“When everyone else zigs, you should zag.”

Like most quotes, this concept can – without context – become quite dangerous and lead to all sorts of crackpot ideas.

But, when there’s an obvious push in a market in one direction, crafty entrepreneurs can quickly start to find holes that need filling.

In the world of CrossFit, visual mediums like Instagram seem to be king. People love video of other people working out. They love photos of fit people wearing minimal clothing. And CrossFitters seemingly can’t get off their social media long enough to complete a training session.

So, what in the world is a long, almost entirely text-based newsletter doing racking up thousands and thousands of subscribers?

Justin LoFranco, the founder of the Morning Chalk Up has this to say:
“I just decided to go the opposite direction. Let’s focus on on doing words right. Not driving clicks.”

With a background in campaign politics that resulted in a detailed understanding of creating audience archetypes and a passion for CrossFit, Justin has been able to turn the Morning Chalk Up into one of the premiere sources for CrossFit news.

In fact, with the restructuring of the CrossFit media department to focus on CrossFit Health instead of the CrossFit Games, the Chalk Up was the first outlet to break the news on the completely revamped competitive CrossFit season for 2019.

Check out the full conversation with Justin to learn:

  • How Justin thinks about creating long-form content via e-mail in an era when everyone seems to be saying that the future is in short content posted on social media
  • How Justin mapped out the theoretical archetypes of the readers of the Morning Chalk Up – and how reality has met his expectations
  • How Justin worked to align the content of the Chalk Up with his audience – and how including more content from every day CrossFitters (not just folks competing at the CrossFit Games) has grown the business

Check out the episode at the links below. If you enjoyed the episode, the best way to support the show is to share with your friends, so send them a link.

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  • Show Notes

    • [01:54] Using mountain climbing as an expression of fitness outside of the gym – and finding something enjoyable, then escalating it until it’s a challenging and difficult task to complete.
    • [12:38] People say that long content is dead and that bite-sized pieces on social media are the future: “I just decided to go the opposite direction. Let’s focus on on doing words right. Not driving clicks.”
    • [18:17] Getting into the weeds with e-mail marketing: segmenting audiences, measuring user behavior and the degree to which the Chalk Up finds these kinds of analytics valuable
    • [24:14] Who are the archetypal readers of the Chalk Up: Every day CrossFit athletes, coaches and affiliate owners, elite athletes, elite coaches, CrossFit industry, and CrossFit media – and how flipping from focusing on the elite to focusing more on the affiliate community resulted in growth.
    • [33:16] Finding the right balance between the aspirational content of the CrossFit Games vs seeing every day people accomplishing something great. “Who you think you are as a brand may not be who your customers think you are.”
    • [39:33] Justin’s background in politics: in political campaigns, you need to get buy-in from every day people and you need to convince them the a candidate is the right person from the job. However, CrossFitters are already bough in. “I don’t need to convince a bunch of CrossFitters that they want to read about CrossFit”
    • [49:02] The CrossFit community doesn’t have the cynicism of the political climate. Even though the Chalk Up will cover controversial topics, the goal is not to fan the flames of outrage or drive clicks.

    Links and Resources Mentioned