Everything I know about marketing in a single sentence

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Before someone buys from you, everything in the following sentence needs to be true (and true in the order it appears in this sentence):

There’s a result clients crave that they believe can be attained, and they believe you can help them attain it better than others.

So simple.

Of course.

But we often miss pieces of this in our marketing.

I could even distill that sentence down into three words: relevance, credibility, value.

All too often, we don’t identify and directly name the problem we’re solving (or result we’re offering) and so people don’t see the relevance in what we’re offering.

We ignore the fact that they may be in a state of learned helplessness about solving their problem. They might not believe it’s possible for it to be solved at all.  Period.

They might have gotten comfortable and feel like solving this problem is a could but not a must.

They might believe that it can be solve but not trust that we can solve it.

They might trust that we can solve it but not be convinced that we’re the best option for them.

If you’re trying to market to someone to convince them that you’re the very best there is at solving a problem they don’t believe is solvable, you will get nowhere.

Obviously, our ideal clients, the bullseyes, are those for whom that whole sentence is true. But that’s a very small number of people indeed.

And so, we market. And so, we educate. And so, we build relationships. Sometimes fruit takes a while to ripen.

Danny Iny does brilliant work in this in helping his clients create what he calls a ‘Demand Narrative’ for their launches.

His premise is, if people believe that solving their problem or achieving a certain result is impossible, then the first stage of your marketing must focus on making the case for them that it is, indeed, possible for it to be solved.

Below are five questions that can help you think this through…

Q1: What is possible for them they didn’t think was possible for them before?

Remember: it’s not the first time in their life they’ve thought about this result.

They’ve likely daydreamed about it for years and reality has ground them down. They’ve tried to make it happen and failed. Now they’re resigned. They believe that this isn’t possible to achieve or, at least not for them.

The more specific the result is that you’re offering, the stronger the response will be.

Q2: What evidence can you offer that this is possible?

Case studies and stories are a fine way to do this. Show them how people just like them have achieved what they are hoping to achieve.

Verge Permaculture did a brilliant job of this when they created ten short films about their grads. They knew that many of the people attending their Permaculture Design Certifications wanted to make a living with permaculture. So, instead of just writing a sales letter telling them that this was possible, they showed them. “Here are ten of our grads and how they’re making a living with permaculture.” Brilliant.

Another way to do this is to share a clear and compelling point of view about your approach to the problem. This perspective needs to be fresh. It can’t be what they’ve tried before. You need to point to a new mechanism, technology or process that you use when approaching this issue. You’ve got to make the case that you have a trustworthy take on this and some track record in helping people achieve this result.

You’ve got to make the case, if it’s true, that your approach to the issue is new. There is often the possibility of saying something like, “It’s understandable that you never achieved ________ (result) because you never tried/were missing _______.”

Before you sell them on hiring you, sometimes you need to convince them that the approach you use is valid.

Before you try to convince them to get a ticket on your boat, you might need to convince them that boats are the way to go (vs. swimming, airplanes, submarines and, of course, dirigibles).

In the 1980’s, before they could market Apple products, they had to market the idea that you could have a computer on your desk.

In the 1990’s, before they could market Palm Pilots, they had market the idea of a Personal Digital Assistant.

Often you’ve got to market the category before you market the brand.

Before you sell them on getting acupuncture with them, you may need to sell them on Traditional Chinese Medicine as a whole.

Before I convince someone to buy my book on niching, I will often need to convince them that figuring out their niche in the missing link in their marketing.

Before you sell them on your offers, you may have to sell them on the type of work you do, your modality as the transformative approach they’ve been looking for.

Q3: What are the main reasons people give for this result being out of reach for them?

Of course, once people see what’s possible, they will get excited and… then all of the reasons why it might work for others but not for them are likely to appear. It’s predictable.

They’re like to say something like the following to themselves, “Okay, this is possible in general but I don’t think it will work for me specifically because ________.”

And you need to know what these objections are. You need to know what they would put in this blank. And you need to address these candidly and directly.

You need to be able to let them know which of those concerns are real deal-breakers and where they aren’t. Sometimes, they will be right in their assessment. Sometimes, given the limitations of their lives, it isn’t possible for them. And sometimes they are wrong.

Q4: Which of those reasons do you agree with and which ones do you not?

This comes down to sharing your point of view. Your take on things.

Q5: How could they achieve their goals even if ______ factors are present/absent?

Once they are open to the possibility that this result might be possible for them, it can be a good idea to really paint the picture for them of what it could mean to their life if they had it. Tell them the story of what might be different. Do your best to put them in the experience. This might already have been achieved by your stories and case studies. But you can also say something like,

“Imagine it… it’s five years from now and you have this result…” and put them in the experience.

My caveat here: do not over-promise. If that possible future for them isn’t compelling enough without your exaggerating then it’s not worth selling.

When you’re launching something, a basic approach is to simply email your list about it (and I’ve done that plenty).

But the only people who will sign up are those who are those where…

There’s a result they crave that they believe can be attained and they believe that you can help them attain it better than others.

So, a savvier approach can be to create layers of your marketing. Danny calls this Behaviour Based Segmentation.

  • Layer One: Prove that it’s possible. If they engage with that content (e.g. open those emails, watch those videos to the end, download those eBooks etc.) then you move them to…
  • Layer Two: Help them understand if it is possible for them. Caveat: Do not over-promise here. Be clear for whom this is a fit for and for whom it isn’t. If they engage with that content, then you move them to…
  • Layer Three: Help them understand your unique approach to solving the issue and seeing if it’s a fit for them. And, at this point, you can make the offer. They don’t even see your offers in those first two layers. Why would you bother showing someone an offer for whom it wasn’t a fit?

