Chapter 27

A Mini-Site Story

“Have you heard? Bill asked. “Paid advertising performance is going down the toilet and it’s all Apple’s fault!”. 

“And just when I was preparing to launch another Facebook Ad campaign too. I am going to be stuck doing cold organic outreach forever”. 

Tom had known Bill for a while now. He sometimes ran into him in the local Starbucks. He had always marvelled at all the latest hacks and bright shiny objects Bill came up with. Bill seemed to spend hours and hours distracted by things new.

Bill certainly had a bad case of Bright-Shiny-Object-Syndrome complicated by a dose of Fear-of-missing-out. 

Very Occasionally, Bill reported ‘landing’ a new client.

Tom could see he never followed through. Never really made a connection with his audience.

Consistently inconsistent, Tom thought.

He was unimpressed.

He was the tortoise to Bill’s hare.

Bill took great pleasure in teasing Tom about how he was not on Clubhouse yet. Bill spent hours in different ‘rooms’ waiting to be called to the stage. He was convinced that it was the new ‘killer marketing App’. 

“And that’s possible” thought Tom, “but right now I’m more concerned with something far more fundamental…”

“You’re procrastinating” messaged Bill “You should be out there hustling for new clients rather than wasting your time on ‘busy work’ developing foundational systems in your business”.

“Digital privacy isn’t going to affect me on Facebook”

Tom knew business was an infinite game. He’d been online full time now for a couple of years and could see from his stats (and his bank account) that he was on a steady path to growth.

He had a tight rein on his expenses and a growing list of happy customers.

Sure, he had made mistakes and was likely to make others too but his ‘modus operandi’ was paying off. Being an entrepreneur, to him, was about managing risk by considering probabilities not possibilities.

A Post-it Note stuck to the edge of his desk-top computer reads …

“Better done than none” 

Whenever he started to procrastinate, it was there to remind him.

“Focus on serving your clients as best you can” he’d always told himself. “Happy clients will kick off the network effect and more will appear from out of the blue.

All I have to do is keep building an emotional connection with my audience and making offers.

That said…

He was watching the digital privacy war with interest. What would it do to his business? On one hand, he was pleased Apple was finally forcing Facebook to come clean about their intrusive data harvesting habits. 

Giving people a choice with App Tracking Transparency.

On the other, he knew he needed to be ahead of the curve. He could see this was a big opportunity to grow his business.

“Never let a good crisis go to waste” Churchill had said… And Tom didn’t intend to.

A blind man could see big changes coming…

GDPR in Europe

CCPA in California.


Antitrust suits against Google, Facebook and Apple flying around like confetti.

Wicked Reports has made it clear that the days of intrusive tracking are numbered.

“You just have to know SOMEBODY bought not WHO”… said Tim Cook.

People have a right to privacy.

Tom agreed.

No government could let the Cambridge Analytica scandal happen twice.

But Bill liked the status quo.

He was reluctant to let it go.

The power it gave him to pinpoint individuals made Ad campaigns so much easier to manage. Almost guaranteed positive R.O.A.S..

He was not a deep thinker… Never gave digital privacy a second thought. 

It’s clear to Tom that the digital chickens are coming home to roost. Fundamental changes are being forced.

Google is well-known for ‘slapping’ abusive practices down.

Now, the boot is on Apple’s foot.

They are slapping Facebook and their ilk.

Putting ‘App Tracking Transparency’ front and centre.

Bill and his mates are going to get caught in the cross-fire. They’ll remain digital share-croppers doing endless cold organic outreach if they can’t make Ad campaigns pay without 30 day click remarketing campaigns and accurate lookalike audiences.

Tom’s been researching. Analysing. Thinking. Devising. He’s glad to be building a story driven business which put his peeps first.  Glad to be building his email list with quality subscribers.

Bill follows the crowd.

Accepts conventional wisdom. 

Takes anecdotal evidence without a second thought.

“After all, there are many paths up the mountain.  You go your way and I’ll go mine” he’d said when Tom had tried to discuss it with him.

Tom had come to the conclusion that content was the new cookie. He just had to discover how to amp up the impact of that content to be the most memorable possible. 

He knew there was no discussing this with Bill more deeply. He’d  never sit down for long enough to engage with him.

“Bill’s just a short term thinker which is sad because, deep down, he’s a good lad. He just needs to wake up and smell the coffee.” Tom acknowledges. “ The sad thing is that Bill’s approach is a symptom of something much deeper and more important. He doesn’t really care about how he makes money or who gets hurt in the process. He just wants to crush it so he can go brag about it in some group.”

If third party cookies go away, first party cookies last just 7 days, and App Tracking Transparency removes Facebook’s ability to intrusively target micro audiences while Google’s privacy sandbox only allows people  to target ‘cohorts’ of people, marketing strategies need to evolve… 

Tom thinks… And he’s right.

