Game of Cults: Engaging Readers in the Discovery Phase to Convert Them into Buyers

Phase 1: Discovery

The Game is the customer journey—an engaging and self-directed jaunt through your brand experience.

A process where you identify prospects, allow them to self-educate on the product category and specific product and then make an informed decision about the best product for them.

After the product choice, we want to help them get the most out of their choice.

In the beginning, it may be the choice to download a free book. We want them to get that value first before asking for anything else. Otherwise, they will never see the value in the first free choice or the paid request you make after that.

Remember, this process operates on their timeframe, not yours. Part of what gets lost in accumulating an audience is that compounding happens over time. If the systems are in place, your audience will grow as time passes.

When something goes “viral,” it isn’t instantaneous. It was built over time and compounded to the point of being visible.

We want players to feel like this is a self-regulated, choose-your-own-adventure process they control. You’re the game master, and you set the path to status achievement and “winning,” but they have control of the pace and routes they follow.

There are four phases to a game’s player path. I’ll break these down over the next few articles. Let’s begin with the first: discovery.

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Discovery goes both ways. The process needs to be set up to let a prospect discover if your products meet their needs. At the same time, you’re finding out if they are a suitable customer.

Discovery equates to the top of the funnel and is the hardest part. We need to attract people with low attention and trust who are bombarded by offers to buy something.

Let’s take the idea of a reader magnet. The issue is the act of reading. The cash cost has been eliminated, but not the time expenditure.

My assumption is your reader magnet is an excellent representation of your writing. Don’t expect good results if your magnet was some throwaway story you wrote because you felt obligated to do it.

But you’ll still need to manage your expectations. Even if the story is excellent, the number of people who read lead magnets is very low. The issue is getting them to give it the attention to do its job.

Your offer of a free magnet most likely won’t coincide with an opening in their reading schedule. Meaning, they see your offer and take it with the intent to get around to it later.

Do they?

What are you doing to help reduce that friction and improve your read rate?

The next part of the discovery is… what happens after they read it?

There will be some who don’t like what you offer. Do you have something else to offer, or do you just focus on those who want what you offer?

My experience is there is a lot of effort put into trying to sell everyone a book, whether they did or did not read a magnet—and if they did, whether or not they liked it.

But that wide-net approach sets you up for failure. You’ll end up sending out emails to someone who read your book and didn’t like it but is too lazy to unsubscribe.

That effort is better spent getting someone to want to read your magnet. Just keep in mind that only one to ten out of every hundred potential readers will actually complete that goal.

The majority of visitors will not convert. Don’t waste time on them. Focus on accumulating the engaged 1-2%.

The discovery phase is all about building trust with prospects and earning more attention from them. In this phase, you filter out bad prospects and give status and preferred treatment to those showing the intent to be your ideal customer.

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Let me be frank. If your reader magnet doesn’t convert someone to becoming willing to purchase, how is relentlessly begging them to buy, even at a discount, going to do it?

What you want is someone to read your free book and then willingly pay full price for the next book—not 99 cents.


Because that reader is worth seven 99-cent readers.

You can have a similar discovery process for discount shoppers, but not with new books. Develop a marketing strategy that pushes the book to BookBub and other discounters after you exhaust a series. Give customers a way to self-organize around price.

Price segregation isn’t a bad thing. Airlines use it. Car companies use it. Allowing customers to choose how they want to have the story delivered and when they get it is part of the value.

One more thing…

Draw out your existing process. Where do customers come in and end up? If everyone ends up on a newsletter you send out weekly and use for book launches, then you don’t have a segregation and nurturing system.

Next, explore how you help someone new discover what you have to offer.

​​​​​​​Can you answer this simple question—

What do you want them to discover?

Read: The Customer Onboarding Experience and Rewarding Super Fans