And, of course, this means a lot more planning than most of us do and more tech savvy than most of us might have at the moment (though it’s all learnable).

It means a certain amount of savvy in how to keep track of where they are in their process around grappling with this issue and inviting them to take the next step if it’s a fit.

And, if they go to a video and don’t watch the whole thing? You could send them a reminder to come back and finish it.

The big question is this: Where are they not yet convinced? And is there a case to be made? If not, you can bless and release them. You continue to meet them where they’re at making the case for the things you believe to be true. You never make an offer to them that they haven’t indicated they are ready to receive.

If they’re not interested in the result? They don’t hear from you again about it.

If they haven’t indicated that they believe it can be attained? You never mention the product until they indicate they are open to the possibility that it might be possible.

If they don’t believe you can help them? You focus on building that trust, not pushing your product.

There’s a lot of thought we can put into marketing. But, rather than getting overwhelmed, try this: pick your flagship product or service (just one) and run it through these five questions. See what you come up with and take an hour to consider how that might help shape the way you structure your marketing in the future.

Good Hands

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Your clients want to know they’re in good hands with you.

I’m thinking about this because I just came back from a mediocre massage.

The style wasn’t one I liked. A bit too abrupt. Not as flowing and as intuitive as I like.

But that wasn’t the big issue.

In fact, there were no big issues.

There was her walking in on me while I was undressing. The bolster being positioned wrong when I lay down and her not noticing. Her cold hands at the start of the massage. When I flipped over she didn’t readjust the bolster. In other massages, it’s been something different: finger nails not trimmed, going way too hard, not checking in on how it’s going, the room being too hot or too cold. There are lot of tiny things that can add up to a massage not being great.

At the end of this massage, I lay there, face up, with an eye pillow over my eyes, relaxing. Rather than saying, “Ok. It’s over. Take your time getting up. I’ll bring you some water.” and leaving, she abruptly pulled the eye pillow off and me out of what little reverie and relaxation had been achieved. “How was it?”

“It was alright.” I said feeling a bit jarred. This was a question I was wishing she would have saved until after I was up and dressed.

“Oh no!” she said. “I’m sorry. What could I have done better?”

And so I shared my experience with her. She seemed to take it in. It’s how we all learn.

She asked me if I wanted a glass of water. I nodded and said, “yes.” And then lay there waiting for five minutes until I realized she wasn’t coming back. I got up and got dressed. She was waiting outside the door for me having misheard me to say that, “No,” I didn’t want a glass of water. Her English was not very good. She was sweet. It happens.

That she asked me so sincerely for feedback saved the whole thing for me. Without that, it would have been a write-off. That’s good to remember. People are so incredibly forgiving when they feel valued and that their issues have really been heard.

None of those things are big. And yet, put together, they add up to the person on the table not being able to relax, always feeling like they need to manage the experience or be on guard a little, not being able to trust the hands they’re in.

Perhaps you’ve had this with a life coach, business coach, contractor, consultant or therapist. You can’t seem to relax because you don’t trust them.

This all matters so profoundly for marketing.

Remember: word of mouth is based on their experience of working with us (or what they hear about the experience from others) so, if the experience is off (due to big things or a dozen smaller things) the word of mouth will wither up and dry or, worse, become a downward spiral instead.

It’s like that.

Remember: people can be petty. People have a hard time saying, ‘No’. People rarely ever give feedback unless asked. They just volunteer. Your clients are not enlightened sages with impeccable communication and boundaries.

This dynamic of people craving to be able to relax and trust in your guidance is true for any business you can think of. People come in full of stress and pain. They want our help. They want to know they are in good hands and that they can relax those muscles that have been clenched too long.

This doesn’t mean you don’t ask things of them. It means they trust what you’re asking of them.

It doesn’t mean you don’t get them to do some work too. It means they trust this work has a chance of paying off.

It means that, when they’re around you, they can just relax and open to your help.

We all crave to find some good hands into which we can collapse sometimes.

Imagine yourself as your own client: are you relaxed or slightly vigilant?

Imagine yourself as your own client: what kinds of hands are you in?

Additional Reading: 

I Don’t Care How Good You Are At What You Do

Guest Post: Sliding Scale 2.0 – No One Left Out

By Josh Van Vliet, Director of Community, Academy for Coaching Excellence

1000px-Emblem-scales.svgI recently read a guest blog post by Peter Rubin about Privilege-Based Pricing here on the Marketing for Hippies blog (if you didn’t see it, it’s great – go check it out here). In it, Peter shares about this interesting and innovative way that businesses can help address social inequality through pricing structure.

Reading this, I got really excited, because at the Academy for Coaching Excellence, my teammates and I have thought a lot about this too.

At the heart of it, our work is about building a community, a world, where everyone is supported 100% and no one is left out.

Our contribution to that vision is to provide coaching and coaching skills training to people, so they can bring clarity, focus, ease, and grace to their own life, and empower others to do that as leaders or professional coaches. We offer programs for personal and professional leadership development, as well as for professional coaching certification.

In these times of widening inequality and deep uncertainty, we as a business saw that we have a critical opportunity to be a leader in our profession and our society.

