The Secret Engine Powering Every Successful Business

How developing a “systems mindset” can help you optimize your business and better leverage your priceless time. PLUS… the key skill you need to get massive numbers of customers.

I’m not going to do that thing to you where the marketer is all like “but wait….before we get to that…lemme tell ya about (insert barely related story)” and then there’s 10,000 words before they get to the point…

That said, in order for these carefully guarded secrets to make sense, I need to give you some basic info (call it a crash course) first to get us on the same mental wavelength. There are some potentially unfamiliar terms I need to make sure you’re familiar with.

Here we go!

A website (as most people commonly understand it) is really only ONE element of a much larger (invisible from the outside) machine. At Wabbit, we call this “machine” the Messy Middle.

Note: it can be helpful to look at your business as a machine, or system, that generates something. And no, profit is not the thing you should be trying to generate (more on that later). For us, we’ve built our machine to generate happy, empowered customers.

The Messy Middle is the machine that contains all the little moving parts of any company.

It always looks a little different for each business… but… the basic elements are universal. For example…

Marketing is the “engine” of every business’ machine because a good marketing strategy is what generate leads.

Digital Marketing is the category of effort a website usually falls into (when the site is the product, as in the case of web-based apps, this relationship still barely changes).

Often, marketers will often use terms like “sales funnel” to express how certain components of this “engine” work.

Note: A website can (and generally does) encompass all three stages of a sales funnel. Other elements like retail stores and traditional marketing are part of these funnels (in a non-digital space) as well.

When it comes to websites, blogs often generate awareness (top-level of the funnel) when they are sharable through social media, long form evergreen content (how-to guides, etc.) and other forms of content marketing (ie. inbound marketing, public relations, etc.) often make up the middle of the funnel. And product sales, member’s only areas, and service booking pages all make up tactics for the bottom of the funnel.

I explain this because even when you drill down into the meat of the sales funnel concept (and it is a good concept to know), you’re still left seeing only a fraction of the whole machine…

Yet… millions upon millions of dollars are made teaching people these ideas, and the average student’s results are lackluster at best. There are countless “gurus” around these days, each claiming they can teach to you build success for yourself (in 7 easy steps!). But… they are selling snake oil, meaning… the majority of their students never build a digital asset that thrives long-term! Virtually none of these students will go on to build a company that can make enough money to build a sustainable future for themselves.

Do you ever wonder why?

Sure, some of it boils down to students not following through on the work. Of course… It happens… a lot… and, because of this, these “educators” will often prevent certain people from becoming students (we’re looking at you, lengthy and expensive admissions processes).

If a prospective student’s consumer behavior data shows they are unlikely to complete the course and, (this next part is critical) review it in a positive light in the end, the educator won’t even allow them to become a student!

(If you ever study confirmation bias and echo chambers, you’ll see how disgusting the implications of these admission processes are)

Yet, that isn’t the biggest problem…

Follow-through isn’t what stops the rest of the student base from growing their businesses. Studies show the overwhelming majority of people who are willing to pay for entrepreneurial education are driven to work hard to build their businesses.

So what is holding these students back?

These false teachers generally have decent product marketing themselves but they are STILL only showing part of the machine… and they’ll only hint at what they really did to “grow their fortune,” you’ll have to pay for a premium consultation to (maybe) get that nugget. Their entire marketing concept centers around squeezing you for all the value they can. Meaning…

The courses are actually pre-sell content marketing campaigns that THE STUDENTS ARE PAYING TO READ!!!

Think about this: Email, as a marketing strategy, generates an average return of $42 for every $1 spent. But all you’ll ever see in these guru’s guides are quick videos about Facebook ads and superficial walkthroughs of how to build an “abandoned cart” campaign. It is a little helpful, but…

They never tell you the absolute treasures. Like the fact that email (as mentioned above) is the single most powerful tool in any entrepreneurial toolkit. And… they certainly never tell you how you can use email as an asset that generates income automatically through effective marketing.

