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I remember buying a product once, and in the package was a hand-written note.

What a surprise! What a delight!

Someone took the time to write my name and a personalized message. It felt really special. This is an example of something that is unscalable.

While in the beginning you may be able to write a hand-written note for all of your customers, as you grow and as your business scales to hundreds or even thousands of orders, you will no longer be able to write personalized notes for every person even if you made it your full time job to write notes all day!

Some things don’t scale, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do them. Responding to every comment, message, or email in the beginning is the key to growing. Those connections and deep engagement will create ambassadors. They’re the people who will help you grow!

In this episode we talk about doing the unscalable things not only in the beginning, but how you should still be allocating time to do the things that don’t scale even when your business is much bigger.

Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
  • Getting to the level you want to be at requires doing the unscalable things along the way.
  • Don’t set the expectation that you’re going to be available to everyone.
  • If you can hire someone, hire great people and empower them; give them the voice of your company so they can fully represent it.
  • Reach out and do the unscalable things while you can and when you can—don’t get caught up in the automation you see in bigger companies.
  • If there’s a problem with a client, it means you didn’t set expectations right.
  • The things you can’t delegate are voice and vision.
  • Create deep connections with people.
  • Delight people with unexpected bonuses.
Show Notes
  • 06:29 Sean: The unscalable things are easier to illustrate with an example. Say, with every customer order you get, you write a handwritten note. That’s a really great experience for this person. They feel special and it feels personable, but as your business grows, as you start getting hundreds and thousands of orders, you can’t do that. Even if your whole job was to write notes eight hours a day, you wouldn’t be able to keep up. Writing personal handwritten notes from you as the founder of the business is not scalable, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be doing it. I see a lot of people who want to grow, but they look at businesses that are larger than them and what they’re doing, and they try to replicate that in an attempt to get to that level.
  • 07:26 The problem is, let’s say you want to be a large company. You want to do more marketing, so you’re sending out a lot of emails. You think, “What systems do they use? I’m going to use those systems and send out a bunch of emails,” but you have 20 people. It’s not super practical to be investing in those systems. The reason those larger businesses have those systems and operate that way is out of necessity, because they’ve reached a level of scale to where they can’t reach out personally. If you look at companies and say, “They don’t do handwritten notes,” that doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t. Most of the time, getting to the level you want to be at requires doing a bunch of the unscalable things along the way. Writing handwritten notes is what creates a really deep connection with someone and a brand ambassador for you.
  • 08:27 Ben: I originally thought that Sean was going to approach it from the perspective of somebody who is already in that medium to large size. I absolutely agree. That’s been my experience with so many things. When I’m interested in something, I immediately go to the forerunners, the celebrities, the people who have the kind of status that I’d like to get to. That creates this idealism about what you should expect to be able to do that drives you to emulate what they’re doing or not doing. That’s harmful, because you’re only seeing a picture of where they are today. You’re not seeing all of that other stuff. It’s forced me, as a creative person with various pursuits, to take a step back and stop looking at the people who are where I want to be someday.

Find somebody who’s where you are today or who’s a step ahead of you and find out what they’re doing.

  • 09:50 I know the things that I’m doing currently that are unscalable, but I can also learn from the people who are just a step ahead of me—what they’ve continued to do and what they’ve let go of—and I can take those things on as well.
  • 10:10 Sean: We’re not saying, “Do all of the unscalable things.” If you have a podcast and you’re spending a couple hours editing your own podcast, publishing it, tagging it, uploading it, and imbedding it in your post, that could be something you hire a podcast editor to do rather than trying to do it yourself. That’s not scalable. If you want to do more shows, start doing videos, or work on more products, you can’t do that if your time is bogged down in these things that aren’t scalable. I’m not saying you should do all of those things. Today, we’re talking more about the things that have a really great impact on your audience member or your customer that involve you personally doing something. Those are the unscalable things we’re talking about. In those other situations, at some point, you want to hire to avoid those bottlenecks.