So we’ve been asking ourselves:

How do we price our services to reflect our stand for creating a world where everyone is supported 100%, and no one is left out?

Given the fact that different people have different access to resources, often due to factors outside of their control (such as class, race, socioeconomic status, ability, and gender), how do we include everyone, as much as possible?

. . . And run a sustainable, profitable business at the same time?

Enter the sliding scale.

So how did you arrive at this sliding scale?

We started by creating a scholarship fund.

It helped, but it took a lot of energy to run, because it relied on us ultimately making a judgment about how much scholarship to offer someone.

On top of that, the application was enough of a barrier to entry that some people wouldn’t bother applying, or felt like they didn’t “deserve” a scholarship.

We also offered folks resources, coaching, and guidance on how to successfully crowdfund some or all of their tuition for the course.

We’ve supported people to collectively raise over $50,000 to cover course tuition, travel, and other costs, and it’s helped make it possible for many people to attend who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to attend.

And, we know that this is only part of the equation.

So we looked around to see what other people are doing, and discovered a few different organizations using a tiered sliding scale approach (like the Rockwood Leadership Institute).

How does your sliding scale work?

Here’s how we describe it on our website:

We stand for a world where everyone is supported 100% and no one is left out, and our pricing reflects that vision. Our sliding scale empowers people to participate who could not otherwise do so, and enables us to offer our life-changing work where it can do the greatest good.

We use an honour system, and don’t require you to disclose your income. We also honour that both expenses and income factor into your situation, so we ask that you discern the price truly right for you — whether that is below or above your suggested tier.

So that our work serves those who could not otherwise afford it, please invest the amount that is a “stretch” but not a hardship, factoring in your access to outside support (i.e. family and/or fundraising). Referring to the scale below, ask yourself:

  1. What investment level would be comfortable for me?
  2. What level would be a “stretch” but not a hardship — truthfully factoring in my access to outside support?
  3. Am I willing to register at that level?

This is an example of our sliding scale, for the Thriving Changemaker Intensive, our foundational 4-day course:

Gross Annual

Household Income

. . . OR Organizational Budget

(if your organization funds you)

Suggested

Investment

$90,000+ $10,000,000+ $3,000
$70,000 – $89,999 $4,000,000 – $9,999,999 $2,500
$50,000 – $69,999 $1,000,000 – $3,999,999 $2,000
$25,000 – $49,999 $0 – $999,999 $1,500
$0 – $24,999 Not available $1,000


What’s the response been so far?

Virtually entirely and overwhelmingly very positive. To give you a sense of what we’ve heard, here’s what one person wrote to us in response:

“This helps tremendously – financially, psychologically, spiritually – and actually brought tears to my eyes. Your decision to do this feels within me like a synching in alignment with my intentions and values. Thank you for being the change for social change with your sliding scale offer for The Thriving Changemaker Intensive.”

I think the only issue so far has been that it makes registration a bit more involved, especially for someone who has never experienced a sliding scale like this before.

A big part of the work for us has been to refine the way we communicate this approach, so that it’s as simple and clear as possible.

And, on the other hand, it has made “the money conversation” infinitely more simple, because people understand that A) this is an incredibly valuable program we offer, and B) they are empowered to simply pay at the level that is authentic and appropriate to their situation.

Won’t people just pay the lowest price?

It turns out they don’t. We’ve had people register at every tier — including those who pay at the highest tiers and tell us that they are truly glad to do so, because they are so aligned with our mission of inclusion and accessibility.

What have you learned about effective sliding scales?

In order to make a sliding scale work, you must:

  • Effectively communicate the value of the offering. A sliding scale sometimes becomes a way to handle the worry “no one is going to pay me for this” (of course, I NEVER did this in my private coaching practice when I was getting started…wink wink). If you’re not enrolled in the value you are going to get from whatever the service or program is, it makes sense that you wouldn’t pay a whole lot for it.
  • Effectively communicate your values. If you share why you’re doing it, and how their choice impacts others, it takes it out of the context of “let me get the best deal” and puts in the context of being a part of a community. It gives meaning to what they are paying, beyond a simple exchange of money for services.
  • Give people a clear and simple way to decide what to pay. When we’re confused, we don’t take action. If you have no idea how to choose what to pay for something, you’re more likely to either a) not sign up, or b) pay whatever’s easiest, which will be related to whatever reference points you’ve got, such as the low end of a sliding scale (or whatever you make up, if you have don’t have any reference point).

How is it fair to “force” some people to pay more than others?

The tiers we offer are simply a suggestion. We ask that each person see for themselves what the authentic rate is. We know that there are more factors than just annual income that determine a person’s ability to pay. The truth is, there’s no way we could determine the authentic price tier for someone. What we can do is give people some simple guidelines for how to make their choice, and empower them to do it.

What have you learned?

Trust people.  One of the principles of our work is that people have their own answers. They really do know what’s authentic for them to pay, what’s aligned with who they are, and what they value. And when you give them the choice, plus the context in which they are making that choice, they will generally choose to pay what they can authentically afford.

An appropriately-priced sliding scale helps flatten the “money conversation.” One of the biggest worries people have when considering joining a course or program is “I don’t have the money.” And for some, that may truly still be the case. We know this system isn’t perfect, and there are some people for whom even our lowest tier is out of reach. But for many, the conversation becomes instead: Is this the right thing for me right now? And if they see that it is, money is much less of a concern. Indeed, some people have been very happy to pay more, knowing that it helps others attend who otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

It looks like pricing inclusivity is good for business. Over the short time we’ve been experimenting with this (six months now), we’ve increased the number of people we’re serving, AND we’ve seen a slight increase in the average price paid per participant. Time will tell if this continues to hold true, but we’ve been thrilled with the results and the response so far.

