"Effortless" by Danny Iny

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"Effortless" by Danny Iny by Mind Map: "Effortless" by Danny Iny

1. The Midas Trap

1.1. How could you possibly have rapid or exponential growth if it’s an uphill battle to secure every sale?

1.2. You can’t, plain and simple.

1.3. the advice to “give people what they want” is commonplace, but not particularly helpful unless you can also shed light on what it is that people in fact want.

1.4. The Effortless Business Growth Model

1.4.1. Three key levers

1.4.2. the more you pull on these levers, the easier growth becomes. Each lever is distinct and important in its own right, but they have a multiplicative, “greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts” sort of quality, such that when you pull all three of them at the same time, the results are dramatic. Or at least, that’s what I thought would happen. To borrow a phrase from Yogi Berra, in theory there’s no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.

1.4.3. We were still working hard, but it didn’t feel hard anymore. It felt effortless.

1.4.4. the first lever of the model, the Obvious Offer. We’ll explore what it means for people to love to buy, even as they hate being sold to, and you’ll learn what it takes to turn your offer into the obvious choice for your prospects.

1.4.5. The second lever of the model the Resonant Identity. We’ll explore the dynamic tension between its two component parts of Relatability and Aspiration, and the different ways in which you can convey both of them to your prospects.

1.4.6. the third lever of the model: the Intuitive Path. Here you’ll learn how to craft the marketing messaging that communicates the things your prospects most need to hear so as to eliminate the friction standing in the way of their next step with you.

2. CHAPTER 1 The Antidote To #Hustle

2.1. the most successful entrepreneurs I know see the process of building a business as a series of experiments in which you test to validate or disprove your hypotheses.

2.2. ROLLING A SNOWBALL DOWN A HILL IS EFFORTLESS. That’s not to say that it doesn’t take time, or that you won’t be tired and sweaty at the end of a day doing it. But the more you do, the more momentum builds, and the greater the payoff for your efforts. This is the energy of the success stories that we all crave and want to emulate.

2.3. three core dimensions of customer desire, and three corresponding levers of Effortless Business Growth:

2.3.1. there’s what customers want (and the Obvious Offer lever), there’s who they want it from (and the Resonant Identity lever), and there’s how they want to get it (and the Intuitive Path lever):

2.3.2. THE OBVIOUS OFFER (WHAT THEY WANT) The first dimension is the desire to get the product or service that you want—the features and benefits, components and configurations, and price and payment options. The more closely you align your offer with whatever it is they want to buy, the more obvious your offer becomes.

2.3.3. THE RESONANT IDENTITY (WHO THEY WANT IT FROM) The second dimension is the desire to buy from someone that they are eager and excited to do business with. This is about you, your brand, and the things that you stand for. The more you align identity with whatever it is that they care about and value, the more resonant your identity becomes.

2.3.4. THE INTUITIVE PATH (HOW THEY WANT TO GET IT) The third dimension is the desire to buy in the time, place, and manner of your choosing. This is about the process of marketing and sales, and the steps that it takes your prospects through. The more you align the path to purchase with the steps they already want to take, the more intuitive your path becomes.

2.4. this is an all-or-nothing sort of game. Because the combination of all three levers has a multiplicative effect, you really only reap the benefits when you get all three right:

2.5. The first mistake entrepreneurs make is selecting a customer avatar that is just way too broad.

2.6. entrepreneurs overcorrect, going from not enough detail to having way too much.

2.7. the best customer avatars sit in the Goldilocks middle between too little detail and too much. They contain just the key details that allow you to call a clear stereotype of your customer to mind, and nothing more. And while the word stereotype often has negative connotations, in this case it is exactly the right word: The whole point is to call to mind something that represents a category (type) that encompasses many people (stereo). And while any individual is richer and more nuanced than the caricature that stereotypes might reduce them to, in this case the caricature is exactly what we want.

2.8. So for a customer avatar to be useful, we have to keep it firmly in the realm of caricature, where the mental picture of your ideal customer is simple enough to give you a clear gut sense about what they will like and how they will behave.

2.9. To create this ideal customer caricature for your own business, start with the information that tells you the category of person that they fall into. In no particular order, here are the “big eight” demographic details that help you zoom in on a particular category of customer:

2.9.1. Gender (male/female/nonbinary/etc.)

2.9.2. Age (a narrow range like “early thirties” is okay, a broad range like 35–75 is not)

2.9.3. Family (married vs. single vs. widowed vs. divorced? kids, and if so, how many and how old?)

2.9.4. Geography (city vs. suburbs vs. rural? east vs. west? north vs. south?)

2.9.5. Income (do they work? what kind of job?)

2.9.6. Education (high school vs. undergrad vs. advanced degree? community college vs. Ivy League? arts vs. sciences?)

2.9.7. Politics (Democrat vs. Republican? and how strongly do they identify as such?)

2.9.8. Religion (faith and level of religiosity)

2.10. understand what makes them different from all the other characters like them.

2.10.1. For that, we need to answer some specific questions. I’ll share a list of questions that you can choose from, but the trick to doing this right is that you shouldn’t make up answers to these questions. Rather, look through the list (or make up questions if you want to), for the short list of questions where the answer is so obvious that it just jumps out to you. In other words, if you have to think about what the answer to a question might be, it’s not the right question for you to use; move on to the next one, until you have just five to ten with clear, obvious answers.

