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Remove friction from your marketing

Why can Brian send one email from the Copyblogger email list and make 6 figures?

Is it list size? Yes, scale obviously comes into it, but  if someone else had Copyblogger’s list they wouldn’t necessarily get the same result.

So what is the crucial factor that makes the difference?

Is it Authority?

Yes, of course that’s a factor, but there is more to it.

More than seven years went into that one email.

Think about it:

  • Experience.
  • Knowledge.
  • Audience insight.
  • Reputation.

… and one more thing, probably the most important, and what I want to tell you about today …

Momentum

What is momentum when it comes to marketing?

  1. Goodwill – Goodwill is when your audience wants to hear from you, it’s when they grow to know, like and trust you. On the negative side, when you are constantly asking instead of giving, your goodwill goes down, and you lose your audience’s attention.
  2. Consistency – People want you to be predictably reliable. It’s a big part of your brand. You expect service providers that you enjoy to be pretty similar from year to year, there is a comfort in that. Think about if you are overseas in an unusual place, you might not be the biggest fan of multinationals like Starbucks and McDonalds, but you certainly know what you are going to get when you walk in. On a blog that means nice guys writing positive articles most of the time, even when they really want to go on a three day rant.
  3. Expectation – As well as having expectations in terms of consistency, your audience also expects good, valuable things from you. They know, even if they don’t have perfectly complete information, that they can trust what you deliver.

You can’t buy it, you have to work at it. Every day.

Buying momentum

Some things you can buy unseen

Sales Momentum

Are there things you will purchase as soon as you hear about them?

I do this all the time with movies, music, books …

I pre-order the next book of a series without knowing the plot, reviews, even the title sometimes. After a decade or more of reading the Wheel of Time series, was there any doubt I would buy the last book in the collection?

When I finish reading it I will be getting the next “Wool”/”Silo” book from Hugh Howey (if I could just subscribe, I would).

I can’t go to see Marillion live any longer, but I buy every album they record without hearing anything from it first.

This is momentum at work. Not just “buying momentum”, it’s the true fan. The person who has so much built up goodwill and faith in you, that they will buy everything you put out.

Obviously there is a lot of responsibility built in to that.  So often this is abused, or the goodwill is broken accidentally.

A lot of the risk is in the need for consistency. Artists want to keep moving, changing, adapting, and they want to keep the inspiration alive. Fans often want the artist to remain static, stick to what they fell in love with. It’s a tricky tightrope to walk.

Remove Friction

Encouraging momentum is also about removing friction.

  • Unnecessary hurdles – Are there any barriers in the way? One of the major frustrations with the Wheel of Time book I mentioned above is there is NO digital version. The publisher so wanted to get to the top of the best-sellers lists, they held back the ebook so that people had to buy the print version. I can’t get the next season of Game of Thrones on TV without buying an expensive movie package that I will never watch, just to get the HBO channel, just to get that one show. So instead I have to wait a year for the Blu Ray. While the internet is full of spoilers (I read the books, but there are still differences). I’m not the worlds biggest HBO fan at this point.
  • Confusion – Confused people don’t buy. Confused people are difficult to even get interested enough to listen. You need to stay on message and make that message crystal clear.
  • Suspicion – It happens to many big companies or well known individuals. People start suspecting ulterior or sinister motives. In IT the world was dominated by IBM, but then they were the bad guy, and plucky Microsoft took over, then Apple, then Google. Who next? The more visible you are, the more people will analyse your every move, … and see things in the shadows.
  • Doubt/Risk – As trust goes up, the perception of risk goes down, but this doesn’t mean you get a free ride. Sometimes the bar is raised unrealistically high because you did such a good job. Think the Star Wars prequels. In fact, in the middle of that Wheel of Time book series there was a fan revolt. People said the author had lost his way. The author was actually really ill, and had built an epic storyline that anyone would struggle with. Many fans refused to buy anything else because they were afraid the decline was never going to be turned around.
  • Boredom/Distraction – That consistency thing? Sometimes predictability is a bad situation to get into. Or people get distracted with other shiny stuff. Sometimes it happens just because you have your head down working that you don’t pay enough attention to your audience. People are defecting from the iPhone to Android partly just to get something cool and new.
  • Negative social proof – Bad reviews, bad word of mouth, seeing the fans defect to another provider … you have to plug the leaks early and often, and keep communicating so you are the first to know about bad rumblings.

Bottom Line

Success doesn’t come overnight. What looks like overnight success has had a lot of work behind the scenes. That said, when you start to see progress, get behind it, remove any obstacles, and keep your customers happy, then you will see that compounding “snow ball” effect you are looking for!

What do you think? Are there people who you will buy everything from? Are there companies you once bought from but are wary about trusting any longer? Let me know in the comments …

 

 

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Comments

  1. Chris–
    You make good points. At its heart it’s about building a two-way relationship with your prospects.

    Marketers should bear in mind that the elements you discuss often perform better with targeted products that are unique. For example, science fiction writers build a following that’s interested in reading the next phase in the series. That’s more difficult to do with toothpaste.

