I learn a lot by reading books and listening to podcasts. I love taking in information because I know that it’s the foundation of taking effective action. But I learn even more by consuming products that I want to create and observing my experience. When I receive an email from someone I admire like Michael Hyatt, I pay close attention: what time of day is it? What is the subject line? What is his call to action? What is his goal with this communication?
And possibly the most important question: What are the subtle clues that prompt me to trust him and to take him seriously? In other words, what are the things that subconsciously allow me to separate the big boys from the wannabes? I want to decipher and understand those things and send those clues to the people I hope to serve. I want to elicit trust in the same way that Michael does.
You know how I know what it takes to be a professional musician? I can promise you it’s not from reading books about it–and I did read books about it! Those books aren’t useless, don’t get me wrong. But they pale in comparison to spending years on a bus, arguing with A&R people and radio promo people, hearing how they think and how the industry works, watching players and producers and managers come and go, rise and fall.
I didn’t just crack the code because I’m brilliant. More experienced men and women led me down a road that they knew far better than I.
The Power of Emulation
Emulation of people who are further down the road that we desire to travel is perhaps the most effective way to find ourselves down that very same road.
Would you be more interested in reading a book about Warren Buffet’s investment strategies? Or in seeing a real-time ticker of every move he made?
Well, I’m not certain that ol’ Warren’s moves are that accessible, but I’ll tell you what is accessible: your own experience consuming products you believe in. I can tell you exactly what Jon Acuff included in a product that he charged $30 for, because I bought it. I can tell you how and when he delivered it, what his message was in advertising it, and what my experience was receiving it and using it.
Whatever it is you are hoping to do, someone out there is doing it (or at least doing something similar). Don’t worry, that’s not bad news! There is a massive, real-life education available to you if you simply have the presence of mind to observe and catalog the details of your consumer experience.
The Importance of Awareness
I suppose the crux of what I’m talking about is awareness. I purchased a course published by Jeff Goins called Intentional Blog. But really, I got two products. I got Intentional Blog, which teaches me how to improve my writing and grow my blog. And I got another course which I’ll title, Sell a Product That People Are Happy With. Only that’s not an actual course. That’s what I’ve learned from observing exactly what Jeff did. Not only have I gone through his course, but I’ve observed what he did and how he set it up every step of the way.
From the late night tweet that got me to click over and learn about it, to the sales page I landed on, no to mention the welcome letter, the delivery format of the content, how he handles usernames and passwords and exclusive access, the private community he created for the users, the volume and depth of the content: these are all questions I had about products I had (or have) in mind.
Real Life Results, Real Credibility
Rather than buying a book entitled How to Create and Sell an Online Product, I actually bought an online product! And do you know how I know it’s worth emulating? Because he got $100 out of my pocket and into his. And there are several hundred more people in the exclusive Facebook Group. And finally—and this is important—I’m feeling good about what I received. That’s important to me. That answers the question, “What information and experience do people believe is worth $100?” Now I know.
Whatever business you’re trying to build or career you’re pursuing–whatever lofty goal you have in mind–if you want a windfall of important knowledge and game-changing information, go consume a product or experience similar to what you want to provide, and catalog the experience.
What did you like? What didn’t you like? What are they doing that’s effective? What are they doing that’s ineffective? What extra perks did you not anticipate? Are you satisfied with what you got for your money or time? Why or why not? What should be included that isn’t? (That you, of course, will include.)
There is an invaluable, free education available to you right now, that hinges upon your own intentional awareness. Go out into the world. While those around you mindlessly consume, instead, take your time and observe.
What do you want to accomplish? Who is a few steps ahead of you that you can emulate? Go observe and scrutinize what they’re doing. Go learn from the pros. It’s free!