Deadly Conversion Busters: How a Lack of Goodwill Could Be Hurting Your Authority

Goodwill can be the difference between a happy, growing community, and a declining audience where you get more unsubscribes than opt-ins.

Join Tony Clark and Chris Garrett as they discuss how goodwill works in your digital business, what you can do to generate more goodwill, and how to nurture it with your content.

In this episode Chris and Tony reveal:

  • What we can learn about goodwill from Marvel versus DC.
  • The secret to strategic generosity.
  • Why engagement requires much more than answering comments.
  • How authentic nerdiness and engagement work together to build communities.

Deadly Conversion Busters: How a Lack of Goodwill Could Be Hurting Your Authority

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Tony Clark: This is The Mainframe. Welcome back everybody. We’ve been talking about deadly conversion busters. In the last episode, we talked about confusion and how that affects conversions. This week, we’re talking about lack of goodwill, and how lack of goodwill could really be hurting your authority. How are you doing, Chris?

Chris Garrett: I’m doing great. Goodwill’s a good topic to talk about, because just before I started recording, we started talking about Daredevil and the Marvel TV series. We realized that Marvel has built up a lot of goodwill.

We’re willing to give them a lot of chances, and the chances are paying off. I think it’s that goodwill that means that they can try these things. Like Guardians of the Galaxy. Who would have thought that a talking raccoon would’ve made like a billion dollars?

Tony Clark: I know. There’s sort of a running joke in the geek community that Marvel could put out anything, and people would show up. It’s because of that goodwill that they’ve continually delivered on.

I think that’s why a lot of people are concerned about the Batman versus Superman, and how that’s going to affect the DC side of things on the movie side, because they haven’t built up that goodwill. They’re trying to kind of force feed the entire Justice League into one movie.

Even though the TV series have done really well, and both in sort of the fan community and the general audience, the movie seems to be a little heavy handed. They’re trying to force that goodwill. So that is a good analogy. Marvel have taken time, slow and steady, built goodwill and so now people will give them a chance on anything. They continue to deliver.

Where on the DC side, the Warner Brothers have sort of tried to be heavy handed and force that goodwill. You see that a lot in our business, in the online world in general.

What We Can Learn About Goodwill From Marvel versus DC

Chris Garrett: Yeah, exactly. I think your point about slow and steady is the main lesson from Marvel versus DC. Marvel did it slow and steady, and they tried some things. It was almost like an Easter egg, the Marvel comic universe. It was like they introduced small elements and tested the waters.

Whereas DC looked at that, looked at all the money they were making, and said, “Hey, we need to do this combined universe. How can we force it into the next three years?”

Tony Clark: Right.

Chris Garrett: I think that heavy-handed forced thing is where the worry has started, but also, they did it in the comics. They rebooted the whole comic universe – well, a few times – but with this New 52. It’s like that consistency was lost, and the intention seems to be not about making good movies as a priority, but the money. You know? It feels like it’s business, whereas the Marvel universe seems to be nerds that love it for the story and the characters, and we’re along for the ride.

Tony Clark: Yeah, it’s that authenticity that really makes the difference there. There’s a lot of things to be said for making sure something’s available for a general audience. We do that all the time. We need to make sure that we’re making sure that we have our offers and the products that we’re providing to reach the largest audience that we can. At the same time, there has to be that level of authenticity with the authority, so you’re really speaking to those people who get what you’re saying, and can benefit from it.

I think that one of the things Marvel’s done a good job of, is balancing between the die hard fans and the geeks that see every Easter egg, and they throw all these kind of things out so that the fans can really appreciate it. At the same time, they’re allowing a larger universe to kind of grow, that reaches a larger audience.

Chris Garrett: Yeah, in Daredevil, they were talking about how half of Manhattan had been destroyed, but they didn’t require you to know what they meant. They just almost threw it out there to say, “okay, this is a combined universe.” It wasn’t forced and heavy-handed. You didn’t have all these prerequisites that you needed to study up on before going in.