Examples of Unscalable Things

  • 11:04 Before the show, I asked the Community members how they are doing unscalable things right now. If they were to grow, they wouldn’t be able to keep doing these things, but they’re doing them now. Charli said, “I reply to every comment I receive on my YouTube videos.” I think that’s super cool. That always feels super good. I subscribe to a number of people, a wide range. Some of them have subscribers in the millions, some have subscribers in the hundreds or tens of thousands. It always feels really cool when the creator of the video responds to you, especially if they have tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of subscribers. That feels really special.
  • 11:56 Ben: I don’t always look to see how many subscribers someone has, but if I see that a video has hundreds of thousands or millions of views and I see the person who actually uploaded the video commenting and replying to people, at a glance, it changes my perspective of them as a person or as a brand.
  • 12:19 Sean: On that note, Kelly said, “So if an unscalable thing is a good thing to do at first, but eventually you will grow beyond being able to do it anymore, how do you transition away from doing it without making your customers feel the impact of losing something that they may have grown accustomed to?” In this case, Charli’s replying to every single comment. At some point, she can’t keep doing that. It comes down to expectations. If you’re saying in your videos, “I will reply to every comment,” that’s probably not a good idea. Doing it as much as you can is admirable.
  • 12:56 Kelly and I continued to talk in the chat after this, and she was saying, “Okay, so maybe if I get ten comments now and I reply to all of them, when I grow at scale and I can no longer do that, if I can still try to reply to ten comments even if it’s not all of them.” I said, “Yeah, that’s a great way of thinking about it.” Even the president of the United States shouldn’t resolve to never reply to any kid’s handwritten letter to him. He certainly can’t reply to all of them, but for the one he does, it’s going to have a really great impact.
  • 13:30 Whenever these popular YouTubers reply to a comment, it’s such a cool experience for that one person. Not only that person, but everyone around has a positive experience seeing them reach out. Everyone who knows the kid that got a letter from the president thinks, “Wow, the president really is cool. I know he’s a busy guy and I’m sure he can’t reply to thousands of letters, but he did for that one person, and I think that’s awesome.”
  • 13:59 Ben: What do you think about this idea? You don’t make the unscalable things an aspect of your brand. For example, say that an aspect of your brand is that you have a personal connection with each of your customers. If you make that an aspect of your brand, you’re putting a ceiling on your growth, because there are only so many people you can create a meaningful connection with as a customer. At some point, you’re going to reach that ceiling and you aren’t going to be able to keep holding onto that. I’m using the word “aspect,” but maybe “value” is the right word.
  • 14:47 Sean: An integral part?
  • 14:51 Ben: Yeah.

The unscalable things are good to have as something you’d like to do, but not necessarily as a value of your brand.

  • 15:09 Sean: That’s an interesting sub topic. How do you make sure that it doesn’t become an integral part of your brand? We had a similar question in one of our past episodes. Someone said something about how they grew to the point where they weren’t able to respond to every single person or have deep connections and answer every question, and an audience member had a negative experience as a result. It comes down to setting expectations. Don’t set the expectation that you’re going to be available to everyone or respond to everyone—just do your best. It makes it something special. The president isn’t saying, “I’m never going to respond to letters because I’m too busy.” He also isn’t saying, “I’ll reply to every single letter.” It comes down to expectations and making it a special thing.
  • 16:18 Ben: Steve asked a question that you could almost use as a statement. He said, “Should you promise or create expectations for the unscalable, or should they always be pleasant surprises?”
  • 16:33 Sean: I think they need to be pleasant surprises. Otherwise, there’s nothing special about it. This ties into Robert’s example. He’s got two. He says, “We are currently at the scale in our business where either my wife or I can answer every email personally. It helps our audience and customers continue to connect with us on a one-to-one level. We used to only sell in markets and craft shows, so our packaging had lots of personal touches (twine wrapping, interesting bags and containers, etc) that didn’t necessarily work once we grew to the point where we were shipping products by mail or putting them on the shelves with retailers. Sometimes it’s less about scale and more like a trade-off between what works at the small-scale and what works at the larger scale.”
  • 17:19 In his case, they never promised that each package was wrapped with twine, but when someone got that, it was a nice personal touch that, at scale, they couldn’t have on shelves with retailers. It was never a promise, so it wasn’t a promise that they were breaking. It was always an extra bonus.
  • 17:40 Ben: You can continue doing that. For every 100 orders of this product, say, you choose 10 of them and you do those the special way. You can’t do it for all of them. Then, somebody receives that product and says something about it online, and somebody else sees that who bought something and didn’t get the nice packaging, I don’t think that creates a negative brand impression. The story I would get from that is, “Oh, every once in a while this company sends out something special. It’s a surprise, a gift.” It almost makes me want to play the lottery with that company. I think, “The next time I buy something, maybe I’ll be the one to get the golden ticket.” I was thinking about Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Scaling Correspondence

