Guest Post: What Packages Are, Why They Matter, Three Big Mistakes People Make With Them (and what you can do instead)

2417_2by Rebecca Tracey of The Uncaged Life

This blog post is about the three big mistakes you might be making with your packages.

Of course, this assumes you know what I mean by the word ‘package’ and, if you do, that you are currently offering packages.

But let’s start with this…

Since I started my business 3 years ago, I have worked with hundreds of holistic practitioners (particularly service-based folks like life coaches and nutritionists) in the online space, and I have noticed that one commonality between most of them that really holds them back in business –  They are fantastic at what they do, but they aren’t offering it in a way that is best suited to help them grow their business.

Of course, this isn’t their fault.

They went to school, learned how to master their craft, and then were sent out into the world to figure out this whole business thing on their own. No one taught them how to sell, or how to market. If you’ve been reading Tad’s blog for a while, you know the story.

Chapter One – Excitement: They get into business and hang up their shingle. They make a website, list their hourly rates, and they are off to the races.

Chapter Two – Vanishing: They get clients, and work with them for a while, and things go ok, but eventually those clients start to drop off. This can happen for a number of reasons – people get busy. Budget becomes an issue. People start to make your work together less of a priority. They need more clients.

Chapter Three – Stress: They stress out, because the income they thought they could count on is up in the air with each client who drops off, so they have to constantly hustle for new clients.? But how many do they need? What if all their other clients drop off soon too?  It’s all a guessing game at this point – income isn’t consistent, there is no way to know how many people you will be working with at any given time, and it feels like a constant hustle.

Chapter Four – Exhaustion: Soon they are exhausted trying to find new clients. Will things ever even out? Will this ever feel sustainable?

Chapter Five – Realization: They realize they need to ask clients to come back. Or they need to find a better way to make sure clients stay committed to the work they are doing. But again – how?

Chapter Six – Asking: They ask. And then they ask some more. And they keep asking with every client they get. But they wonder if there might be a better way than asking individual clients to come back for individual sessions. Something better than will help clients commit to longer term work together, wihtout constantly having to awkwardly ask them if they want to keep going.

Chapter Seven – Packages: Maybe they hear about the idea of creating ‘packages’. Aha! They could ask their clients to come back for not only one session but a series of sessions. They invite clients to book three massages. Or to sign up for a monthly membership thing. They do this but they find the response to be underwhelming. Getting clients to commit to ongoing work together proves challenging, and the result sis till the same – people drop off and they are left back where they started.  They never know whether they will have enough clients to fill their roster, or enough money to pay the bills.

 At the end of this all they feel deflated, like giving up and like their business will never be sustainable (for their energy or their bank account)

 

 They know they need a better way, but what?

 

The solution is to create results-based packages for their services.

A package is a way of putting your services together that allows you to create some consistency in your business.

 

A Package Has Four Qualities: 

  1. a defined length of time
  2. defined results
  3. a defined price
  4. serves as a direct response to your clients needs.

It’s created to help give your client understand the full value of your services, and often includes more than just  your time (ie. you may include worksheets, or email support, or weekly homework – something that happens outside of the time they spend with you). It could be just a one-time session, or it could be a six month agreement – the key factor is that it is creating an experience for your client that is based on getting them a defined result.

YOU are the expert in your business, and it is up to you to tell a client how long they will need to get the results they want. Afterall – if a client drops off midway through your work together, they won’t get the full benefit of your service. Similarly if you are selling one-time sessions and billing by the hour. if a client doesn’t see results right away, they may not come back.

Packages ensure that clients are on board for the full experience with you.

 

Three Reasons That Creating Packages is a Fantastic Business Model: 

Reason #1: Packages are easier to sell. Like ten times easier to sell. Packages are results-based, which means instead of selling your time, you are selling results. Clients love this, because it helps them trust that they will get the help they need.

Reason #2: Having packages lets you predict your income. By charging clients the package price instead of an hourly rate, clients sign up to commit to the whole package, which means they are less likely to change their mind of drop off midway through your work, because they have already committed to a set amount of time and set price.

Reason #3: Packages can be a part of your sales funnel, and can encourage repeat business. Once a client has gone through one package with you, they will have (ideally) achieved the results they want. But that doesn’t mean ALL their problems are solved. You can have different packages that cater to different parts of their problem, which means that after they finish working with you (assuming they loved it – which they will!), you are able to make sure you have something else to offer them.

