TTE: Ladybug Marketing Effect (Email 5)

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Note: This is an archive of an email from the April 1-7, 2020 launch series of The Traffic Engine (Early Adopter Edition).

On Wednesday the doors open for enrollment to The Traffic Engine with Shawn…

… but we still have a few ideas we want to share with you, whether you choose to enroll in TTE or not. These ideas are universal, meaning: they will help you to become a better thinker (marketer) regardless.

To give extra context to Shawn's email below, and short video presentation, I've dug up an unfinished article I had started writing in April 2019, shortly after writing my systems thinking email.

I never finished the article because it expanded and expanded and then I gave up on it, with an idea to return later.

I've extracted just one element from that unfinished article, because I think it'll help give color to this next idea we want to share with you.

Read Shawn's email below, then the presentation. I'll end after that.

SHAWN: Mon, March 30, 2020

On Friday I told you I'd have a surprise for you today.

Credit where credit is due — André suggested I create this last week and I've been procrastinating ever since! However, doors open to The Traffic Engine this Wednesday, April 1, so I'm out of time.

Before I do that, however, I need to give you the backstory for context.

Nearly two years ago I began to notice that a particular way we had approached advertising on Facebook was working exponentially better than anything we had ever done before.

No matter where I looked, this strategy just worked better. Orders of magnitude better.

Anytime I see exceptional performance I get very curious…

Often it's not repeatable — some combination of factors and context that doesn't apply beyond a specific client.

However, the closer I looked at this strategy the more I realized it worked everywhere, across every client, and well beyond Facebook. I knew this was different, but I wasn't exactly sure how.

When I began to look more closely at performance I noticed there were themes that emerged.

From those themes I began to reverse-engineer methods, repeat and refine those methods into frameworks, and I confirmed over and over again that results for my clients were consistently better.

I first shared my thoughts with Todd Brown's elite Top One mastermind and won the 2019 Million Dollar Power Hour award. Then, further refined, I shared these ideas with John Carlton's platinum mastermind.

Later, I began to share the framework with clients with names you would recognize.

The feedback has been incredible.

These ideas work, whether it's traditional product-focused ecommerce, lead generation, straight to offer, or an SOI > ARM approach (where I think they excel best).

You'll see a lot of André's thinking in these ideas.

In addition to being one of my best friends, he is also my most capable thought partner. None of this would exist without his input, feedback, and willingness to challenge conventional thinking. I owe him a debt of gratitude for that (and much more) I won't ever be able to repay fully (but it's a lot of fun trying).

I have distilled the main idea from all of those presentations into a brief presentation which serves as the intellectual core of The Traffic Engine.

To enable captions click the CC button.

Tomorrow's the last day before the doors open to this first live cohort of The Traffic Engine.

I have an announcement I'm excited to share (new content that will be added in response to many of the questions we've received by email and in the comments).

Look for those details tomorrow.

As I said at the top of this email, I want to share an excerpt of a deeper piece I started writing a year ago, but never finished.

I think this example will give a little more color to Shawn's presentation you've just watched.

Example of Thinking in Systems (Rabbits, Aphids, & Marketing Funnels)

Here's a nature example to demonstrate the most basic idea of non-linear systems thinking.

I find it's better to use a non-marketing example FIRST, because it removes the biases that can “muddy the water” when looking at our own behavior (another example of flow).

So I'll start with this non-threatening example.

This is a simple model that's balanced.

Simple Balanced Systems Model

More rabbits mean more lynxes because rabbits are like McDonald's burgers for lynxes (reinforcing feedback loop).

Because food is so bountiful, we get more lynxes. More lynx means more demand for rabbits. Which means fewer rabbits (balancing feedback loop).

With no external intervention, this model will remain pretty balanced indefinitely. Like I said, this is a very simple model to understand.

Here's one that's a little more complex because it introduces some human problems:

Simple Unbalanced Systems Model

This model is less balanced.

The aphid stock is the predator. The plant stock (cabbage) is food and has no natural defenses. The natural balancing feedback loop is weak (repopulation). So it won't take long for the aphids to overwhelm the cabbage.

