If you’re reading this right now, you’re trading with us. You are giving us something and we are giving you something.

You have a few minutes this morning, but you’d be willing to give them up for some solid content. Fortunately, we’re in the opposite position: we have the solid content, and we’re willing to give it up for your time and attention.

Let’s remember that we’re marketers. Marketers exist because of markets; markets exist because of trades; trades exist because people are willing to give the things they have for the things they want. The beauty of trade is that it creates value out of thin air; both sides can benefit just by exchanging what’s already available.

But there’s a catch. Remember how marketers exist, essentially, because people trade things? There’s one more layer underneath it all. Most people find it uncomfortable to think about, but Thomas Hobbes (and others) stared it dead in the eye: the idea of Social Contracts.

Trade is only possible because we silently agree to protect one another, or at least to observe basic standards. As George Costanza might put it (loudly): we’re living in a society, we’re supposed to act in a civilized way. Or as Walter might put it: “This is not ‘Nam. This is bowling. There are rules.”

social contract of content theclikk

One of those unspoken rules: do the s#!t you say you’re gonna do. Respect your trades. Because most of what we’re trading—all of us—is time, the most precious resource in the universe and yet the only thing most of us have to give.

Real talk, y’all: we took this idea of “trading time for time” and did some math, and it’s forced us to have some new perspective. This is one occasion when math can teach you a very human lesson, so here goes:

We have 20K-ish subscribers and roughly 30% of them open on any given day (which is very healthy). Let’s say people spend an average of 5 minutes reading our email if they open it. Do the math: in total, people spend about thirty thousand minutes reading ONE of our emails. That’s three entire weeks of human time… and we’re a young newsletter. Already, the time we give could never possibly add up to the time we’re being given. That’s humbling.

To hit Send without thinking twice would be awfully frivolous — and it will rightfully piss people off. Any form of attention, while you have it, is a stage with a spotlight. Don’t waste it by failing to observe its human value.

How do you make a point? How do you thank your audience? The answer is the same: respect their time, respect the trade, give them whatever you say you’re giving them. Earn an audience’s trust and you can guide massive flocks to amazing places. Lose their trust and they might scatter, never to be seen again.

We wish we could give y’all a hug. Thanks for reading and have a good weekend!

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