26 Min Video: Point of View Marketing Overview

19882902_sI’ve been working on a new eBook called Point of View Marketing: The Subtle, Underestimated & Credibility-Building Power of Articulating Why You Do What You Do the Way You Do It.

I’m really proud of how it’s coming along. I think it will be done by the end of the month.

So I thought I’d sit down to record a video distilling the key points so you could get a sense of where I’m headed with this and so that I could get your thoughts and reflections on it as I work to finish the eBook.

You can watch the video below.

I have three, upcoming teleseminars delving into this material. You can learn about them here: marketingforhippies.com/povteleseminar

I also have a 30-Day Point of View Challenge starting on May 17th. You can learn about that here: marketingforhippies.com/pov30day

If you have any ideas, stories, reflections or questions, please post them below and there’s a good chance they’ll make it into the eBook or at least help to shape it.

Trust and the Taxi Driver

13618562_sI caught a cab the other day.

Actually a TappCar (Edmonton’s response to the terrible taxi cab industry and Uber). They have priced themselves in between the two. I could give you ten reasons why I love them.

But there are always issues.

I was heading to visit my grandmother in the hospital.

“I want to stop at the Booster Juice on 104 St and 78 Ave.” I told him as we pulled away from my home. I knew I’d be at the hospital for at least six hours tonight and I hadn’t eaten much lunch and wouldn’t be able to get away for dinner.

“By the Save On?” He asked.

“That’s the one!”

After a few minutes I looked up from my phone and realized he’d never made the turn to go to Booster Juice. I was hungry and he was busy following his GPS taking me to the hospital.

“I asked you to go to Booster Juice first.”

From his response, it was as if I’d never asked him about it at all. I sat there confused. It was the first thing I’d told him. He’d seemed to understand and, as we were clarifying the issue and how that had been missed, which I never figured out, he kept driving down 109 St. taking us further and further away.

“Do you want me to go back?”

I shook my head and pulled out my phone. “I’ll see if I can find one closer to the hospital.”

It’s not the first time this has happened to me in a cab. Maybe it was that their English wasn’t good and they didn’t want to admit they’d not understood me. Maybe it was that they didn’t listen. Maybe they had something big going on in their life and they just weren’t able to listen. Maybe all of that. Maybe something else. But result was the same.

The trust was broken.

And I know it’s a small thing. I know that any upset I had was, in part, fueled by being hungry. I also know it’s petty and emotionally small of me. I get all of that. But it’s how it is for most of us.

This happens all the time in business and in life. A trust is given and then it’s broken. It happens in big ways like infidelity in a relationship and in very small ways like this.

I remember hearing my friend Decker Cunov telling the story of an event he’d been at where a man had picked up a woman by her hand and foot and was spinning her around as she laughed and giggled. And then her head hit the concrete pole with a sickening and loud sound. It wasn’t the pain that hurt the most. It was the betrayal. She’s surrendered to the moment, trusting him to look after her and he had let her down. He wasn’t careful with that trust.

It’s what we all want in life sometimes. To be able to relax and know we’re being taken care of. We want to know we’re in good hands. We want to get in the cab, zone out and trust they’ll get us there without our having to direct them. We want to tell the massage therapist what feels good and doesn’t to us and then relax into the massage, trusting that they heard us. We want to go to a therapist and trust they’ll hear what we say and, if we’re really lucky, pick up on what we aren’t saying. Sometimes we just want to surrender to the process.

But, as soon as we realize that someone can’t be trusted, we can’t relax. We have to remain vigilant which may defeat the purpose or rob much of the joy from the experience.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of riding in a black cab in London, it’s remarkable. You’re in such good hands. They spend three years studying London until they know the entire map of the city inside and out. You just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

If you’ve ever been served by a world class server at a restaurant, it’s something to experience. It inspires your utter relaxation. Everything they do says, “You relax. I’ve got this.”

I recall reading an article that suggested that the three sexiest words a man could say to a woman were, “I’ve got this.” And it doesn’t have to be a binary gendered, heteronormative relationship to feel good about hearing those words.

And, when we do, we are incredibly vulnerable.

Your clients are like this with you. They’re coming in scared, ashamed, overwhelmed or heartbroken. Or all of them. If we are very lucky, they trust us. If you’re aware it’s been placed on you, you come to see, very quickly, that it’s less of a gold medal being pinned to your lapel for all the good that you’ve done and more of a heavy, lopsided burden for you to carry into the future.

The trust is not there to make our heads big or gratify our ego. It’s the human making burden that tells you, ‘You have an impact on others. Be careful now.’ It’s not asking us to be fearful, but careful. Full of care for those around us as we know that small touches from us on those people will have a larger impact than others. Being praised or trusted puts the responsibility on your shoulders. It’s telling you that you’re in a different phase of your life now and that something else, beyond your youthful carelessness, is asked for. When someone praises you or trusts you, you should feel the weight of it on you and how it asks you to be stronger. It’s not a badge for you to proudly display – it’s a sort of unasked for

It’s not a badge for you to proudly display – it’s a sort of unasked for thing that you carry with you as you go.

If you do carry it well, you are fulfilling the unspoken promise you’ve made to them. You’re fulfilling the agreement.

If you carry it masterfully, if you consistently under-promise and over-deliver, you will never want for business.



The Marketing Mistake The Spice Store Made

Row of spice jars

A few weeks ago, I went to a spice store.

I didn’t need more spices. I needed a spice rack. I figured they might have one. Or know where to find one.

I walked in and asked a woman who worked there. 

She apologetically shook her head and told me they didn’t carry any racks and had no idea where I might find one in town beyond a local Home Depot. 

I was struck by the loss of the marketing opportunity.

Consider this: if you find a spice store and fall in love with it, you’ll be a customer for life. You don’t want to have to go through the work of finding a new one, you enjoy how knowledgable and passionate they are and you love that they know you by name. You trust these people when it comes to spices.

So, what if they did their research and found their ten favourite spice racks and made a little, in store catalogue to show people, or had those pages book marked on their computer or even stocked some and sold them directly to you for a small profit. And maybe they could tell you where in town to find them or where to order them online. Or they could order them for you.

I would have loved it if they’d said to me, “So you want on that hangs over the door? Okay. So there are ten basic models of these on the market. Five of them are worthless and fall apart instantly or their hooks don’t actually fit over regular size doors. Three of the remaining ones are pretty good but we’ve found two that everyone seems to be thrilled with. Why don’t I show you those?

They could make a video about this and put it on youtube and then, when customers asked about it, they could email them the link to look at.

And what if they found those places that sold them locally and befriended the staff so that, when people were looking for spice racks, they might be inclined to mention their store.

I recall a doula in Canmore, Angie Evans (who’s now in Regina), who got a surprising amount of business from referrals from the people who worked in the supplement section of Nutters (the organic grocery store in Canmore). She befriended them, told them what she did and then, when the staff would see people looking at prenatal vitamins or other products that indicated they were preparing for a child, the staff would often ask them if they were considering hiring a doula or midwife and if so who. If they were considering one but hadn’t decided yet, they would often suggest reach out to Angie.

My friend Ron Pearson is a magician in Edmonton who does corporate magic shows. But corporate event planners call him all the time to ask his opinion of other performers.

My dear friend Monika runs Reset Wellness in Edmonton which has a very science based approach to wellness. It’s more osteopathy than energy work. But you’d better believe that people will come to trust Monika and ask for her opinion on, “Who’s a good reiki practitioner in town?” A few weeks ago, Monika and I had a conversation about how she could create a referral list of people she trusts so that she would be ready for these questions.

Consider what people keep asking you for that you don’t offer. Consider what kinds of recommendations they ask you for that you don’t have answers to. Consider building yourself up a referral resource list of people you trust.

You can just sell what you sell.

But you can also become a trusted advisor. You can become a hub. You can become the go to person on a certain issue.

Jay Abraham makes the distinction between customers and clients. In his worldview, a customer was just someone you sold things to. A client was someone who was under the care of a fiduciary. A client is someone you were there to guide and protect on the matters surrounding what you do.

If everything you recommend is gold, people’s trust in you will deepen and they’ll spend more money with you and refer more people to you.

Three Hub Marketing Case Studies from the Farmer’s Market


This is a late edition to the Farmer’s Market Marketing Series.

A few weeks ago, I was invited out to Fort Saskatchewan to speak to some good folks who sold their goods via the Farmer’s Market.