This means Susan — our budding horticulturist — has a serious problem because 'em aphids love cabbage.

Problem: How to get rid of the damn aphids?

I'm going to give two solutions in this example. First is the typical “Band-Aid” quick fix we see all too often. A fix that only treats the symptoms and not the root cause. This is *not* an example of thinking in systems.

Susan purchases some aphid insecticide spray. It's poisonous to aphids, yet, like Roundup (Glyphosate), is (cough *not* cough) “harmless” to humans.

This external intervention by Susan's nuclear bomb insecticide does a great job of controlling the aphid infestation. Yay! Band-Aid applied, problem “solved.”

Apfid Ballenced Systems Model

Let's look at another solution.

But this time we're going to apply systems thinking (solving the problem upstream so that the problem never materializes downstream).

As I've just said, the beauty of thinking in systems is that you get to eliminate (dissolve) the (old) problem so that it never exists.

  • Problem: How to get rid of the damn aphids?
  • Solution: It's not an aphid problem, it's a ladybug deficiency problem.

Ladybugs eat aphids.

The yummy aphid is the lunch. But because ladybugs aren't attracted to cabbage, the problem we need to solve has shifted.

New problem: How do we attract ladybugs?

Turns out that flowers from herbs such as cilantro (coriander), dill, fennel (and tons more) are good choices for attracting ladybugs.

So here's the new model:

Attract Ladybugs Systems Model

The herbs attract the ladybugs (for the flower pollen). Because the herbs are grown around the cabbage, the ladybugs naturally notice the aphid McDonald's store is open for business with an “all-you-can-eat” aphid buffet special.

The ladybugs feast on the aphids, naturally keeping them under control. Susan is happy because her cabbages are thriving, and she has bountiful herbs too. Win-win.

To demonstrate these two models in action, I used loopy (created by Nicky Case), which is a systems modeling simulator.

To see non-linear cause-and-effect in action, mouse over the aphid icon on the top model and click the up (^) arrow a few times (say 5).

Then do the SAME with the bottom model. Click the up (^) arrow on the aphid icon the same number of times.

Now watch.

You'll see the first cause-and-effect loop playing out. More aphids result in the cabbage crop dying, which leads to a depletion in aphids. Then the cabbage grows back, causing the aphids to multiply.

Both models should show the same behavior.

Now introduce the poison to control the aphids. Mouse over it, then click the up (^) arrow 5 times.

Watch how the poison affects the system as a whole. Add enough poison to control the aphids.

In reality you wouldn't want to use more poison than is needed, because there are other “invisible” systems at play which I've not modeled here. The poison has an economic cost, and an environmental (health) cost.

Once you have the perfect balance with the top model, the aphids will pretty much remain near enough terminated. As they reappear, the model should automatically nuke them again.

With the bottom model, activate the herbs icon. No need to touch the ladybug icon. They will be automatically attracted to the herbs.

Click the up (^) arrow just twice. Because the herb-ladybug subsystem is a reinforcing feedback loop, there is no depletion of stock.

The beauty now is that the ladybugs are attracted to the aphids and consume them (a balancing feedback loop), allowing the cabbage to thrive. The overall system is in balance (harmony).

Plus, as I've mentioned, this natural root cause solution has no economic or environmental cost. Win-win.

Here's an animated GIF of me running the model above:

Systems Model using Loopy

This baby, is systems thinking. 💪

And the same rules apply for our marketing systems. Sadly though, most marketing funnels behave more like the poison model above than the ladybugs model.

TTE teaches a traffic system that's a PART of the non-linear system that we think of as our marketing funnel. Traffic is not something we “add” to the marketing mix at the end (like many experts would have you believe).

Two better questions to ask yourself is:

  1. What does this influence?
  2. and what influences this?

Within the context of paid traffic, this relationship model STARTS with an ad (targeting and copy)…

  1. What does this influence?
  2. and what influences this?

BEFORE a click ever happens. Then after the click, we get to ask the same two questions:

  1. What does this influence?
  2. and what influences this?

More tomorrow.

—André (and Shawn)


All series emails can be found here.