Creating packages is a great next step if you have been dabbling for a while and are ready to create consistent income and streamline your processes.

But not all packages are created equal, and there are ways that you can tailor your packages to make them unique in your marketplace, and easier to sell.

After seeing so many failed packages (and having created a few myself in the past in my business) I started paying more attention to what works and what doesn’t, and experimenting with my own packages. As it started to become obvious that there are common mistakes that many practitioners make with their attempt at packaging, I decided to do something about it, and developed my own system for helping people stop making these same mistakes, and learn to put together their offerings in ways that will sell. It’s called Hey, Nice Package!  – because every good package needs a good name, right?

 

Three Big Package Making Mistakes (and what you can do instead):

Mistake #1. Having open-ended packages with no defined end date.

This happens a lot with life coaches in particular (ie. Work with me 3 times a month, for a minimum of 3 months, and we’ll go from there). Creating packages that have no defined scope is like waiting for your partner to propose when he keeps saying it will happen “someday” – it leaves your clients wondering if they will ever get what they want.

Imagine going to the dentist for a filling, and him telling you that it will take minimum 3 appointments to complete, but that you’ll continue to come in once a week after that, for an undetermined amount of time, because the results really depend on YOU… oh, and each month you’ll pay him a fee. No thanks.

Then imagine going for a second opinion, and having the dentist tell you “Yep – I can fix that in 3 appointments, and it’ll cost ya $500”.

Which dentist are you going to? That’s what I thought.

It’s the same with selling services online. No matter what you do, whether it’s tangible or super vague, you need to outline a timeline for your clients

What to do instead: Create packages that are just that – the whole package. Tell your client how long it will take them to get the results they want, and the total price. Yes, this can be scary, and of course, there are never any guarantees, but YOU are the expert, and people want you to take charge and let them know what they need to do.

One of my clients Sarah made this small change, and it has done wonders for her confidence in selling her services. She was offering really long-term coaching packages (6+ months) helping people who are dealing with grief, because she thought that’s what she was supposed to do as a life coach. But it never felt right to her. After working through Hey, Nice Package! she realized she could have the same impact in a shorter amount of time, so she created her Good Grief 4 week package and has never looked back at the old model. You can check out her package here to see how she did it.

Mistake #2: Having a zillion different package options available.

A confused mind is a non-buying mind. If you have so many options for ways to work with you that people can’t even keep track, or don’t know which one they need, they will turn away, never come back, and shake their fists at you from afar. This would look something like giving your clients the option of a one hour session, or 2 sessions a month, or 4 sessions a month, or one session every 3 weeks, or, or or… Confusing, right? If a client doesn’t know which one they should buy, they might just click away. The easier you make it for them to say yes, the more likely they will do just that.

What to do instead: Start with 1 or 2 focused packages and take your time to fully market those. When you offer something super specific and unique, people pay attention, and it’s much easier to sell! Once you’ve built up an audience and have become known as an expert in one specific area, it gives you some traction to be able to expand your business down the line.

My client Joanna, an intuitive healer, took this approach and it helped her create a waiting list for the first time ever! Her biggest struggle was that she didn’t know how everything she did fit together into a whole. She was offering channelled readings, past life readings, intuitive art workshops, soul messages – all kinds of things, and it was all feeling disjointed and overwhelming not just to her, but to her clients too. Once she figured out how these things work together as a coherent whole, she was able to create a really targeted package called Magic By Email and focused on marketing just that one package – and it continues to sell out weeks in advance!  You can see how she has structured her package here.

Mistake #3: Selling intangible results

This is typically a life coaching problem, but it can show up in other industries too (read: no one is safe.) As holistic practitioners, we tend to be shy about guaranteeing anything for our clients, and really taking a stand with confidence in what we are offering. This problem usually arises for anyone who does work that is more intangible and has somewhat vague, undefined results. Telling someone that you will help them “realize their dreams” isn’t tangible enough of a result. Neither is telling them “You will get out what you put in”. That’s all well and good – but assuming they put in 100%  – what will they get? If you can’t tell them, they won’t buy.

What to do instead: You need to determine what exactly the tangible results are that you’re offering. And those results have to be something they want. Doing some market research and really tapping into your client’s language is the best way to make sure that you are speaking in terms of RESULTS in your packages. This is pretty easy to do too! Simply find 5-10 of your ideal clients and ask them if you can hop on the phone with them and ask them a few questions. Dig into what they are struggling with, and what they want that they don’t currently have – and be sure to record the call so you can listen back to their exact words, and then use those words in your marketing. Voila – copywriting done for you, and a WAY clearer picture of the tangibles of what you are actually selling.

