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There are multiple stages to a person’s knowledge and involvement in your brand: not knowing anything about your brand, initially hearing something, first interaction, first purchase, ongoing loyalty, and so on.

Anyone can read a blog, but it requires action on your audience’s part to sign up for a newsletter, purchase a product, or subscribe for a membership.

Exclusivity is about providing the best parts of your brand to your loyal followers. When they exchange some kind of value for something you are offering, whether it’s money for a membership or an email address for a newsletter, the value you need to deliver should be greater than what your audience exchanged.

On this episode we talk about how you can establish deeper loyalty by allowing your audience into exclusive aspects of your brand, and why inviting people to step deeper into your brand is worthwhile.

Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
  • In order for something exclusive to happen, there has to be an exchange of value.
  • The quality of your content should increase with exclusive content.
  • In order to create loyalty you have to have a level of exclusivity.
  • The power behind bringing someone into something exclusive is having really good inclusive content.
  • The key to bringing people in deeper is to give more value than they gave you every single time.
  • To create tiers, start with the product and then you add extra value on top of that.
  • Your free content transitions into free content available in exchange for something other than money, and that’s a transition into paid content.
  • Your audience can sense when you’re more important to yourself than they are.
  • People connect the best with brands when they feel like they’ve joined something that’s larger than themselves.
Show Notes
  • 02:19 Cory: Exclusivity is one of the ways you take someone who’s on the outside of your brand, or someone who’s trying to take from you instead of establishing the Rule of Reciprocity, and brings them into the inside. When you’re trying to bring people in deeper by promoting something, or wanting to create brand ambassadors, exclusivity is the tool you can use to get people from the outside and bring them into what your brand is all about.

What Is Exclusivity When It Comes to Brands?

  • 04:05 Kyle, when you hear the word “exclusive”, especially when it comes to branding, companies, or business, what are the first things that come to mind?
  • 04:20 Kyle: Exclusive isn’t necessarily about purchasing something, it really means when a brand does something for you that not everyone receives. Maybe you’re signed up to a newsletter list and you receive the content early or you receive it before most people see it, or maybe you receive newsletters that are specifically for the newsletter list, and they’re not available publicly. When I think of exclusive, I think of things that aren’t accessible to everyone else.
  • 05:10 Cory: I like to think of it as: when your brand is inclusive, this is information, content, or access anyone can get. Anyone can go onto Google, type something in, and have immediate access.

Inclusive content means you don’t have to exchange any kind of value for what you’re receiving.

  • 05:51 We had an episode on content marketing and why it’s important to create evergreen content that lasts for a long period of time or indefinitely, so that you’re helping bridge the gap between people outside of your brand, provide them with value, and then offer them a way to become exclusive (Related: e005 Set Your Brand Apart With Content Marketing). Free content is the free handouts when someone walks into your store or articles on your blog. It’s free content that no one has to exchange anything for. In order for something exclusive to happen, there has to be an exchange of value. Inclusive content is free for anyone, but if they want to become exclusive, they need to exchange value of their own, like an email address. In this day and age, your email address is more sacred than your phone number to a lot of people.
  • 07:06 Kyle: When people send letters, you have to share your address. Back in the day, that was the main form of communication. Eventually, everyone got phone numbers and it became less common to share addresses. Addresses aren’t something we swap when we meet people now, and phone numbers are becoming like that now too. I don’t share my phone number on my business card or my website. It’s only shared with really close friends or family. Now, we’ve got email addresses and it’s becoming like phone numbers. Not everyone is sharing their email address so openly anymore. They’re looking to things like Facebook or Twitter to be reached through messages until they feel comfortable giving out their email. The email inbox is a very sacred thing for a lot of people.
  • 08:42 Cory: For a lot of people, that’s their main hub—that’s where all their information comes in.
  • 08:47 Kyle: That’s an exchange of value. For you to ask for someone’s email address is like asking them to let you in the door of their house. From the brand’s perspective, it could seemingly be simple—”All you do is give an email address and we’re going to give you value!” From the outside, people don’t know what they’ll receive after they give that email address most of the time. The power of inclusive content is that you can show people what your value is. You can show them what kinds of things can be expected from your free content and when they sign up for something, they’re expecting something even more.