I’d done a presentation of this type a few months back and, in the last fifteen minutes, I realized that the main conversation that seemed to be landing was that of Hub Marketing.

Too many entrepreneurs are solopreneurs.

They try to do everything themselves. But partnership is where it’s at.

I’ve written a lot about Hub Marketing before and you can read that here.

But I thought it would be fun for you to see some of what we came up with.

The Set Up: 

I asked each of them to reflect on who their hubs might be for their business.

Stated another way: I asked them to think about the kinds of people who would buy their products and then to ask themselves, “Where else might these people spend their time, their money and their attention?”

Stated another way still: “Where else can we find the people who buy your stuff?”

Three brave souls were willing to come up to the front of the room and share what they’d come up with and let us do some more brainstorming for them. I share these not as an authoritative strategy but to get your mind thinking about some of the ways that hubs and partnerships can look and work.


Case Study #1: Gloria’s Edible Flowers

Gloria had a few businesses on the go, but we decided to focus on her cut flowers business.



The hubs we came up with for her were:

  • vegetarians: maybe they’re tired of their friends condemning their penchant for boring salads? Wanting to make a vegetarian meal to impress the family and mix it up a bit. There are lots of vegetarian groups, newsletters, blogs etc. in local areas.
  • wedding planners & caterers: you’d better believe that catering companies would love to have a local provider of edible flowers on file just in case someone asks for them.
  • flower shops: if I were to want to find edible flowers in town, where would I go? I’d think it would have to be a local flower shop. Now they may not want to stock them, but they’d likely be glad to have her contact info so they could refer out to her.
  • lounges & cocktail bars: maybe some of those fancy hipster cocktail bars might enjoy knowing where to get some flowers for their drinks!
  • herbalists: I’m sure the questions must be asked to herbalists about medicinal uses of flowers. Perhaps she could co-host a workshop with a local herbalist or hire them to write some informative articles or blog posts about the benefits of the top five flowers they sell.
  • chefs at fancy hotels and restaurants: again, a solid contact for such a niche product might be just the kind of thing a chef would like to have in their back pocket.
  • extreme eating clubs: maybe flowers aren’t super extreme but their are clubs in most cities of people who like to eat adventurously, why not reach out?
  • culinary schools: could she go in and do a presentation for them? Could she host a competition for students to find who can come up with the best use of her flowers?
  • cake decorators: sure! Why not?


Case Study #2: Gord’s Beef Jerky


The hubs we came up with for him were:

  • Agriculture Fairs and Tradeshows: this seemed to have worked well in the past. Just showing up and having a booth at these things might end up being his bread and butter. Just because it’s a hub doesn’t mean it needs to be out of left field and ‘never done before’. Most hubs are hiding in plain sight. Some of the best hubs are ‘old reliable’.
  • ATV Clubs: this makes a tonne of sense to me. If there’s an ATV event, he could show up and sell it from the back of his truck, or set up a table. It doesn’t need to be fancy and formal to work.
  • aboriginal groups: there’s certainly possibility here. I don’t know the politics of who is allowed to vend at Pow Wows and aboriginal conferences and events but it’s an option.
  • convenience stores: sure! Why not approach a local corner store, especially if it’s independently owned, and invite them to support a local beef jerky provider rather than the factory farmed crap version they’re currently selling.
  • school cafeterias: I’m not as sure about this one or how it would work, but maybe?
  • food groups (e.g. celiac, paleo): right! There are certain groups who’d be biased to eating beef jerky as a snack over fruit, sandwiches or other things. If he could find them, go to their events and sell some merch but then, importantly, make sure they know which farmers’ market he’ll be at and to invite them to come and visit his booth… well, this is how it’s done in one on one sales. They come to say ‘hi’ and become regulars and now you’re the place they get their jerky from.
  • the Department of National Defence: heavens. I don’t even know where to start but that could be a large order if he was able to secure it.
  • bars: I’m really not as sure about how this one would work.
  • surveyors: a whole profession of people just standing around and getting hungry. Maybe he could sell directly to the companies for them to give as snacks for their bored workers? Could be.
  • ski resorts: again, this could be a big order if he landed even one ski lodge for repeat business.
  • work camps: why not call up the local industrial work camps and ask to speak to the person in charge of feeding everyone and see if there’s not some business to be drummed up?
  • forest rangers: they must have conventions. Why not go to one? I’m not as big a fan of this one because his business will likely best be built with larger orders instead of one on one. I’ve never in my life felt loyal to a particular, local brand of jerky and I don’t know if I ever will. I’ll just buy whatever’s closest to me that seems ethically raised.
  • sports clubs: could be. Again, this becomes individual sales but having a booth at larger sports events and inviting people to visit at the farmers’ market? Why not.
  • university Forestry Programs: Maybe. I’m not stoked about this one.
  • BBQ Stores: Could be! If they’re into BBQ then they’re into meat. Could be some regular business here.
  • tree planting companies: this could be big. They have workers who are out all day working hard and they need snacks. Could be worthwhile exploring.
  • campers: I personally wouldn’t be trying to find individual campers but to approach camping supply stores like MEC, REI and smaller more independent ones.
  • farmers: maybe? This seems obvious but it’s not as exciting to me.
  • rodeos: hells yes. Go and set up a booth at one of these and watch it rain money.
  • hunters: meh.
  • sports stores: sure! This could be solid.


Case Study #3: John’s ‘Dandy Joe‘ Roasted Dandelion Root Blend Coffee Substitute


The hubs we came up with for him were:

  • coffee and tea shops: bulk orders. He approaches them and says, “hey! Here’s a unique, local coffee substitute that’s like nothing else and it’s local!” Boom.
  • farmers’ markets: this is where most of his business has come from and where most of it will continue to. No reason to stop.
  • Chinese stores: Joe said he’d had an order from a woman in China who loved it and thought maybe Chinese shops might dig it. Who knows! Worth exploring.
  • spas: an interesting idea. “Instead of serving your clients coffee full of caffeine or the same old boring herbal teas, why not offer this local super food to them?”
  • the sleep center: pitching it as something to drink late at night instead of coffee and offering them tins to offer as upsells to people who buy beds and want to sleep better. Maybe?
  • yoga studios and events: all these yogi’s are trying to kick coffee and give their adrenals some peace. What if he found out the top yoga events in town each year and set up a booth there? What if he identified the top ten yogi’s in town and approached them with a free tin to try out themselves? He could win over a whole community here who is likely to be going to farmer’s markets anyway.
  • tea wholesalers: this could become all of his business if it fell into place:
  • thelocalgood.ca: I co-founded a local network to connect good, forward thinking Edmontonians and we could maybe feature him on our blog.
  • the Organic Box: Sure! Why not get himself listed as a product people could order in a monthly, organic, grocery delivery service?
  • ski lodges and restaurants: maybe some indy restaurants or ski lodges might love having a unique, hot drink like this to offer their clientele?
  • dandelion root growers: I’m not sure why this is on the list…
  • church groups: could be? This doesn’t feel really compelling to me.
  • herbologists: they might not buy a lot but they could likely be a great source of referrals to others.
  • Costco: Oh man. They’d eat him alive on margin. He’d make no money. Stay away from the bright lights!
  • heath food stores: an obvious one. Yes.
  • hemp producers: could he partner with a local hemp seed producer to make a local, superfood smoothie mix of dandelion, hemp and some other things? Maybe!
  • holistic health practitioners: of course. Yes. The more of these who know about him and his product the better. He could have a booth at the local new age, holistic health consumer expos and spend all day working that room and make sure they know which markets to find him at and his website and, in the long term, that could be very solid for business.

The Power of Sticking Around Long Enough

patience1-1It’s happened a number of times to me now.

I meet someone or some across a business which provides a product or service that I see as needed and that I might want to recommend.

And then they go out of business. Or they stop doing that thing.

And it’s often before I’ve really had the chance to get to know them or had much occasion to spread the word about them. It’s frustrating because I love knowing who to send people to if I can’t help them.

I’d be speaking with someone and say, “Oh yeah. John does that kind of work. He’s great.”

And then someone would overhear me and say, “Oh. John stopped doing that a few months ago. Now he’s onto this other thing.”

Niche switching is a natural thing to do. It happens all the time. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s often exactly what you need to do.

But it takes a while for a reputation to be made. It just takes time and most people quick or change direction before they get there. They’re digging a well and, a foot before they hit water, discouraged, they stop digging there and start digging somewhere else and so they never reach the life replenishing stream under the ground.

