Worldbuilding (Part 2)

Thursday, May 28 (2020) / 9 min read

This email is part of our email series for the June 1-8 (2020) enrollment of SOI & ARM. If this resonates with you, you can find the rest of the series here.

Voiced by Amazon Polly

Today Shawn and I are going to come at this from different perspectives. We think the dynamic will add additional layers of value, insights and clarity.

Yesterday we shared the idea of emergence — when multiple parts of a system come together and create something that's different (better) than the sum of the separate parts.

This concept is transferable (or universal)…

You can see it in collaborations. In nature. In the funnels we build as marketers when our focus is shifted to the optimization of the whole (global optimum), not the individual parts (local optima).

SOI + ARM is a powerful example of where 1 + 1 can be 15.

Then, we unpacked the idea of worldbuilding yesterday, from the perspective of the “world” a prospect can roam around before any opt-in (by choice once a level of value has been established).

Next, we'll take you on a journey of the world behind an opt-in. We'll unpack this from two perspectives — mine and Shawn's.

Should be fun.

Perspective: André

It'll be more helpful for you if I make a few comparisons along the way to give you a sense of contrast. To be clear: I'm not doing this because we're better than “them,” only to shine a light on different methodologies when what we are optimizing for is completely different.

You get to choose what matters to you.

Yesterday, with the three examples — especially the third — the focus of optimization was clearly on the “part” (local optima). As in: how to increase the opt-in rate as much as possible, even to the point of adding a countdown timer. Love it.

Second and third-order consequences don't seem to matter too much here. They're not optimizing for the betterment of the system as a whole. They're likely worsening the system as a whole, but this is not a concern to them.

In our word — and to be clear, your optimization KPI can be something that matters to you — we optimize for happy customers (at the system level).

To make happy customers, our primary focus is on relationship building, not forcing a sale at the first opportunity.

When we execute on our primate objective, the net result — the inevitable byproduct — will be sales (the creation of customers).

Because relationship building is our primary objective, here is (one of) our entry points to a deeper level of the world…

Remember: we are worldbuilding. There is the outside world (the website and satellite sites pointing at it), and the inner-world (the email list). They work together. They're cyclical.

Prospects come in because they want to; when they're PULLED forward through their own desire for wanting to consume more.

Here's our “public” newsletter/subscribe entry point:

You'll notice some weird things:

The page is pretty much “hidden” from the main site. Meaning: there is no big opt-in box from our home page…

Nothing in the header…

No links to it from articles…


There is one small link in the navigation, and a few “contextual” links pointing to it from various places.

Think about how different this dynamic is to pretty much everything you've ever experienced in marketing. Our approach is treason! đŸ™‚

But look at our stats for that page:

Screenshot of our lead capture results.

(Note: this version of the page hasn't been up very long.)

There's hardly any copy on that page because the context would have been provided elsewhere. Even if a new prospect “found it” pretty quickly (from the nav menu), there is still enough there.

There is no coercion.

They can wander around then come back later. No prob.

Yet almost 80% of people landing on that page opt-in.

Season 1 of Marketing Upgraded is a journey into our world. In fact, email #1 (episode 1) has the subject: The Hobbit.

I used The Hobbit as a metaphor for what's about to play out for them.

As I write this, that email sequence is only five emails long. Ten is the goal. Because it's not finished — but prospects are subscribing — they keep hitting periods where they don't receive the next email.

Screenshot of an email.
Screenshot of an email.
Screenshot of an email.

(We receive a lot of these.)

I then have to explain that I'm still writing the series and they've hit the current end until I add the next one. (It's still not finished.)

Contrast this to the typical sales sequence, which is the reality of most email list entry points of marketers in our internet marketing ecosystem.

The dynamic is completely different. Our prospects WANT to receive the emails, and when they feel they're not for some reason, they reach out.

We get to turn prospects into (happy) customers a little further downstream. It's not a compressed forced sales cycle.

Let's presume the full Season 1 is complete; all ten emails. Emails go out each day. So to complete the series would take ten days.

