TTE: Where do I start? (Email 2)

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Note: This is an archive of an email from the April 1-7, 2020 launch series of The Traffic Engine (Early Adopter Edition).

Welcome back.

Based on the growing size of this interest-segment, this email may be your first. If that's the case, you'll wanna start with the first email.

Today I'm handing over to Shawn first, then I will share a mental model that underpins everything Shawn covered.

By the way: pay attention to the nuances of what Shawn unpacks in this email. There are two-decades of wisdom compressed into a few hundred words.

SHAWN: Wed, March 25, 2020

The question I hear most often is “where do I start”?

Well…that's not exactly true. The actual question is “should I start with Facebook or Google”? But that's the wrong question because it assumes you should start with paid traffic.

Let's move upstream and ask a better question.

Do you have a way to monetize attention?

For example, do you sell a product or service? Digital course? If not, then that's where you need to start.

Paid traffic, on its own, isn't a way to make money. It's part of a larger system for making money. Traffic + conversion (both are necessary).

Let's look at two examples — one simple and the other complicated.

Simple example: FB or Google ad to landing page with an offer. That offer could be anything — a service, a product, a course. Results are binary — buy / don't buy. Very easy to measure results and calculate important metrics.

For example, imagine you're a freelance copywriter who specializes in ecommerce emails, and you charge $600 for writing a three-part email sequence.

A Google search ad could target someone searching for some combination of copywriter, ecommerce, and email.

A FB ad might target interests related to digital marketing with messaging specific to hiring an ecommerce email copywriter.

Simple, and in my experience, very effective.

The only metric that would matter would be cost to acquire a customer.

Complicated example: FB ad to multi-page presell site (3-4 pages). There's an opt-in on the last page (nothing to buy)…

After opt-in, there's a seven-part email soap opera sequence that leads to an offer on day seven. (If this method interests you, I know someone who can help…)

For example, imagine you have a mid-priced digital course ($297 – $697), and you know there are 7-10 critical beliefs an ideal prospect needs to accept before s/he is ready to buy…

You stack the deck in your favor by building those beliefs first in the ad copy, then in the pre-sell site. The soap opera sequence emails use the power of story to build interest / desire, and pull your prospect along establishing those beliefs one by one.

Each of these examples is a conversion engine — a way to monetize attention. Paid traffic can be the fuel that drives each of these conversion engines, but it's useless on its own.

We don't pay for traffic for our egos — we pay for traffic to get customers.

If you don't have an offer, and you have an idea you'd like to bring to life, there is a third option — the co-created offer.

This is a great place to start if you have value to contribute to the world but need some direction. It's also a great way to validate an idea before committing too much time, energy, and dollars.

A co-created offer requires building an audience first, and sharing your ideas for an offer with that audience when it has reached an appropriate size…

Then, you share your idea with that audience, get feedback, and make the offer. If it works, you get paid in advance to create the content. If it doesn't, you can go back to the drawing board with a minimal investment of time, energy, and dollars to get that feedback.

Here's a real example I've considered for a co-created offer. (I may use this as a test-case in the implementation phase of The Traffic Engine.)

I spend a lot of time and energy learning about and experimenting with accelerated learning / high performance, and I've often thought about sharing my collection of high-value ideas.

I get tremendous joy teaching / coaching others (I am an adjunct college professor and assistant Taekwondo instructor).

However, I have no idea if there would be interest and I do not want to spend weeks / months creating a program without knowing if anyone wants it!

If I wanted to find out, I would think deeply about who would benefit most from this idea — get a crystal clear picture of that person in my mind — and then write content for him (or her)…

Probably one long page of content externalizing my ideas with an opt-in at the end…

Then I'd write a long FB ad — 650 to 1,000 words — and target an ideal audience. I would speak from the heart, following the outline I mentioned in day 5 of the paid traffic mini-course I created a few weeks ago.

As each person opted in, I would send a personal email with a few questions. I'd want to know how many people replied to my emails to gauge interest.

I'd study the replies.

I'd write emails for that audience every few days and ask for more feedback.

Then, when I reached some reasonable audience size — maybe 200 — 300 people — I'd make an offer (by email).

The actual content wouldn't exist yet (and I'd be 100% transparent about that). “Here's what I'd like to do, here's how much it'll cost, here's what you'll get.”

Then I'd know — really know — if my idea had legs.

If the offer sold, I would get paid to create a program (that could be improved and/or made evergreen in the future).

If it didn't, I would have spent the minimum time, energy, and dollars to know that. Either result would be valuable.

So, back to the initial question — where do you start?

If you sell a product, service, course, etc. and your audience can be found online, either through search (Google) or through demographic / psychographic targeting (Facebook, Google Display Network), then paid traffic is an excellent way to build your business.

If you don't yet have a product, service, or course, and you don't have any plans to create any of those options, I don't recommend paid traffic. (Yes, it's possible to sell affiliate offers, but I don't feel qualified to recommend that as an option.)

If you don't have an offer, but you do have value to share with the world and want to validate market demand for your vision, paid traffic can help you co-create an offer with an initial audience.

(You can use it to pre-validate ideas and messaging too which is one of the strategies I'm most excited to share in The Traffic Engine course.)

Tomorrow's email will explain the structure of The Traffic Engine course so you know what to expect and how I've designed it to maximize your learning experience. See you then.

There is a mental model — a mindset and behavior — that underpins everything Shawn spoke about above.

This mental model represents the 80/20 of business.

This is one of my favorite quotes:

“The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous, to know and understand the customers so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” — Peter Drucker

The success of your business is directly correlated with how well you understand the customer.

Put another way: think like a customer.

Here's the big insight: to think like a customer is the key skill you need in order to go get customers.

Paid traffic is all about “getting customers,” or rather, as Shawn said, “paid traffic can be the fuel that drives each of these conversion engines.”

But your ability to figure out:

  1. search queries to target (Google search),
  2. the intent driving those search queries (to use in your ad copy, your hook, your website lead-in, the story to tell, the framing of your offer, etc.)
  3. and through demographic / psychographic targeting (FB/GDN)…

… is all tied to your ability to (subjectively) see the world through the lens of your ideal customer (which requires empathy).

Thinking like a customer is the ultimate Archimedes lever:

Archimedes Lever

EVERYTHING becomes easier. Everything.

It's been my little “secret weapon” for many years, and I can directly attribute the success I have to this.

The name of the game in business is to meet customer needs.

It's the whole point of using paid traffic (buy attention), then convert that attention downstream (monetize attention).

… because you've identified needs worth solving (meaning, real customers at scale will pay to have this problem solved).

If you think paid traffic is just about brainstorming a list of 100 or 1000 keywords, then pointing your Google Ads cannon at a wall, you're going to see your ass.

The wild west of the Google Cash days (2005-2009) is long gone.

Courses today do a terrible job (in most cases, a non-existent job) of showing you how to think, then leveraging how to think to how to fish.

The Traffic Engine is all about this.

When you know how to think (an upstream solution), downstream problems disappear.

We're at 1,650 words, so I'm going to end here.

You'll want to reread this email a few times, then internalize the nuances of what's been said.

If you have questions, or if you wanna share an insight you had, head to the comments section here.

Talk tomorrow.

—André (and Shawn)


All series emails can be found here.