In business, those waters are the natural flow of word of mouth that sends you business without you even lifting a finger. It’s the power of becoming a hub, becoming a trusted advisor, expert or ‘go to person’ in any particular arena. That does the marketing for you. If you stick around long enough, hustle while you do it and connect with other hubs in a good way, without three years, everyone knows who you are and what you’re about.

If you work on the issue of trauma for three years in a community and do your best to get the word out there, keep at it.

If you do a unique kind of yoga, have a niched permaculture business, have a business based on a particular target market, or based on a particular thing you’re offering, if you have anything even close to resembling a niche, you do a great job and you stick around long enough in business, you will develop a reputation as someone to go to for particular issues or for particular things. Just by having stuck it out long enough you will have a name in town for doing things. Most people give up on this too soon.

But it takes time.

Most entrepreneurs don’t stick around long enough to really get known for anything.

Most entrepreneurs do not persist and play the long game.

The Israeli Dutch Man’s Amazing Shrinking Business Workshop

m2q4sAxFA few weeks ago, I had lunch with the good Govert van Ginkel, a fine facilitator and practitioner of goodwill amongst people through his workshops and one on one work.

He told me the story of a Business Bootcamp he attended in Holland last year.

It was led by an Israeli man who had moved to Holland twenty years before.

Holland has about 16 million people and a full million of them have had to become independent contractors, without pensions or benefits, due to the economy and layoffs.

Seeing this, this fellow decided this might be a group of people in need of help from the kind of business workshops he did.

And so Govert saw this workshop flash across his Facebook over and over again until he finally decided to sign up. It was a full weekend workshop, including lunch and snacks. He was charging $65. Govert knew that this would barely make the man anything.

In the end, the man got 1,000 people signed up. So that’s $65,000. But, once you take out the cost of the venue, materials, food and time put into it… it’s money but it’s not as much as it might seem at first glance.

By the end of the weekend, there were only about 400 people left. This might seem like a story of an embarrassing failure but it’s actually the story of a strange kind of business success.

Govert told me that, when they’d come back from every break, there would be fewer chairs. Numbers were being tracked and paid attention to. So, it never felt like the numbers were dwindling. There was never that deflating feeling even though it was clear there were fewer people.

The trainer pointed out that a big mistake people made in sales were to meet strangers and try to sell them, but that this missed two steps. That the first step was, yes, to meet strangers but then to become friends with them, to foster some kind of trust between you and then to sell to them and then, finally, to invite them to be ambassadors of your work. He was advocating a sort of slow marketing of the kind Robert Middleton outlines in his Marketing Ball metaphor.

At one point, he was challenged as to why he was leading the workshop in English and not Dutch. Hadn’t he learned the language? He expressed that he had but that, when he spoke Dutch, because of his accent, people thought it was ‘cute’ and he felt like that diminished his stature and authority as a professional. I imagine some people didn’t like that answer and others of his answers.

But he wasn’t there asking for people’s vote.

He wasn’t going for approval from anyone.

He was sharing himself and giving every bit of value he could that weekend knowing that his style and approach wouldn’t be for everyone. He was willing to have his personality and content get a polarized response. He was willing to be rejected. He knew that the 400 people left at the end of his workshop would be there because they liked him and what he had to say. He knew that they would be the most likely people to say ‘yes’ to his offer of coaching packages at the end of the workshop.

It’s a different way of looking at things. Most people would look at more than half the people leaving the workshop early as a sign of failure. But what if it was a strange sort of success?

He realized that marketing is about filtering, not seduction.

And so he began with generosity. He offered a full weekend to people at a bargain price. He did it knowing he might lose money on the front end. He did that instead of trying to sell a bunch of strangers into an expensive weekend workshop. He allowed for slowness by creating a space for people to get to know him and see if it was a fit for them.

NOTE: This blog post is not an endorsement for this man or his content (neither of which I know). I am not suggesting I would be aligned with the marketing approaches he teaches in his workshops or his style. I am not suggesting I wouldn’t be either. 

Blog for Clients: An Interview with Corrina Gordon-Barnes

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 5.21.53 PMI’ve known Corrina Gordon-Barnes for a few years now and my respect and affection for her have only deepened. She coaches, consults and runs a very fine blog for conscious service providers. She’s got a lot of thoughts worth hearing about how to create a blog for yourself and how to do it in such a way that it actually gets you clients rather than wasting your time (In fact, she’s made her popular Blog for Clients course available as a self-study training course).

Blogging is something I know a bit about, having written 600+ blog posts myself. However, I can tell you that I’ve written precisely zero of them with any sense of strategy. It’s been a way for me to get clear on my own thoughts. What Corrina is offering here is a far more strategic, wise and profitable investment of time than anything I’ve done.

So, I thought I would invite her to share her thoughts on the matter.

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 5.27.36 PMTad: What is the difference between blogging and blogging for clients?

Corrina: I like to use the analogy of cooking.

Scenario one: I’m by myself. I’m cooking a soup. Yum, I’m going to really enjoy this soup. I’ll just cook according to my taste, I won’t consider quantities, I’ll just focus completely for myself; my and my soup is what I’m all about.

Scenario two: I want to feed my friends. They’re hungry. They’re coming over in two hours. I think about their allergies, their taste preferences. I plan out my cooking so I have enough provision for all of them and so that it’s ready on time for them.

This is the difference. Blogging is for me; blogging for clients is when I focus on others, think about their needs, think about how I can serve them, and then work backwards, getting strategic? about how to meet their needs through what I’m offering.

When we’re blogging for clients, we blog in such a way that it gives potential clients a taste of our approach, plus – importantly – what we have to offer through our paid-for products and services. When we blog, we give our potential clients an opportunity to fall in love with us, to feel safe with us, to feel that somehow we’re aligned and belong together. We’re in the same resonance.

Blogging might be fun in and of itself, but blogging for clients actually leads to clients, increased credibility and increased income. Blogging for clients is not about writing as a hobby; it’s about blogging as your key marketing activity. It actually works for you, supporting your business to grow and flourish and become profitable. AND it’s thoroughly enjoyable.

Why do most people’s blogs get so little engagement and no clients for them? What are they missing?

They don’t first decide what they’re selling and then work backwards from there. They don’t reverse engineer their blogs. In my self-study training course, Blog for Clients, we start with the product or service you want to sell more of, or have people hire you more frequently for, and then we choose blog topics and structure the blogs with this end in mind.

Wow. That’s so simple. Totally.

People at first worry about being strategic or having structure, they worry it’s going to limit their freedom or creativity, but here’s the truth: the writing of the blog actually can be more creative and free-flowing, once you’re writing from strategy and structure.

Another thing people miss is that they don’t give blogging enough of a chance. They give up too soon. And they don’t learn how to do it properly, from people who’ve figured out what works and what doesn’t. They stumble along, trying to figure it out themselves, rather than giving themselves the chance to invest in a learning journey with this incredible marketing approach.

Blogging is the #1 way I built my business over the decade I’ve been self-employed. People look at the word “blogging” and think it looks like something teenagers do, or people who have too much time on their hands. They don’t realize the power at their finger-tips!

What are the top three blunders people make when blogging for clients? And what should they be doing differently?

Blunder #1: They try to speak to everyone, a “spray and pray” kind of approach, rather than honing in on ONE ideal client and writing every blog for them.

Solution: Write each blog to ONE person. I actually start my blogs, “Hey Hannah”, picture my ideal client, write the blog, and then delete the greeting at the end!

Blunder #2: They don’t blog consistently. It’s sporadic, impulsive; they’ll write a flurry and then go awol for months. Think about your favourite TV show or magazine; we love that feeling of regularity, of being able to expect something will show up in our inbox or letter box or screen. We come to trust the producers.

Solution: Commit to an editorial calendar; hold yourself accountable for contributing great value regularly to your community. Be in it for the long-game.

Blunder #3: They forget that a blog is a conversation. We have a whole module in Blog for Clients about how to inspire more comments and what to do about them (because people worry about spam and trolls and negative comments).

Solution: In the way you write, and in your encouragement of comments, remember that a blog is powerful because it’s a heart-to-heart two-way conversation.

Any last advice of thoughts to people who are building their blogs to get clients?

We’re not born knowing how to do marketing.

Likewise, we’re not born knowing how to do blogging.

