Backchannel 16 min

Is Gated Content Really The Enemy?


We all know and hate the gated content playbook. You give your email to download an ebook, then get dropped into a bad nurture sequence or sales cadence. But is a gate with good intentions really that bad?



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Mike, I was on Instagram threads today.

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Remember that thing?

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I don't know.

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You still want it?

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It's Instagram.

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What threads?

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Yeah, I know.

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I know.

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I haven't been on there since the.

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I haven't been on there since the.

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Elon, the longest.

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Yeah, but so it's it's it's it's still a thing.

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Yeah, it was.

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It is.

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I think.

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But I was on there just scrolling forward.

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I think I had some notification and I don't know why.

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But I just have to get rid of my notifications when I went up.

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It's really annoying.

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And I saw that we were like semi semi called out as a company.

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Now we weren't at mentioned.

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It was actually kind of interesting.

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Cause I was just like in my feed, like, and I saw my face, which was very

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concerning.

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I'm a little traumatizing.

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But there's this person that basically was calling us out for basically.

0:58

I don't call them out.

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I don't want to get why not.

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I don't even remember their name, to be honest with you.

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Oh, there's a male on the internet.

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That's that's basically a man on the internet.

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We get our.

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That's how every bad story starts.

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I know man on the internet with an anonymous man.

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Florida, right.

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But go ahead.

1:14

Go ahead.

1:15

OK, so we had just done a webinar a few weeks ago all around the value of using

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the exclusive content as a function of driving your own audience, basically

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converting your audience into a traffic effectively into known subscribers by

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strategically leveraging exclusive content.

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And we made it a point to call out that when we say exclusive content, we don't

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mean necessarily gated content, or at least that there's a there's some

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an evolution of the concept of throwing a form gate in front of a video unn

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aturally.

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And then another blog or another ebook or whatever where we're sort of

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tricking our audience into filling out a form so that we can then dump them

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into

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a email, nurture cadence or whatever the case is with this idea of exclusive

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content,

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which is meant to be of high value.

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And we've built a platform that ultimately is people subscribe once they get

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access to everything much like you would with sub stack or patreon or any of

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these

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other tools in the consumer context.

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And what this random internet person was calling us out for was that that very

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webinar, we made exclusive to our to our audience, to our subscribers.

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So you'd have to be a subscriber to read this piece of content.

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Yeah.

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And he sort of took issue with the fact that we were talking about why

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exclusive

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content isn't gated and we quote unquote gated it from from their perspective.

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And so I wanted to open up this this conversation with you because

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this is something that I think gating content is something that really gets

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people riled up this conversation.

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And so what's your perspective?

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Let's start at the highest level here about should you gate content?

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Should you not gate content?

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I feel I feel kind of silly even bringing this one up, but.

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Um, yeah.

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Okay.

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Okay.

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So, um, I, I think like whether you should or shouldn't gate something.

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Uh, I gotta take a step back.

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We need ways to communicate with our potential buyers, right?

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As marketers, like there's no getting away from that.

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Like if someone's visiting your site and reading all your blogs and, you know,

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consuming all of your content and they're, you know, on dark social, they're

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seeing all your posts and all sort of stuff.

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Like if they do not like request a demo or agree to take a meeting with you or

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like fill out their email address to see the demo center or download a case

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study

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or like until they make themselves known to you, then you're like kind of in

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the

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dark, right?

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And then modern marketers can't really like do our job.

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Like we need to be able to forecast the pipeline and tell the CFO like how the

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things that we're doing are working or not working.

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And like, have we gotten into a mode where like we're, we're focused on making

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the,

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the cell on the spreadsheet that says MQL target green over focusing on like

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driving the revenue up and delighting our customers and doing all the stuff

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that marketers are supposed to do a hundred percent.

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Like the whole thing has gotten totally like spun out and perverted from it's

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like original thing, which was meant to be like a helpful leading indicator for

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marketers to understand if they're engaging the right people.

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Now it's like the MQL target is like tied to your comp.

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And so you do all this on natural shit.

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Do it.

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Okay.

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So just setting the stage there.

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Yes.

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I think whether or not you gate something is directly related to how good the

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marketing

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is, how valuable it is to the person who you're trying to reach.

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And it could be, it could be so valuable that like maybe some paradigm that we

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've

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never even explored exists.

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Like you make something that's like worth a thousand dollar one time purchase.

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Like that people are probably listening to this and being like that's insane.

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But like you can imagine.

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Oh, it's attending.

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Attending.

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Yeah.

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We should have more than that.

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Yeah.