  • 18:40 Sean: Robert says, “How do you scale quality and personal voice in email correspondence without letting some of the people that write us fall through the cracks?” There’s a lot here, but it seemed kind of related to this. If you can’t reply, set the expectations. This is what we do with our welcome emails. I read all of the responses, I do. Even if I don’t immediately, I have things categorized and labeled, so at scheduled times I’ll go through and address things in future content or reply. I’m making the promise that I read every reply. I don’t say that I respond to every reply, because that would be the wrong expectation. I know I’m not going to be able to respond.

If you can hire someone, hire great people and empower them.

Give them the voice of your company so they can fully represent it.

  • 19:57 They’re completely taking it on. This is why you need to find really good people who are really invested.
  • 20:06 Ben: I signed up for something on Patreon, and I received something from them, this special thing they were doing. I had also just been watching some videos of Jack Conte, the guy who created it, who is also a fantastic musician. I was already feeling a little bit of a connection with him and thinking, “How cool that he decided to put this company together!” I’m reading through this email and I haven’t gotten to the bottom yet, and I’m thinking, “Wow, I can really see the personality in this email.” I assume this has to be Jack. What hired person would write with this much personality? It was fun, interesting, and engaging. I got to the bottom, and it was one of his employees. I loved that this employee was able to be themselves and express what I thought was really consistent with the brand that Jack created. It left me with a really positive brand impression.
  • 21:36 Sean: I feel like Cory Miller understands what we’re about, and he’s very able to convey the kind of brand I want people to engage with. That’s why I hired him—because he gets what we’re about. That’s what I love about the Community. I don’t have any interest in hiring people outside the Community, because these people are so great. They get what we’re about, and it’s fantastic. Cory Miller handles our Community Value Newsletter. Every week, you get a newsletter in the Community with a recap and some nuggets from the chat, recent threads, videos, recordings, and stuff like that. He handles all of that. It’s something I’ve delegated. Cory’s not writing something and signing it as me.
  • 22:25 For the newsletter, he’s got his picture, his name—it comes from him. He’s representing the brand. I wanted to let Scotty know in the chat that I’m seeing his messages. Even though I haven’t been reading them or calling them out, I’ve been tailoring the show to his situation to hopefully answer his question. He says, “This is what I’ve needed to hear, as I’m having a hard time keeping up with responding to every comment and email like I promised.” Robert says, “I think your audience will understand if you talk about it with them and reset expectations.”
  • 23:17 Scotty said, “That’s definitely what I need to do in all my content channels.” At this point, I brought in the part where I said that I read all the responses but I don’t say that I reply to all of the responses. He said that was a reality check for him because, he says, in his emails, he says, “I read and respond.” That’s something he definitely needs to change. You could still keep doing that, but if it’s not a promise, it’s not something you’re falling short on. If you’re able to do it, it’s a bonus and it feels special to people.

Your relationship with your audience is like your relationship with any other person.

If you make a promise you’re no longer able to keep, the best thing you can do is to have an honest talk with that person.

