(3 of 5) The Durable Business, Part II: Improve Your Business

Wednesday, Oct 7 (2020) / 8 min read

This email is part of our email series for our Fall 2020 enrollment of SOI, ARM, and TTE (October 9-19). If this resonates with you, you can find the rest of the email series here.

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Welcome back.

If you're still with us on this journey down ‘The Durable Business' rabbit hole, good to have you back. If you've come in late, you'll find links to the previous two emails below (read those first).

This week we're examining four common scenarios our students encounter, and offering our suggestions for a ‘road map' to move forward in each one.

Monday's email addressed scenario #1, when you have an idea for an online business and you don't know where to begin (or you are interested in an online business but haven't developed specific ideas or expertise yet).

With help from TLB customer, Jonathan Baker, Tuesday's email discussed scenario #2, when you have a minimum viable offer that has generated some results, and now you want to turn that into a ‘real' business.

Today's email is about scenario #3, when you have an existing business that you want to expand, improve, and grow.

(And do it in a way that doesn't leave you feeling a little dirty because you've defaulted to a more aggressive, push-y, style of marketing.)

We're going to assume that you already have an offer or offers that convert, sources of traffic that create awareness for your business, a mechanism for converting awareness to engagement (e.g., a way for people to opt in), and a list of prospects and customers you engage with by email.

From the interactions among those three parts — awareness (traffic), engagements (leads), and conversion (sales) — your business is producing ROI-positive results. (Meaning you're making money.)

If this describes your situation (or one you hope to find yourself in soon), there are three ways you could grow your business.

Each would work (well), but one is (significantly) better than the others. (We'll explain why, below.)

We like to ‘show our work' so you know how we're thinking, not just what we're thinking.

Option #1 — increase traffic — is the most common advice we hear to scale an existing business. Drive more, high-quality traffic (and extract more value from existing traffic with behaviorally-based retargeting).

This option adds fuel to your business engine predictably and systematically, and growth follows.

(Our framework for finding and attracting high-quality traffic can be found in The Traffic Engine, and in our free 10-part paid traffic training.)

Option #2 — improve conversion — is a more nuanced approach to business growth. The basic idea is to get more from what you're already doing by focusing on email — the ‘conversion engine' of your business.

(It's important to remember that broadly speaking, 80% of customers are created after 90 days, and as far out as 18 months. This gives us a clue to where we should invest our priorities, long-term.)

An oft-repeated phrase in Internet marketing circles is ‘the money is in the (email) list'…

There's certainly truth in that statement, but too often it's an excuse for focusing narrowly on the wrong objectives (acquiring, accumulating, and monetizing leads as quickly as possible).

A more accurate, empowering version of that phrase is ‘the money is in the authentic relationships you build with the people on your email list'.

That subtle shift in perspective changes everything.

AutoResponder Madness is our framework for building authentic, transparent, durable relationships by email with the audience we seek to serve.

ARM uses the (super)power of story to pull your audience closer, marketing with them — not at them — without manipulation, persuasion, or coercion.

By itself, ARM can transform your business results by fundamentally changing how you think about converting prospects into customers and superfans.

However, if you already have a business that is creating results, we believe there's a far more powerful option that combines the power of ARM, SOI, and TTE, into a system where 1 + 1 + 1 is significantly greater than three.

Option #3 begins with Sphere of Influence to identify the 10,000′ narrative arc of your marketing from initial awareness through conversion.

SOI identifies the beliefs your prospects need to internalize and accept before they can become customers and superfans, and builds those sequentially, step by step, into all of your marketing messaging (ads, articles, web-copy, webinars, videos, emails, etc.).

Then, the focus shifts to improving conversion using the principles, strategies, and tactics described in AutoResponder Madness (informed by the insights generated from SOI).

Next, ‘traffic engines' (informed by the work you did with Sphere of Influence) are created that attract the right prospects, and discourage the wrong prospects.

Traffic engines are the ‘volume dial' of your business, giving you greater predictability and more control over your results long-term.