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Like where something that good exists and like in that case, like you would

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gate it because like people would buy it and they would tell you who they are.

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Right.

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Right.

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Um, I don't think that you should gate things that are not super valuable.

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But I would also just back up and say like nobody cares if something's

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gated or not gated.

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I don't think that I don't think they do.

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I also don't think people really care about what happens to them after.

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Uh, like they're not just because you throw them into a nurture cadence.

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Doesn't mean that people are allergic to nurture cadences.

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It means your nurture cadence sucks.

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If they don't like it, right?

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Like, or the, or I don't like being called or forced into a sales cycle.

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If I didn't opt into one, don't put people into a active sales cycle.

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Yeah.

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Because they downloaded the ebook, right?

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Like, and this is where I think like the details really matter is if somebody

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like downloads a piece of content that is, um, you know, related to some

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business

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problem and the follow up or the nurture cadence or whatever.

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The thing that happens afterwards is like deeply related to the insights

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from that particular thing related to their industry and their job is focused

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on trying to help them or add value to their life.

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Then I think it's like totally fine to do the entire like marketing industrial

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complex the way that it exists.

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You know, like imagine someone goes to your site and like download or subscribe

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to like, let's say you're like a sock to compliance bender.

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Okay.

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Uh, a senior director of IT at a series B startup is on your site and they like

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download the 10 steps to sock to compliance checklist or whatever.

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We just did this this week, by the way.

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So this is.

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Yeah.

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So.

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The contention of the person who was commenting online was like people want

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that

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checklist.

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They don't like what happens after.

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Um, I don't, I think that there's a way to make what happens after that.

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Really, really interesting.

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Like, for example, you probably have a subject matter expert CIO on your team.

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If you're the company who's providing sock to compliance stuff, like instead of

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being like, do you want to spend 30 minutes of your time getting sold by a,

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you know, mid market account executive that I can intro you to?

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What if you were like, Hey, click here to book 10 minutes with our CIO with

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this

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background who can help advise on your next product strategy.

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Yeah.

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And like, that's just a completely different thing.

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So I think it's like a value and offer alignment can make gating, like,

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gating or not, gating is like a not the right question to ask.

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It's like, are we adding a lot of value at every stage of this relationship

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with

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the customer that's worth them giving up their information or their dollars or

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their time or whatever.

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And if it's not like when something's not good, people don't like it.

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When something is good, people are like, give me more of the thing.

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So like, I just, I don't know this all.

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I hate this conversation because it's like it's all to me, it always comes back

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to

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like, is your marketing good or is your marketing shitty?

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And if it's shitty, like, guess what people aren't going to like, like to go

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through a gated form or subscribe to a membership or be told by your team

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automatically.

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Like, of course.

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Yeah, but if it's good, then they're going to be like, I want more of where

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that came

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from.

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And so this all comes down to like, is your team delivering value for your

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target audience?

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Or are they not?

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Because if they're, if they are, then I don't think this gating versus

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ungating thing really matters that much personally.

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And you know, again, a lot of our inspiration comes from looking at the

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consumer world.

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And I don't, you know, you look at the sub stacks and patreons and so many

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other

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examples and this conversation just doesn't happen.

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Yeah.

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Like, you don't hear this.

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Like the only real value to your point is like the quality of the

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and craftsmanship of what these creators are doing.

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And if it's good, then not only are you happy to give them your email address

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to

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your point, you're willing to pay for it.

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You want to pay for a newsletter that's insane or to subscribe to like whatever

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you're subscribing to on Patreon.

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You have the opportunity to consume something and it only costs you an email

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address or whatever.

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But that only works if the thing that you're consuming is good.

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Yeah.

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I mean, think about like the entire YouTube thing, right?

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It's like a people know it's like like and subscribe, like and subscribe, like

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so think about how that works.

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You go the discovery engine puts you in front of a video.

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The person does something in the beginning of the video because like hook

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testing and all that stuff is really, really important.

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They do something that's really valuable and entertaining and they get you

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hooked

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in and then they're like, hey, if you liked what you saw so far, like and

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subscribe.

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And now I'm making it much easier, the space between your access to my content

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got way closer.

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Yes.

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But the first thing is deliver really, really good stuff that the person

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decided they liked a lot.

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So it's like once you go over that hurdle, it's like the mechanism is like who

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cares?

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So the important part is did you hook them in and did the person go, oh, I

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want like there's a guy Kevin with Epic Gardening.

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They're one of our customers and he's huge on YouTube.

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Creates tons and tons of content about about gardening.

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People love it.