How can people learn more about your work?

Visit our website: acecoachtraining.com, where you can find free resources, like our online training Hope in Action: Find Your Center and Empower Your Purpose in Times of Trouble, and learn more about the Thriving Changemaker Intensive, our foundational in-person course in Sacramento, California.

JoshVanVlietJosh Van Vliet leads the creation, implementation, and evaluation of programs at the Academy for Coaching Excellence. He is a professional coach, dancer, teacher, and musician, as well as social entrepreneurship coach, and trainer for Move The Crowd. Josh has taught swing and blues dancing; worked as a case manager with Gilead Community Services supporting clients with mental illness to live independently; and led movement classes for kids in schools through Recess Rocks. acecoachtraining.com

On Promises

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The purpose of marketing is to make promises.

The purpose of your business is to keep them.

Most traditional cultures in the world are overflowing with proverbs around the importance of keeping your word and doing what you say you will do.

It’s certainly true for my own Scottish and Celtic ancestry.

“If I break faith, may the skies fall upon me, may the seas drown me, may the earth rise up and swallow me.” – ancient Gaulish oath of the elements

“We of the Fianna never told a lie. Falsehood was never attributed to them. But by truth and the strength of our hands, we came safe out of every combat.” – Ladaoidh Chunaic an Air, anon. Irish Poem

And the following Scottish Gaelic seanfhaclan (literally ‘old words’ or proverbs)…

B’fheàrr gun tòiseachadh na sguir gun chrìochnachadh.
(Better not to begin than stop without finishing).

Am fear as mò a gheallas, ‘s e as lugha cho-gheallas.
(He that promises the most will perform the least).

Gealladh gun a’choimhghealladh, is miosa sin na dhiùltadh
(Promising but not fulfilling, is worse than refusing).

Am fear a tha grad gu gealladh, ‘s tric leis mealladh.
(Quick to promise often deceives).

Chan eil fealladh ann cho mòr ris an gealladh gun choimhlionadh.
(There is no deceit/fraud so great as the promise unfullfilled).

My guess is that, if you looked to your own ancestry, you’d find similar things. Without the ability to trust the words of others, there is no capacity for culture.

There are four levels of relating to your promises:

  1. You over-promise and under-deliver. This is the worst. It creates disappointment and a terrible reputation.
  2. You promise and deliver. This is solid and will get you a fine reputation as someone who is reliable. This is the bare minimum for being in business.
  3. You under-promise and over-deliver. This is rare. This will earn you rave reviews and endless word of mouth.
  4. You don’t promise at all. You just deliver value for the joy of it. Imagine the utter delight of your clients to get something from you that they didn’t even expect. 

Your reputation, and thus the amount of word of mouth you receive, will be largely be determined by the degree to which you are able to deliver (or over-deliver) on your promises.

What are you promising people? Is this clear?

And what level are you at right now in terms of your delivering?

Additional Reading: 

Are you marketing the journey or the boat?

The Art of Relevance

If Your Phone Keeps You Up At Night

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Like most of us in this modern age, my phone has kept me up late more nights than I can count.

I put it down to go to sleep only to find it, mysteriously, back in my hands, lighting the room with it’s strange, modern glow.

Of course, it’s terrible for our brains and our capacity to sleep.

The first thing I did was to get an alarm clock that wasn’t my phone. And that helped. But the phone kept finding its way back into my bedroom. And then, somehow, turning on and cycling me through Facebook, email, Huffington Post and you name it.

I would curse it. This modern bane of my existence. This addictive entity. This seductive Don Juan of my pocket. This electric vixen slowly robbing me of my productivity and productive life force.

I joined everyone in helplessly bemoaning it. I grumbled.

I secretly enjoyed every minute of it.

I resented it in the morning.

So, I finally decided a different approach.

I decided to love my phone and care for it.

I decided to proceed as if it were alive, just like myself, and needed sleep too.

And so, I made it a nest to sleep in.

And now, each night, I plug it in, say some good words to it, thanking if for helping me stay connected to the world, finding my way around, finding important information and acknowledging how tiring it must have been. I speak these words out loud and then turn it off and rest it in this bowl given to me by my friend Jesse Hahn, cradled in the old Mackay tartan wool scarf I bought years ago.

And then I go to my room, lit by candle light now, and read a book, meditate, stretch or journal and go to sleep.

 

Trickle Down Personal Growth: The Bankruptcy of New Age Economics

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I was on the phone with my good friend Garliq today (the only person I know to weave together Non-Violent Communication, activism and herbalism) and a phrase lept out of my mouth in an attempt to get my attention. The phrase was ‘trickle down personal growth.’

We’d been speaking about how many of the business coaches in this scene encourage their clients to raise their rates and to charge what they deserve. Of course, this is often a fine idea and I encourage it myself but, it’s good to step back once in a while and ask ourselves that age old question, “What if everyone did this?”

Well, if every life coach, holistic practitioner and permaculture practitioner out there took this advice to heart, what it would mean is that only rich people would be able to afford our help. They’d get all the best massages, go to yoga classes, have food forests in their backyard and send their kids to Waldorf schools. They’d have the most nutrient packed elixirs every morning as they drove their hybrids to meet with their clients.