In simple terms:

  • Sphere of Influence establishes the intellectual and emotional foundation of your entire marketing thesis.
  • The Traffic Engine turns that thesis into a system for attracting the right prospects and discouraging the wrong prospects.
  • AutoResponder Madness converts that awareness and engagement into customers and superfans.

Each element — SOI, TTE, and ARM — reinforces and expands on the others, creating opportunities for emergent, exponential results that produce happy customers.

(Full transparency — this is exactly how we are improving and growing our own business. We practice what we preach. Everything we teach we do ourselves.)

Tomorrow's email will have a slightly different format. Shawn will explore how he has used SOI, ARM, and TTE to get results for clients.

If you're a digital marketing service provider — or thinking about becoming one — tomorrow's email will answer many of your questions and spark some ideas.

See you then…

— Shawn

Shawn Twing


The Fall 2020 enrollment for AutoResponder Madness, Sphere of Influence, and The Traffic Engine will be open this Friday, October 9 through midnight (PST) Monday, October 19, 2020.

This will be the last enrollment in 2020 for these courses.

If you have any questions about ARM, SOI, or TTE, please reply to this email and we'll respond as soon as possible.


To be clear, you don't need to read this part.

It's extra.

It's for our enthusiasts.

If you've been following us for any extended length of time, you'll know we practice (in our business) and teach (through our writing and courses) a systematic approach to modern marketing.

More recently, we gave a name to the interconnected version of modern marketing that we do that's informed by systems thinking. We call it Emergent Marketing.

The system created through Emergent Marketing has also been given a name, which we call The Durable Business.

A system is an interconnected set of elements that are coherently organized in a way that achieves something.

From our perspective, the three essential parts that make up a durable business are awareness, engagement, and conversion.

Our expressions of those three parts have been codified as TTE (awareness), SOI (engagement), and ARM (conversion).

The system (expressed as The Durable Business) is the collection of parts that interact with each other to function as a whole.

An important insight is that it's this function that drives the system's purpose, from beginning to end (overall system goal). A system exists to achieve a primary function, and there can only be one.

Important: The purpose of a system is deduced from behavior, not from rhetoric or stated goals.

You'll find versions of “we're a customer-centric company,” plastered across most websites. But talk is cheap. It's behavior that drives the single overall function (goal) of a durable business.

For us, that single function is to create happy customers. Everything we do is in service to that single business-wide function. Every behavior either moves us closer or further away.

‘Happy customers' is meaningful in ways that matter to us. Your single function, whatever you decide that is, needs to be meaningful to you.

This is the major flaw with how (most) direct response marketers behave, probably born from a mixture of ignorance (blindly copying what others are doing) and accepting the status quo party line.

Most marketers see each PART of their business (or for some, their
“marketing funnel” is the business) as having its own goal, it's own function.

Example: People optimizing for FB ads have a paid acquisition goal, which is typically tethered to just that part of the system, or at best, the next-hop along in the system (lead acquisition).

Depending on the marketer, their goal may be:

  • optimize for lead cost (acquire leads at lowest cost)…
  • optimize for clicks (more is better)…
  • optimize for impressions (more is better)…
  • optimize for reach (more is better)…
  • optimize for likes (more is better)…

When you understand how a system works, this thinking is crazy because it's unproductive and will almost always have a negative effect on the system's performance.

When a subsystem's “goals” dominate at the expense of the system's goal (there can only be one, remember), the result is called sub-optimization.

Said another way: by relentlessly optimizing the parts of a business in isolation, the performance of the whole doesn't necessarily improve, and frequently gets worse.

Emergence is the essence of a system.

Phenomena of

Phenomena of “murmuration” (flocks of starlings)

It's the unique interaction of parts. Emergence occurs when an entity is observed to have properties its parts do not have on their own.

These properties or behaviors emerge in beautiful and unpredictable ways only when the coherently organized parts interact within the system as a whole, in support and service of the system's single function.

It's the “magic” that can happen when we build a durable business that produces wonderful and weird behavior that can't be tied down to any one thing (part) you've created.


On Friday, we'll be sharing a visualization that ties together everything we've spoken about over the past two weeks.

More tomorrow.