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Create Better Prospects (Part 1)

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Note: This is a reprint of a previous Emergent Marketing Newsletter. If you're not receiving our email newsletter, you can subscribe here.

“Problems are just unaddressed opportunities waiting for creative minds to tackle them.” — Dr. Leyla Acaroglu

We've decided to organize the following two newsletters around the counter-intuitive idea that better prospects are created, not acquired.

And we'll discuss this theme through the lens of modern email marketing.

We're going to unpack two big ideas…

These two big ideas have nothing to do (directly) with selling and promotion, but…

… doing them makes selling and promotions 10x easier, and in many cases, almost effortless.

Effortless selling without trying to sell…

… what's not to love, right?

We're going to take you on this journey individually. André first, then Shawn in Part 2.

Hey, it's André…

I'm going to narrate this email because there is some perspective I need to set up first. An old story, really.

Shawn will write the following newsletter, unpacking the second big idea, and we feel it'll be more powerful with that perspective narrated through Shawn's point of view.


It was 2007.

Which feels like a million years ago.

If you're also a dinosaur and have been at this game for that long, you'll recognize it as the time when the $7 front-end loss leader (“tripwire”) report was all the rage.

It was an attempt to increase customer flow by lowering the barrier-to-entry to become a customer.

And to a degree, it worked pretty well…

… sort of.

If your goal was to attract and capture $7 customers, it worked like gangbusters.

The sound of champagne corks and party poppers could be heard echoing all around our little internet marketing ecosystem.

But as you can probably guess, customers aren't created equal…

For example, there's a world of difference between a $7 customer and a $700 customer. The two categories couldn't be more different.

A $700 customer will rarely respond to a $7 offer.

However, the critical distinction is that the $7 customer will never respond to a $700 offer.

If you want $700 customers, leading with a $7 offer (and proliferating that offer all over the internet) is a pretty dumb strategy.

It seemed weird to me that the masses didn't see this as an obvious flaw unless, of course, they actually wanted $7 customers.

So I decided to run an experiment to attract higher-caliber customers without the need for a $700 offer (or the obvious negatives associated with a $7 “tripwire” offer)…

I wanted to create a scenario where I would get high-quality leads (a precursor to a better customer willing to respond to more expensive offers) worth a hundred bucks, but cost them nothing.

It's the framing that was important.

I have that old 2007 (evil) experiment archived below:

Please note: I created that copy nearly 15 years ago when the internet was a very different place at a very different time. So keep that as the context. After running the experiment, I discontinued it shortly after. I had learned a lesson, gained an insight and new perspective, and used that to further inform my marketing, which showed up in how I thought about multi-page presell pages/sites, and narrative-based emails.


The lesson in this email is not — read, not! — what I did in that experiment. It's not a template to use now.

The insight is that better prospects are created (or can be created) when an experience is carefully designed for them to interact with.

We unpack the nuances of this idea in detail in many places on our site:

  • our Sphere of Influence Manifesto here,
  • in an email I wrote about Lead Magnet 3.0 here,
  • in our worldbuilding article here,
  • in a longer piece about product launch marketing (and specifically, why we create presell-driven experiences here),
  • and in an example of coercion vs. empathy-driven marketing here, narrated through the fictional eyes of Amy (the lesson being the experience of the journey from Amy's point of view).

As modern marketers, we have opportunities to create experiences on our web properties, and through the intimacy of email.

Each of these opportunities, pre and post someone adding themselves to our email list, are places where we can carefully design an experience that pulls the best people closer to us, as trust and attention are earned, interaction by interaction, bit by bit, over time.

To be clear, and to end on a controversial note…

… we don't believe the classic idea of a “lead magnet” or “opt-in for my report” or “four-part video series” rises to the level of a powerful experience that's memorable and leaves a lasting impressing on someone.

Creating a better prospect starts at first contact, which is before — and probably long before — they add themself to our email list.

An interesting aside, which we may unpack in a future EM Newsletter, is that the same person can add themself to two different email lists on the same day, but how they view and interact with those businesses will be night and day different. Business A did something to create a better prospect, where Business B did something else, and as a result, the level of attention and trust they receive from the same person is a world apart.

The old days of: Lander > Opt-in (Lead Magnet) > Email > Offer

… is insufficient today and will be obsolete tomorrow.

There is a lot in this email to unpack if you're willing to invest the time to read between the lines, follow the links, and internalize the implications of building a better system that's experience-driven (the essence of worldbuilding).

In Part 2 we share what happens — or rather, what should we do — once someone adds themself to an email list.

—Shawn & André