For example, a client of mine Makenzie is a career coach who was working with people to help them “find their life purpose”. The problem was, most of her clients weren’t really looking for life purpose – they just wanted to quit their jobs and find work they loved. They kept saying they wanted to stop hating their Mondays!

As you can see, there was a disconnect in what Makenzie was selling, and what her clients really wanted. Once she got clear on the tangible, real world results of finding one’s life purpose (that finding life purpose, to most people, really means finding a new career they LOVE), she was able to create a unique system for working with her clients, so she now has an effective system and a streamlined way of working, AND people are clear on what they will get when they hire her, which saves so much time emailing back and forth about what they can gain by working with her. If you haven’t made your packages tangible yet, this is a small tweak that could start bringing in new clients immediately. Check out Makenzie’s package here to see how she did it.

If you’re a service-based business and you’re selling packages online, avoiding these 3 mistakes will go a long way in helping you attract the right clients and stand out in a sea of sameness in the online market.

*

If you’re still struggling to figure out how to create packages, or want a deeper dive into how to create packages in a way that will help you build a solid, sustainable business model, check out Hey, Nice Package! – an online course that will give you a step by step system to creating your packages, getting clear on your pricing, and learning everything you do fits together so that you’re never left guessing what to create next – you will always have a system to come back to so you never run out of new ideas. Grab it here.

Bio: Rebecca Tracey is the head/only honcho at The Uncaged Life where she works with clients from all over the world who want to have the freedom of working from anywhere by running their own online business. She helps people figure out what their true business message is, helps them create packages that sell, and helps them actually take action on the things they want to do. Rebecca runs an online community of over 2500 solopreneurs. She started her business while living in a van, loves rock climbing and riding her bike around Toronto, and is genuinely obsessed with helping people live their version of Uncaged.

Seven Lessons that Daily Dance Can Teach You About Making Better Offers

 
Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 5.04.15 PMIf you’re thinking of creating online programs (or are super into dance) check this out.
 
My dear friend, colleague and client Erica Ross and her partner in crime Vanya Laporte has just co-created a wonderful new online program that I think nails things from a marketing perspective. I’ve known Erica for many years. We met when she came to one of my first ever weekend workshops in Toronto and she’s done nothing but flourish since. I hope to one day come up with an offering as simple and good as this. 
 
Her new offering is called Daily Dance. You can check it out on her brand new website designed by one of my favourite web designers, Kim Tanasichuk.
 
This is the deal: for 21 days you get an email with a video explaining a new ‘dance of the day’ and a song (approx. 4-6 min.) to use to dance to it.  
 
You also get suggestions to explore the intention behind the dance further, a playlist of additional songs, and a link to a private Daily Dance Facebook group where you can share your experiences.
 
Note: I am not an affiliate of this program. Just a fan of Erica Ross and thought her offer would be a great way to talk about offers in general. 
 
Here’s why this works so well (and the four lessons you can learn from it):
 
 
OFFER-MAKING LESSON #1: The offer is simple and easy to understand. 
 
I can’t overstate the importance of this.
 
If marketing were like baseball, then first base would be clarity. That people get what it is you’re offering to them. It is amazing how seldom businesses even get to first base. There is no clear understanding of the problem they’re solving, the results they’re offering or even… what they’re offering. 
 
And the confused mind says ‘no’. 
 
The name is simple (and alliterative which is helpful for remembering it): Daily Dance. The name tells you what it is.
 
Such a simple idea. 21 days where you get a new dance video every day. Easy. I get that. I can picture that. Is there more to it? Sure. But that’s the core of it.
 
Want more examples?
 
How about FedEx? The idea is simple: overnight delivery. Easy to understand. Or clearasil (not that I am, in any way endorsing clearasil). In seven words, they state what they’re offering, ‘visibly clearer skin in three days. guaranteed.’ Simple. Easy to understand. 
 
In Edmonton, we have Origami Accounting which offers a flat monthly rate for book keeping. Their website is a delight to go to because it makes it so simple. 
 
And, of course, there’s Dollar Shave club known for its edgy online commercials. You pay them one dollar per month and they mail you the razors you need for that month. 
 
And there’s Panty by Post where for about $15 per month you get a pretty panty mailed to you.
 
Calgary’s Bava juice makes cleansing easy because they just mail you the bottles of (extremely delicious) fresh pressed juices. 
 