2.10.2. Here’s a list of questions to get you going: What books do they read? What’s their favorite author or book? What movies do they watch? What’s their favorite movie or who is their favorite actor? What music do they listen to? Do they have a favorite band? What kind of car do they drive? What kind of clothes do they wear? Where do they shop for clothes? What is their café of choice? What is their hot beverage of choice? Do they follow a particular diet (e.g., vegan, paleo, keto, etc.)? What is their cold beverage of choice? Do they fly business or economy? What’s their dream vacation? Vegas or Broadway? Europe or Tahiti? DC or Marvel? Morning person or night owl? Apple or Android? Yoga in the park or boot camp at the gym? Paper or Kindle? (Or audiobook?)

2.11. Multiple Stakeholders

2.11.1. if you have a choice in the matter, it’s best to start with a single customer avatar, create Effortless Business Growth in your business around that avatar, and then add another down the line, if and when it makes sense to do so.

2.11.2. when... Serving organizations (the end user and the payer may be different people, and they also need a sign-off from their VP of Whatever) Creating offers for children (since the child is the end user and the parent is the customer) Selling anything that costs much more than your customer can reasonably expect to spend on a weekly grocery run (that’s usually the threshold above which a significant other expects to be consulted before a purchase is made)

2.11.3. In these cases, you need all the stakeholders on board, or you won’t get any of them, so you have no choice but to create avatars for each, and do the difficult work of threading the needle with an Obvious Offer, Resonant Identity, and Intuitive Path that are aligned with all of them.

2.12. Chapter Review

2.12.1. There is merit to the #Hustle culture idea that if you want to achieve success, you have to put in the time and reps to get there. Hard work is important.

2.12.2. Hard and Sisyphean aren’t the same thing. There’s a big difference between the hard work of pushing a boulder up a hill and the hard work of rolling a snowball down one. That’s the distinction between futility and effortlessness.

2.12.3. Effortlessness is the result of alignment with your ideal customer on three dimensions of desire: the Obvious Offer, the Resonant Identity, and the Intuitive Path.

2.12.4. The Obvious Offer (What They Want) is about the features and benefits, components and configurations, and price and payment options. The more closely you align your offer with whatever it is that customers want to buy, the more obvious your offer becomes.

2.12.5. The Resonant Identity (Who They Want It From) is about you, your brand, and the things that you stand for. The more you align your identity with whatever it is that your customers care about and value, the more resonant your identity becomes.

2.12.6. The Intuitive Path (How They Want to Get It) is about the process of marketing and sales, and the steps that it takes your prospects through. The more you align the path to purchase with the steps they already want to take, the more intuitive your path becomes.

2.12.7. You need to be aligned with your ideal customer on all three dimensions of desire; two out of three will lead to easy but sporadic sales (Obvious Offer + Resonant Identity), lots of raving fans but no money (Resonant Identity + Intuitive Path), or a commoditized race to the bottom (Obvious Offer + Intuitive Path).

2.12.8. There is no objectively “good” offer, identity, or path—just offers, identities, and paths that are obvious, resonant, and intuitive to a specific ideal customer. That’s why identifying your ideal customer avatar is so important.

2.12.9. Customer avatars should have a Goldilocks amount of detail: enough to know who they are and what they will respond to, but not so much that you are overloaded in detail.

2.12.10. Identify your ideal customer avatar by starting with the “big eight” demographic details, and then filling in five to ten more things about them that are more specific to their character.

2.12.11. It’s best to start with a single ideal customer, as having more than one will double or triple the amount of work to do as you build your business, and create a lot of potential complications.

2.12.12. But if you’re dealing with multiple stakeholders, you don’t have a choice; you have to make sure your business is obvious, resonant, and intuitive to all of them.

2.12.13. Finally, remember that your ideal customer avatar is a bull’s-eye, not a straitjacket—meant to guide your decisions, not constrain you from working with people who are eager for your product or service.

3. CHAPTER 2 Design Your Obvious Offer

3.1. Low prices. Vast Selection. Fast delivery. This is Amazon’s formula for an Obvious Offer. Your formula will probably be different, but the logic behind it is the same: figure out exactly what it is that your customers want, and then do everything you can to avoid the six words that they don’t want to hear. “I’m Sorry, We Can’t Do That”

3.2. Buying, in its purest form, is about seeing something you want and claiming it as your own.

3.3. Being sold, on the other hand, is fundamentally an experience of being manipulated into compromise, and it only happens when you have misgivings about making a purchase.

3.4. But as long as there’s a gap between reality and fantasy, we can never grant our customer’s wish for the perfect offer. After all, that unstated wish list will often include things like “at no cost,” “taking no time,” “requiring no effort,” and “involving no risk”—things that no business can guarantee.

3.5. So what can we do about this inevitable gap between what they want and what we’ve got that forces them out of a posture of buying and us into a posture of selling?

3.5.1. Fundamentally, there are two choices: OPTION #1: GET BETTER AT SELLING You can still close deals, make sales, they need guidance in the form of strong marketing and sales to help them realize that your offer really is the best thing for them. So you invest your time and resources in improving your ads, marketing copy, and conversion process. OPTION #2: MAKE IT EASIER TO BUY Instead of convincing people to go for something that isn’t quite what they want, you focus on improving your offer, and making it ever closer to the ideal of what people are eager to buy. This takes a longer-term vision and a willingness to work harder today so that things can be easier tomorrow. This is the path of the Obvious Offer.

3.5.2. Now, obviously, this isn’t really an either-or sort of decision; since no offer will ever be perfect and your prospects will never arrive with complete knowledge of the benefits you offer and the advantages you provide over the competition, there will always be an important role for both sales and marketing as part of the organization. And, particularly in the short term, it’s a lot easier to sell better (which usually comes down to better words about your offer) than it is to improve what you’re actually selling (which can involve substantial research and development investment).

3.5.3. before you can design a more obvious offer, you first need to get really clear on what your ideal customer actually wants—and figuring that out can be harder than you might expect!