    Happy marketing,
    Heidi Cohen

    • Is it that different? I always go for the same brand of toothpaste, same razors, same soap, etc etc, but will try out the “new and improved”. We used to work with P&G on their fine fragrances and Hugo/Lacoste/etc customers would often buy multiple variations (in fact, they planned for that).

  2. Love this article. I think you’ve summed up what I’ve been thinking about my own career for quite some time. I’ve sabotaged my own efforts through inconsistency and sheer fear. A lot of times success is just a matter of getting out of our own way. And letting things happen.

  3. Love the post and the ideas behind it Chris. I see and experience the difficulty for my business in this “Artists want to keep moving, changing, adapting, and they want to keep the inspiration alive. Fans often want the artist to remain static, stick to what they fell in love with. It’s a tricky tightrope to walk.”

    • We have to try new things even if it means annoying some of your fans – the key is understanding if they have a point. What did they really become a fan of?

  4. Hashim Warren says:

    Buying friction isn’t the only problem. Usage friction is an issue too.

    I purchased Third Tribe from Brian Clark without reading the sales letter because I used his other products and got results. Compare that to the free ebooks I have on my hard drive that I’ve never read. The person who wrote that lead magnet doesn’t have momentum with me even though she reduced friction in the sale.

    • Good point, Hashim. Some things we devour and get benefit from, and other things we leave to rot. Teaching style has a lot to do with it, making things easy to consume rather than just a big blob of “stuff” :)

  5. Awesome post Chris. You nailed me on the consistency thing. That was one of my biggest downfalls in my online marketing career. It’s one thing to have people interested in what you have to offer, but it’s another thing to deliver. If you’re really serious about your business, you will take your subscribers seriously and give them what they need to solve their problems. As to purchasing from others that you bought from in the past, I may be a little guilty of that as well. Some guys are just awesome and make great products along with excellent customer service. If I get the feel from that person that they are genuine and really care for their customers, I’m pretty much a customer for life. I’ve done that with money management products (budgeting in particular) and some software that I utilize in my business. Great post by the way.

    • One of the reasons I think people rant and rave in social media is not because of bad companies, but companies we like and trust who suddenly do things that make us upset. Our expectations are super high and then we feel crushed. I’d never go online to complain about a company (mentioning no names) who I *expect* to be bad :)

  6. A while ago I subscribed to a service that I wasn’t sure would be right for me, I’m a little fish in the grand scheme of things.

    I paid my money and used the service for a while, it was a good service but just too big for my small needs. I used the service to the full for the time I’d paid my subscription for and got good results from it. I cancelled the service and moved on.

    The reason I chose this service was because of the good will and high expectations I had of the business providing the service. I’d bought several things from this business before. And then out of the blue I got a refund. I’m not sure why.

    The moral of the story is simple. When my business is big enough to make use of this service I know where my money will go, don’t you?

    Who ran the business in question? Brian Clark.

  7. Chris, I hate to sound like a suck-up, but your last two blog posts are exceptional. I’ve been blogging for many years, started following you what seems like 5-6 years ago, and these last two posts really struck a chord with me.

    Your viewpoint of blogging and marketing and making things happen online is a very sane one. Work hard, treat people right, exchange in abundance, and provide the best content and insights you can…and the magic that didn’t happen with the get-rich-quick schemes will certainly appear!

  8. Sorry I’m late to the party on this.
    Thank you for the distillation of so much of my thinking.
    I am in awe of your observations, and I can’t wait to see more.
    Cheers, K

  9. Hi Chris. Thanks for the post, thought provoking as usual. I think that there is a tension between the incredible amount of learning and technical knowledge a start up online business / one man band has to master balanced against producing unique quality content.

    Trust is definately the equity on which online bloggers prosper. Its time consuming to build up and easily diminished. But those that have managed it like yourself get long term rewards. If you can trust what someone is saying online you book mark them because it’s still hard to find.

  10. Chris, this is such an important point for all areas of life, business and relationships. And the great thing about it is that creating momentum isn’t a struggle. Small steps taken regularly and consistently with integrity and a focus on helping others is very powerful. Unfortunately we live in a society of “now now now” which means people get impatient when they don’t get results ovenight and just jump from thing to thing without realising they are losing traction every time. I wonder what would happen if people put building momentum at the forefront of their plans?

  11. Absolutely I will buy some peoples content almost every time they roll something out. It’s amazing how your article spoke to me. Some marketers get into my core while others annoy me and scratch the surface. Sometimes we are rushing to get something up on our blogs and not producing content that makes sense or is of value. Great article.

  12. An enjoyable read, Chris. Though I am a fan of people and products, I’m not a fanatic so I don’t buy all or most of what gets released.

    I like nice guys writing mostly positive articles, though I’ve never met a nice guy that didn’t have rough edges. Nice guys do tend to control themselves and avoid rants which is one of the things that make them nice.