At this point they would have explored around our world (perhaps even made a purchase and also be receiving another series, giving them access to another part of our world)…

Once the entry point sequence is done, they're added to the newsletter loop. When Shawn and I write a newsletter (as manual broadcast), everyone that isn't still in an entry point sequence will receive it.

This continues to develop the relationship over time. Indefinitely.

To unpack the metaphor a little more…

A prospect wanders into our world.

They either like what they see, and get pulled further into the enchanted world, … or they don't like what they see and leave.

Either option is by design.

We're attracting specific kinds of people into our world, our kingdom — adventurers who care about going on the journey with us because they share our values, our beliefs, our ethos.

“People like us do things like this.” — Seth Godin

If they like what they see, they pitch their tent, make a fire, and settle in.

The “love affair” evolves, matures, develops.

At some point they decide to enter the castle gates. They're always welcome. When they do, they discover a deeper, richer world of mystery and wonder — somewhere they want to be part of, want to settle in to. So they rent a room at the village keep, and their level of attention and commitment to their new world increases.

Prospects become customers. And repeat customers. Some fall in love. They tell others, and attract new denizens into our world.

It's a thing of beauty.

The rate at which prospects become customers is different for everyone.

Sometimes is fast; what do you have, I'm “all in” bro.

Other times is takes longer. Sometimes a lot longer. But that's ok with us. We're in this for the long-term.

Perspective: Shawn

André wrote something that I want to explore in greater depth.

“You get to choose what matters to you.”

Some people want a big email list, hard-hitting, persuasive sales funnels powered by ‘big ideas', meat-grinder email sequences, and multi-million-dollar-a-month ad budgets with razor thin margins creating customers at scale.


But, somewhere along the way, that model became the default standard for everyone interested in marketing.

Not cool.

There's room for everyone at the marketers' table, and the starting point to determine where you want to sit is clarity about what matters to you. Not to the person next to you — what matters to you.

The easy answer is money. Million dollars a month bro … then I'll be happy. Maybe… or…

… maybe not.

I have seen behind the curtain of many businesses. Often I've found entrepreneurs who are exhausted from the unintended complexity of their creations, and are longing for something simpler and more soul-satisfying.

I've also met entrepreneurs generating a million dollars a month who don't seem very happy.

Strategic Coach founder Dan Sullivan argues that entrepreneurs aren't motivated primarily by money or status. Instead, they're motivated by a desire for four specific freedoms.

Freedom of time, to “spend your working life doing what you really enjoy doing”.

Freedom of money, where there's no upper limit to what you can earn when you're willing to create value.

Freedom of relationships, choosing who you spend time with personally and professionally.

And freedom of purpose, aligning your professional life with your fundamental values and ideals.

When you think about your own business — one that exists already or one you've been dreaming about — what decisions would you make to increase your freedom of time, money, relationships, and purpose?

When you begin to answer that question you'll be choosing what matters most to you, and your business will be a reflection of those decisions.

Sphere of Influence and AutoResponder Madness are tools for learning and implementing a counter-intuitive approach to marketing.

At first glance, it can seem more complex than typical direct response inspired sales funnels.

But, when you begin to internalize the ideas, an elegant simplicity is revealed. The foundation is leading with empathy and value, trusting that the right people will find their way to your door.

And, rather than tinkering with the parts, we remain focused on the performance of the whole.

That's what matters to AndrĂ© and me. Now it's your turn — what matters to you?

More tomorrow.

Actually: Perhaps it's worth unpacking why we believe relationship marketing has a superpower that the alternative doesn't.

By the way: if you have a question, or just want to share an insight you had after reading this, head to the comments section here.

— Shawn

Shawn Twing


Yesterday, while waiting for Shawn to write his contribution to this email, I decided to take a look at Amazon Polly. It's a service that converts text into lifelike speech using some AI magic.

Hot diggity dog, it's pretty cool.

As a test, I applied some AI text-to-voice wizardly to the previous two emails.

The voice is called Justin (male), but he sounds a little like a teenager who could be a surfer. I like it. Makes Shawn and I seem younger.