I often hear from people after they’ve taken Blog for Clients, they say something like: “I nearly didn’t take this course. I knew how to write. I liked writing. I didn’t realize there was actually an art and science to blogging; I thought I could just figure it out” – and they’re so grateful that they learned how to do it so it actually WORKS for them, business-wise. Otherwise, we can enjoy blogging but we won’t see the fruits of our labour. And our business won’t reach the level it can go to, with blogging as the catalyst.

About Corrina:

Corrina Gordon-Barnes wants to live in a world where marketing is fun, clients turn up easily, and money flows to those who do work that helps and heals.

As a certified coach, marketing teacher and self-employment champion, she’s been featured on MindBodyGreen, The Daily Muse, LifeByMe and MarketingForHippies and published in The Ecologist, OM Yoga, Diva, and The London Paper. She’s author of Turn Your Passion to Profit: a step-by-step guide to getting your business off the ground.

When she’s not writing blogs and teaching courses, you can find her reading chick-lit, making vegan blueberry cheesecake, and trying to catch her niece and nephew on the monkey bars.

Take her self-study training course – Blog for Clients – and read her book – Turn Your Passion to Profit – to discover how to stay happy and profitable on the self-employment path at http://youinspireme.co.uk

Guest Post: The Background of Your Website That No One Talks About But Everyone Feels

I’ve connected with Tim Gray a few times over the years, and always gotten the loveliest vibe from him. We got into a conversation about websites and it turned out he had some things to say which I thought were important enough that I wanted to share them with you all.

This notion of the unspoken messages dominating the conversation is so important. It’s what underwrites my recent posts Stop Wasting People’s Time: The Incredible Cost of Being Fuzzy and How to Approach Hubs and Potential Clients Cold.


macbook-2What do you see as the purpose of having a website?

It’s the hub of your online world. All your social media and whatnot connect to it. And it’s the only online place where you can completely control what you say and how it’s presented.

This feels key. Especially in a time where people are getting increasingly frustrated with Facebook and other social media outlets for constantly changing their rules and making it harder to reach people (without paying money to them to boost your posts or pay for ads). We’re just not in control of what Facebook or other tools do but we are in control of our website.

Exactly. So the website’s purpose is to be your representative. When you’re not there in person, it shows people who you are and what you do, and acts as the concierge showing them where your stuff is.

It’s a place for your community to come back to and feel on familiar ground. It’s also a non-scary way for people to see if they’re interested in you before they break cover.

Websites = Safety

I think that’s so important. The notion of safety in marketing is often ignored or overlooked. People often push harder, shout louder and try to generate more hype when they might actually be better served in making it safer to approach them. And I think you’re right. The website plays this function perhaps more than anything else in your business.

What do you see as the top three mistakes people make with their website?

  1. Not showing up, or showing up but not giving out the right authentic message.
  2. Not taking account of the perspective of their audience, so they don’t give people what they want and need to engage with the site.
  3. Not putting attention into the practicalities of writing and design – which are what give your visitors whatever impressions they get.

You say that, “a lot of websites don’t pay attention to these ideas. Even sites that are counted successful, by people who ought to know what they’re doing. They miss out on connection with visitors that they could have had”. Could you say more about that?

People come to your site genuinely interested in something they think you might have. But they know to protect their time and processing capacity by not spending too long on wrong turnings, so they’re alert for alarm signals. If it seems like they have to put a lot of work in and not get much back, they’ll be off.

If you want them to stay and build a connection, you have to pay attention to the psychology and the user experience.

But our minds love to take shortcuts. People get caught in their own perspective, start taking things for granted, and bits of serving their audience get lost. We get caught up in doing things and forget to make reality checks.

Sites with a high profile are still run by humans. It’s easy to get enthusiastic about shiny whizzy things and forget the basics.

Look at your website through their eyes. 

What do you see as the most common ‘shiny whizzy things’ on websites?

Things like image sliders that take up most of the first screenful. Autoplaying videos. Festooning a page with ads, and having things popping up while the visitor is trying to read. Or just filling the page with lots of blocks of information. Floating social media sharing bars that cover the article text. It’s the old ‘interruption marketing’ mindset that won’t let go.

So, you visit their site and get frustrated because parts of the experience are bad or you can’t find answers to your questions. And that frustration becomes part of their brand for you.

Don’t let ‘they have a frustrating website’ be what you’re known for. 

That’s so real.

What I’m saying is that everyone has the opportunity to avoid those problems by understanding the foundations. That isn’t even techy stuff: it’s about how you plan your site and set it out so that you serve your users.

You speak about people having a message. What is a message in your mind?

It became one of my big building block terms after clicking together with my long-ago physics education. It was probably in the shower!

In physics there are vectors, which are quantities with direction, like velocity. A message is information with direction. It’s a story with places to go and people to see.

I like that.

You’re not just saying it: you want it to do something. That means just sitting in a corner for reference isn’t enough. You care about it reaching people and having an effect when it does.

We often talk about a message as a person’s unique contribution to the world, grown from their experiences and insights. It bubbles together and makes connections and eventually wants to come out.

It makes me think of seeds and how they are the condensed information of the lifetime of not only the plant they came from but all of the ancestors of that plant. And that information doesn’t just want to lie dormant in the seed and rot but to be planted and grow. It wants to do something very particular.

Yes, that relates to everything from personal story work to the hero’s journey to the idea of what you’re born to do. You can put it in different ways. You know, being a giant so people can stand on your shoulders rather than having to work it all out from scratch.

You can also talk about messages in a smaller way, as signals people pick up and process.

One of the ideas I talk about is foreground and background messages. Foreground messages are the things you think you’re telling people, like: “My yoga classes have these five health benefits.”

Background messages are what they’re picking up about you, usually more quickly and powerfully. Like, ‘Friendly person who takes people as they are’ or ‘Expert who pushes people to technical mastery’. It’s important to take charge of those background messages and recognise that they’re part of what you’re saying to people. You can’t choose not to project anything!

background > foreground

Right. So if you went on a date, the foreground messages you give off might be, “Yes, I’m a very successful business man and I make lots of money. Did I tell you the funny story about that time Barack Obama and I went fishing?” but the sub communications might be, “I’m insecure and desperately needing your approval.” And you’re suggesting that those implicit, unspoken messages might actually have more impact than the ones you’re trying so hard to explicitly lay out.

Yes. That’s the more familiar version of how it works face to face. I think those subconscious detective processes are still working when we read your writing.

You say, “Too often these messages get lost in the background noise and don’t make the difference they could have”. Lost in the background noise of the marketplace? Their own website? Both?

The world, actually. It frustrates me that humanity isn’t further on in making a better world. Why are we still looking at the same problems as twenty years ago?

I’m gradually understanding more about the reasons for that. And one big part of it is that people who have the jigsaw pieces of the good stuff have not been good at communicating and persuading. We haven’t had the skills. In the meantime, the people with the bad old messages have done pretty well by being loud and persistent.

Yes. Instead of us helping green things seem normal, they’ve been better at making normal things seem green.

But you’re right, part of that is the marketplace and part of it is their own website. It’s easy to not be visible even when people are looking in your direction.

Huh. Good point.

It’s about knowing what you want to say, and who you want to show yourself to be, and how to use words and visual design to make that happen. Because then you can connect with your audience and make a difference.

Goodness knows, this can be hard, with obstacles inside yourself and in the practicalities. It’s certainly an ongoing journey for me.  

Earlier you spoke about the importance of showing up “in person on your site”. What is this and why does it matter so much?

This is the whole big piece about the way marketing has changed and is changing. Terms fly around like ‘relationship marketing’ and ‘personal branding’ and ‘story’.

People want to connect with people. I’ll buy my soy milk from the supermarket, but for coaching or training I want to know who I’m dealing with. What sort of person are they? What are their values? Will we get on? Will their style be a good fit?

People want to connect with people. 

This is everything to me. I think people tend to see marketing as being about convincing people to ‘say yes’ but I see it as about getting to the truth of if there’s a good fit. But this asks a lot of us. It asks us to be vulnerable and open ourselves to a lot of rejection.

It certainly means there are different skills involved: maybe not what we used to think marketing was. And it means personal development is part of it.

But you can turn this around too. It means people with different skills come to the forefront: people who have done the personal development and are good at connecting with people and building community can make a big difference. Sometimes those people have significant internal obstacle that they need to work through so they can show up.

It’s become a bit of a cliche, but still true: we’re within a few clicks of lots of people who can offer your product, service or ideas. So we choose based on who we think we like most.

Right. Or trust the most. Respect the most. Feel the most aligned with.