These ideas are winners because they’re so simple. And that means people can talk about them. And, for word of mouth marketing (which is the basis of all marketing) that is a must. 
 
It’s a good question to ask yourself, ‘How easy to understand is my offer?’
 
If you’re struggling with articulating your offer, here are sixteen questions you can ask yourself to hone in. And if you generally struggle to articulate what you do then I strongly recommend you get and read this
 
 
OFFER-MAKING LESSON #2: It’s offered at a clear and incredibly affordable price.
 
Daily Dance is $21. That’s their launch price so it will go up, but that’s a bargain. If you can set your price at a level that makes you a fair profit but is also a no-brainer for people, your business is likely to do very well. 
 
People don’t like to be confused and it amazes me how many people’s pricing structures are mind numbingly confusing. 
 
And clear pricing is critical. 
 
Why?
 
First, it makes it more likely that those who want to buy will buy. But, far more importantly, it avoids the number one thing that people hate around pricing: surprises. To be quoted one price and then invoiced for a higher price makes people cranky. If you can develop a straightforward and easy to understand pricing structure, people are a lot more likely to buy.
 
Regardless of how much you charge, people must feel as though they are getting a bargain for the money. They need to believe that they are going to get back at least as much if not more than what they’re putting out in terms of money. There must be a clear and solid return on investment.
 
 
OFFER-MAKING LESSON #3: It’s a great example of basing your niche on what you do vs. picking one target market.
 
Some niches are based on a very particular target market (e.g. single dads, divorce lawyers, yoga teachers etc) but other niches aren’t so much based on who as ‘what’ is being offered. In this case, they have a very clear offering – 21 days of dance. In a general sense, their ‘who’ is going to be people who are drawn to bringing more dance into their lives. Their ideal clients are the kinds of people who would see this offer and get excited. That may seem obvious, but it’s a critical distinction between two different paths of niching. 
 
What follows is an excerpt from my upcoming book The Niching Spiral.

This is something I’ve come aware of over the years and my colleague George Kao stumbled upon a similar awareness.

One path is that of the Artist. The other is the path of the Entrepreneur. 

The Artist creates from the inside out.

The Entrepreneur creates from the outside in.  

On the Entrepreneur Path You start with identifying an explicit, consciously chosen hungry crowd and you bring them food. 

The explicit niche means you say, “I want to work with this group of people who are struggling with these kinds of problems or craving these kind of results”. A burning problem, demographics, psychographics – you’ve got it all laid out.

You find the target market and then you figure out what to offer them. At its extreme, the Yang style of business is the cynical-business-man, Donald Trump school of thought. It’s very cynical, follows fads, and doesn’t tend to have much heart in it. It’s all about going for the money. And, honestly, is often more successful at creating money quickly. 

The upside of this path is that you can move very quickly. The clarity about who you’re reaching makes designing your offers and figuring our where to find them so easy. The goal is clear and it’s an exciting process.

The challenge is that what’s trending now may change, and if you’re not that excited about it anyway, you’re likely to jump to something else soon. If you need a whole new business and niche every time you do that, that can be a whole lot of work.

At its extreme, as exciting as it can be as a game – it can feel so empty. There’s not much heart to it, and so there’s not a lot of creativity involved, which often leads to a lack of sustainability and satisfaction. Also, when people choose a niche based on what’s popular or trending at a particular time, there’s not much connection from their own life or much experience they have with the problem they’re solving, and so there can be a huge, steep learning curve.

The Artists Spiral of niching is about going inside, asking yourself what it is you want to create and then giving that to the world. This inside-out approach often is a better fit for life coaches, holistic practitioners, permaculture practitioners, etc. It’s where you start with who you are, and what you most want to give to the world, and then you look at who might need that. The extreme version of this style of niching is like Vincent Van Gogh. Amazing art is produced and the world is made more beautiful, but you die broke and unappreciated.  

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” 

Andy Warhol

What the artist is always looking for is the mode of existence in which soul and body are one.” 

– Oscar Wilde

The challenge here is that there’s no explicit who here. And that can make marketing feel impossible. Where do you start?

In the end, it’s not really an either/or. We all end up needing to dance back and forth between these two. There’s a looking at what we want to give, and then a looking at what’s needed. Then we design the thing that we think can meet that need, and trust our taste and aesthetics around it all. 

If you want more meaning – lean towards the Artist’s Spiral.

If you want more money – lean towards the Entrepreneur Spiral.