3.6. Why You Can’t Just Ask (Explicit vs. Implicit Desires)

3.6.1. when they ask what I want, what they really want to know is what I want of the options that are available.

3.6.2. This is why figuring out what your customers want isn’t as simple as just asking them. Each of our wish lists has two columns on it: Column A is the stuff that we feel justified and reasonable in asking for, and column B is the stuff that we would never ask for out loud, and might not even consciously admit to ourselves. But even if we don’t say it, and even if we don’t realize it, it’s still there—and to create a truly Obvious Offer, we must address both sides of that list.

3.6.3. So yes, by all means, start by asking your prospects what they want, and your customers what made them want to buy—that will help you populate the explicit list of things that they’re looking for. That’s where any marketing consultant worth their salt will tell you to start, and for good reason: It’s where the low-hanging fruit of opportunity will be found. But while asking your customers can be a good start, it won’t get you all the insight you need to design a truly Obvious Offer. For that, we need to loosen our mental constraints on what we imagine might be possible. To help you do that, I’ll share three thought exercises: (1) Three Wishes for Your Ideal Customer, (2) The Perfect-World Guarantee, and (3) 10 Times More Obvious.

3.6.4. THREE WISHES FOR YOUR IDEAL CUSTOMER imagine what answers your prospects would give about the problem your offer is meant to solve or the delight that it is meant to create. Don’t edit the list. Just make it as long and rich as you can. Don’t worry about how impactful it would or wouldn’t be yet, and don’t worry about feasibility—in fact, the more outrageous the wishes, the better. You can brainstorm these ideas by answering questions like what... ...have your customers been asking for that you never thought you could deliver? ...do your customers love that you could double down on? ...are your competitors’ practices that you could adopt? ...could you do to create more delight and better results? ...are the reasons you lose customers, and what could you do differently? ...are the annoyances that your customers experience that you could eliminate? ...would you do for your customers if time and money were no object? The key to this exercise is to escape the constraints of “we can’t do that,” “that would never fly,” and “that’s not how it works”—there’s a place for that sorting and analysis, but first we need to put on our “what-if hats” and engage in some blue-sky thinking. So block off some time, get your best people together, and have some fun brainstorming what your company would look like if you had a genie on your R & D team.

3.6.5. THE PERFECT-WORLD GUARANTEE it is only in rare cases that what we buy is actually the thing that we want; more often, we’re buying whatever we perceive to be the means that will accomplish our ends—like Harvard Business School professor Theodore Levitt’s famous line that “people don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want to buy a quarter-inch hole!” For entrepreneurs and marketers, however, it can be easy to lose sight of our customer’s ultimate goal (the quarter-inch hole) and focus on the thing that is core to our expertise, and within our ability to provide (the quarter-inch drill). what is the outcome that they ultimately want?” Then take the insight that comes from the answer to that question, and add another layer to it: Ask yourself, What would it take for you to actually guarantee that outcome? I’m a big fan of powerful and creative guarantees of outcomes, but not for the reasons that most marketers think. Marketers tend to see guarantees as tools of “risk reversal” that take away the risk of spending time and money on something that doesn’t work I value guarantees as tools of organizational alignment; they make it crystal clear to everyone on your team what you’re on the hook to deliver. just as a thought exercise, ask yourself: If I were trying to guarantee the customer’s ultimate outcome, what would I have to do in order to reliably make that happen? Whether you ultimately make that guarantee a part of your offer or not, this thought exercise is a good way of unearthing the wish list of things that could be evolved about your offer to make it more obvious.

3.6.6. 11-STAR EXPERIENCES, 10X MORE OBVIOUS In response to the question of “How can I double (2x) my results?” we instinctively reach for incremental solutions: working harder, being more efficient, and getting more yield out of the approaches that we’re already pursuing. But when asked to find ways to 10x our results, we sense that what we’re doing probably won’t produce such a disproportionate outcome, so we start with a mental blank slate, and explore how we might create a ten-times-better result.

3.7. Using this and the previous two exercises to create that wish list, you are now ready to take off the hat of creative visionary, and put on the hat of analyst and strategist who actually decides what to do first, second, and third as you evolve toward a more obvious offer.

3.8. Evolving Toward a More Obvious Offer

3.8.1. questions like: Where would we get the best bang for our buck? What are the things that we couldn’t live without? What are the things that would cost a lot more to do later vs. now?

3.8.2. map them out on a cost vs. impact grid. You can go so far as to write the ideas out on Post-it notes, and put them up on a poster board to make a matrix,

3.8.3. HIGH IMPACT / LOW COST = LOW HANGING FRUIT. This is the territory of gold mines that you didn’t realize were right under your nose: the opportunity to quickly and easily make your offer substantially more obvious to the customer. It’s rare to have a lot of opportunities in this quadrant, but if the opportunities are there, you should move quickly to seize them—especially because if you don’t, it’s only a matter of time before your competitors will.

3.8.4. LOW IMPACT / LOW COST = INCREMENTAL IMPROVEMENT. This is the stuff that’s easy to do, but won’t move the needle all that much. There are usually a lot of these ideas lying around, and it’s easy for them to languish on the sidelines. You should dedicate a small amount of time and energy to making these changes on an ongoing basis, because the effects are cumulative—a compounding 1% improvement adds up over time, and not making these changes can add up to death by a thousand paper cuts.

3.8.5. HIGH IMPACT / HIGH COST = RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT. This quadrant is where most businesses drop the ball—the things that will take a lot of time and effort, but if you get them right it will be a big advantage in your favor. These aren’t the opportunities to get you out of a jam (because they take too much time and money to act on), but they’re the things that create sustained, long-term advantages for your business. You would be wise to allocate to the function of research and development as much time and energy as you can sustainably afford without a short-term return.