  • 23:56 Ben: Communicate and let them know, “I know I said I could do this, but now this has changed, and I can’t anymore.” Most of the time, if you’re communicating with this person honestly and you’re helping them understand the circumstances, they’ll understand and still be supportive of you. I think your audience works the same way.
  • 24:43 Sean: It’s the same way with clients, too. If you’ve reached a point in your project where things are going wrong, you’ve messed up, even if you think it’s the client’s fault. It always comes back to your responsibility and the expectations you set. If there’s a problem with a client, it means you didn’t set expectations right. That doesn’t mean the whole thing is just shot and that you should keep going off of these poor expectations. See every moment as an opportunity to set even clearer expectations for the future. Reach out and say, “Hey, client, I messed up. I put you in this situation where you were expecting this thing and I wasn’t able to deliver on it. That’s my fault.”
  • 25:29 Be totally honest. It’s the same with your audience: “I said that I read and reply to every message. This is truly my heart’s desire—I want to engage with you. I’ve reached a point where I’m not totally able to do this, and I don’t want to set these kinds of expectations for you. I want you to know that I want to uphold my world for you. If I’m able to read them, I’ll tell you that I can read them, and I’m going to reply to as many as I can, but it’s not something I can promise.” People are going to understand that.
  • 26:06 Ben: It’s interesting that we have the instinct to point blame and get rid of our responsibility, so our position in that relationship isn’t compromised. That’s what we think, generally. We think, “If I can somehow make this not my fault, that doesn’t put me in a compromising position, and this relationship can continue working.” The opposite is often true because people can see through that. People see when you’re trying to push away responsibility, and that builds a barrier.

It’s scary and hard, but when you take on responsibility, apologize, and communicate, it creates a stronger connection in that relationship.

The Power of Doing the Unscalable

  • 27:07 Sean: My friend Nathan Barry is speaking at seanwes conference next year, and he has this email marketing tool called ConvertKit. He built it. He’s bootstrapping this thing. He invested his own money in it and he’s building it up. He’s trying to build up recurring revenue. There are things you can do, like content marketing and advertisements, ways to generate traffic, leads, and sales. Instead of doing that, the scalable things—content marketing and advertising are scalable—he decided to do the unscalable things. It’s not always obvious, but sometimes it’s the most powerful. He started reaching out to people personally. He started reaching out to bloggers, podcasters, and influencers, building relationships and encouraging them to try out his tool.
  • 28:07 He’s building these relationships and reaching out personally, which has had a tremendous impact. He shares his monthly recurring revenue for ConvertKit publicly. When we went on the Mastermind Retreat, recurring revenue was something like $20,000 (Related: e209 Unsolicited Advice—Recap of A Mastermind Retreat). Now, that has quadrupled in two months! That’s from doing unscalable things. Maybe content marketing would have helped. Maybe it would have been easier and more scalable, but look at the impact. There’s hardly any content marketing. He could start a podcast, a blog, or a daily video show to grow this thing, but he decided to do the unscalable things and reach out to people.
  • 29:02 That’s not going to be what takes him from five to six figures a month—maybe it could, but at some level, reaching out personally may not be what grows them. Right now, in the early days, that’s a very powerful method. Maybe, in the future, they’ll have more automated ways of generating traffic and leads. You can still do the unscalable things.

When you’re at big scale, you can still do the unscalable things some of the time.