You get the idea.

But this lifts up two troublesome questions.

The first is this, “Is this the world we want?” I think for most of us, the answer is a very clear, ‘No’.

The second is, “Will this create the world we want?”

Do we believe in the trickle down economics of personal growth? Are we so certain that, if enough rich people got their chakras aligned that the architecture of our body politic would realign as well? That if their fascia got worked that the connective tissue between communities would automatically be strengthened? That if they questioned their stressful thoughts that the larger world would be healed? Do we think that if rich people did enough wheatgrass shots every day, ate a balanced, whole-foods diet and alkalized their systems that world hunger would end? Do we believe that if rich people healed their relationship with money that poverty would vanish? Do we believe that if rich people came to peace with their inner tyrants that dictators and despots would vanish or if they healed their relationships with their ancestors that the racial divisions that divide us would vanish and black lives would finally matter?

Is that what we believe? That the benefits of all of this healing and personal growth will somehow trickle down to the lower classes and people of colour?

It’s worth wondering about.

Certainly, as we walk down this twisting road of the modern mystery of right livelihood, we need to sustain ourselves and our families in our businesses.

I’m not making anyone wrong for charging more or only selling to the rich. Garliq told me that many of his colleagues’ clients come from outside of their own politically progressive communities because their friends can’t afford to pay enough to sustain them. I know a weaver in Cape Breton who sells all of her weavings to tourists because her own people can’t afford them. Perhaps you’re in this situation to or, at least, wouldn’t mind finding some wealthy people who could afford you and I certainly hope that you do.

But I want to suggest that, in addition to our personal financial sufficiency we also need to allow our political values and wonderings about accessibility to have a seat at the table of our considerations so that we might consider where we could implement pay what you can models, privilege-based pricing or other possibilities that might allow those who normally couldn’t afford our services to benefit from them.

If not, is this it? Is this the end goal: We become rich by helping rich people? Is that where it stops?

Certainly, the times we are in might ask of us to broaden to scope of our understanding of social change to rise above and beyond the anaemic encouragements to see our personal business as a movement and to, instead, look for real movements and real, grassroots, non-profit organizations in the world that we might support with our time and dollars.

It might ask us to be a part of building real, local, resilient alternatives to the modern, soul-destroying, mono-cropping, self-centering capitalist economy in which we live.

Raise your prices? It can certainly be a fine idea and needed at times. I wouldn’t dissuade you from it.

But what of the rest of the world that can’t afford our services?

May that question be a thorn in our minds til the end of our days.

Guest Post: How to Sell Out Your Conscious Event

by Brenda MacIntyre

When you create an event, it’s really great to have people actually show up for it, right? But sometimes that doesn’t happen. How can you set yourself up for a great turnout at your events?

I’ve been singing for over 30 years and speaking for about 18 years, and in that time, I’ve witnessed and learned some great (and some not-so-great) approaches and I’ve come up with my own ideas as well, to inspire people to come out and enjoy what I have to offer.

I have a regular monthly Drumming, Singing & Tea circle in Toronto. It’s always at the same venue, always on a Monday evening, and always at the same time, unless I’m having a special dinner in which case it’s an hour earlier. I’m not talking about your usual speak-to-sell events, just to be clear. I find those kinds of events manipulative and high pressure. I’m talking about events where you gather with your tribe to bring them an actual experience, with a low-pressure offer (book, CD, course or small program) that you casually mention at the end of your event.

My intention to fill it is less important than you might think, because I don’t know about you, but I don’t manifest well when I give myself artificial meaningless “goals” of how many “butts in seats” (I really hate that term from the coaching world!) I think I have to get to my events.

It’s important to use energetic/spiritual strategies as well as solid marketing methods that work and feel aligned for YOU and your tribe.

Here’s what I know…

1) Grow your tribe and reputation. If you don’t have anyone to sell tickets to, who is going to come? Grow your following and not just in one place. Grow your email list as well as whatever social media platforms you love to use. Letting yourself be seen and heard online and in person goes a long way in event promotion. The best way I do this is by speaking or singing at other people’s events, and just doing good work to help my people. That never goes unnoticed but word of mouth does take time to grow.

TIP: If you don’t have a big following yet, call up your friends or send them an email and ask them to spread the word. See #8 “Word of Mouth” below. Abraham-Hicks started out with very small events and now they get hundreds of people out. That didn’t happen overnight. When I did my first workshops and performances in the 90’s, I used to call people up and then send an email. When your following gets bigger, you won’t have as much time for that personal touch, so do it NOW if you don’t have a huge tribe yet. You know how many people appreciate you reaching out one on one to them? It’s a far cry from those automated voice messages or someone’s assistant calling you to promote their event to you. It just feels better to hear from someone personally. You’re showing your people that you care.

2) Work out your logistics EARLY, and make everything about the event and promotion as easy and low pressure for yourself as possible. Based on how many people I want, and how hard (like, not hard at all!) I want to work at selling tickets, I have chosen a venue for my monthly gatherings that limits seating to only 12 people plus me and 2 volunteers, for most of my events. I have also created an arrangement with the venue that allows for me to still run the event even if I don’t sell lots of tickets, and even to have snacks and tea included for each person. This makes my events appealing and people know they have to sign up in advance if they expect to get a seat. Of course, if you’re trying to sell out an event, you need to set up a way for your attendees to purchase tickets in advance. I always have an early-bird savings and then a different rate for cash at the door if there are any seats remaining.