3.8.6. LOW IMPACT / HIGH COST = BAD IDEAS. This is the slush pile, the brain farts that emerge as by-products of otherwise fruitful brainstorming. Leave these ideas on your “not-to-do” list, but first examine the ideas closely to make sure you aren’t conflating the flat-out low impact of a bad idea with the short-term low impact of a potential R & D winner.

3.8.7. So there you have it: your prioritization plan for which opportunities to pursue first, second, and third in pursuit of a more obvious offer. But, as you can see, this isn’t something that you do once, quickly, and mark as done. It’s a process of continuous improvement that requires dedication and patience. The goal isn’t to make your offer a million times better overnight, but rather to make it so that every week or month your offer gets just a little bit more obvious.

3.9. So as we make our efforts to plan, prioritize, and execute the enhancements intended to make our offer that much more obvious with every step, we must also take the time to test and measure whether our efforts are having the desired effect. Your first attempt at any improvement should be designed to validate your core assumptions as quickly and inexpensively as possible—quickly, so that you can pivot and iterate rapidly as the situation calls for, and inexpensively, so as to minimize the risk to the entrepreneur. It’s Silicon Valley author and thinker Eric Ries’s Lean Startup cycle of build, measure, learn, and repeat; the more quickly and frequently you can work through this cycle, the more your offer will reliably become more obvious.

3.10. While it’s certainly a good ideal to aim for, your near-term goal isn’t to create the most obvious offer that the world has ever seen. Rather, goal number one is to make your offer more obvious than the alternatives your prospects are weighing. Then, when you clear that hurdle, goal number two is to widen the gap, making your offer so much more of a no-brainer that it will be even harder for competitors to catch up with you. The further you widen that gap, the more obvious your offer will be, and the more effortless growing will become.

3.11. Chapter Review

3.11.1. Much of Amazon’s success can be traced back to an obsessive focus on the things that will never change, and that people will always want: low prices, vast selection, and fast delivery. This is Amazon’s formula for an Obvious Offer.

3.11.2. Sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer is known for saying that people hate to be sold, but love to buy. The difference is that buying is claiming exactly what you want, whereas being sold to is being told that you can’t have what you want, and should get something else instead.

3.11.3. Having a perfectly Obvious Offer means never having to say “I’m sorry, we can’t do that.” This reduces the need to get better at selling by making it easier for people to buy.

3.11.4. It takes time to create an Obvious Offer, because the first few attempts to move in that direction won’t be all that impressive. For example, Amazon’s commitment to fast delivery in the early days still took a pretty long time.

3.11.5. Every customer has two columns on their wish list: column A is the stuff that we feel justified and reasonable in asking for, and column B is the stuff that we would never ask for out loud, and might not even consciously admit to ourselves that we want.

3.11.6. A fun thought exercise to get to the deep desires on your customer’s wish list is to ask them, in the context of the problem you solve, what wishes they would ask a magical genie to grant.

3.11.7. Another exercise is to explore what outcomes your customer would want guaranteed if you could wave a magic wand and make anything happen.

3.11.8. Once you have your list, you must prioritize which improvements to make first, second, and third. You can do this by plotting all the options on a matrix of cost vs. impact. Start with the low-hanging fruit (high impact / low cost), spend some time regularly working on incremental improvements (low impact / low cost), and put long-term resources into research and development (high impact / high cost).

3.11.9. Remember that everything you build will be based on an assumption that people will like it, but the assumption won’t always be true. So run small tests to make sure you’re right, using the Lean Startup methodology of build, measure, learn, and repeat.

3.11.10. Your short-term goal doesn’t need to be creating the most obvious offer that the world has ever seen; it’s enough to be just a bit more obvious than your competition, and then slowly improve from there.

4. CHAPTER 3 Cultivate Your Resonant Identity

4.1. Your preference can’t be reduced to a pros-and-cons list, and you may not even be able to articulate your rationale for caring one way or the other. But you do care, on an instinctive and gut level—one choice just “feels right.” That feeling comes down to a lot of things that have the rare distinction in the marketing world of literally going without saying.

4.2. Brands are a mental shortcut that we use when we don’t have the time, inclination, or expertise to look under the proverbial hood. A strong brand can inform us about who a company services, what their product is likely to do, and even how much we should pay for it,

4.3. So does the content of this chapter apply to businesses that aren’t centered around a personality? Yes, absolutely. Are there good examples of Resonant Identities that are companies rather than people? Yes, there are many (Harley Davidson, Dollar Shave Club, Poo~Pourri, etc.), though to be fair, there’s usually some component of a celebrity leader personality associated with the brand (Apple and Steve Jobs, Tesla and Elon Musk, Starbucks and Howard Schultz, Patagonia and Yvon Chouinard, Whole Foods Market and John Mackey, SPANX and Sara Blakely, etc.).

4.4. But while all that is true, much of the chapter will center on personality brands, as those examples will be both the clearest and the most relevant to the majority of my readers.