Exactly. When people visit your site, they want to see you there. The most obvious example is to have a good ‘About’ page where they can learn a bit about you. But you also want to show up in the way you write, the way you present it, the things you choose to talk about.

Too often, people hide out. This may be a particular problem in a culture like we’ve got here in Britain, where people are trained to fit in and not make a fuss. And most people have seen examples of marketing that’s shouty and in your face, and they don’t want to be like that.

And you don’t have to be shouty. But it’s also a bit off if people come round to see you and you’re hiding in the cupboard. You can be politely brilliant!

Make yourself visible on your website.

Ha. I like that. I speak about this a lot in my marketing workshops. This dynamic of either collapsing or posturing.

So, what are three simple things that people can do to make their websites better right away?

Well, these are three things to check, because if you’re getting them wrong you’ll be turning people off.

  1. As we’ve just been talking about it, have an ‘About’ page that visitors can find easily. Use it to introduce yourself as a human being. What’s important to you, what do you like to spend time doing, what has been the journey of your life? Just a few paragraphs about key points, with a nice photo.
  1. On your home page, on the first screenful a new visitor sees, can they tell what the site’s about? It sounds silly, but people get it wrong often, and it’s because they don’t put themselves in the visitor’s shoes.
  1. A pleasant reading experience depends on lots of things about layout, colour and how to write for the web. But for a specific part of it, one of my bugbears is that so many sites have text that’s too small to read comfortably. So check yours, ideally on a couple of different devices. Maybe get opinions from people with different eyesight. If necessary, change your design or theme.

I should say, getting your site really good is a learning process. It certainly is for me. I sometimes say it changes at the speed of perspective, as I try different things and later see more clearly what’s good or bad about them.

Can you give three examples of websites you love and say a bit about why you love them so much?

I find this one difficult, because my brain insists on telling me how things could be better. Let me give examples of sites getting particular things right that I’ve looked at recently.

Henneke Duistermaat’s enchantingmarketing.com made a big impression on me the other day for the freebie sign-up on the home page. The more I look at it, the stronger it is.

I quite like heartofbusiness.com by your friends Mark Silver & co. They’ve got the language and the visuals working together, for a feel of hearth and home and simplicity. Though the design has that American magazine feel – probably comforting to a US audience but niggles my European sensibilities!

Lisa Barber’s site at rootsandwings.biz is great for the graphics (by Lisa McLoughlin – I know both of them from t’internet) and the way she talks to the reader. It creates a really cohesive vibe of specialist marketing knowledge delivered in a sensitive and understanding way for small helping businesses.

Those are great examples. I’d add Carrie Klassen of www.PinkElephantCommunications.com for her very clear visual aesthetic and clear voice in how she writes. It’s charming and kind. I also love Michael Margolis’ site http://www.getstoried.com/ because it’s so clean and clear. You know exactly what it’s about when you arrive. And Rebecca Tracey has done an incredible thing with her site http://www.theuncagedlife.com/. At the very top of the site she invites you to choose from one of four boxes to immediately direct you to whatever services are most likely to be of use to you.

Those are good too. I noticed Get Storied had a redesign recently, and the vibe made a huge shift from home-grown to professional, bordering on corporate.

Uncaged’s filtering visitors to different content is well done. People will arrive with different questions in mind. But also, the whole front page is a strong audience filter: smart-talking, occasionally sweary, zappy visuals. Most people will know whether they’re drawn in or put off. (That “no pants” thing is different over here, you know…)

Pink Elephant is almost the opposite, with a more traditional and ‘quieter’ design, but covering similar topics.

When you’re browsing the web and sites or pages make you feel a certain way, it’s worth thinking about why that is. It’s not magic. You can learn to get better at it, a step at a time.


Tim Gray 8728 2x3in web 200Tim Gray is a writer, finer world advocate and geek living in Nottingham, UK.

He helps people who are working on their corner of a better world to connect with their audience through their writing and how they present it in channels like websites, documents and ebooks.

You can find Tim at wordsthatchangetheworld.com.

There’s a short free guide about writing for the web to turn visitors into readers.

If you’d like to follow up the issues in this interview, take a look at Tim’s e-course ‘Website Foundations for Stories in Action’.




Five decisions I’ve made about the tricky business of affiliate marketing.

money-changing-hands-crop-1200x675Over the years, I have promoted a number of my colleagues.

Sometimes I have done that as an affiliate (I was paid something for anyone who signed up) and sometimes I’ve done it without receiving any money. It’s been a little bit of Column A and a little bit of Column B.

For the most part, it’s felt good. And from time to time it’s felt other than good to be promoting.

I thought I’d share with you what I’ve come up with in case it’s of some use to you in the future when you find something worthy of promoting and have the opportunity to be an affiliate for it.

The parts that have felt good:

  • I can’t do everything. There are so many aspects of business in which I have no expertise (and have no interest in becoming an expert). So I get to share content that is relevant and trustworthy to my people, thus saving them a lot of time in trying to sift through the mountain of information that’s out there on the internet. I’d be a fool to think i know everything and selfish not to point people to the best resources I know about. I recently had a moment where someone booked a half day session with me to look at their packages. I suggested that, before our time, they check out Rebecca Tracey’s program Hey! Nice Package! A few days later I got a sheepish email letting me know they were cancelling the session with me because her program had worked so well for them. I was thrilled.
  • It’s helped to financially sustain me. Up until this point, I haven’t had many of my own online programs or products. I don’t work with people one on one very much and touring is exhausting. Having the extra income from affiliate deals has meant the world to me – especially give the fact that the vast majority of my efforts over the past decade have gone not into creating products but free content for people. I have over 600 blog posts up right now and my guess is that there are likely about 5000 pages of content there. For free.

The parts that didn’t feel good:

  • Financial fuzziness. When I first started sending out affiliate emails about colleagues it always felt a little off, like I was being sneaky or something. The link in the email was an affiliate link but I wasn’t saying it. Some people would understand that it was. Others would have no idea. Would it change how they felt if they knew? Was it worth explaining it to them or was that my own neuroses about it? It didn’t feel right not to say something but I also wasn’t sure how to talk about it without it feeling weird.
  • It’s all ‘Six Figure’ this and ‘Seven Figure’ that. I’ve had to say ‘no’ to some colleagues I otherwise adore because the levels of glitz, glam and ‘get rich quick’ was too much.
  • Hype. I’ve looked at some of the sales letters for programs I’ve been asked to promote and cringed at the level of hype I’ve seen.
  • Low value free content. I’ve promoted so many colleagues whose promo calls, webinars and content were hyped up as so useful only to find they had almost no content in them at all but were mostly a pitch to buy the rest of their stuff. This has been heartbreaking. I just trusted it would be good and then I read it and my heart sank, ‘This is utter shit…’ I thought. ‘I can’t believe I promoted this…’
  • The Launch Formula. Almost every affiliate promo I have done is for a ‘launch’. A launch means that the product or program is only available for a limited time. Sometimes this scarcity is legit (e.g. you’re running a group program and it only has 100 spots and you only do it once per year) and sometimes it’s bullshit (e.g. ‘Only 200 copies of this ebook!’). Regardless of the veracity of the scarcity, it means that it’s a time sensitive situation. I need to share it in a certain window of time. The other model is the ‘evergreen’ model in which a product or program is available forever and whenever. I personally prefer it when colleagues have evergreen, home study versions of their materials as well because sometimes I want to refer people to them and… there’s no way to do so. I have to wait until the next launch. Launches make everything so urgent (which is why they work) but, because of this, they feel like more pressure.
  • Unsubscribes. The reality is that people unsubscribe from my email list with every email I send out. Every time. If the email if free, useful content then less people. If it’s a pitch for my own stuff then more people. If it’s an affiliate pitch, then more people still. That’s just the reality.
  • It’s not useful. This is a whole other level of heartbreak. Sometimes I have found out that what I am promoting is actually no good at all. Sometimes it’s good content but bad context. What they’re teaching is sound, practical and useful but the way they’re doing it is schmarmy or salesy or hyped up. Sometimes the content is good but the course is structured poorly and tries to cover too much and so it’s way too much too fast and students are made to feel like failures.
  • Sending so many emails. Many of my colleagues, when launching a product or a program, asked me, as an affiliate, to send out a lot of emails. I’d tell them I couldn’t send out all of the ones they wanted and would usually send out half the amount others did but it still felt like a lot. But, this was the inner conflict for me: in the course of their promo they were often providing a lot of very real, tangible value. Perhaps they were offering a book, a white paper, a series of educational videos or webinars. I wanted to make sure people knew about them because, hey, free value! But… so many emails from me and about things that aren’t my own. People joined my email list to hear my thoughts, not to be promoted to multiple times about someone they’ve never heard of.
  • So many emails from other affiliates. Over the years, I began to realize that many of the people on my list were also on lists of other colleagues promoting the same things. This meant that some people on my list might get three or four people all sending out multiple emails promoting the same thing. Oh man. So many emails.
  • So many emails from the person I’m promoting. This was a straw that broke this camel’s back. I finally realized that not only were the people on my list getting multiple emails from me. Not only were they getting multiple emails from colleagues about it but they were also getting multiple emails (often quite a lot) from the person I was promoting. So. Many. Emails. The people on my list were getting it from every side.