The quality of your content should increase with exclusive content.

  • 09:56 Cory: That’s why you see places where you enter to win something and you have to give your name or email. In order to receive something, you have to give something there. This is where free content disrupts that and says, “I want to give this value to help bridge the gap between my audience and myself.” Robert asked a great question, “How do you let your audience know about exclusive content or value without coming across as bait?” He’s asking how you can release free content and have it standalone instead of being like, “Here’s half this article. Sign up for $2.99 a month and you can get the rest of it!” or you get to the bottom and it’s just an obvious funnel.
  • 11:03 There are a lot of different philosophies you can take to that. Every brand needs to have a deeper level of exclusivity. We’ll get into this a little more with how exclusive comes to pass with purchases and memberships. Even if you’re not directly selling something, in order to create loyalty you have to have a level of exclusivity. The number one way that’s happening is the explosion of the newsletter and mailing list. A couple of years ago, you would have said “mailing list” and everyone else would say, “I don’t want to be on a mailing list! It’s spam! I don’t want that stuff.” Now, that’s the intrigue point. If people can get on your newsletter, that’s more than a foot in the door. Now, you can invite them in deeper to the next level.

The power behind bringing someone into something exclusive is having really good inclusive content.

  • 12:11 Kyle: You’re giving and giving and then you take. I’ve seen people that say, “I share one blog post every month or so and I’m making a course. I want them to sign up for my newsletter for this course. The content is going to be really valuable and they’ll have to pay for the course, but I want them to sign up for it. Why am I not getting any people subscribing?” Well, you haven’t given enough for them to feel confident signing up for this thing. You’re putting a wall in front of them saying, “I’ll share some stuff with you, but I don’t want to share everything with you because that’s going to be in the course and that’s paid content.”
  • 13:20 The problem is you haven’t set up this relationship where the other person feels like you’ve told them so much for free. If I sign up with a newsletter or to be notified of a course you’re coming out with, I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like. People have to trust your expertise. Sean McCabe recently did a Supercharge Your Writing workshop and he’s already shared a lot about writing publicly for free. He’s talked about writing and he’s helped people in the Community to supercharge their writing, but he still had things to share. Putting it all together in one place made it much different.
  • 14:15 Signing up for that was a no-brainer for me and there was a monetary exchange. It was a no-brainer because publicly I knew this person knew what they were talking about. I’d heard tips and information that already helped me, so taking the course helped me get to the next level. I think people overlook how the newsletter is an exclusive area and you want motivation for people to even sign up for that. They’re not just going to come to your site and not see anything from you, and just assume they want to signup there.
  • 15:08 Cory: You have to prove to them that what they’re giving up is an equal amount of value to what they’re receiving. If I go to the grocery store and I buy a frozen pizza, there has to be a level exchange of value or an over-exchange of value.

The key to bringing people in deeper is to give more value than they gave you every single time.

  • 15:58 If someone gives me their email address, I want to give above and beyond the amount of value they gave me. If someone pays me $100 for a service, I want to give them $500 worth of value in return, not because I’m undercutting myself, but because I want them to realize my investment in them. As a brand, the way you build loyalty is by delivering more value than your audience is giving you. If I’m going to sign up for a membership or I’m going to buy an app, I need to get a kind of return on it that’s going to be larger than what I put in. That’s how you build loyalty. If I were to pay $10 for something and it’s a janky piece of plastic that I don’t value over $2, then I’m not going to buy something from that company again.
  • 17:12 Kyle: In a real world scenario, imagine you introduce yourself to someone and ask what they do, and they say, “I do website design and I’ve done that for five or six years. I’ve worked with some good companies. If you don’t mind giving me your email address, I’ll send you some more info about that.” At that point, why would you give them an email address? You don’t know what they’ll be sending you. That’s essentially what you’re doing when you have a site up that doesn’t have anything to give and it only asks for an email signup because your newsletter is completely exclusive. There’s no public content there.
  • 18:17 The second scenario is that this person talks about web design and you have an hour long conversation with them. Maybe you end up having such a great conversation that you’re taking notes and at the end, they say, “I have this awesome guide to getting started with web design. It could really help you. Let me have your email address and I’ll email that to you as soon as I get home.” There’s a big difference there. Cory mentioned the amount of value you give for what you’re asking for, and I think that starts at the beginning as well. Give enough value for me to easily hand you whatever you’re looking for—an email address or my money. Once you’ve given enough value for what I’ve given you, you one-up that value again.
  • 19:26 Cory: The value exchange almost has to be uneven. In order to be a successful brand, the amount of value you deliver always has to be more than the amount you received from your customer or your audience. As you deliver above and beyond, people are going to think of you positively (Related: e001 What is a Brand?). It’s perception. How do people think about you? Do they think you’re a ripoff? Or do they think, “Oh my gosh, I just signed up for this course and I made back my money in 24 hours?” We’re part of the seanwes Community, which is a paid membership, and there have been people who showed up there on their first day and said, “I made all of my membership cost back 10-fold today.” It’s mind blowing. You want to give people more value than what they gave you. That’s how you’re able to build relationships and friendships—put as much in it as you’re able to. Go above and beyond and that’s how you build loyalty.