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And it's like, you know, he's adding tons and tons of value where people are

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like, oh,

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I'm going on a gardening journey.

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And this guy Kevin seems like someone I should learn from.

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I'm going to like and subscribe to his stuff and now like I'm getting Kevin in

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my

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life all the time.

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Yeah.

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It's like the like and subscribe isn't the part that's like the worth innov

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ating on

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the content he's putting out, the hooks, the visualizations, the thumbnails,

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all

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the stuff that shows somebody, this is really, really, really valuable.

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That's the stuff to iterate on.

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Yeah.

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Earns you more likes and subscribes.

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And so I just think like people get the whole thing.

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But no one's thinking about it that way, right?

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Like that's the, that's this mission that we're on.

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Yeah.

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It is like you're using a YouTube analogy that has fundamentally been something

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that

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we as consumers have engaged with and we're on the other end of, but then like

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the

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historical context is you go to work and you come up with like whatever your

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boss

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tells you to create whatever ebook and you form gate it and then you sort of,

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it

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doesn't matter if your marketing is good or not.

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You're, you're, you're, you're just enrolling people into some like,

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predefined nurture sequence and your job's done.

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Um, and so I think that's something that's really compelling.

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What we've talked about to try to decode this for B2B companies with what

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exactly

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literally what you just said was give away 80% of your content and your job in

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giving that away.

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Sure.

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There might be some like SEO components and all of this for, for a portion of

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it.

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But overall it's to demonstrate value and give away that value, whether it's

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educational, entertaining, like an inspirational, whatever it is you're trying

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to do so that when you're pulling back that 20% that's exclusive or gated or

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however you want to phrase it, um, people already have sort of a cognitive

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reference of the type of content that PostScript is creating or name your

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company is creating.

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Um, so I think it's, it's easy to pick on one gated asset in isolation, but I

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think that, you know, our job is market, first of all, like just to sum up this

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conversation with the things really good one is like, is to do good marketing,

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be give enough away for free, see, test the cost action and points of

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conversion there to actually get people topped in.

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But I think that's predicated on D, which is create incredible gated content

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or exclusive content or whatever you want to call it or events and experiences

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or whatever it is that is of premium value or however you want to find

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something

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people will be willing to pay for and don't make them pay for it.

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Just make them give you an email address in order to access it.

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So, um, anyway, I'm with you.

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I think anyway, yeah, it's like common sense, right?

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Yeah.

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It's like, a people on the internet love to troll, right?

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Like they love to say, okay, a content is evil or whatever.

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They never carried a bag.

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You'd not only have they not carried a bag, but like again, that's like that

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part of it doesn't matter.

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It's so right.

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It's like, you know, the.

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If you're not, um, helping your ideal customers solve a really important

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problem

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or entertaining them or hopefully a really nice combo of both.

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Yeah.

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And then none of it matters because that means that you're not like breaking

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through the noise and then that's where like the gating of a thing becomes a

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hack,

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you know, like, you know, and that's what people react to because you're trying

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to like use, um, access level hacks to cover up the fact that your marketing

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wasn't helpful or entertaining.

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Right.

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And feel like that's worth attacking, right?

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Like that that's, that's not good.

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But if you just focus on solving your customers problems and making it as

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entertaining as possible, um, where they're going to want to see it and come

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back.

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Like, I don't know about you, but like I've probably downloaded a thousand e-

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books

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in my life and they go in my download folder.

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I dragged them into like a miscellaneous folder on my desktop.

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Never read them.

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I never read one of them.

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You're just made it out of downloads.

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That's two steps back.

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Sometimes I'll drag it out and I'll be like, Oh, I'm going to put that on my

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desktop.

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So one day I remember to potentially read it.

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And then like three weeks later, I see it on there.

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I just drag it into the most length, mid-slane and then it never sees the light

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of day again.

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Right.

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So it's like what did I think it's right to understand that that's probably

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what happens.

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And if your whole marketing thing is like built to get a PDF to show up in

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someone's download folder and then you're like, yes, got one.

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Yeah.

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You're off.

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You're doing the wrong stuff.

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Yeah.

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But you should really be focused on is creating stuff that people are like, Oh,

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I can't wait to like actually digest this, whether it's a video or a download

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or

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a webinar, whatever the whatever the heck it is.

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If it's good enough, that won't happen.

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It won't end up in a miscellaneous folder that ends up getting drug into

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trash six months later and never sees light of day.

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So like focus on making good stuff, not on trying to get people to like trick

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them to give you their email, like create something.

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That's worthy of it.

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And then no one will care if there's a gate or there's not.

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Love it.

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