Digital marketers use jets and Lamborghinis in their video ads to get your emotions going about a future after taking the course. Those are aspirational symbols designed to get you to associate that emotion and desire with the purchase of a course.
Lamborghini and Rolls Royce don’t advertise on Facebook. Customers come to them because of what they represent.
Customers WANT what it says about their identity and position.
Do you have the patience and endurance to build a system that attracts the right customers?
You must define the brand and the meaning it has associated with it.
It’s even harder when you sell a low gross revenue product like a book.
Remember Steve Wynn’s words?
“To me, it’s more than a hotel. It’s a gateway between reality and fantasy.”
Reader delight and creating your gateway between reality and your story world is a slow human-centric process.
It’s the opposite of the seven secrets bestseller A’s foolproof recipe to use the latest gambit to game search results. Everyone knows the real secrets are in the mastermind upsell.
We get caught between our internal urgency for results now and the patience required to develop something unique and memorable.
We seek the easier, softer way.
This season is about what it takes to make your story world and brand iconic.
For this to work for you must think non-linear.
We have to create the feedback loops promoting and improving our goals.
Dunk Limo Logic
I have another story about my dad. My dad owned a limousine.
He and two other guys each had a one-third share.
He and his two buddies believed they had bad luck with getting picked up for drunk driving. The one had lost his license for ten years.
The obvious conclusion was to get a limo.
It solved the problem. Having a full-time driver and car made it hard to get arrested for drunk driving.
While it was nice to have access to the car, it was an expensive illogical solution to a problem of three men unwilling to address their drinking problems.
Eventually, none of them could imagine life without the limo.
I have to be careful that I’m not trying to solve a drunk driving problem by buying a limo.
Digital marketing has similarities. It’s a fast way to scale, and it is easy to see results.
As others adopt digital marketing, the costs go up and the results drop.
Then we can’t imagine our business without it.
“If you focus on tactics at the expense of being a human, then you’re going to go down a blind alley. It’s said that if you do enough A/B testing, eventually, your website will become a porn site because every single thing you could test is going to push you in that direction.”
Begin with the end in mind
Later we will explore launch and visibility loops, but I want to start with indoctrination.
This is where most businesses drop the ball, either ignoring new customers or trying to transact too soon.
Our endgame is to build community and to get the reader to associate their identity with your brand.
Let’s break down what happens to a reader after they finish your book. The main spot where we can build up a stock of readers.
A core tenant of Advantage is thinking through how you treat existing customers after the first sale.
Do you want me to buy another book on your timeframe, or do you let me have some authority to explore?
Just like your hero must go upon a journey of discovery, you need a process that allows readers to explore—a process where they can find what they seek.
Remember, they are already customers. People that have bought your book.
What loops do you have in place to facilitate sorting and supporting the different needs of your readers?
Most authors that run newsletters are trying to come up with content between acts of conversion.
In reality, the state of most of your readers is not reading your books.
We need to unpack the time between books and understand that our readers are people.
They are not credit cards to be swiped when we have a new product.
If treated with respect, they will be attentive and prepared to pay what you ask when the time comes for them to buy.
In the interim, we look for them to;
and seek status in your group.
This has more to do with helping them find what they seek in a non-reading experience. If you can develop this, then they will congregate around your haven rather than other places we go out of boredom.
What is the intent of your email sequence?
It’s a bit of drunk limo logic designed to sell someone who has already bought.
Sure, they are far more apt to buy, but does it deliver reader delight or being iconic?
Instead, make the reader’s curiosity and own choices drive your process. The result will be the same; a book sold, or a series read through to the end, but HOW we do it changes.
Let me walk you through this sketch applying systems thinking to publishing.
You have your initial stock of readers. You let them know you have a new book, and they buy it.
In the launch phase, your ranking boosts, and you improve visibility because we mobilize your existing audience.
Through visibility, new readers see your book and buy it.
Upon finishing the book, what happens next?
Do you go to a full sales pitch?
Do you break the fourth wall and ask for them to sign up for more information or an epilogue?
Think where you’re meeting your reader. They are in story reading mode and just read the last word of a story they liked.
Is the best thing to do to transition them to the next book in the series?
How can this be done with the least amount of disruption to the reader’s state of mind?