4.5. What Makes a Hero? (Ingredients of Charismatic Leadership)

4.5.1. Our resonance with Superman’s identity is the product of two factors: RELATABILITY. Despite the fact that Superman is literally from another world, there is much of him in the experience of most people, and particularly the sort of person who has historically gravitated to superhero comics. Superman’s alter ego Clark Kent is mild-mannered, nerdy, and nondescript—as invisible as many comic book fans often feel. Despite being the most powerful man in the world, the woman he loves doesn’t even know who he is. Relatability is what makes us feel connected to a person, character, or brand (“you’re just like me”), but alone it doesn’t make for a Resonant Identity. For that, we need another ingredient... ASPIRATION. Superman is in many ways “just like us,” but of course he is also “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and can leap tall buildings in a single bound.” He is also good and wise; while the rest of us may occasionally succumb to temptation and veer from the straight and narrow, he never wavers. As much as we can relate to the person that Superman is, he also embodies the traits that we aspire to possess. There’s a dynamic tension between relatability and aspiration in that drifting too far toward one will compromise the other; if you’re too much like me then there’s not much left to aspire to, and if you’re too aspirational of an example there won’t be enough for me to relate to. Right in the middle is the beautiful equilibrium of “you’re just like me AND you’re who I want to be when I grow up”—and therein lies a truly Resonant Identity.

4.5.2. Marketing and business growth become so much more effortless when your audience is presold on the idea that you’re “their kind of person,” which is a function of these two ingredients (relatability and aspiration). So now let’s explore what it takes to create that Resonant Identity for your business.


4.6.1. “uncommon commonalities.” These are the things that you and your target customer have in common, but don’t share with the rest of the world—and that’s what makes them special. These commonalities can be about your values, interests, challenges, or quirks:

4.6.2. CORE VALUES. One of the most important points of connection between a person and a brand are the values that they both share. What do they believe in and care about that you do as well? What are the tenets of behavior that you would never waver from, no matter what? I’m not talking about the posters of platitudes hanging on many office walls, but rather a set of values that are carefully defined, meaningfully understood, and always top of mind for every person in your organization. Identifying and living those values for your organization is beyond the scope of this book (and if you want to learn more about how to do it, a great resource is Patrick Lencioni’s book The Advantage), but if you have them, they’re a great point of meaningful connection with your customers.

4.6.3. INTERESTS AND PASSIONS. No matter how passionate you are about your work, there’s more to you than what you do for a living. The same is true for your customers, and in those other dimensions of your identity and theirs may be an opportunity to find common ground. Maybe you’re both passionate about exercise, or art, or sustainable living. Maybe you’re both parents of high school–aged children. Maybe you share a fascination with travel. There’s a reason why it’s an old trope that when a salesperson walks into an office they look at the photos on the desk for an anchor of commonality: “Is that your son? My son is about the same age as yours, so we have that in common!”

4.6.4. STRUGGLES AND CHALLENGES. Not all commonalities are pleasant, and often the ones we wish we didn’t share are the most resonant. If there is a struggle or challenge that you and your ideal customer both have experience with, it can be a powerful point of connection. Just be careful not to undermine the aspirational part of the Resonant Identity; for example, if you’re a business expert, then it’s okay to share business setbacks, as long as they happened in the past!

4.6.5. QUIRKS AND IDIOSYNCRASIES Consider this a catchall bucket for anything that you share with your ideal customer that hasn’t already been covered. Maybe you’re an introvert, or a fan of a particular sport or team, or spent time in the military—anything that you and your ideal customer have in common with each other (but not with most other people) is a potential point of connection. Your time and energy would be well spent making a list of the core values, interests and passions, struggles and challenges, and quirks and idiosyncrasies that you and your ideal customers share. They are all potential points of connection, and key ingredients to establishing that quality of relatability that is an important part of your Resonant Identity.

4.6.6. Relatability is important, but it isn’t enough. If all you’ve got is relatability, then you’d make a great friend, but not necessarily a great leader. The second piece of the Resonant Identity equation is aspiration: In addition to being like them, you also represent something that they aspire to, and want to eventually become. Usually tying into the transformation promised by your Obvious Offer, these points of aspiration can be along the lines of what you have created (outcomes and experience), what you can do (competencies and capabilities), or the way you behave in the world (core values):


4.7.1. OUTCOMES AND EXPERIENCE (WHAT YOU HAVE CREATED) As we explored in the previous chapter, nobody buys anything unless there’s something that they want but don’t have, or something that they have but don’t want. In other words, they aspire to an “after picture” that is different from the way things look for them right now. If you can credibly offer that “after picture,” then you should have many examples to showcase of what that picture looks like—maybe your own life and story, and hopefully the case studies of your clients. So paint and showcase that extended picture for your ideal customers; in what ways do you and your past clients have the outcomes and experiences that your prospects aspire to?

4.7.2. COMPETENCIES AND CAPABILITIES (WHAT YOU CAN DO) Whereas some transformations come strictly in the “done for you” variety, in many cases the way we’ll get the outcomes that we want is by gaining the ability to do it ourselves. You and your brand should be the archetype of capability that your customers are looking to acquire for themselves (“when we’re done, you’ll be able to do this as well as I can”). So what are the skills and abilities that you have and can showcase that are aspirational to your ideal customers?

4.7.3. CORE VALUES (HOW YOU BEHAVE) We circle back to core values, because they are both core to who we are and what we resonate with, and they continue to be aspirational. Unlike Superman, we all falter from time to time, and look to examples of how we will show up in the world when we are better, stronger, and wiser.

4.8. You’ve already made a list of the points of relatability on which you can connect with your ideal customer. Now create a second list that includes the outcomes that you’ve created, the things you can do, and the ways in which you behave that are aspirational to your ideal customers. These two lists are the ingredients of your Resonant Identity.

4.9. we have great skill for quickly assessing whether a stranger is someone with whom we’d enjoy socializing, and who can be trusted: in other words, whether they’re “our kind of person.” And what are we looking for? You guessed it: the two traits of relatability (“you’re just like me”) and aspiration (“you’re who I want to be when I grow up”). This instinctive barometer of resonance is both a blessing and a curse to marketers and entrepreneurs, because it means that your ideal customers will be exquisitely attuned to indications of resonance, as well as indications that there’s a gap between what you believe and what you say.