It’s the same with when they rebooted Dr. Who. They did link back to the past, but they didn’t necessarily force you to know everything about it. And that makes it inclusive. It’s welcoming. In our own blogs and content and products and communities, these inside jokes can exclude people. They can make people feel an outsider. And really, goodwill starts with being approachable, welcoming and inclusive. If you don’t know everything, then you’re gently introduced. You’re gently brought through.

We have things like content landing pages. For example, if you need to know about landing pages or copyrighting, this is your Wikipedia for this topic. This is where you can get up to date. We will link back to all those things, but it’s not a prerequisite. You don’t necessarily have to know everything.

Why Engagement Requires Much More Than Answering Comments

Tony Clark: Yeah, that’s a key point of building that level of goodwill with your authority. I think another key point, and getting back to the Marvel analogy we’re using, is engagement.

I think one of the reasons Agents of SHIELD struggled when it first came out, was because they had some of the spoilers, and things we won’t go into in case people still haven’t seen it from the Captain America movie, Winter Soldier, were off limits to the producers of the Agents of SHIELD show. A lot of the things that they really wanted, that could have done to engage the audience and to really bring people into this narrative, were off limits. So they struggled a lot with it.

We see the same thing. If there are certain things that you don’t touch on to draw out that engagement when you’re creating the narrative, it really hurts that. When you’re building goodwill, you have to do so through continuous strong narrative, engage in the audience, making them feel welcome and part of that community. And by leaving things out, whether intentionally or unintentionally, you really do start to create this gap in that level of engagement.

Chris Garrett: Yeah, a lot of the times people think about engagement as being interaction, but actually the engagement starts with just engaging the person and their brain, in a way that they’re drawn into it. Things like cliffhangers, right? We’re talking about comic book movies. They are very good at having cliffhangers in the TV shows.

Again, I’ll not say any spoilers, but a lot of the times, they will actually put one of the key characters in peril, and it will not be resolved until the next episode. That creates an open loop in your mind. It gets people talking about it. It gets people wanting to get the next episode.

Whereas in our content and in our marketing, in our blogs or email series, how many times have you gone through an email and thought, “Okay, fair enough, but I don’t actually have to open the next one. I’m not missing out if I file this away, or if I unsubscribe.”

Engagement starts with having compelling content that people really want to read, and a cliffhanger is a good way of doing that. We’ve been doing that in our podcast. We’ve been saying, “In the next episode, we’ll talk about…,” and then we leave people with hopefully, something that they want to hear about, so that they’ll subscribe, and they’ll want to listen to the next episode.

Tony Clark: Yeah, it almost becomes a type of stepping stone and milestones in the narrative you’re telling, as well as how you’re doing that engagement.

A lot of times, the engagement is about educating your audience about what it is that you have to provide. That may ultimately be a product, but it also may be about just building the community in general. What does the community have, and those things that you have to offer? Providing stepping stones, so people can easily go from here to there, is a great way to draw through that engagement from the beginning, all the way to the final step in your process.

How Authentic Nerdiness and Engagement Work Together to Build Communities

Chris Garrett: Yeah. Communities are built by nerds. The connective tissue is what you’re interested in, that overlaps and intersects with what they’re interested in. And in this podcast, we’ve probably been nerding out about Marvel comic books too much.

Tony Clark: There’s never too much.

Chris Garrett: Okay, that’s good. We’ve got permission. If you look at how people connect in the real world, it’s usually not through their work. If they have a deeper connection, it’s usually through what they nerd about. It’s what they’re really passionate about.

To give you an example, Sonia is a big fan of fountain pens. You could talk to her about copyrighting, but everybody talks to her about copyrighting. If you really want to see her get passionate about something, it will be kettle bells or fountain pens.

Obviously, Tony and I are into comic books. All those kind of science fiction or fantasy movies, all that kind of thing. Chris Brogan is into Batman. If you see all three of us talking on Twitter, it’s probably going to be about Batman or the latest Marvel film. It’s probably not going to be about social media. People connect with their passions, which is basically allowing yourself to be nerdy.

Tony Clark: So really what we’re talking about here is intersections of things, and those involve generosity, engagement, and authenticity. Let’s talk a little bit about how those things intersect.