If you’re really clear about the exact target market you want to serve, the precise problems they’re struggling with and the result they are craving, you’re likely on the Entrepreneur Spiral.

If you’re really clear about what you want to offer (e.g. massage, reiki, life coaching, permaculture) but you haven’t figured out exactly how or to whom, then you’re likely on the Artists Spiral.

 
OFFER-MAKING LESSON #4: They offer a three day trial.
 
I love it when people offer free trials. It’s simultaneously a very smart and strategic thing to do but also a very generous thing to do. 
 
I won’t write much about it here, but if you’re interested in why creating free ways to sample your work is so vital click here. If you want to know how to do it click here
 
 
OFFER MAKING LESSON #5:  It’s a very well thought through and well put together offer that people actually want. 
 
There are many aspects to this that are very well thought out. First of all, only 21 days. That’s not too overwhelming.
 
Second, an online offering for people who feel too busy or intimidated to follow their interest in dance. They don’t have to go to a big class and risk embarrassment. They can start small.
 
Each day is scalable. There’s a video. There’s a song and, if they want more? There’s an extended playlist to explore. 
 
 
OFFER-MAKING LESSON #6: It’s visually beautiful, polished and professional. 
 
The most important thing is that the core offer is good. I’d rather have a solid offer with a rough presentation than a bad offer with a beautiful presentation. In terms of sales, if the core idea works, it can still fly in spite of bad design. But a bad idea with beautiful design? It’ll never last. If you have to spend your money on a good copywriter or a good designer, there is no doubt in my mind it should go, in almost all cases, to the copywriter. 
 
However, having said that, I’m a big believer in making things as beautiful as possible. Or, to be more accurate, making sure the design captures the vibe of the business. Knowing Erica as I do, the website as a whole and the sales page for the offer nail it. 
 
I see so many websites that make me wince. They don’t look professional and it hurts the credibility of the site. It has me trust the offers a little less. 
 
 
OFFER-MAKING LESSON #7: It is a heart and soul-based offering at it’s purist.
 
Kim Tanasichuk had this to say, “It’s fun, it had so much depth and beauty, it reflects the care and love they put into all that they do, and it reflects them and their sacred life’s work. And it’s setup in a way where it allows people to unfold themselves – their emotions, their hearts, their being and feel nurtured while doing this. The offer matches the creator. Because of this primarily — it is an “Offer” at it’s finest.”
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sales Letter Case Study: Mission Traction


Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 6.33.58 PMOne of my favourite things to do for clients is to help them redo their salesletters. 

Your sales letter is your marketing dojo. It’s where we start to find out how clear you are. 

Marketing is about translation. You’re trying to communicate something you know intimately well from the inside to people on the outside. And that’s not always as easy as it seems. 

The following piece is a sales letter I did with my clients Daniel and Cecile of Round Sky Solutions for a seven week course they were running called Mission Traction.

What you’ll read first is the original letter with which they came to me. Indented, you will read my comments on the letter. Then you’ll read a redo of the letter with my commentary as to why I made the changes I did. 

You can read of my thoughts on writing a good sales letter (including more examples of sales letter make overs) here

I hope reading this will help give you some insights onto how to articulate your own work with more clarity. And if you want help to write your sales letter, I can’t recommend anything more highly than Carrie Klassen’s ebook on the subject. 

An important note: writing sales letters is incredibly difficult. We are so close to what we do and, after a few drafts of it, it is virtually impossible to see it clearly. Most of us, myself included, can benefit immensely from some outside, considered and thoughtful feedback from someone who knows what they’re talking about (if you’d like me to look over your sales letter, my rates are here). My feedback may seem terse, sassy and mocking at times but what I’m trying to convey is my honest reaction upon reading it and what I imagine will be the visceral reaction of their ideal client reading it. It’s so incredibly important that we are real with ourselves about how our marketing is received. I go over the top to make a point. Daniel and Cecile are two of the loveliest and most sincere good hearted people. But, I suppose this proves the point: we can be such good people and our marketing can still miss the mark. 

Also, the new draft we came up with isn’t perfect. There is still work to be done – but we did the best we could given the time constraints with which we were working. But the progress is enough that it makes an excellent case study in two areas in particular: 1) how much jargon can create confusion and 2) the power of a good metaphor in your marketing. 