For larger events, like my annual The Power of Your Spiritual Calling LIVE with a music concert, DJ’ed ecstatic dance, keynote, drumming circle and oracle readings, I need to choose a larger venue and strategize slightly differently. For larger events, it’s good to start promoting a lot earlier and to ask friends and colleagues to help you spread the word, whether informally or by sending out an email or social media. You can make it simple or create a whole affiliate package. You can offer bring-a-friend-for-free to people who are already on your bandwagon as well like Tad did recently for a special private event he hosted in Toronto. That creates more loyalty in the inner circle of your tribe, and it expands your tribe and brings more people to your event easily.

3) Figure out your timeline and start earlier than you think you need to. For my monthly circles, we start promoting the next one immediately after the last one. Also, learn from my mistakes: If you’re promoting a large event, FOCUS your marketing on that event. I made the mistake of having (and promoting) too many events in the same month and that dilutes your marketing efforts, making it harder to sell out your event. When I’m focusing my energy, attention and intention on one event at a time, I get a great turnout.

4) Put your energy all over it. I’m always telling my clients to “put your energy all over it” when writing any copy or talking about your event. People will feel your passion and your passion will drive you, as well as the Universe, to support you in getting people to your event. By the way, make sure your energy is in a good place first. Breathe. Smile. Do whatever it takes to feel good before you write your copy.

5) Don’t try to do it all alone. I’ve done that and it is HARD WORK. Do you want to add more hard work to your plate or make things smooth and easy? Ask friends, family or members of your tribe to volunteer. Delegate promotion techie tasks to a Virtual Assistant. Automate whatever you can online as well. Otherwise, you can burn yourself out.

TIP: Collaborate with other co-hosts, artists or vendors who also have a following, and have them promote the event too. For my The Power of Your Spiritual Calling LIVE event in 2016, I had Liz Diaz DJ the ecstatic dance portion. Liz is awesome, already has a tribe brimming with her own people and some of mine, and we play well together. In 2015, I had Erica Ross DJ for me. I call her the Dance Goddess. She’s also a dear friend and awesome DJ. So find people to play with, who align with you and have a similar tribe.

6) Ask your Higher Realms Support Team to help bring people to you. Angels, Archangels, your Higher Self, goddesses, gods, God, Creator, Universe, Source, whatever you want to call it, invite them to help you. Never underestimate the power of energy and Spirit.

7) To intend or not to intend? Like I mentioned in #3, when you set up your event structure the way YOU want it so that you have the least possible worries about money loss or no-shows or not getting enough tickets, then your whole being can relax about having to sell out the event. That relaxed, no worries vibe? That will help sell the event! So set your intentions and give them over to your Higher Realms Support Team… and still, do the work you know you need to do.

WARNING: Many coaches will have you do a “bubble chart” or some kind of countdown to your hoped-for number of attendees. I have found that that doesn’t excite me but does the opposite, especially if I don’t see seats being filled as quickly as I had hoped, or if I have created a history of not getting the numbers I wanted. Then I felt like a failure and the energy of that expectation and how I felt created a self-fulfilling prophecy. So I stopped doing those charts and did what I mention above in #3 instead.

8) Do pre-sales or a seat deposit: If you don’t get advance tickets, you can expect that probably more than half of your RSVP’s will not show up. Unfortunate but true. Most people won’t commit to coming out to your event without having to pay in advance, especially if you live in a place that has tons of events unless your event is free. If your event is free, you are likely to attract people who are used to getting things for free or as cheap as possible, so be mindful of your decision around pricing. Use your own website and shopping cart or something like Eventbrite to sell your tickets. I like using my own website because of course, it brings people to my website.

9) Create a Facebook Event page OR Meetup.com page. A word about Meetup.com. If you are an official Meetup organizer, and you want to grow your following specifically on Meetup, the Facebook event page needs to lead them to the meetup page. It is more tedious this way, and honestly, I have found that using one or the other is best. Use one and draw everyone on social media to that page for best results.

For Facebook Event pages, invite people in your local area first. Do invitations in rounds. Facebook may block you for “using this feature too fast” if you do your invitations all at once or if you go over something like 100 invitations. Facebook will also penalize you by lowering your invitation limit, so you can’t invite as many people, so be mindful when using this feature. You might want to ask influential friends to invite their friends too.

Whether using Facebook or Meetup, don’t take people’s RSVP’s at face value, except for the “not coming’s.” You will see that often only a small fraction of those who say they’re coming, actually pay in advance and show up. Even if it’s a free event, your attendee numbers most times will not be anywhere near your RSVP numbers. Don’t take it personally.

Most of my sold out events when using Meetup were exceptional (special indigenous venue and content) and also free. If you grow your Meetup following into the thousands, then it can work well for you. I didn’t have the patience for that.

10) Networking. Talk about your event! Talk about it to your friends, family (supportive people only, of course) and whoever you meet. Not in a gross promotional way but rather with the genuine passion and excitement you have about it. No need for flyer-in-your-face marketing, okay? Just talk about it and if people ask for a flyer or your card, give them one – but also get theirs, and ask their permission for you to either add them to your email list or message them about your event(s). Especially talk about your upcoming event at events other than your own where you are a speaker or facilitator. They’ve just seen proof of how awesome you are on stage or in a workshop, so let them know about your next event.