There are hundreds of examples of these “courses” that teach you almost everything you need to know to start your company, or execute a marketing plan (and properly leverage a “website” to generate revenue). So… let’s just agree not waste any more time talking about these “educators.”

Moving on…

These effect of such misleading tactics on you is tragic. Innocent, hard-working people like yourself (who otherwise may have been perfectly capable of building a business) are swindled out of their hard-earned money and sold on a dream they’ll very likely never reach… not without an understanding of what really makes this kind of machine work.

If you are never shown how the insides of these machines work you will never stand a chance of truly getting your idea off the ground. All the back-breaking, heart-wrenching work you put into your dream business is crippled before you even get started. All because of a vast network of businesses who won’t tell you the whole truth…leaving you to spin your wheels, trying every tip and trick you can find, including:

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Building a social media presence (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, etc…)

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Running Promotions

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Paying someone to boost your Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

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Social Media Marketing

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Paying for Google Ads (or any ads for that matter)

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Build your own social media platform (seriously? as a small startup?)

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Going viral (oh, that’s all I have to do? Just make something millions love? On no budget? Sign me up!)

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Creating a content calendar

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Creating landing pages

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Developing a Monthly Newsletter

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Paying for Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

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and on and on and on…

And the thing is, these tactics actually DO work. However, if you don’t have a solid understanding of the mechanisms and frameworks linking all the parts together… and, understand how to make the whole thing actually run… the machine will break down, leaving you dead in the water.

Entrepreneur.com says lack of a proper strategy is one of the main reasons the majority of new small businesses fail.

Note: One of the other big ones is: being in it for the wrong reason. These are the people who are only trying to make money. They don’t realize that profit is the product of an engine, a business system whose emergent property is profit.

Assuming you actually want to build a company you can use to reach the life of your dreams (you’re still reading so, you might be) It all comes down to structure…

What is your framework for supporting growth in your business?

See…the abundance of information in the digital age is a good thing… in many ways… however… we see one major problem with most of this information….

There’s no structure to it!

Say, for example, a business owner wants to learn how to write a marketing plan… these days it is almost guaranteed they will first have to wade through hours upon hours of shallow Copycat Content from cut-rate “marketers” before finding anything truly useful.

Without structure, we are left swimming in a never-ending sea of (often terrible) advice, with no way to prioritize or filter the information. The same goes for the development of your business or marketing plan.

Each solution may be correct in way, but those providing the “advice” often lack the unique context of your situation, leaving you no way to measure its ability to solve your problem.

That said… the information-overload problem created a unique opportunity for savvy entrepreneurs who aren’t afraid to do a bit of digging, organizing, testing, and teaching of that information.

After all… the goal is more than just to improve yourself and your life, the goal is also to put your knowledge and expertise into action in a positive, impactful way in your life and business. Right?

To turn knowledge into insights.

Winston Churchill summed it up nicely when he said:

We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.

Too many companies think success is all but guaranteed if they just make a great product, find customers, then advertise and scale….which…is sorta true…but, not exactly right.

For one, the process is terribly out of order. The smartest entrepreneurs never make the product first!

Ok, I’ve danced (cool breakdance moves) all around the secret for long enough… so… here’s Part One of it…ready?

Of course you are, here we go!

The success of your business directly correlates to how well you understand the customer.

If 80% of your income comes from 20% of your customers (and statistics suggest that it does), it would be a really good idea to understand that 20% as well as humanly possible. Wouldn’t it?

Right.

Of course you are, here we go!

Here’s the really big insight:

Thinking like a customer is the key skill you need in order to actually go get customers.

Put another way, your ability to figure out…

  • the exact right recipe for your marketing mix

  • search queries to target (Google search, SEO, SEM tactics)

  • 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.)

  • and through demographic / psychographic targeting (Facebook/Google Display Network)…

…is tied to your ability to see (subjectively, not objectively) the world through the lens of your ideal customer.

A.K.A. Empathy.

In order to do this, a clever, empathetic business owner needs to take the approach the majority of gurus, coaches, web designers, and marketing agencies never mention (after all, they often don’t know this themselves, so how could they hope to teach it?).