4.10. The upshot here is that these two traits aren’t things that you can fake, which is why a Resonant Identity can be cultivated, but not crafted. The points of relatability and points of aspiration have to be true to who you really are and what you really care about—if they’re simply affectations, I guarantee that not only will this not work for you, but also that it will backfire. So dig for the things that are true about yourself, and make sure you are living your values; only then will you be ready for them to permeate the image that you project and the way in which you communicate with the world.

4.11. Clearly identifying the points of authentic relatability and aspiration that make up your Resonant Identity is only half the battle. The rest comes in actually communicating those things to your ideal customer. The good news is that, as we explored earlier, people are exquisitely attuned to pick up on clues that you’re “their kind of person,” or that you aren’t. So start intentionally laying out those clues, through your voice (how you talk), message (what you say), and actions (what you do):


4.12.1. Do you sound like a vanilla corporate entity, or like a real person? If it’s the latter, then your voice by definition will have distinctive qualities—such as the cadence and pitch of your speech (think Barack Obama’s slow rhythm and long pauses), your use or avoidance of profanity (for example, Gary Vaynerchuk or Mark Manson), words that connote special meaning when you say them (like Lady Gaga referring to her fans as “Little Monsters”), and even the mood and tone in which you speak (everything that comes out of Southwest Airlines sounds like it is said with a smile). These are all clues that people will latch onto as they look for resonance.


4.13.1. The positions that you take, the considerations to which you give weight, and the stories that you tell all speak volumes about who you are and what you care about. Most businesses have stories, anecdotes, and ways of being that they instinctively know will land well with their ideal customers. Those are often the things that they are reluctant to share, out of fear that people who aren’t their ideal customer might hear because they won’t like it in the same way. Consider how politicians sound different when speaking to their base vs. to the the mainstream media, but the difference is that you don’t need to win a popular vote; you just need to win the hearts and minds of your ideal customers.


4.14.1. It’s true that in many cases, actions speak louder than words. Even more important than what you say is what you actually do: what policies you enact, stands you take, causes you support, and limbs you choose to go out on. Putting your time, energy, and money where your mouth is makes an enormous difference in a world in which talk has become very cheap, and lip service to the cause of the day is part of the boilerplate of many marketers. Actions matter, and must be chosen with care and intentionality, to reflect the values that you truly hold dear.

4.15. Consider these three categories of voice, message, and actions for any brand whose identity is deeply resonant for their audience, and you’ll find one thing in common: courage. They all know that letting their freak flag fly won’t necessarily be well received by everyone that they meet, and that resonating with their ideal customer means not resonating with others. Resonant Identities are usually polarizing; for any truly Resonant Identity, in addition to their loyal audience there is probably also a large contingent of people who don’t like them. That’s par for the course, and something you have to be willing to accept as you pursue this path—not actively offending people (although some might go that far), but definitely being okay with some people not jiving with you and your message. The choice to cultivate a Resonant Identity is the decision that a strong and deep connection with the right people is better than a tepid comfort with everybody.

4.16. Chapter Review

4.16.1. Every day we decide between seemingly identical companies, and our choice often comes down to a simple gut feeling that one or the other option just “feels right.” That feeling comes down to brand: the things that we “know” without them having to be said.

4.16.2. There are two ingredients that make up a Resonant Identity: relatability (“you’re just like me”) and aspiration (“you’re who I want to be when I grow up”).

4.16.3. All charismatic leaders and brands successfully walk the tightrope held in balance by these two traits of relatability and aspiration.

4.16.4. Relatability is about the things that you share with your ideal customer, but not with most of the rest of the world. These uncommon commonalities can be about your values, interests, challenges, or quirks.

4.16.5. Aspiration is about the things that your ideal customer wants to achieve that you already have, in terms of outcomes and experience (what you have created), competencies and capabilities (what you can do), and core values (how you behave).

4.16.6. A Resonant Identity can’t be faked; it has to be authentically real; otherwise, people will quickly see through the charade.

4.16.7. The points of relatability and aspiration that make up your Resonant Identity can be communicated through voice (how you talk), message (what you say), and actions (what you do).

4.16.8. Remember that Resonant Identities are usually polarizing; in addition to their loyal audience, there is probably also a large contingent of people who don’t like them.

5. CHAPTER 4 Lay Out Your Intuitive Path

5.1. The Path from Stranger to Sale

5.1.1. If you’ve designed an Obvious Offer and cultivated a Resonant Identity, both of which are in alignment with your ideal customer, then you can trust that people want to buy what you’re selling, and you’re the person that they want to buy it from. That said, before getting to a place where they’re ready to invest a substantial amount of time, money, and energy in anything, there are things that your future customer needs to know, understand, and believe: about the broader opportunity in which you operate, about themselves, and of course about you and your offer.

5.1.2. ABOUT THE OPPORTUNITY Before anything else, people need to believe that the problem they’re looking to solve is actually solvable. This may seem obvious, but unless people are actively looking for a solution, it can’t be taken as given. We sometimes have persistent problems that have dropped from the top of our priorities (a problem has been downgraded from acute to chronic). In that scenario, some part of us has given up on the idea of the problem actually being solvable, and we’ve externalized responsibility as to why that is the case; in all cases, we find a rationalization for why it’s not our fault and there’s nothing we can do about it. That being the case, before your future customer can even entertain the idea of buying a solution to their problem, they need to be open to the possibility of the problem being solvable. This takes a shift in worldview, and it is the first thing that you as entrepreneur need to impart.