11) Word of Mouth. Tell your most loyal fans FIRST about the event, and ask them to share it. I do that using my Virtual Backstage Pass email list specifically for Toronto events. Invite them first on the event page too if they are on Facebook. Tad does Word of Mouth extremely well, so just pay attention to how he does this so effectively. I learned from the best. ;)

12) Send Email Invitations according to your timeline (usually at least 4 weeks out). This is when I send out my first Backstage Pass email, alerting my most loyal Toronto fans, usually BEFORE I even invite people to the Facebook event page. Then we send out email to the main email list. We also include a small blurb in our monthly newsletter. I like how Tad sends out personal email invitations to a handful of people over Facebook or email. That personal touch goes a long way, above and beyond a mass email to your list. It’s best to do that with people whom you know will be happy to share your event with their friends, and you can ask them to do that. What NOT to do? Please don’t copy/paste a generic “come to my event” message into Facebook or email and pretend it’s a personal message. I just received a couple of Facebook messages like that and they didn’t even say hi or ask me how I’m doing or indicate they even knew what was up in my world. Make it personal! Be real. Have a conversation.

13) Regular Social Media Posts and Engagement. Post wherever your people are hanging out. Do a mix of auto-posts and personal posts. Note: If you post nothing but promotional posts on any social media platform, you will turn your tribe right off. Don’t do it! It’s about being social, so socialize with your tribe. Engage them in conversation regularly. Then when you go to promote something, they’ll be more likely to pay attention, like, comment and share it.

TIP: This may sound funny but “like” your own Facebook posts. Liking your post will give it more weight in the eyes of Facebook’s algorithms, so it will be shown to more people right away, rather than sitting there lifeless and not getting seen.

14) Last but not least, be someone you’d like to hang out with! When you show up in real life, on social media, over the phone, on Facetime or wherever as someone who is fun and interesting to be around and learn from, people will want to be in your energy. When you do that in places where your tribe hangs out, you will attract people who are aligned with you and they will happily come out to your events.

brenda-macintyre-9962-squareABOUT THE AUTHOR

Medicine Song Woman Brenda MacIntyre, author and artist of the Medicine Song Oracle Cards™ & Music, is a Juno Award-winning singer, speaker, indigenous drummer and wisdom-keeper, and Living Your Truth Out Loud Mentor. Brenda has shared her leadership and soul nationally on stage and in the media, such as MuchMusic, APTN, CTV, CP24, Global and CityTV’s Breakfast Television, as well as CBC Radio. Having experienced major loss, multiple dark nights of the soul, and fear of being seen and heard, she is passionate about helping women to stop holding back, share the power of their gifts, and create success out of the mess of REAL life.

You can connect with Brenda MacIntyre here: 

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Marketing Feels Bad Because We’re Ashamed Not Because It’s Shameful

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The other day, I was wondering about why there was such an appeal to marketing courses that taught secrets of unconscious persuasion, stealth tactics, invisible influence, secret closes, ninja strategies etc.

The implication of all of these approaches was that no one would notice what you were doing. No one would notice that you were steering them towards buying from you. They would just, unexplainably, feel compelled to trust and buy from you. They’d just leave the conversation with your product proudly in their hand thinking that they had made the decision when, in fact, it was all you and the secret arsenal of tactics you’d deployed throughout the conversation.

Neuro Linguistic Programming comes to mind in this.

I think the reason that these workshops are so popular (and why even the most conscious of us have taken them or been drawn to them) is because we think marketing is bad. We think we are doing something bad by sharing our products or services with others. And so, we’re trying not to get caught (but, of course, we need to do it to pay rent).

It strikes me as a similar dynamic to what I’ve seen in the pick-up workshops offered to men. This same offering of ways to get what we want, as men, without being noticed.

I’m sure there are workshops out there for women that offer the same things.

I see this often in human interactions when someone is deeply ashamed of their own needs and scared to make any requests of others that might meet them.

And so much of it seems to be rooted in shame.

So much of it seems to be rooted in the deep sense that I’m doing something I shouldn’t be doing.

And so, of course, we are drawn to anything that promises that our actions will have the intended effect while going unnoticed.

When this is at play, I notice that we, as humans, tend to become all manner of fake, sneaky, passive aggressive, creepy, controlling, underhanded, plastic and worse.

Recently a friend asked a favour of me she was terrified to ask. She was in a conflict with a mutual friend and she asked me if I’d be willing to commit to not vetting any letters this friend might want to send her way. She wanted me not to get involved in between. I was happy to agree to that as I knew this other friend had plenty of other people who would be happy to read whatever letters she might send and to give feedback on them.

My friend broke down into tears. She had been so scared to ask me. She felt it was wrong. When I said ‘yes’ so easily, some switch flipped in her.

What if there was nothing wrong with asking for what you want?

What if there was nothing wrong with expressing your desires?

What if there was nothing wrong with sharing what you have?

What if it was just a matter of learning how to do so skillfully?

What if it actually felt better to be direct in some matters than indirect?

What if we’re all craving candour and directness?

What if marketing was just saying, “I’m a needy human like you. I have needs. You have needs. Here’s what I’d like to offer you in exchange for your money. Does this feel fair?

What if the reason it feels ‘off’ is because we’re ashamed of doing it not because it’s inherently shameful to do it?

What if marketing could feel good? What if marketing wasn’t about getting anyone to say ‘yes’ but about having a human conversation about whether or not it was a fit? What if this was true about dating too? What if our attention was more focused on the truth of the moment than our goal of what we think we want? What would marketing look like without shame? What would it look like if we felt no need to hide what we were doing?