 

Original Sales Letter:

 

 

Mission Traction:

Build Skillful Means to Drive Effective Change

 

So, here is problem number one. The headline confuses me. What does ‘Mission Traction’ mean? I have no idea… And then ‘Build Skillful Means to Drive Effective Change’. This sounds so wordsmithed. So polished. But I have no idea if this is relevant to me. And this is the very, very, very, very, very first thing that needs to be established in a sales letter – relevance. Can this help me with a problem I’m facing? Or help me get a result I want? I have no idea. 

Join us for this 7-week online course for change makers who are looking to increase their effectiveness and develop the skills for working adeptly with widespread resistance to change.

A 7 week online course! Ok! I know what it is! But who are change makers? Am I one? I don’t know. It promises I’ll be better at working with ‘widespread resistance to change’ which would be amazing… if I had any idea at all what they were talking about. What kind of change? What kind of resistance? #fuzzinessisnotyourfriend

At our best, we feel energized and curious, creative and open. Our work in the world is an expression of our highest values, and it sustains and inspires us.

At our best? Who’s best? We still haven’t established who this letter is to so I have no idea what that means. Or the rest of that line. Because I don’t know this, it sounds jargony. And sure, that might be true in a generic sense but why do I care?

We show up fully in our working relationships and respond effectively to challenges, and as a result, we see ourselves making a positive impact on the world around us.

 Who is we, again?

When our way of being and working is generative, we can feel ourselves learning and see our core competencies increasing. We can handle more complexity, we display greater wisdom, and we meet and exceed our highest priority milestones.

 And here comes the jargon. What does generative mean? And ‘way of being’ for that matter. At this point, the confusion is building and it’s a downward spiral. Core competencies? Highest priority milestones? This is a lot of industry jargon – words that mean so much to the person writing the sales letter and next to nothing for the person reading it. Remember: the confused mind says ‘no’.

Our working relationships are more rewarding, and as a result, our engagements are more collaborative and more productive.

Engagements with whom? And who am I again?…

At our best, we wake up every day with a sense of momentum that grows because we can see ourselves making real, tangible and meaningful progress.

 I do? But I don’t even know who I ammmmmmm… Tell me who I am, I beg of you kind sir. You can’t keep me shackled in this Dungeon of Confusion forever you monster!

When we marry our vision and values with a demonstrated ability to make lasting and effective change in the world, we get to experience the unparalleled fulfillment of having TRACTION.

Was that phrase generated by the Dilbert industry-speak jargon generator? This sounds so wordsmithed again. A good sales letter is conversational. It should read at a 12 year old level. Simple words. 

What makes a change leader effective?

Aha! I’m a change leader! … whatisthat?

When your personal and organizational systems are optimized to remove process obstacles, your creativity, strategic thinking and capacity to magnify key leverage points increases.

 (brain explodes from jargon overload)

What makes a team collaborative?

 (please. whatever it is. find it. i beg of you. you’ll need a team to put my brains back in my head).

When you and your team are liberated from inefficiencies and bureaucratic inertia, you feel empowered by a clear sense of purpose and direction, your confidence increases, and you have more energy available to focus on highest leverage priorities.

(he stared vacantly into the distance. his torturers attempts to inflict more confusion and pain had no effect. he could feel his soul slowly drifting from his body as the sun set outside the centuries old dungeon window. it wouldn’t be long now. he smelled toast).  

Can an organization become a source of energy and inspiration for its members?

I no longer care.

When the system you’re working in is set up to support fluidity and agility, it allows you to be clearer and more centered in your intentions, more organized in your approach, and lets you increase the time you spend on the projects that matter most.

(sound of a heart monitor flatlining)I recommended they cut the whole section above out of the next draft of the sales letter which, blessedly, they did. Nothing in that section did anything to establish relevance. And, this is the key bit, I really have no idea who I am as the reader. I don’t know who it’s for and so I don’t really understand the overall context. 

How can we respond better to complexity?

Of this sales letter? I hope you’ll tell me.  Some other complexity? I really, genuinely have no idea. 

When the human dimension of your work life is fine tuned for greater flow, you get along better—and making better mission-aligned decisions—with your business partners and colleagues.

 Jargon: human dimension, greater flow, mission-aligned decisions. 29 words in that sentence and 7 of them were jargon. If your sales letters are 25% jargon then stick a fork in it because it. is. done. (but like, not ‘good done’. Bad done). 

Liberated from bottlenecks and inefficient bureaucracies, we feel more appreciated for the work we do. We can trust that others are going to follow through on their commitments and depend on the systems around us to set us up for success.