The big boys (Google, Apple, Amazon & Facebook) have built their own walled gardens. They do their best to keep us imprisoned there. Do their best to convince us they are on our side.

Facebook took out a full page spread in the Wall Street Journal in an attempt to prove it. Yet they penalise us with higher CPC on Ads that take people off-platform.

And limit reach on organic posts too.

Whilst sucking up as much data as they can to sell to the highest bidder… no matter who that is. 

Ever heard the expression… 

Watch what they do not what they say?

Well, Tom has.

So he’s decided that if walled gardens are good enough for them, they’re good enough for him. He’s built his own walled garden. In reality, it’s a small patch of dirt outside his backdoor cos he’s only running a small digital business.

But you get the idea.

He’s built his own walled garden where he can nurture his community of followers and subscribers using story driven content that takes new contacts on a journey so they can decide whether to opt in or not.

He hasn’t forsaken Facebook altogether. He’s using a hybrid traffic generating system that systematically attracts new peeps to join him in his backyard.

Once there, Tom let’s them choose their own path, clicking from one story mini-site to a deep dive review that will deepen their understanding of how to develop their business.

All this for FREE.

Once they do opt in, they open Tom’s emails because he treats them with respect (no carpet bombing them with offers until they opt out for Tom)

Sure, this means Tom’s list is smaller than most but he reckons that’s a good thing (His open rates are through the roof). After all, what’s the point of being on someone’s list if you never open their emails.

A leopard cannot change its spots so Bill is going to have a hard time dealing with the challenges he faces in the era of digital privacy.

Sure, he could continue hoping that Facebook remains the go-to social media platform. One thing is for sure, and I am sure you agree… big businesses come and go with increasing rapidity.

Myspace is history now. We have passed peak oil. We are at peak social now. The market is fracturing and so is the audience. Tik Tok, MeWe, Clubhouse… The list goes on. 

It’s never been smart to build a house on rented land. You could be thrown off at any time.

In the age of digital privacy, we are seeing a growing will to legislate social media. Will the monopolies survive untouched?

History tells us – not for long…

Building your business on your own land has always been the best thing to do. It’s a fundamental principle. It’s just that many, many people have been distracted by the power of social media to deliver traffic.

We got lazy. Became reliant on their AI. Let our walled gardens become overgrown with weeds. It’s time for coaches, consultants and expert service providers everywhere to take back control.

Bill is building his business based on luck (right place at the right time) He is exposing himself to maximum risk. What he does is not repeatable. It is based on hope. It is just a matter of time before he crashes and burns.

Tom recognises this. He’s going all in. Building an infinite business based on first principles. He’s going back to the future. To a place where social media has a place but not a dominant position.

He knows this is probably the best way to grow his business in the coming era of digital privacy (which by the way, is just getting started).

Over time he will build a moat around his castle. It will  become deeper and wider as a result of the earned trust and attention and work he’s doing now. 

Work that some people can’t imagine being without.

Meanwhile Bill is out foraging. 

At the mercy of every predator he comes across. 
Taking whatever he can get. 

Trusting his luck on a daily basis. 

Hoping…

Tom knows ego is the enemy. His vision is clear. He doesn’t want to build a coaching empire like Tony Robbins. He wants to do deep meaningful work he’s proud of. He has his eyes set on a richer and more fulfilling life.

Tom wants to remain exclusive. Intentionally small because he believes that only by remaining small, can he serve his peeps to his best ability and matter to them in a world of noise and distractions and sameness.

He believes in making his business better, not bigger. 

He knows the era of digital privacy will have a durable impact on that business and how it attracts new clients. He is making changes now. Evolving. Going back to first principles. Going, in fact, back to the future.

He has made his choice.
Drawn a line in the sand.

The good news is that you get to choose too.

Do you relate more to Tom or Bill?

It’s just a decision.
You have a choice.
Accept or reject.

There is no easy way tho’.
If you think there is, you’re wrong.

There’s only a hard way to build a business. Any business. And it’s fraught with trauma, obstacles and sleepless nights.

These will be the making of you.
There is nothing more valuable than experience.

If you’re a Bill and want to become a Tom, the first step is to click this link and subscribe to my email list. 

To say thank you, I’ll send you a copy of my book… The Story Inception Method  for you to dive into. It’s on me.  I have left nothing out. Read it. Use it as a reference book to dip into while you’re building your business.

Or 

if you’re already a Tom, but wanna level-up, I can help with that, too.

Maybe you just need someone to help you knock off the rough edges, in which case I invite you to check out how we can work together on this page.The answers my book(You could go over and buy it on Amazon, if you want to) provides are not for everyone. They are for the few, who choose to act now to build a story driven business that will thrive in the age of digital privacy.

Continue reading…