The most natural and subversive sales process is to move them through your series (if you have one) because spending the cover price of your book is a slight interruption in keeping you with your favorite characters and emotional journey.
This is series continuation and should be the primary focus.
Could your transition process be within your story world to guide them to the next product and develop story and character along the way?
This brings us to loops within loops.
The result we want is to get a new reader into our existing reader stock for future launches. This is the physical manifestation of cumulative advantage.
What is the path, or should there be several?
It may make sense to have a method to allow your reader to keep plowing through a series as any increase of reading through results in increased profits and a deepening of the reader’s connection with the story world.
No need to interrupt the experience.
If you read Advantage, then you know my position on the hypnotic state of a reader. Disrupting this immersion creates friction and opportunity for your reader to go off to do other things.
Think of these loops with interconnecting loops and off-ramps. Places where I can choose to explore your story world further?
Along the way, there can be nudges to go deeper into your community.
From time to time, I have links or opportunities to learn more about other services like the advantage mastermind. When you’re ready and your attention is the highest, you’ll opt-in.
You decide when you’re ready, not me trying to beat you into readiness.
Experience or CTA
Disney world hates lines as much as you do. It’s inevitable at peak season or on new rides that you are forced to mill through a run of barriers, but they try to create experiences where possible.
Two experiences come to mind.
The first is the special treatment experience. I was recently at Dollywood and stayed at the hotel.
As a guest, you get special fast passes at the park, so you get to the front of the line and the option to be in the front on most rides. Disney does this well with its FastPass.
The other experience is beginning the ride experience as you mill through the line. Besides keeping your mind off the line, you’re starting the ride experience sooner.
In some respects, this is like what a reader deals with; the book is a small portion of time compared (the ride) to the more considerable non-reading time (the line). I’ll dive deeper into this in later when we explore curiosity and boredom.
Are the loops designed to get those willing to pay extra to the front of the line or to keep those moving through the queue interested?
The idea of this indoctrination process is to help them understand what spending time with you will be like.
Will I just be getting weekly deals, or are you going to entertain me?
As you build out this experience, it’s easy to lose sight of why you’re doing something. You get no benefit from a complex or convoluted system. Always ask, does this drive reader delight or serve your investors? If it doesn’t cut it or minimize it.
Building out loops to create a place of commonality and finding our tribe fulfills a necessary social need. When your loops serve your reader’s needs and give them what they want, then they’ll give you what you want.
What do they want?
This isn’t about giveaways. That bait can attract the wrong people. Also, anyone can do that.
Besides resisting the creation of a porn site, we need to embrace the radically traditional idea I shared in the tragedy of the commons emails.
Being radically traditional in the publishing business is merely treating your readers as you expect to be treated as a fan. By creating a haven for your readers to associate their identity with your brand, you build a lasting connection.
Your haven becomes a retreat from those trying to sell your reader’s attention to others.
If your readers are like me, they are implementing active countermeasures to stop the attacks on their attention, while the attention sellers are amping up the sale of that attention to hit next quarter’s earnings.
Here is a time to be radically traditional rather than doubling down on your use of the attention commons.
Before I sign off, I have a CTA…
Yup, a Call To Action…
There’s nothing to buy, and what is for the offer isn’t for sale.
For the next seven days, you can invite your fellow authors to this season. That’s right. You can let some of your friends behind the velvet rope.
It will take them to a page that will be open for seven days, then it will close. It will allow them to get into this season (although they will be a few weeks behind you).
Be thoughtful – don’t waste your social capital.
This is a two-way street with you being the traffic cop.
I respectfully ask you don’t just invite any yahoo, and I’m confident you don’t want to be seen as spammy, so make sure those you send the link to are like-minded.
Think about why you like this newsletter and what readers would get the most out of what we’re doing here.
This isn’t for everyone!
There is no contest or points. This is just a simple way to give people you think need to see my content access that content.
I don’t just dump people into this content. They have to volunteer their attention.
P.S. A meta moment: Let it sink in what I’ve asked you to do in sharing my content.
Those that share (maybe you) will be few, but they are the perfect connector because they know others that are a good fit.
For nonfiction authors, this is an idea to steal.
For fiction authors, could one of your characters ask to be set up on a blind date with a potential reader? Then have a sequence of emails that act as an on-ramp to your story world.