Wynn-ing Ways: Create an Engaging Experience that Attracts and Nurtures Readers

Let’s review

The full title of this series is Wynn-ing Ways: How a Properly Designed Business System Creates a Competitive Advantage.

How do you build a publishing system that wins more funds and fans?

Let’s review a few key ideas.

  1. Digital marketing strategies abuse and desensitize a user’s attention.
  2. Most author marketing and advertising are focused on funnels and conversion (not on enhancing the reader experience).
  3. Big Tech is fighting for ad dollars and is under pressure for monopolistic practices, resulting in disappointed customers writ large.
  4. None of the above helps you build a relationship with a fan.
  5. All money is derived from the reader-writer relationship.
  6. The macro trends bode well for content creators.
  7. Change happens faster and more often.

What should an author do that believes the above points…

  1. The purpose of their publishing business should be to produce funds and fans.
  2. Apply systems thinking to their business to achieve #1.
  3. The system design must be strengthened by change and adaptable to the market.
  4. We start by identifying the vital few—the 4% of the business that needs to be systematized and optimized.

Back to business

As we think through how to apply these ideas, it is essential not to overcomplicate things. While you may have a grand vision, what action will deliver the greatest value?

An early-stage author needs to look at getting a product to market and building a paying audience to break even on their investment.

That’s it.

Outside of writing a good book, the next thing that will dictate success is having the working capital to get to break even.

Midlist authors need to systematize for scale, which means building systems that leverage the vital few to compound fan growth without sacrificing profit (funds).

Authors who have had books break into the top 100 of the entire store and make more than writers than they ever did in their day job have a different focus. They need to understand the why of their business plan and how it aligns with what they want as an investor. Not “I want to make seven figures,” but what they really want in life.

In all cases, this is a tremendously tricky business. It’s winner-takes-all, and 98% of the people who write a book will lose money. If you choose to swim in these waters, you must be realistic.

In the last article, I discussed the vital few. How do you apply this idea to optimize funds and fans?

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Remember way back in article five when I talked about ESD and how buildings are engineered?

While Steve Wynn can have a vision, is that vision possible? In addition to looking like what he envisioned, the building needed to function and perform basic processes. When I flush a toilet, do its contents reach the sewer?

The engineer designs the plumbing system to deliver water to all the places needed and used correctly. For example, the engineer designing the plumbing for that hotel had to ensure that the system could provide water for the dancing waters feature in front of the hotel and proper shower pressure in the penthouse suite.

Remember when I talked with Mr. Wynn? He told me that the reason the Bellagio wasn’t sitting in the middle of a lake was that the hotel couldn’t be evacuated quickly in the case of an emergency.

His vision conflicted with reality.

They engineered as close as they could to his original vision, but in the end, his vision also had to compromise.

While you might have a grand vision, ensure it’s supported by a system that gets your funds to where they are most effective. The Bellagio could have the most incredible water feature out front, but the hotel is uninhabitable if you can’t get water out of the taps inside. Are your funds going to flash or function?

I talked about the reader-writer relationship in article four, where I discussed keystone mutualism, the Krebs cycle, and symbiosis. The idea is that the single most important thing for a writer is the reader. Without a reader, there is no source of funds.

Yet, how do we treat our readers?

Do you deliver an emotionally engaging experience that attracts readers at all your touchpoints?

Not every reader will become a fan. That isn’t the point.

The point is that the reader is prepared to pay for experience—one that you guide through words and manifest in their imagination. You get paid for that.

Why did people flock to the Mirage in 1989?

Because of the experience—the wonder. The way it made them feel.

The Mirage was a Polynesian-themed hotel. Steve Wynn even developed a scent to be pumped through the ventilation system to give the casino and lobby the smell of a tropical island. They stripped the mercaptan from the natural gas (that’s the smell they put in gas to detect leaks) and added a piña colada smell. Wynn knew then that it was about the experience.

Your sense of smell is the one most tied to memory and association. Wynn was brainwashing people through their nostrils.

Ultimately, he was trying to get you in the door to sit at a table and gamble. His games were no different than any other on the strip: keno, blackjack, slots, the usual.

He set record after record for casino profits not by competing on payouts and odds but by creating experiences.

Enhancing your reader’s experience

If you always put experience first in your business, you’ll succeed. If you design customer experience into your business systems, you’ll scale.

Can you define your reader experience?

Is it systemized so it can scale?

Is your launch plan saturated with story world experience, or does it feel like every other product launch, rife with calls to action about buying a book?

How do you get the prospect to become aware of you, try your product, purchase, and repurchase? All  of these steps need the vibe of your brand and blurring the lines between story and reality.

The more we make your business about what a reader wants, the easier it will be to scale.

Let’s explore a few examples.

For the beginning author, who might provide a reader magnet: What does your very first email deliver? Is it the usual “Hey, did you get the book? I’m an author. I write [insert genre].”

Does that first email differentiate you from the dozen other emails I got from your fellow authors participating in the promotion from which you got my email?

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Does the first email deliver the experience of your story world?

Would the first sentence get me to read the first paragraph?

Would the email make me want to stop everything and make sure that your book is the next thing I read?

For authors looking to reach the next level, do you put more effort into winning new customers than welcoming existing customers back to your world?

Is everything you’ve created designed to sell or seduce me?

Is the sole purpose of being on your list or in your group so you can badger me for more money?

What if you took half the time and money you spent finding new customers and invested it in indoctrinating customers who have already bought your books?

Would attrition drop and attention increase?

You will always need to seek out new customers to replace those you lose over time. Of course, if you’re expecting your business to grow, you’ll need to find new readers, but why not do your best to retain those you’ve already won?

This gets us to the essence of cumulative advantage. The power of cumulative advantage is using resources accumulated in the current round and compounding them in future rounds.

Knowing how cumulative advantage works, why is it that few marketing systems are focused on preserving and compounding existing readers?

There’s your competitive advantage. Be like Steve Wynn and build your Mirage.

Right in the middle of the street, with all the world’s largest hotels and the largest concentration of casinos, build an experience that makes customers cross the street just to experience it, and while they are there, they will gamble.

What if your newsletter was so good that people told their friends to sign up for it?

What if your website was so interesting that readers repeatedly visited it to get the experience between books?

This is to say that it boils down to the emotional experience you can deliver and then getting the reader to associate that emotional experience with your brand. From there, it’s building a community that identifies with that brand.

Next week, we will explore experience even more, as this has to be the fiber of your entire marketing system. As daunting as this may seem, you have the power of story to wield.

As a final note, I’ve been obsessed with Notion as a planner and organizer. One thing I’ve done is create some of my checklists as Notion pages. Here is the Decision Journal Template. You can copy it here.

Read: The Impact of Quality on Your Success in the Marketplace