  • 29:30 Maybe, even though you have everything automated, you reach out to one person. You say, “Hey, this person is a pretty big influencer. I’m going to invest in this relationship and see where it goes.” When you’re Gary Vaynerchuck and you have a million Twitter followers, he still replies to people. He’ll still do video replies to people. On Twitter you can do those native videos, and someone tweets at him while he’s riding in a taxi or something, he records a five second reply. It’s like, “Hey, thanks Ben. I appreciate your support.” He likes to say people’s initials, so he would say, “Thanks B.T.”
  • 30:11 Ben: I like watching him on Periscope, because he always takes some time at the beginning or the end where he’s calling people out. That’s meaningful. At the same time, I am thinking, “What can I say? Maybe he’ll call my name out, too.” What he’s drawing out of people is also adding value to the experience of the user.
  • 30:42 Sean: Seeing those little video replies to other people feels cool to me. I like watching those. What did he say to this one random person? Even though it wasn’t to me, it’s still special. I like his #AskGaryVee show and I’ve gotten a lot of value from it. I don’t like to be a freeloader, so I’m going to buy his book. I sent him and his team a big package with some gifts in it. I knew of six people in the room that help out with the team, so I emailed DRock and said, “What are Stefan and Gary’s shirt sizes?” He comes back with a list of 13 people or so. Of course, by this point, I’ve committed.
  • 31:40 I sent them my hand lettered Hustle shirts that would retail for $360 or so, as well as a bunch of Hustle stickers. When I think of Gary, I think of Hustle. I sent them this gift, which is hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise, and I never saw anyone wear one of the shirts but one of the stickers made it onto India’s laptop. In most of the episodes of the Ask Gary Vee show, you can see the Hustle sticker on the back of the laptop. That’s so cool. That was worth it to me. That’s not a scalable thing. I can’t give out a bunch of free stuff, but someone had given me value, and I wanted to send them some cool things. Since then, they’re have been people who have said, “Hey, where did you get those stickers?” India will say, “Go check out the seanwes store.”

Reach out and do the unscalable things while you can and when you can—don’t get caught up in the automation you see in bigger companies.

  • 33:03 Ben: You can make this a value by recognizing the power of doing the unscalable things, which isn’t all about the bottom line. You do them in the beginning and they can be very powerful for you. They can be huge drivers. If you do them when you’re big, they can still bring you more profit and create a deeper connection. Maybe your value is that you create deep connections with people. That can’t scale across every single person in your audience, but if that’s one of your values, you’re going to do that regardless of whether or not there’s some profit in it. As a person who owns and runs a business, that value is super beneficial.
  • 33:57 The personal connection you have with people helps you to be closer to firsthand information about how people are experiencing your product, what it means to them, and the difference it’s making in their lives. That can be a huge motivator. That could be the thing, like Cory Miller said in the chat today, “My bed is warm and the world is cold.” That connection you have with people can be the thing that gets you out of that warm bed and into the cold world to create more value. It’s about more than just how it influences your bottom line, especially if you make it a value. Again, you can’t do that for every single person, but the value of making deep connections with people is a great one to carry into your business as it gets bigger.

What Are the Things You Can’t Delegate?

  • 34:57 Sean: What do you think about this question from Robert? He says, “When you’re looking at doing unscalable things, how do you differentiate between the things that your audience values and the things that they wouldn’t necessarily notice or care about if it went away?” He gave an example of things they do that are unscalable: “A handwritten note on every package is something a customer would value. Whether you personally hand-tie the ribbon on the package or you delegate that to an employee—this probably wouldn’t matter to the customer.”
  • 35:41 Ben: I recently listened to a podcast that talked about words and how words are this funny thing. They’re just made-up combinations of sounds to describe the world around us and to share information. Words are one of the original ways that we took what is in here, in our brain, and are able to put that into somebody else’s brain. It takes on written form, and now you can transfer ideas digitally. There are a lot of different ways to transfer ideas. When someone receives a handwritten note, there’s a piece of you in that. They’re not just getting a handwritten note, but it’s your handwriting. It’s the formation of letters that took you years to learn. It’s your own unique style, something that came from you. The tying of a package could be similar, but it’s so obviously you if it’s a handwritten note or a recorded reply. That’s the difference.

People value being connected to other people, and you give them a piece of yourself when you do something personal like writing a note or recording your voice.