What if marketing felt bad not because it was shameful but because we were ashamed of it.

Additional Resources:

Courting vs. Seduction in Marketing

The Three Roles of Marketing

The Heart of Selling

Greg Faxon Shares His Unique Take on Selling and Enrolment Conversations

Are You More Comfortable Being Salesy or Subtle?

Be More Repulsive

Get Rejected Faster

 

Getting Off The Fence: Hobby vs. Business

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Is what you do a hobby or is it a business?

This is an important question to answer because most entrepreneurs I know are on the fence about it.

There’s no right or wrong answer to it. But I know a lot of people who say it’s one and do it like the other.

My friend Theo drives for UPS. He loves his job. It’s his meditation. He offers massage for free on the side as his gift to the community. It’s a hobby for him.

But I know a lot of people who are baffled by why their business isn’t growing and, when I look at it, it’s clear. They aren’t treating it like a business. They don’t invest in it. They don’t work on it as well as in it. They don’t make systems. They do everything on their own. They haven’t sorted out their niche. None of which would matter if it were a hobby.

If you treat it like a hobby, it will never grow like a business might (and, to be frank, even if you treat it like a business, there are no guarantees it will grow at all).

But it can be a huge relief to jump off of the fence in one direction or the other.

If it’s a hobby, get a full time job and just enjoy doing it when you have the space and feel the urge to share it or work on it.

If it’s a business, then focus, hustle, work on it every day.

Which way do you want to jump?

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Note: If you’re clear that you’re wanting to really jump off the fence on the side of building your business, I invite you to get on the email list for my more in-depth, mentorship program. You can sign up here to be the first to hear when spaces open up.

When to invest in your business?

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Running a business takes investment.

The world of service providers (e.g. life coaches, holistic practitioners, speakers, permaculture practitioners etc.) is an unusual one.

In any other business, be it products or retail, there’s a clearly understood need to invest into one’s business. There’s the storefront, there’s the decoration, there are the machines and tools needed to make the products, there’s distribution etc.

Starting a new business, or scaling an existing one up costs money. That just seems to be how it is. And so that money either comes from savings or some manner of financing. No one questions this. It’s just how it is.

But, amongst the clients I work with? This is often utterly foreign.

In most industries, it’s understood that you won’t see a profit for two to three years, and you get yourself some bridge financing to sustain yourself in the meantime.

But, amongst the clients I work with? There’s an expectation of being profitable immediately.

I remember speaking with my good friends at Verge Permaculture about this and they told me how much they’d spent on their website. It was substantial.

“We see this as our virtual storefront. We want it to look good. We want it to work well. This represents us.”

Running a business takes investment.

Many service providers assume that this outlay of cash only applies to their training in whatever modality they’ve learned. But your expertise in your field is actually just what gets you in the door. That’s all.

If you were a cabinet maker who wanted to open a shop? Your skills would be the start but then you’d still need your tools, your space, the wood etc.

Running a business takes investment.

Sometimes you’ve got to spend money to make money.

But, in this sphere, it doesn’t always occur to people that they need to do this. So many try to do everything themselves. They become ‘do-it-yourself-entrepreneurs’. They don’t hire help. They don’t get coaches. They try to design their own websites. They don’t hire admin help, even when they need it. And then they beat themselves up with this idea that they should be further ahead than they are.

Running a business take investment.

Now sure, you can bootstrap it. That’s what I have done.

And slow, organic growth is a beautiful thing. It’s how I’ve grown my business.

And there are moments when a judicious investment can be a big help and allow your business to grow and thrive.

Where does that money come from? That’s another story entirely. I cover some ideas on how to generate cash flow quickly in my Meantime 30 Day program but, it may not come from your business.

I know some entrepreneurs decide to get bank loans or lines of credit. I know some borrow from friends and family. I know that others refinance the mortgage on their home.

This moment for investment usually comes when you are maxed out. You can’t do much more than you are. You’ve hit a sticking point that you can’t seem to get over and you’re clear what it is.

“If only I had _______” is how it usually goes.

When you find yourself in the moment, it’s worthwhile to sit down with pen and paper and a calculator and to crunch the numbers. Would an investment in what’s missing actually free you up and allow you to make more money in the long term? Even though it’s scary, might it be worth it?

And don’t just trust yourself. Ask your friends. Ask your colleagues you trust. Run the numbers by them and tell them where you’re thinking of investing. Have them point out the problems with it.

I’m not advocating foolishness. I’m advocating discernment.

But, once you’ve reached the end of your capacity and you’ve discerned where the investment is needed, there comes a time where you make the leap and invest or stagnate while others move ahead.

I invite you to sit with your business today for 15 minutes. Just sit and consider it, pen in hand with these questions written at the top of a blank sheet of paper, “Where is my business asking for investment? Where is my business hungry to be fed? Where is my business being asked to carry more than it can? What’s the most important investment I could make that would free me up to make more money?”

Just sit with it and see what comes and then, when the time is right, do it. Start small if you need to. Don’t hire a full time assistant, just someone to help out for two hours per week and let it grow. That kind of thing. But be willing to invest in the growth of your business.

There comes a time when it won’t grow without it.

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Note: If now is feeling like the right time to make some deep investments into your business’ growth, I invite you to get on the email list for my more in-depth, mentorship program. You can sign up here to be the first to hear when spaces open up.