5.1.3. ABOUT THEMSELVES Disbelief comes in waves. The first is about the problem: “No, it can’t be solved; this is just how it is.” Once you dispel that, there’s a new defense to overcome: “Okay, yes, I see how this can work for some people (out there, in the world)... but that doesn’t mean it will work for me. Because I’m different. I’m special.” This is where you need to show that not only is the problem solvable for people in general, but also specifically for people just like the ideal customer you’re trying to attract: someone in their situation, with their same circumstances, challenges, and peculiarities. It’s only after you show them definitively that a solution is eminently available to people just like them that they are ready to learn about you and your offer.

5.1.4. ABOUT YOU AND YOUR OFFER Once your prospect is ready to learn about the specific thing that you’re offering, there’s a lot that they want to know: What does it include? How does it work? How long does it last? What outcomes will it produce? What does it cost? What results do you guarantee? These are just a few of the many, many questions that they’ll ask. But behind all these questions, there are three broad categories of things that really need to understand: relevancy (“why this?”), credibility (“why you?”), and urgency (“why now?”): RELEVANCY, I.E. “WHY THIS?" How does your offer address the opportunity that they face and the need that they experience? Why is it the best option for getting what they want? Much of this ties back to your Obvious Offer, and needs to be communicated to the ideal prospect before they can become your ideal customer. CREDIBILITY, I.E. “WHY YOU?" What makes you the most trustworthy vendor to buy from? What about your credentials, case studies, and guarantee structures will make them feel most comfortable? This is the Resonant Identity – why will they want to learn from you? It’s not enough for you to have the answer; they need to know it too. URGENCY, I.E. “WHY NOW?" Why do they need to do this now, rather than at some point in the future? What is the reason for acting now, today, before other priorities obscure their view? Along with the rest of the obviousness of your offer and the resonance of your identity, you also need to communicate why now is the time to act.


5.2.1. Literally translated from French as “putting in place” or “everything in its place”, the mise-en-place is the collection of small bowls and containers filled with pre-chopped vegetables, pre-grated cheese, and other prepared ingredients. Professional chefs have a mise-en-place ready before they ever begin to cook so that they can focus their energies on the combinations of those ingredients and the timing of the steps of preparation that unlock the most interesting flavors. Skilled marketers do the same thing before sitting down to craft a compelling message (or lay out an Intuitive Path). For them, in addition to knowing their ideal customer, there are four key elements that make up their marketing mise-en-place. Namely, they are the transformation, the motivation, the mechanism, and the proof:


5.3.1. There’s an “after picture” that is different from the “before picture” that they’re living right now, which means that there’s a transformation that takes them from “before” to “after.” This may include very tangible and external transformations (what they have, what they do), and may also include very intangible and internal transformations (what they feel, what they are). Understanding that transformation is the first ingredient in the marketing mise-en-place.


5.4.1. We’re looking to go as deep as we can here, to what professionals call psychosocial motivations. These come down to the different roles that we play in our lives, and a shortcut for getting at them is to fill in the blanks of this sentence: As [ROLE], I should [OUTCOME]

5.4.2. The power of this fill-in-the-blanks exercise is that it gets at the deep ways in which your ideal customer feels that they aren’t living up to who they are supposed to be. Consider these examples: As a parent, I should be able to keep my children safe. As a professional, I should be able to handle this sort of situation. As an educated member of society, I should be able to figure this out.


5.5.1. At the first stage, when a category of offer is brand-new, all you need is to state the benefit. But the success of any product will attract the attention of other opportunistic entrepreneurs. The entry of other players into the market brings us to

5.5.2. the second stage, where benefits will be compared against each other by consumers. This requires quantification

5.5.3. Eventually we get to the third stage, which is where most markets continue to operate: There are lots of available options for consumers to choose from, and most consumers have already tried a solution (or several!) that hasn’t worked. This means that consumers are skeptical that anything will work for them, and need to be given a reason to believe that your solution will work when others haven’t. That reason is the mechanism that drives your offer: the “proprietary” or “patented” ingredient or the unique “system” or “formula” that only you possess.


5.6.1. whenever you make a claim, customers will instinctively wonder why they should believe you. The answer is proof; the more proof you can offer that your claims are true and you can deliver on them, the better.

5.6.2. Proof can come in many forms, including: A compelling explanation A mechanism Endorsements from experts Case studies of customers A demonstration A creative guarantee

5.6.3. The more proof elements that you have available to layer into your offer, the better. And once you have your proof ready, along with your transformation, motivation, and mechanism, you’ll be ready to mix them together into a story that connects the dots for your ideal customer, with what I call a Demand Narrative.


5.7.1. What matters is that they feel deeply enough to want to do something about it. You will create that feeling by constructing a Demand Narrative: the story that your audience will hear and experience that will bring them to the point of being ready to buy.

5.7.2. It is the message that will take them from not knowing anything about your offer to having a burning desire for it. There are five steps to this process:

5.7.3. DESCRIBE THEIR SYMPTOMS OR DESIRES (“THIS IS WHAT IT FEELS LIKE”). For any story to be compelling, the first step is to show relevance by meeting the audience where they are and speaking to the things that they care about. In practical terms, this means clearly and viscerally articulating either the symptoms of the pain they are currently experiencing, or the image in their head of the desired outcome that they want to move toward. There’s no need for a deep root cause analysis of why they don’t yet have the outcomes they want; that all comes later. The first step is to validate for the audience that they’re in the right place and listening to the right person.