And then there was the negative feedback…

This has been one of the hardest pills to swallow.

Sometimes I would promote colleagues whose work I believed in but whose selling tactics were… not the ones I’d choose to use. I once asked me list for feedback on the people I’d promoted as affiliates. Here are some of the negative responses I got…

  • “Checked them out – not so helpful, and at times offensive. As a group they seem to be one step removed from your hippy marketing as communication, non-gross vibe – and some of them were so close to the usual vomit marketing stuff I came very close to opting off your list. The worst was the guy – already blanked out his name – talking about how to convince your clients they deserve to pay – they owe it to themselves to pay the high prices for things and how they could afford them. His example was a story about someone who decided she could give up her 2 starbucks a day and walk or ride a bike to work. That’s all well and good for people who are spending excess that way, but for people who are struggling just to pay for groceries, it’s offensive. It’s cruel. I don’t want to study from someone who is teaching people to treat prospective clients this way. People who are doing great work deserve to be paid well, and when prospects are in a position to be able to afford the products and services, that’s awesome. What bothers me is when they try to get that money from people who don’t have – encourage people to use their credit cards and go into debt to purchase the product or service, and then when the client doesn’t get the promised results and struggles to pay off that charge the marketer is either no where to be found or has the audacity to try to sell them something else.”
  • “The next lead of yours that I followed was _______. I wish I hadn’t. Her sales page and videos were so compelling, and I was in so vulnerable a state at the time, that I spent $1000 on her 3-day “virtual retreat” on marketing. She was very knowledgeable and very successful at what she does, which is sucking vulnerable people like me into committing impulsively to spend large amounts of money on her product – which is a too-fast-paced course in wording and structuring sales pages (better known as “squeeze pages” as I have subsequently learned) and videos that result in maximum income for the seller of “leveraged” online “info products”. Her written course materials are very brief (3 documents of about 20-30 pages each). Most of her material is delivered online as live and recorded audio. About half of that is “group coaching” where she has a series of 10 minute chats with other students about their sales page wording and content. I got on once, and she helped me a small bit. Her teachings on niche are much weaker than yours, and her section on technology amounts to recommending the friends she has outsourced her technology to.”
  • “I checked out ______. I got on his mailing list, and came to the conclusion that his program might be a fit for me at some time in the future, but not now. So I clicked a link at the bottom of one of his emails that said “if you want to get a lot less email from me, click here”. When I still kept getting an email every day from him, I complained, but they kept coming. On the last day before the program closed, I got two emails, and I sent another bitter complaint. Obnoxious marketing practices.”
  • “Thanks Tad for asking about the promotions…the first time I signed up with you I checked out Jane Doe. That was useful. I did not sign up as I was going away for an extened period of time. From then on her stuff was self promoting and going down hill and affliate marketing news. I checked out your other “colleagues” and even more self promoting, salesy…a person can use the words, socially conscious entreprenuers , soul centered this or that like Kraft can use All Natural or gasoline companies can talk about mother earth and green wash. It is all upselling. I wondered what has happened to my sweet lad Tad…has he completlely Jane Doe’d himself…Is my friend hungry? Does he need money? Does pay what you want not work? For a bit I was getting so many collegue things from you I was opening them up and checking them out and getting sick to my stomach. But because I respect you, I would keep opening them and find nothing but increase your revenues to 6 figures promises(with huge disclaimers at the end of course). The cynic in me thought, Hey why stop at six- figures, why not promise seven figures and low and behold, the next day, there it was, increase my revnues to 7 figure and now 7 is the new number. Lately I have been getting so many “collegue” letters from you that I have considered hitting the unsuscribe button because I thought you were out of business and into affliate marketing. I like your stuff. One day after having opened an affliate thing from you I got so sad…I went looking for an early Tad Hargrave youtube…I sighed…happy to see the earnest young man…eager, compassionate and so trusting in himself and the world. Don’t let the John Doe’s or anyone like him rob you of your light.”

Five affiliate marketing decisions I’ve made:

A few months ago, while promoting someone I really admire, I began to sat with all of this, the upsides and downsides more seriously in an attempt to find some reconciliation of it all.

I hope the following learnings might be of some use to you in the future.

Affiliate Decision #1 – Giving the non-affiliate link:

This has been my policy for years now.

The nub of it is this: when you send out an email promoting someone using an affiliate link, then include, usually in the p.s. an explanation that the link above is an affiliate link and that, if that feels off in any way, there is a non-affiliate link they can click below.

Like so many good things I do, I do them because someone else did it to me and I noticed how good it felt. I can’t remember when or who but there it was. I was reading an email from them in which they were promoting someone and, at the end, they told me, “Hey! This is an affiliate thing, click the link below if you don’t like it and I won’t get any money.”

It was so refreshing. I felt respected. And I noticed, compellingly, that I was actually more happy to click on the affiliate link to make sure they got the money. Ever since using this approach, I have felt a world better and gotten emails like the below one telling me that they felt just as I did when I got my first email like this.

One good fellow said, “Congratulations on your transparency about the affiliation, and your providing of the alternate link. Although I am not doing anything with your stuff right now because I am drowning in developing a new website (plus teaching college). However, the likelihood that I will not delete your emails and will actually read them when I get through the next 2-3 weeks has increased exponentially.”

Another lady said, “I really appreciate your transparency at the bottom (in your P.S.), nice! Thanks for the openness. P.S. I forwarded your email to someone who may be interested. He appreciated that P.S. too. :)

But one time I got some feedback from someone on my list of a way I did it that didn’t totally land for him. I was grateful for his honesty.

“Hey…I really like your stuff, the content, and your ethos. Refreshing mix of marketing and community values.

Just one thing, feedback. I have NO problem with you doing the affiliate thing. Why not, its all part of the mutual benefit. I really appreciate your disclosure of it.

But theres just a bit of cringe factor in the way you do it…like you can’t quite own it. Hey dude:

p.p.s. Full Disclosure: This is an affiliate arrangement with George meaning I’ll make some amount of money (I actually haven’t checked how much) for everyone who signs up from the call. And it’s not why I’m promoting it. I hope you’ll dig it.

Ok, heres the critique. Firstly, you bend over backwards to make it clear you don’t really care about the money, and you are just doing it cause you want to support him and us.

Drop it, please. Your casual (don’t know how much I will make) sounds weak, and defensive.

Secondly, its a muddy mix of self interest and generosity. You are trying to separate out the two by the disclosure, but the way you put it actually is confusing. Again, its kind of defensive around your self interest. There IS,somewhere, your own profit (if not money, then your own career) motive in your promoting him. Maybe only .1%, but so what. It IS partly why you are promoting him. By somehow trying to make it less, you sound like you are trying to make it go away, rather than what you are ostensibly doing, which is owning it.

Hey, I do the same thing in my representations about my generosity. My wife, who knows me so well, always pulls a face and asks, yeah, but whats the cost?

So, small point, but hey, don’t like to see you marr your marvellous work.

So, my suggestion:

• Transparency statement: when George profits, so do I. I love it – I get to promote people I think are excellent, like George. If you like him as well, hee gets more business, you get a benefit. And I get a kickback :-) Everyone wins.

Well, thats a playful version. A straighter version:

• Transparency statement: if you like George’s products its win-win-win. You benefit, George’s work grows, and I get a percentage as an affiliate.

All the best.”

So what exact wording might you use?

Here’s an example of the kind of thing I’ve come to over the years,

p.s. I have been incredibly impressed with the nuts and bolts, practical nature of Marisa’s work and have learned something from every conversation with her I’ve had. And clients I’ve sent her way have thanked me. The above link is an affiliate link, meaning you signing up with her also supports me financially. If that doesn’t feel right for you for any reason, you can click on the following link and it will take you to the same page but I won’t be tracked as an affiliate.