Set Expectations

  • 21:07 Kyle: This is why it’s extremely important to have a narrow and deep understanding of what your brand is about. If you don’t, there’s less understanding of what to expect when you sign up. If I’m an audio mixer/basket maker/guitar player and I share all these random things, and I ask you to sign up for my newsletter list, it’s not clear what I’ll be sending. Maybe someone really likes what I share about audio mixing and none of the other stuff. You have to set expectations and there has to be clarity. I think that’s really important when we’re talking about exclusivity. People want to know what they’re getting into.
  • 22:10 Cory: Set expectations. That’s why it’s so important to have a lead magnet. A lead magnet is where you say, “If you sign up for the list, this what you’re going to get in exchange. Here’s an above and beyond.” For example, on, you can get my free 40 page PDF guide called 9 Key Questions for Building a Successful Brand Foundation, but it requires you to sign up for the Invisible Details newsletter. I’m saying, “Not only are you going to get this weekly content, but I want to give you something even more.” People think, “I need that.” Subscriptions for the newsletter have gone through the roof since I added that. It’s not because I’m trying to weasel people onto my list, it’s because I want to help people. Whatever you’re trying to do with your brand, that’s what you have to come back to. It’s not just about getting something, it’s truly about helping your audience and wanting them to be the best versions of themselves. If you do anything else, it’s not going to work.

Your audience can sense when you’re more important to yourself than they are.