 Jargon: Liberated from bottlenecks and inefficient bureaucracies (such as what? give me details that help me understand), depend on the systems around us to set us up for success (which system? what kind of success?)

Traction is a deeply fulfilling and effective alignment between your personal vision, approach, your behavior, and your environment.

When your working environment is organized in service of your highest priorities, you experience a “virtuous cycle” of effectiveness. As you see yourself gaining traction, you gain energy and your capacity and skillfulness grows exponentially.

“And the award for most jargon in a salesletter goes to…. ROUND SKY SOLUTIONS!!! Oh my god! Get up here!” (swelling theme music ensues).

You may be a director, organizer, facilitator, advocate, intra/entrepreneur, coach, or consultant. But no matter where you find yourself, what defines your work is that you are mission-driven. You are committed to creating a sustainable, healthy, and socially just planet.

Now I know who I am!!! Why didn’t you tell me this sooner you sadistic bastards… The words above would have made so much more sense. They do a really good job here of giving very specific names to the kinds of people their work is for. This is critical: your marketing must make clear, immediately, who it’s for. When you name them precisely, you don’t to hype things up. You don’t need jargon. You can whisper your message and people hear it. So, in a sales letter, these kinds of words should be very, very near the top (if not in the headline). 

You have an inspiring vision and hard-working, well-developed talent. Yet, like so many change catalysts, you face a unique struggle: the path can be painfully hard to walk.

Okay. You’re winning me over a bit. It can be hard.

In spite of your efforts, you feel like you continue to struggle to bridge the gap between the overwhelming need you see, and vision you’re trying to bring to life.

I think I understand from your sort of confusing words that you’re empathizing with me.  

Chances are, you’ve struggled to deal with inefficient processes and procedures that can’t change, or leaders who bottleneck team operations. And it’s likely that you’ve been frustrated by decision-making processes that don’t seek enough input or are dominated by strong personalities.

Again, your strange words confuse me but I think you’re meaning to say that my organization could work a lot better than it does. Agreed.  

You’ve probably noticed interpersonal conflict consuming more than it’s fair share of attention and impacting deliverables. And it’s very likely that you’ve endured lengthy meetings plagued by misunderstanding and inefficiency that ultimately don’t generate any clear outcomes.

Jargon: interpersonal conflict, impacting deliverables, inefficiency, clear outcomes. But I loved this: “you’ve endured lengthy meetings plagued by misunderstanding and inefficiency”. YES! This is the first thing I’ve read that I can absolutely connect with. I have fully been there and done that. This is what we want sales letters to do – speak to people’s lived experience, what they are actually going through, not to speak in abstract terms. Being real will draw people in. Being abstract will lose people. 

Time and again, you’ve seen a lot of talk and no action. You’ve watched organizations falter, unable to keep up with rapidly changing operating landscapes. You’ve suffered with siloed teams, finger pointing, workplace politicking and lack of follow-through.

Okay. Again, this is drawing me in. I’ve totally seen this. Yes!  

And you’ve probably felt disheartened by the tendency you see towards institutional conservatism and bureaucracy.

Jargon: institutional conservatism and bureaucracy. But I think I get it and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this. 

Regardless of what organizational context you find yourself in, you also probably feel like you’re always struggling to keep up.

Jargon: organizational context.

  • You feel like you take on too much, yet you’re not doing enough. You keep trying to put yourself out there, yet you struggle not to become overwhelmed.
  • You strive to be more organized, yet you always feel short on time, and want to be more adept and sorting out priorities for highest impact.

Totally true. You feel me! 

Sometimes, uncertainty hits and you question the path you’re on. The loneliness of being one of the few people who sees how things aren’t working can make you question whether there’s anything you can do and yearn to figure out how to make a bigger impact.

  • You long for support and maturity in your community and your organizations, and you work hard to take care of yourself, maintain gratitude, positivity, and keep your sights set on the solutions.
  • You’re willing to keep going, but sometimes it feels like despite your best intentions, we’re all taking one step forward, and two steps back.

Often it feels as if there’s no end in sight— you have growing questions about how to ramp up your traction and increase your personal resilience as you move forward.

Jargon: traction, personal resilience. But overall, yes. You’re speaking for me.  

What the world needs from us

It doesn’t take much looking around at our world’s social, economic and environmental state to recognize that collectively, we face unprecedented challenges as a species. Widespread change is coming—whether we’ve chosen it, or like it, or not. And in many areas of life and for much of the world’s population, calamity isn’t a distant possibility, but a living reality.