Whichever link you click, I urge you to check out her brilliant work.

Note: In many countries you are legally obligated to let people know if it is an affiliate link or not in any of your promotions.

Affiliate Decision #2 – Personalize.

When you agree to become an affiliate for someone you’ll get some swipe copy from them. Meaning, if they’re smart, they will send you some prewritten sales copy to promote their stuff.

In my experience, as a result of it being difficult to write about one’s self objectively and a lack of understanding of how to write sales copy without hype, it’s not usually that good or useful to me beyond giving me the raw material I need to work with to write something of my own.

One of my colleagues wrote me his thoughts on this whole tangled mess of affiliate marketing,

“I think the subject of endorsing is one that is on a lot of people’s minds as we see more and more affiliate marketing between people. It’s funny – sometimes I find I don’t like the feel of it, and sometimes I do. When you do it, I like it. When John Doe does it, I don’t seem to. And I have no idea why. No idea. Like anything, my guess is that it is not this ‘activity’ that’s the problem ever, but how it is handled and communicated. For some reason, just off the top of my head – I notice that I love how you write about other people.

It always comes from your perspective, and why you feel it’s important. Though it’s more work for you, this feels great! It’s different entirely than the emails that are clearly written by someone else, or just come across super hypey – which I do find is more the norm. If I’m on someone’s list, I prefer to have the feeling that the endorsement (commission or not does not matter to me) is coming with a clear feeling as to why it’s important for ‘me’, and how it fits into my being on the person’s list. Relevance.

Maybe I like it when it’s communicated with the feeling that the endorsee is really doing this for ‘me’ and can clearly explain why. In that case, I am fine with there being a commission involved – I like it even – and I think that most people are. If I join Mailchimp or a John Doe program b/c of someone’s recommendation, I love using their affiliate link to do it. Makes me feel good that they are getting a commission for it. It’s like ‘thank you for telling me!’

Maybe my underlying feeling is that I love it when people earn great money from their own work and JV commissions, but my expectation is always the feeling like they have my best interests in mind when they speak, lead, endorse. And it’s ok with me if unsure as to the value for me, to change the wording to reflect that – like you have done in the past. ‘This *could* be very interesting for you’. That works just fine for me – again it’s all in the communication.

But many lists I’m on I can sense another way of endorsing – where there just isn’t the same level of care for ‘me’ communicated in the message. And this feels emotionally not as nice. I find I get a low level annoyance happening with this. You’re one of the very few that I’ve never had that feeling about, ever. Not that I’m so difficult to please, I don’t get tied up in knots about it, I just choose to ignore many other ‘teachers’ when they do these more flippant feeling JV endorsements. I put up with it, and then resume my interest when they get back to ‘leading me’.”

So, it will feel better to people if you personalize it.

As my own understanding of marketing has evolved, I’ve found the swipe copy to be less and less useful because it’s written to get people to say ‘yes’ rather than to help them understand if it’s a fit for them or not.

To deal with this, I have, as of today, created a form I will be asking all future colleagues to fill out if they want me to be an affiliate for them. Feel free to copy this.

Affiliate Decision #3 – One email policy:

This is my most recent learning.

From now on, if a colleague asks me to promote them and it feels like a fit to me, I will only send one email out about it (with a good possibility of sending a reminder to those who clicked on the link in the email a day or two before the end of the promotion if I don’t get any negative feedback from their promo).

After wrestling with this for years, I was reminded about how Jay Abraham promoted the first major marketing workshop I ever attended.

His initial email said, in essence,

“I’ve got this amazing seminar coming up. I’d love for you to come. But of course I think it’s amazing. It’s my program. So here’s my proposition. I’d like to get your permission to market this program to you and make my case for why it will be in your best interests to attend it. And, during the course of that promotion, I will give away more free content than most people give away during their actual seminars.”

He was, in essence, asking for people’s permission to market to them.

It was a brilliant approach during which he genuinely gave away an incredible amount of value.

What I loved about it was how respectful it was (if you didn’t opt in to be marketed to that was the last you ever heard of it) and, if you did, you got a bushel full of useful marketing tips. And it was so direct. No beating around the bush.

And so, just a few weeks ago, it dawned on me that this was how I was going to approach affiliate promotions for the foreseeable future.

Instead of sending out four emails during the course of a promotion, I will send one.

Instead of telling my list about every free piece of launch content they’re offering, I will tell them about all of them in advance and encourage them to give their permission to be marketed to by the person in question. I will make my best case for the program and be as clear as I can about who it’s a fit for and who it’s not a fit for.

I can’t even begin to tell you what a relief this feels like to me.

What it means is that I will earn less money from affiliate deals and likely be less attractive to colleagues. It will mean I likely don’t grace the promotional leaderboards (where they keep track of whose made the most sales) with the nimble agility I used to but… it will also mean less clutter in your email inbox. It will also mean me feeling more peace in my heart about this whole thing.

Examples of the single emails:

Jesse and Sharla’s Client Attraction Mastery Home Study Course: Said someone of this email, “I can’t help but to send you a note to say thank you for putting this email together. It’s the best affiliate marketing promotional email I’ve ever seen! It’s done with so much heart, I’m amazed. Thank you for being a shining example of how to do AM with authenticity. While I don’t think I’ll get this product now, if I ever do, I’ll definitely get it through your link even though some other people I follow are also promoting this.



Affiliate Decision #4 – Disclaimers:

Finding someone to promote who you are 100% behind is rare.

Sometimes you’ll love them personally.

Sometimes you’ll love their style.

Sometimes you’ll love their content.

Sometimes you’ll love how they market themselves.

Rarely will you find someone where all of those are true. Very seldom will you find an utterly perfect fit.That’s just how it is.

But, when it’s not perfect, it can be good to speak to that directly in your sales copy.

This can mean…

  • letting people know you’ve never met them in person.
  • using the word ‘colleague’ instead of ‘friend’ in your sales copy.
  • bluntly stating where and how you disagree with them. I recall reading a book review that said, “I think most of this book is garbage but it’s worth 1000 times the price of the book for the content in chapter three.”

A client once wrote me and said of this very topic,

“I do think, also, that those of us who consider you a mentor understand full well that we will be dealing with different businesses and personalities. Maybe a simple stock sentence to that effect might help. You’re much better at that sort of wording than me, but something like: ‘you’re used to me, and I’m ‘this way’… I will promote people I feel have a really important piece to share on ‘something’, it’s something that I can’t do very well for you, even though I’d love to… and know that these works come in various personality packages… This brings an unexpected gift. It helps us navigate how we want to show up in the business world. Of course my way isn’t the only way. As a matter of fact, while you are learning from their particular genius, thank them for this, and also notice how they are doing business, notice how they are doing their intros, their content, etc. and as well as taking in the genius of what they’re great at, notice what you will do differently to find the way of doing *your* business. We are all trying to figure out just how to package and deliver the gifts that we have, and these people will help you see how they’ve done it. Notice what works for you…”

Affiliate Decision #5 – The Optional Follow Up Email:

I credit Danny Iny with this idea and it’s likely one I will use a lot.

I’ve often sent reminder emails about a deadline on a colleagues program the day or so before it’s over. And I’ve often been grateful, as forgetful and busy as I can be, to receive such emails.

But, Danny pointed out that, instead of emailing your whole list with the reminder, you can, using most online email programs, identify who clicked on the link inside it and email only those people since they were the ones who expressed some clear interest. So, instead of 10,000 people getting the reminder, only maybe 300 people do.

Less clutter for everyone and a friendly reminder to everyone else.

I hope these learnings have been useful to you. I’d love to hear what you’ve been learning yourself.

Bonus Thoughts:

Blog Posts: A few times, I’ve wanted to share my colleagues work for their evergreen products and so I interviewed them for my blog about their thoughts on the topic. This felt better than just emailing a straight up promo for their product because the people on my list were getting some immediate value and the affiliate code was embedded in the blog post. In these cases, I’ve not bothered to give the non-affiliate link since the trust of the email wasn’t about getting them to sign up for anything. It should be noted that, in the short term, this approach will not get as many sales but the blog post can be recycled over and over via social media and, if you structure your website right, you can guide people to it from other blog posts and link to it in future emails.

I did this with Rebecca Tracey about her brilliant work on helping people create packages for their work and with Carrie Klassen about her genius ebook on how to write a lovable homepage.