  • 23:42 Kyle: A lead magnet is really important. It’s not trying to trick them into doing something, it’s incentivizing. Krispy Kreme gives you a free hot, fresh glazed donut when you come in the door. They don’t ask for anything. You could eat it and you could leave then if you wanted to, but they’re incentivizing you.
  • 25:29 Cory: They’re literally giving you a taste of what to expect.
  • 25:37 Kyle: They even have a sign outside that tells when they have donuts to give away. You know that if you go in there, you’ll get a free one, so there’s incentive to come through the door. Even if you restrain yourself and only have one donut before you leave, they’ve already brought you in the door and got you hooked on something of value. From there, you can get as many donuts as you want. That’s really what a lead magnet does—it brings you in and gives you something for free. Krispy Kreme isn’t trying to trick people, they’re just confident enough in their donuts that they’ll give you a free one and you can leave if you want.
  • 26:38 Cory: You have to be creative about it too. I know a lot of brands that have newsletters either have a product or service they’re trying to sell. Selling that is how they’ll stay in business. It can be tricky figuring out how to get people to sign up on your newsletter or to join their free membership forum. I was on a site that’s a wholesaler—they get a bunch of brands to sell on their platform, but you have to have an account to even see what’s on the website. If you’re not logged in, it just says, “Hey, sign up for a free account!” I thought that was so interesting. What am I exchanging? It’s a membership, but it’s free. What is being a member getting me? They’re making their whole business model be wrapped in “you have to be one of us” in a sense. You have to be part of their ecosystem. It’s not just newsletters, you can give access to part of a website by having a subscription. It’s interesting.
  • 28:40 Kyle: That confusion you’re talking about can be really dangerous. Let’s say you’ve written a guide for your lead magnet. It’s easy to say, “I’ve spent hours and hours on this. This has a lot of value and shares a lot of information, so obviously someone would want to sign up to receive this or to pay me for it. I don’t need to share other things.” They’re thinking they give you a lot of value for a free account, but you don’t know or trust that company well enough to understand what signing up for an account means. They’re not thinking about how much of an investment it is for the person signing up for the account. You’re giving your email address, your name, and possibly linking to Twitter or Facebook.
  • 29:58 You might have to go through someone kind of on-boarding thing and notifications that come through email, which you eventually have to unsubscribe to, and if you don’t want to be on the service, you have to cancel your account. There’s all these things that are wrapped up in creating an account. Having some form of: “Here’s why you should trust us. Here’s why you would want to have this,” makes a lot more sense than a wall of, “We’ll give you something once you give us something.”
  • 30:32 Cory: Those brands are hoping for increased word of mouth—that the people who have already signed up and shopped there would invite others to do the same. Word of mouth is their marketing. You can have word of mouth as your only marketing, but it becomes very strained. The power of your name is only in the hands of your customers. Word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing, but if all you have going for you is hoping for articles shared by people, it’s going to be a lot more difficult for people to want to get to that exclusive level.
  • 31:24 Kyle: Recently, I ran into a similar situation where you had to sign up for a free account. The idea of what it was was interesting to me, but I didn’t know anything about the brand specifically. I signed up for an account to get in and see what was going on. I got through all the signup forms and process, and the first thing on the platform is a popup that says, “Would you like to share on Twitter, ‘I just signed up for this account? Come join me!'” I haven’t even experienced your product or brand, why I would I share that yet? It was ask, ask, ask. I looked around and then ended up closing my account, because I feel like they’re just going to keep asking for things.
  • 32:45 Cory: We’ve talked a lot before on the detriment of newsletter or signup popups. I guarantee everyone has had the experience where you click on a news article or blog post and before you can even read the content, a popup comes up that says, “Hey, if you like this, you should signup for our newsletter!” I didn’t read it! You didn’t give me a chance to read your content! I immediately close the tab, because they’re saying, “We’re so important! We care about ourselves!” They don’t care about me.

Tiers Within Exclusive Content

  • 33:38 Kyle: The exclusive content should be fairly easy to access. You don’t want to weigh people down with this long, drawn out process, or to keep asking them even after they’ve joined your exclusive club.

Your free content transitions into free content available in exchange for something other than money, and that’s a transition into paid content.

  • 34:12 Cory: There are two aspects of paid content. The first is a one-time purchase—a product or an app—and now you’ve become exclusive because you’re one of the only people in the world who owns that product. 500,000 people could have the product, but when you pay for something, there’s still going to be a huge amount of people in the world who don’t own that thing, so there is a level of exclusivity there. The other aspect of paid exclusivity is membership—subscriptions, loyalty programs, community access, mastermind groups, etc.
  • 35:19 This is something you’re paying for on a consistent basis. There’s one-time purchases and subscriptions, but those can have various tiers. A couple of people asked, “How do you tier access for clothing, products or software apps, etc.?” We didn’t want to get too far into that, but you start with the product and then you add extra value on top of that. If you wanted to do a shirt, then the first tier would be the shirt and the next tier would be a shirt with a bundle of items and a special behind-the-scenes video that’s $50. Start with that product and that’s how you do tiered pricing. You don’t cripple the product by having the product be $30 and then doing a cheaper version for $20. Start with your product and a base price, then add on top of that.
  • 36:26 Kyle: Cory and I both use OmniFocus for checklists to make sure we get everything done each day. They have these tiers and one of them is a 14-day free trial type thing, then they have a standard price you can pay for the app, then there’s a pro version. They give so much value with the standard that I didn’t even need pro for over a year. It was long enough for me to get so into using it that I finally realized I needed to release some of those constraints they have for their standard version. Even for their lowest cost, they’re giving a huge amount of value. After that huge amount of value has been completely explored, you’re more than willing to pay the $30 or $40 to upgrade. You’re doubling the price, but at that point, you’re realizing that it’s worth it.
  • 38:03 Cory: A great way to do that is exactly like you said, start with the standard product and then add on top of that, instead of saying, “Here’s the full product, but we disabled a bunch of the features so you can’t really use it until you buy the pro version.” There have been so many apps I’ve purchased for $5 to $20 where they do that! You can use it in this mangled state until you give them another $20 for the pro version, which has all the features. That’s a terrible way to do it because you’re punishing the people who are investing in your brand on a lower tier. They’re exchanging that value! Start with your product, even if you have to price it a little bit higher, and then add on the features.