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Chris Garrett: So today we’ve talked about being authentic. That’s not just being authentic in an honest way, it’s also about allowing people in, being welcoming, being consistent, being you, and that is more engaging. Through your content, you can make your content more engaging, so they’ll really want to open it and engage with it.

The Secret to Strategic Generosity

Chris Garrett: Really, the third aspect of this, and where as Tony says it’s about intersections, it’s about being generous. A lot of human interaction comes down to what’s in it for me? What’s in it for me on behalf of your readers, your audience, your community, your customers. It’s about giving, without wanting to get. It’s about being so generous that not only do they want to reward you, but they’ll remember that experience. They remember how it feels to interact with you and they want to tell other people.

Tony Clark: Yeah. If you can provide people what it is that they’re really driving to get from, what it is that you’re talking about, and you can deliver that in a way that makes them feel like you’re really giving away the farm. The more people feel that you’re giving, the more willing they are to come back and be involved in the community, be involved in your industry. And everything that you’re providing is a way to demonstrate that you can deliver the goods.

The more generous you are, the more that’s demonstrated over and over and over again. It continues to build. It continues to grow. The way I like to think about it is that it creates this sort of shell of goodwill.

You’ve now developed this safe place, this place where people can come learn. But really, it’s about the product that you’re offering, or the service that you’re offering. You’re using that to demonstrate that you can provide what it is that Chris was saying about, “What’s in it for me?” You always need to be thinking about that from the point of view of your customer. What’s in it for them? When they read the offer, when they look at your landing page, when they read emails, when they’re engaged in your community through forums, through comments, you need to think about it in every aspect the way they are. What am I getting out of this?

Chris Garrett: Yeah, you can hear it in interviews. You can see it when you’re face-to-face networking. If somebody’s hoarding, if somebody’s keeping things back, if somebody only ever wants to give you the goods after a transaction, we feel that.

I’ve listened to a few podcasts, interviews recently, just tried to see what other people are doing. You can tell when the interviewee really, really wants to just pitch their product, because they keep coming back to, “This is in my book.” Or, “You’ll need to listen to my cause.”

We don’t want to hear that. We want to hear that this person is genuine, generous, and has something to offer. It’s like if you go to a supermarket and they give you a free taste. That could be the difference between you purchasing or not purchasing.

If you hoard everything, keep everything back, then how does anybody know that you can help them? I’ve never had an experience where being too generous has hurt me in the long term. That’s what we’re talking about, right?

Tony Clark: Right. You do have to take into account that ultimately, you are trying to create a member of your community and generate a customer. A customer that pays you. On the other side of this, there are people, and we’ve walked this line, and we’ve been fortunate. Like Chris said, he’s never felt that he’s been too generous, but there are people who — we see this a lot of times in the software business — where they give away too much. The free version does too much. Nobody will ever pay for the paid version. Or you have this free version and then they try to tack staff on to make it a paid version, and that never works.

You also have to figure out how you’re going to use that generosity and goodwill that you’ve built up to take your customer to the next level, to allow them to actually pay for the additional. Always think of it as the extra that they’re getting on top of the initial giveaway.

If you’re offering something for free, make sure there’s a way to take that and tease out what it is that you ultimately want to offer. Again, you have to think about how you’re going to deliver that in a way that allows the customer to feel like they’ve gotten something out of it. They really have to feel that there’s been value provided on top of the free stuff they’ve already received.

Chris Garrett: And that’s a part of engagement – not overwhelming people. You give them what they need, when they need it, and tell them how they can go deeper. That’s still being generous because you’re actually curating for them. It’s not hoarding, it’s not restricting or not keeping things back. It’s saying, “Okay, this is what you need right now. This is how you can go deeper next.”

Tony Clark: If you think about it from the point of view of, here is what I have to offer, and up until this point, I’ve given you this, this, and this. I can now give you these additional items, but for that, we’re going to have to think about further engagement.

Sometimes that engagement means an email address. Sometimes that engagement means somebody actually paying for their time. Think about it. How many times have you been asked, “Hey, can I pick your brain?” Somebody wants to take you out. They basically want whatever advice that your customers usually pay for, they want for free. Now, there’s something to be said for them.