5.7.4. ARTICULATE THEIR SELF-DIAGNOSIS (“IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT, BECAUSE...”). After validating that they’re listening to the right person about the right topic, the second step is to articulate their self-diagnosis of what’s causing the problem, which will almost always include an externalization of responsibility (a.k.a. a reason why it’s not their fault). Many of the coaches, consultants, speakers, authors, and experts that I work with find this step to be difficult and unintuitive, for the simple reason that the self-diagnosis is likely to be wrong (otherwise, they wouldn’t need your help). As an expert, you know exactly what the problem really is, but you can’t launch into that explanation yet. In order to earn the right and credibility to share what’s really going on, you have to first show that you understand the world as they see it. This is done by articulating (and when possible validating) their understanding about what is standing in their way.

5.7.5. SHARE THE DEEPER INSIGHT (“YOU THINK IT’S X, BUT REALLY IT’S Y”). Once you’ve shown that you understand what they’re thinking and feeling, they’ll be ready to hear what they’re missing. This works only if you’ve laid the groundwork of the previous steps, but if you have, it is powerful. To paraphrase marketing legend Jay Abraham, if you can articulate the problem better than they can, they’ll trust that you have a solution. This is where you share your deeper understanding of what’s really causing their problem, which opens the door to a solution.

5.7.6. EXPLAIN THE SOLUTION (“HERE’S HOW TO DO IT”). Having explained what really causes the problem, you can speak to the solution that can solve it. This will often tie in with the unique mechanism that we mentioned in the previous section.

5.7.7. PROPOSE THE NEXT ACTION (“HERE’S YOUR NEXT STEP”). Finally, you’re ready to invite them to whatever next step makes sense on the Intuitive Path that you’re laying out.

5.7.8. The Demand Narrative is a powerful structure for bridging the gap from what you know your audience needs to what they truly desire. But desire isn’t enough – for prospects to become customers, desire must translate to action.

5.8. Where funnels often go wrong is that they copy this architecture of opportunities to make ever-deeper investments of time, energy, and attention (ad, then email capture, then video, etc.), but they forget to close the loop on each part of the cycle by overdelivering on the promises that were made. This defeats the purpose of this entire structure, or any other configuration that makes a path feel intuitive: At each stage the invitation should be small and easy to say “yes” to, because it is exactly the next step that they already want to take.


5.9.1. while it’s true that fundamentally every buyer is a person, there are differences in process and experience when you’re selling to an organization with complex approval processes, multiple stakeholders to get on board, and specific budgetary criteria that need to be met.

5.9.2. But that’s not to say that it can’t be done, or even that it is particularly difficult. But it is different; what is intuitive in one context is completely unintuitive in another, which means that if you try to apply the same processes as you would in a business-to-consumer environment, it isn’t likely to work very well. The key to navigating these differences is to understand the distinction between a buying modality and a buying process.

5.9.3. Buying modalities are primarily about the medium that moves someone from contemplation to action—for example, reading a sales letter, watching a sales presentation, or talking to a salesperson. The reason why online marketing can be so effective is that it is fairly easy to substitute one medium with another; for example, the printed sales letter can become a web page, the sales presentation can become a webinar or video, and the salesperson can work just as effectively over the phone or video conference, and can even be augmented by artificial intelligence through tools like Facebook Messenger bots.

5.9.4. Buying processes, on the other hand, are about the steps and stakeholders involved in reaching a sale—for example, the line manager, HR director, and VP of finance might all need to sign off on a sale, and it might have to go through two rounds of budgetary approval. Whereas there is a great deal of room to experiment with different buying modalities, the process itself is a lot harder to change, and attempts to circumvent the stakeholders and cycles are likely to end in failure. (Imagine telling a line manager that they don’t need their bosses to be on board and that they have to skip the approval cycles, because the doors are closing tomorrow; that isn’t likely to be effective!) So if you’re selling into a corporate environment (or any environment with a complex buying process), don’t let the allure of automated internet marketing seduce you away from serving the people who need to be on board as they take the steps that they have to traverse. Remember that what we’re ultimately solving for is an Intuitive Path, and a path can only be intuitive in the eyes of the ideal customers that you are looking to serve.

5.10. Chapter Review

5.10.1. Before getting to a place where they’re ready to invest a substantial amount of time, money, and energy in anything, there are things that your future customer needs to know, understand, and believe—about the broader opportunity in which you operate, about themselves, and of course about you and your offer. About the opportunity: They need to believe that the problem that they’re looking to solve is actually solvable. About themselves: Everyone feels like they are a unique, special snowflake, and it’s not enough that a solution can work for some people—it has to feel workable to them. About you and your offer: They have to understand the relevancy of your offer to their needs (“why this?”), your credibility to deliver (“why you?”), and the urgency to act on a solution (“why now?”).

5.10.2. All of these things must be communicated to your ideal prospect before they will be ready to become your ideal customer.

5.10.3. Before you begin laying out your path, you must gather your ingredients: the transformation (from “before picture” to “after picture”), the motivation (completing the sentence “As [ROLE], I should [OUTCOME].”), the mechanism (to give them hope that your solution will work where others haven’t), and the proof (that you can deliver on your promises).

5.10.4. The bridge from need to desire follows a straightforward and predictable path: Describe Their Symptoms or Desires (“this is what it feels like”). Articulate Their Self-Diagnosis (“it’s not your fault, because...”). Share the Deeper Insight (“you think it’s X, but really it’s Y”). Explain the Solution (“here’s how to do it”). the core of a good strategy: building a sustainable Propose the Next Action (“here’s your next step”).

5.10.5. As you take people through this narrative, you must also bring them through escalating cycles of commitment and reward, at each turn inviting them to make a slightly larger investment of time, energy, attention, or money—and then rewarding them for having done so!

5.10.6. This process applies to B2B customers just as it does to B2C, but the specifics of how you will render the process into a marketing path will look different, based on what is intuitive to their expectations and processes.