Resources Page: For evergreen products, you can also create a Resources Page on your website where you give links to useful resources, affiliate and otherwise, that your clients might find of interest.

Feedback I’ve Gotten from this Post:

In addition to the comments below, here’s what people have been telling me about their thoughts from this blog post.

  • “I think you’ve nailed the affiliate link thing. You disclose, you offer an alternative, non affiliate link, and most importantly for me, you only send the one email about it. I trust you, and you’ve stayed in my inbox, when I’ve been culling others like mad.:)”
  • “THANK YOU for this well thought out blog post. I have loved you for years and have gone through ups and downs in my feelings about the JV emails I was getting from you (and from other “colleagues” promoting the same “good friend”). I can hear the struggle you have gone through and I appreciate you for grappling with all of it to come to what feels right for you. Through all of it, I have never wanted to unsubscribe from your email list (though I came close twice) because you were the person whose programs I knew and trusted. I always appreciated your transparency with the affiliate link. And of course I am always happy to click on your link to benefit you as I have received so much benefit from you. Thanks most of all because I had developed such a bad taste for JV programs that I had vowed never to participate in them or market myself that way when I developed online programs. Reading through your thoughts has made me reconsider this point of view. I hope this works well for you and that less people unsubscribe from your list. I know that the times I considered it, it was not just because of the JV content, I was at a point where life was overwhelming and email seemed like a small thing I could control.”
  • “I’ve been thinking about how affiliates could be part of my business plan & how I want and don’t want to go about doing it. I’ve certainly been glad for your shares. Danny Iny had great free content, but I didn’t buy his product. Carrie Klassen I bought into and really enjoyed. Timing and price point had a lot to do with both of those decisions. I’ve noticed that you give the non-affiliate link and I like it so much I’ll copy that practice. I also really appreciate the One Email Policy. So. Many. Emails. Thank you for not clogging my Inbox.”

Other great posts on this topic:

Steve Mattus of Heart of Business has written a wonderful piece on this called Getting Tangled Using Affiliate Links.

George Kao shares his thoughts on why he’s stopped doing affiliate marketing here.

Honesty in Search Results: Why We Decided Not to Offer an Affiliate Program

My Stance on Affiliate Marketing – Julie Wolk

Farmers Market Marketing Series #11: Six Marketing Ideas for Farmers Outside of Markets

So far in this Farmer’s Market Marketing Series we’ve covered a lot of ways to make the best of the markets themselves but I wanted to share at least a few ideas on how to grow your business outside of the markets and hopefully ones you’d not considered yet.

BEYOND THE MARKET IDEA #1: Partner with a non profit.

Is there an issue you are passionate about and would love to raise money for or raise the profile of? Consider this possibility, if you will. Your farm might be able to help it while, at the same time, attracting a whole new set of customers who are not the usual suspects you’ll find at Farmer’s Markets. You might be the bridge between the local food people and the people who care about these issues.

Imagine you are passionate about helping inner city youth. Could you host a dinner that raised funds for your favourite charity on this issue? Could you create an host a silent auction? Or, best of all, could you simply host an event where you ask people to give money to this cause using a model like Benevon has created?

Regardless of how you do it, done right, it will introduce you, your farm and the whole local food scene to people who might otherwise have never really considered it.

A great book that explores this is Marketing That Matters by Chip Conley. He points out that it’s possible to create partnerships where your business gets a return on investment and the non-profit gets their mission advanced.

BEYOND THE MARKET IDEA #2: Do public speaking engagements and your story and local food.

Do you love public speaking? Do you love sharing your story? Be on the look out for opportunities to speak locally. Not sure where? Post that question on Facebook. Ask around. Perhaps local entrepreneur groups, Rotary clubs or more.

BEYOND THE MARKET IDEA #3: Attend as many community events as possible.

Being a farmer means your busy and late nights can be hard.

But networking can be an important way to grow any business.

You never know where connections might go. If there are mixers hosted where progressive people get together like Green Drinks, it can be worth going. But also, don’t lose your connections to scenes that you love. Again, you might become the preferred farmer for the punk scene because that’s where you come from. It’s very natural to be mingling with people and then to hand them a business card with a photo of you on one side and where you’ll be next on the back – or you can write it up and say, “You should come to the booth on Saturday! Or any Saturday. It would be great to see you there!” Those personal invitations and personal relationships go a very long way in building a customer base. And then, if you remember their name when they come? You’ve got a customer. They’ll want to buy something just to support you. I don’t think farmers often understand the power they have to have people feel welcomed and included into the local food scene. I don’t think they appreciate how much people want to do more but feel like they can’t.

Plus, you could also invite them to your annual barn party (see the next idea).

170433167117785905p9ztJuMUcBEYOND THE MARKET IDEA #4: Throw a Farm Party

I’ve honestly been waiting this entire series so I could lift up this open as one of my favourite ways to deepen relationships with customers.

I want to urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to throw a party for your customers at least once per year. If possible, host it at your farm. You can make it an all day event with a barn party, ho down, moon shine drinking party at the end of the night. Maybe you sell tickets, maybe you just foot the bill.

Start small your first year. Just invite your favourite customers and tell them to keep it hush hush but that they can bring some folks along and that they need to give a firm RSVP. Make sure you get their contact info so you can confirm they’re coming. I commend using Eventbrite.

There benefits of doing this kind of party are vast.

It gives them a story to tell and reason to talk about your farm. And they will. And their friends will be jealous and want to come to the next one. “You got to use an actual cattle brand? And drink home made moonshine? Skinny dipping?” You get the idea. This one event will do more for your word of mouth than just about anything I can think of.

If you have a professional photographer there documenting the whole thing and then upload those photos, tag those you can and email the album (which you conveniently host on your Facebook Page) to everyone who attended and they will tag themselves and share the photos and tag you and talk you up. Especially if you ask them to and maybe even if you give them some pre-written text they can use letting people know where they can find you and when at which markets.

This kind of party will deepen your relationships with you and your existing customers more than anything else I can think of.

And why not invite the other vendors as a way for you to all get to know each other?

Could you host the party in partnership with a non-profit and have them invite their people out too and a portion of the ticket price goes to them?

Could you bring our a well known local chef to make an amazing meal with stuff from your farm?

And what an easy way to get the contact info of your customers. I can promise you that it’s the most natural thing in the world, and very few people will say ‘no’ when you get their email to be on the list for the party and you say, “Oh! And, if you like, we could add you to our monthly email newsletter too? No pressure.” Most will say yes.

Also, consider getting their mailing address and mailing out a physical invitation – just a simple postcard on which you can hand write personal notes to people telling them you hope they will come. You could actually write those notes moments after you get their address at the Farmer’s Market – just have a stack of the invitation postcards there. So, they mention their daughter Sue and you write, “I hope you and Sue can come to our party! I’ll give you a slice of that apple pie I was telling you about.” You just recap the conversation. They’ll be incredibly touched when, many weeks later, they get the invitation from you. And, how convenient, you’ve put the map and directions on the back on the postcard!

Shelly Juurlink shares some other ideas for this, “Invite ‘eaters’ out to the farm and host special events (ex. Carrot thinning picnic: invite people and their kids out to help thin carrots in the spring, have someone on hand to have a sunflower house planting activity to engage and teach the kids, eat sandwiches under a tree on the farm with the farmer and their family and send all volunteers home with a bag of fresh spinach), anything to engage people and make them feel part of the food they are buying and the family they are supporting.”

BEYOND THE MARKET IDEA #5: Hook up with a restaurant.

Why not become the preferred supplier of something to a local, independent restaurant you admire?

In Edmonton, Sangudo meats provides all of the pork and Bacon to sibling eateries Farrow and Three Boars in Edmonton. This locks in some solid orders for Jeff Senger, who runs it, but also means that, for me as a customer I can feel really good that I’m not spending money on factory farm raised pigs when I eat there.

I think there is a lot of opportunity here.

And remember, if you are selling in more outlets than the farmers market, never do more than 10% business with one customer. Spread the risk so they don’t end up in a “Walmart” scenario where one customer calls all the shots.

BEYOND THE MARKET IDEA #6: Sell to a local grocery store directly.

This may not be a new idea to you but, if you haven’t explored it, it’s worth taking a look at.

Please leave any thoughts, tips, resources or ideas that could help farmers grow their businesses in the comments section below. After a few weeks, I promise to read through them all and weave anything relevant and useful into the blog itself so that they can be of the most use to the most farmers.