I do that a lot. I joke a lot of times, but a lot of times, I’ll give away my secrets for food. I will work for food.

Chris Garrett: And he has, people. He has given away …

Tony Clark: I do that all the time.

Chris Garrett: Tacos.

Tony Clark: Exactly. You can pay me in tacos. But going out to a nice lunch with somebody, who is really interested in taking their business to the next level, and spending some time talking to them, I don’t feel like I’m being taken advantage of. There are times when you can clearly see that people don’t value what you’re offering enough to pay for it.

It’s really a fine line about how generous you are. Don’t worry about being too generous. Also, you need to make sure that there is a point where, “okay, am I giving away too much for free, or am I being taken advantage of?” The second step is how to make sure that there’s enough value there that people are willing to pay for it.

Chris Garrett: Yeah, and if you think back to what we were saying earlier, you have to have the combination of authenticity, engagement and generosity, but it has to lead somewhere. You have to tell people where they’re going and where they are on the path.

As Tony just said, it’s a fine line, but I’d always err on the side of generosity. If it’s a community with engagement, they will tell you where they’re at. They will ask you if they want to go deeper. If you’re interacting, you will get a good sense of that. If you’re just pushing messages at people, if you’re talking at them, you won’t have that feedback, and you won’t have that sense.

Tony Clark: That’s absolutely right. That’s why this is really a combination of those three items. The authenticity will allow you to provide a narrative that is very clear, and very to the point, and it helps people get to the second step which is the engagement. They feel like they’re part of the community and they’re engaged.

If you’re being generous on top of that, there is a point where people will realize, “I want more, and I’m willing to pay you for it.” A lot of times, they’ll ask for it. We see this a lot in our own business, where people are saying, “Can you also provide this, or add this feature, or add this level of community? I’m willing to pay extra for that.”

You’ll see that if all of these things align, you’ll see a very clear picture start to form of where that line is.

Chris Garrett: Yeah. We’re talking about authority here. We’re not talking about that authority that’s bestowed on people by some higher power. It’s not a government thing. It’s not a university degree. We’re talking about interacting with human beings.

It goes back hundreds or maybe thousands of years. It goes back to Aristotle with ethos, logos, and pathos. I’ve probably pronounced those completely wrong. I don’t know Latin or Greek or whatever.

Ethos was about credibility and trust. Logos is what we’re talking about with authenticity and engagement. It’s consistency. Having the emotional engagement, that’s pathos, right? This is is not new stuff.

It’s stuff that people forget or maybe focus on other things, and they sacrifice their authority to get that immediate sale. This is all long-term relationship building. It comes down to being a good human being.

Tony Clark: That’s exactly right. Remember, this fits in that whole scheme of conversion. We’re covering a lot of different conversion busters over the next few shows. This is just one area, but this area, not having that goodwill, and building authority from a level of that engagement of being generous, is something that a lot of people stumble on.

As we’re thinking this through, as you’re building your offer, as you’re building your product, you really need to think about how you can build that authority through providing solid goodwill, by looking at these things we’re talking about.


Chris Garrett: Let’s wrap it up, Tony. Can you reiterate those three main areas that will help build goodwill, because we want to give people a takeaway? We want to be generous, right?

Tony Clark: Right, exactly. Really, it comes down to authenticity. People will know right away if you’re not being authentic. Be your authentic self in your narrative, in your offer, and what you’re providing.

Engagement. Engagement is really about drawing people into your community. Getting them interested in what it is you have to offer. And really, pulling them in in a way that makes them feel a part of it, and that they want to learn more.

Finally, generosity. Generosity is about giving people what they want. They know that “what’s in it for me” is answered immediately. They continue to feel like you’re delivering on the goods, so when you’re ready to make that offer, they will already feel like you will be the one to give them what they need.

Chris Garrett: Okay, great stuff. As Tony said, we’re going to continue with this Deadly Conversion Buster series. In the next episode, we’re going to look at the conversion buster, which is lack of targeted audience, because that’s guaranteed to hurt your sales and slow your list growth. Check out the next episode and thank you for listening.