Ok…here’s the second part of the secret… Are you ready?

Your Empathy is Your Leverage

I’m going to have Seth Godin take the reigns again real quick, via a quote from This is Marketing.

This approach is simple, but it’s not easy to embrace because it requires patience, empathy, and respect. The marketing that has suffused our entire lives is not the marketing that you want to do.

The shortcuts using money to buy attention to sell average stuff to average people are an artifact of another time, not the one we live in now. You can learn to see how human beings dream, decide, and act. And if you help them become better versions of themselves, the ones they seek to be, you’re a marketer.

You might wonder why I’m back to talking about marketing again.

Because…it is a massive element of the secret you aren’t being taught. But, it has nothing to do with the pop-up, click-bait, “go viral” tactics these charlatans try to pass off as advice.

Here why I keep talking about it…

You’re already a marketer. We all are!

We all use marketing to communicate our message.

All day.

Every Day.

Once you really see this, you’ll see it everywhere.

Think about how you are around your parents, versus how you are around your closest friends. Think about the things you choose to post or not to post online. We are all curating our message to the world. Every. Single. Human. Does this.

Even the clothes you choose communicate a message. We each put ourselves out into the world in a certain way as an attempt to resonate with people.

No matter the size of the group we want to resonate with, we are all marketers.

That means you too.

In a moment, I’m going to share some steps you can take today to apply this mindset today.

But first, now that you know you’re a marketer, I need to warn you about cliff you don’t want to go near the edge of…

In your entrepreneurial journey (no matter what stage of it you’re in) you will come up against a very important choice.

I’m talking about Coercion vs. Empathy, and…

I think you know what these feel like (and there’s probably no such thing as empathetic coercion).

There are all sorts of ways to land a sale. Manipulation isn’t the way you want to go. No popups, no scarcity tactics, easy on the FOMO.

You want to be magnetic. Not a snake in the grass.

Great companies don’t force their message onto people; they create value which draws people to them like a singularity draws in planets.

When you learn how to do this well, the doors to success open wide for you, waiting for you to walk through them.

Our kind of marketing is the result of our quest to make change on behalf of those we serve, and we do it by understanding the irrational forces driving each of us.

When we create value in this way, we enrich people’s lives, and if/when they’re ready, we make it clear how to buy from us.

As you approach business building. Approach it with the mindset of (first) finding a tribe of people that you wish to serve, (second) working to understand them and the problem they face, and (third) collaborating with them while you develop a solution based on the feedback they give you.

Ok, I said I’d give you some actionable points which you can use to put this mindset into practice for yourself. So, now that you know you’re a marketer, let’s make sure you know the five steps of marketing (thanks again Seth Godin):

1.

Invent a thing worth making, with a story worth telling, and a contribution worth talking about

2.

Design and build it in a way that a few people will particularly benefit from and care about

3.

Tell a story that matches the built-in narrative and dreams of that tiny group of people, the smallest viable audience

4.

Spread the word and get people excited about it

5.

Show up (regularly, consistently, and generously for years and years) to organize and lead and build confidence in whatever change you aim to make. Do this to earn permission to follow up and to earn enrollment to teach

In order for the Messy Middle of your company to work well, you need to start from a place of deep understanding, both about the people you hope to serve, and the problem they need solved.

I can not overstate how important it is, and how much easier things become one you really embrace this concept.

Once you truly understand your people, everything else becomes illuminated. Like a lantern in a cave.

It makes the decisions you face as an entrepreneur so much easier to navigate.

Remember this: Everything changes when you optimize for happy customers.

Alright… You may have noticed, I said the marketing mindset is an element of the secret we’ve been discussing…

Here’s the rest…

Once they understand their tribe, and have built a solution to the tribe’s pain, the most successful entrepreneurs build an infrastructure that can handle growth (analytics, automations, funnel flows, etc.). These entrepreneurs have what we call a “systems mindset.”

This revolutionary mindset is what we are going to talk about next…