  • 37:28 Sean: When it comes to scaling, as you try to grow out of superhero syndrome and bring people on your team, as your business is growing, the struggle is how to keep doing the unscalable things while balancing that with not doing things you shouldn’t be doing? It comes down to two words. The things you can’t delegate are voice and vision. Assuming you’re the head of your company, the CEO, it’s voice and vision.
  • 38:16 Ben: Going back to the Cory Miller example, his voice is representing the seanwes brand, but it’s not your voice, Sean. Is that an example of something where you were willing to relinquish your voice, knowing that the spirit of the brand was still going to be upheld by Cory’s voice?
  • 38:40 Sean: With this originally, I’m trying to say that in doing this show, if I write a blog or a newsletter, that should be my voice. I don’t think someone else should write for me. In places where I am putting out my voice, I don’t think I should delegate my voice. That doesn’t mean that I can’t introduce other voices into the brand. I wouldn’t want to say, “Cory Miller, ghost write something and make it sound like it’s from me.” Sometimes, he helps me set up campaigns with things that I’ve written, or he’ll put in placeholder text while I go write something. I don’t want to outsource my voice.
  • 39:36 Even if he’s pretty close, I would rather talk with Cory Miller and then give him a platform to speak to people, and it’s from Cory Miller. You wouldn’t want to outsource handwritten notes and have those people sign your name. That’s not cool. That’s essentially outsourcing your voice. You could give meaning to this employee or this partner or these people on your team, give them some of the weight of your brand name and empower them. Have their name mean something, and have them write a handwritten note. It’s still cool. The person receiving that thinks, “Wow, I know they’re on the team there, and I got a handwritten note from them.”
  • 40:35 Ben: When you wrote in to DRock, it would have been cool if DRock had passed that on to Gary Vee and Gary Vee had replied to you personally. It’s also cool that DRock replied to you and that you had some interaction with him. When Sean and I had a conversation on Monday, we talked about the meaningfulness of the work you’re doing. I defined that by, first and foremost, how profitable your work is. That has to do with value, but there’s also the value of your time. When we talk about delegating things, you’re essentially getting rid of things that, were you to do them, would not be worth your time.
  • 41:39 Your time is now worth more than it costs to pay someone else to do it. Recognize the areas where you’re able to create more value with your time. I wish I could illustrate all of this, because it’s a little bit complex. There’s also the issue of working hard vs. working smart. Be more productive with your time and you can produce more value in a smaller amount of time. That’s why there is the Value-Based Pricing model—you’re not pricing on the number of hours it takes you to do, but you’re pricing based on the value of the solution you’re creating.

The meaningfulness of your work has less to do with the quantity of time than it does with the quality of that time.

  • 42:33 If you’re doing it right and delegating the right things, if you’re keeping your expectations in check and you’re not overworking yourself in areas you shouldn’t, if you’re not trying to grow too fast, if all these things are in balance, there should be enough margin for you to uphold your value of creating deep connections with people and still doing some of those things that aren’t scalable. You can’t do them for every single person, but you protect that by becoming more profitable, delegating things, recognizing the actual value of your time, and being more productive and focused in your work.
  • 43:20 Sean: You’re protecting the margin you need in order to be able to create those deep connections. It’s a balance between long term and short term thinking. Sometimes, as I’ve learned this year, you have to be short term. You have to focus on the now, being profitable now, doing smart things now, delegating now, and outsourcing now. Otherwise, you’re doing all the unscalable things—you should be doing some of them to create deep connections, but there are detrimental unscalable things you shouldn’t be doing that don’t have anything to do with your voice or vision.
  • 44:00 Those are things you should be getting help on. You may need to focus on those things now. When you get bigger, it doesn’t make sense logically to engage with these people one-on-one. Where’s the return? You could have spent that time elsewhere and made money. It’s a longer term investment. You create a deep connection with that person, and they become your ambassador. They go on to tell people that story, and maybe a year down the road they end up compensating you for something.

Make Connections Your Values

  • 44:37 Ben: I absolutely agree that it’s a longer term investment, but I like to think of it first as a value. You’re doing that, first, because it’s something that you do, not first and foremost because it’s profitable. The byproduct of that is that, long term, it does end up being more profitable. That’s almost always true.
  • 44:59 Sean: How do you define the value? Your value can’t be, “I respond to everyone.”
  • 45:04 Ben: No, the value is, “I create deep connections with people.” That can scale, because you’re not obligating yourself to every single person in that statement. You’re just saying “people” in general. In the beginning, that could mean every single one of your customers. Later on, when you’ve got hundreds or thousands of customers, that means that you allocate the time for a handful where you go deep. If your focus is on whether this ends up profiting you in the long run or not, this is something you do—”It’s a value that I have,” there are other benefits beside the long term gains, but the long term gains are also there. That’s true for almost anything that’s a long term strategy, that’s more relational in nature.