Exclusivity Is a Feeling & Experience

  • 38:57 Whenever someone pays for something, they become exclusive. There’s this feeling that comes from exclusivity. It’s being part of something bigger, identity, association with like-minded people.

People connect the best with brands when they feel like they’ve joined something that’s larger than themselves.

  • 39:31 That’s why limited edition is so popular! There’s only 50 of something in the world, so when you buy one, you think, “Wow, I’m one of 50 people in the world who own this!” Imagine the feeling of meeting someone else who was one of the other 49? There’s a huge level of identity wrapped up in that. Whatever it is that you’re selling, understand that’s what help people become exclusive. You need to treat the people on the exclusive side of your brand with a deeper level of quality because there’s been an exchange of value.
  • 40:16 People who are on your newsletter should be treating different than the people who are just consuming your product on the outside and then leaving. These are people you need to take care of. You have to treat them better because you’re trying to help them have a better life and you’re trying to establish loyalty. People want to come back to your brand when they feel like they’re connecting to something deeper and that’s what exclusivity creates, whether it’s from a product, service, community membership, subscription, etc.
  • 41:13 Kyle: I saw an example of this back when we were talking about starting this podcast. I’ve watched Casey Neistat’s daily vlogs where he shares his adventures and travels, weaves them together into this nice story, and shares some good value along the way. Since he does a lot of traveling, he has the highest-tier platinum exclusive American Airlines card. I remember this one specific vlog where he goes to the airport and he bypasses a huge line of people by going through a side door. There’s a check-in back there with a little lounge area and he’s the only one there. They give him his boarding pass, he goes straight to the front of the security line, and he goes first class once he gets through there. It’s an experience that he’s paid for.
  • 42:59 He’s paid for this subscription for this premium service from them and they’re offering a well-put together experience. When it’s a product, you have the experience of opening it and using it, but there’s an association wrapped up in owning the product. When you’re talking about a paid membership, there’s a lot more responsibility on the brand’s part to keep up with that experience and maintain that every time. Every time you go in an airport, there should be this exclusive area you can go to for American Airlines. There should be nice, friendly people there and you should be able to get through really fast. They’ve set a new standard on top of what they’ve already been doing.
  • 43:59 Cory: Having an intimate experience is what you want to provide the exclusive people. People want to be part of that. They want to be part of something where not everyone else gets this kind of treatment. That goes back to being inclusive—anybody can do that. You don’t have to fit a description to get a membership, except for maybe your target audience and you’ve got a level of exclusivity within that audience. If you’re wanting to bring in your target audience, you have to be inclusive and give anyone the chance to be part of your brand on a lower tier. Exclusivity comes in when anyone can join, but you have to exchange some value.
  • 45:06 Kyle: If you hold back the exclusive side of your brand, whether it’s a product, subscription, or newsletter signup, you can’t really make the exclusive thing exclusive. It’s got to be available to everyone. Let’s say you’re posting a blog post every week and people are getting really good information from that. If they reach out to you because they want to know more about a post, you should be able to say, “Here’s some info. Also, if you sign up for my newsletter or buy this product, you can receive stuff like this weekly.” There’s more information about this product out there. I won’t name any names but I got to this point where I wanted to learn a specific topic and I had seen something shared by someone. I reached out and said, “That was fantastic what you shared. I have a couple of questions,” and they said, “I do a course on this, but I only do it every couple of weeks. I’ll try to put your name in the hat and we might get to that eventually. I’m not sure when I can get you in, but I’ll get back to you.” It was like there was an exclusive exclusive thing. You’re offering a course, but it’s not really accessible to everyone. That was a rough experience.