It turns from signal to noise and joins an endless list of ways we abuse the commons of attention.

When we look at how things scale, it reminds me of the quote in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises:

“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked.

“Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”

That’s not how scale works. Scale isn’t something you buy twenty pounds of and till into the soil of your business. There isn’t some tactic that throws the scale lever, and scale gushes into your business.

A business that scales must be designed, not cobbled together.

As a whole system, its many parts will act as one to deliver the emergent property of accumulating advantage—no single component but all parts working together.

It’s the day-to-day spinning of those feedback loops, all playing their part in running your success formula, that finds a new customer while retaining one that was a flight risk while moving another reader to deepen their connection with your brand. Each of these incremental additions or improvements accumulates into what we call scale.

The concept is to design a system where the parts support the whole, and the whole is intended to create something specific—cumulative advantage.

Now, we are going to build it into your practice. I’ll be sharing ways that your daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly activities, along with the processes and structures that support a systems thinking approach.

It’s much simpler than you may think.

For example, the goal I outlined last week was about writing 1,000 words daily. As simple as that goal seems, it addresses the core issue with most authors success in reliable and repeatable production. Now, let’s discuss the new you.

Do you feel joy when thinking about writing 1,000 words a day every day for the rest of your life?

Or does your DMN immediately deliver a reason why that will be impossible?

Remember, whatever you do the most is your priority. You may say you want to do this for a living, but is that true in your practice?

What about when you launch a new book in a series? Is it all about the new book, or do you have a process to wake your audience before the launch to get them further into the series and excited about the story? If it’s been some time between books, a process to get your brand back on their radar is necessary.

Let’s try this again with your indoctrination and assimilation of a new reader. What is the goal?

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The best results I’ve seen are with systems that focus on what they want the reader to receive and adopt. There’s a disconnect for most authors. They throw up a quick lead magnet and sign up for a few swaps.

When you get a sign-up, you think, like an author, They either adopted or were just a freebie seeker.

I don’t think that’s true.

What if I challenged you to think about it this way…

The ONLY way to get a new reader was to bring them to a free book, and when that happened, you had only your web pages and emails to win the prospect.

Would you write the best possible lead magnet?

Would you build better landing pages and emails to help the reader do what you want?

For most, the reader magnet was obligatory.

No thought went into making the best possible example of your writing. Were your thoughts on crafting the first sentence to get them to read the next, and that sentence would get them to commit to the paragraph and that paragraph to read the first page? Because if you didn’t, that first sentence will also be the last sentence that person ever reads.

Scale is built systematically, not through tactics but by designing a comprehensive solution for customer delight. Readers aren’t sold to. They buy. You need to give them a way to decide that you’re the right author for them.

Next week, we will look at a one-page business plan to help you focus on the things that accumulate advantage.

Read: Create a Simple One-Page Business Plan to Anchor Your Work