Make your value creating deep connections with people.

  • 46:42 Sean and I recently talked about something similar that’s one of his values—his stance on discounts. He has said that, whether this ends up being profitable or not, it’s something he’s going to do. Whether that becomes more profitable for Sean in the long term or not, that’s something he’s going to keep doing. He doesn’t even think about that first—he thinks about his value. However, it does have the benefit of being more profitable in the long term because of the way he’s positioning his brand.
  • 47:28 Sean: Earlier, Cory was telling me about his film. He’s doing a film that debuts in January, and he’s thinking 50 people or something will come, right Cory?
  • 47:41 Cory: The venue can hold 89, but we’ll see.
  • 47:44 Sean: How does doing the unscalable relate to you in this situation, Cory? How does it make you think about this film and maybe the next one after it?
  • 47:59 Cory: While I was listening, I was thinking about a conversation I had with my friend Jonathan. He’s helping produce it, and we were talking about different things we could do in this premiere for the people that show up, like making a t-shirt, sticker, or maybe a raffle ticket. We want to give them that experience, and I may not be able to do that in the future when there are 200 or 500 people, but right now I think I can handle something like that. It’s not scalable in the long run to do this for every film of mine that premiers, but right now I can, so I think I should.
  • 48:45 Sean: If I saw a movie and I got a button or a sticker or something, I would think, “Yeah, I did go to that movie. It wasn’t just a dream.”
  • 49:07 Ben: There’s something really cool about having it at a theater and renting out that space.
  • 49:17 Sean: Where should people go if they’re interested?
  • 49:20 Cory: Go to You can sign up and get stories on why I wrote the short film.
  • 49:35 Ben: What’s cool about that is that you’ve got some room in there to talk beforehand about the film and stuff like that. If you’ve got a smaller audience, you can talk to people one-on-one, too. I’m not 100% positive that I’m going to be able to go, but I’m working on it, because I really want to see it.
  • 50:14 Cory: I think I can promise that every time I have a film, I will speak. Maybe I can’t do every single thing I’m doing this time, but I’m not going to promise all of those things. I’m going to promise the things I can stick to.

Promise what you can do as long as you have a bonus—if you don’t have a bonus, promise one less thing and still do the extra one.

  • 50:49 Ben: If you’ve already got in your mind what it is you’re going to promise, sometimes we do this thing to ourselves where we create an expectation in our minds and project that expectation on our audience members. The beauty of not having made the promise yet is that you get to set the expectation. You can look at that objectively and say, “My audience doesn’t actually expect this from me yet. If I promise one thing less, to them, it’s not like I’ve taken something away. I’m making a promise, and then I have this bonus thing.”
  • 51:40 Sean: It’s a special experience, where you’re able to delight the customer. If everything they get is great, but it’s all promised, then it’s what they expect. It’s the unexpected nature of the bonus that delights people. It could be as simple as the Apple stickers when you buy an iPhone. They don’t say, “Stickers included.” Laci was telling me last night that it’s only with certain packages or expansion packs, but one of the Cards Against Humanity packs had a hidden card in the lid. You actually had to tear it apart, but there’s a hidden bonus card in the lid. Apparently that was going around.
  • 52:42 Ben: Was it Nathan, in the Community, who did an unboxing of the Hustle shirt? He had that experience.
  • 53:12 Sean: Great video. It’s so fun to see someone opening your packaging and explaining the whole thing. He was narrating the whole thing, “Oh hey, there’s an extra sticker. Bonus button!” It’s cool to see that. None of it was promised, but it’s there, and it enhances the experience.