We live in a surreal age where we have the information and tools to change course for a new and different future—yet we struggle to do so.

Around the world, there are a great many ideas available to us, and many amazing people devoting their days and nights to creating positive outcomes.

Right. I already get that. I’m a changemaker. Why are you telling me this?

So why aren’t our efforts yielding more results?

Ohhhhh. I see what you did there. Good question! When I read this I thought, “Ah! There’s the heart of this sales letter. That question.” This is what I’m always looking for in a sales letter… the heart of it. What’s it about? What’s the point of it?

Our story, our mission

Over more than 25 years of devoting ourselves to bringing about this kind of change, we’ve researched and experientially studied this question in depth. Not only have we passionately worked towards a healthy planet, we’ve actively studied the forces of inertia in ourselves and in our society.

Jargon: forces of inertia. But your credibility is growing. 25 years is a long time. I feel a bit more connected to you now. 

Together, we have:

  • Started and run an organic farm,
  • Been outdoor educators and studied team building and adventure education,
  • Served as members and leaders of intentional communities, where we made and grew everything we needed to sustain ourselves,
  • Explored the world’s esoteric traditions on a path of personal growth and spiritual curiosity.

As entrepreneurs, we have 

  • Started and successfully ran an ecological landscaping and design business,
  • Studied adult development, systems thinking, power dynamics, cultural evolution and Integral Theory.
  • Worked with internet startups and progressive organizational design thinkers.
  • Explored every single organizational process and decision making system we could find, looking for the best tools, skills and principles that could liberate and elevate the innate creativity of groups and organizations.

 Whoa. That’s all cool stuff. You’re way more legit to me now.

We’ve struggled to get traction, struggled to balance the demands on our time and energy, and fought against “burnout.”

BUT, we’ve never stopped valuing the importance of succeeding—even though it’s been a long road to figure out how to bring success within reach in the face of widespread system inertia.

Ok. This was another place it hit me. What they’re really offering is to help change makers actually succeed in making change. This is what they’re most craving. It’s amazing to me that innocuously buried here in the midst of the sales letter, in the middle of a sentence is the white hot center of this sales letter. It should be in the headline.  

Our journey has lead us to focus on one the most often overlooked, yet essential keys to sustainable change making: the human dimension.

Ok. I’m intrigued…. Tell me more. 

Instead of simply struggling harder, we want to liberate human creativity from the forces of inertia that erode our effectiveness and enthusiasm for a better world.

… wut? Your strange language has returned… I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Now, our mission is to share what we’ve found—so that we can help change makers everywhere gain traction.

What do you mean by gaining traction?… And what did you find? I’m still not clear. Something about the dimensions of humans?

So we’ve created this 7-week course as an intensive specifically designed for change catalysts who are hungry for mission traction and ready to roll up their sleeves and make it happen.

What is mission traction? I saw this near the top and it gave me a headache. Then I almost died. Then you won me over. Then I liked you. Now I’m confused again. Our relationship has certainly been a roller coaster… 

Introducing Mission Traction: Skillful Means for Effective Change Makers

After working with leaders, individuals, teams and organizations of all shapes and sizes, we developed our 7-week Mission Traction course to give change makers the core skills, tools and processes they need. 

Based on our extensive experience as coaches, consultants, managers, entrepreneurs and transformative educators, we’ve taken everything we’ve learned about effective organization, leadership and collaboration, and synthesized it into a targeted learning sequence for change makers.

Mission Traction is a live, highly-interactive course that includes balanced and integrated focus on both individual skills and organizational process.

Okay. I think I get it… The title confuses me but I think I basically get it…

As a learner, you will:

  • Develop and refine your own suite of personal development practices that will re-shape the way you work, collaborate and lead.
  • Apply your learning and get hands-on practice through carefully-crafted meeting and decision making simulations.
  • Be able to share your experiences and get support and feedback from a rigorous, confidential community of fellow change makers who really understand your struggle from the inside.
  • Receive individualized attention, coaching, feedback and guidance from our highly skilled and experienced team.
  • Be supported to expand your understanding of what causes effective change
  • Gain a suite of new tools, capacities and techniques that will empower you to better bring your mission to life each and every day.

A bit jargony but I basically get it. That sounds good. 

We expect all participants to achieve the following Learning Outcomes:

  • Insightful understanding of what causes inertia
  • Increased skillfulness in transforming individual and collective resistance to change
  • Improved ability to deliver on intended goals
  • Increased agility and effectiveness in group decision making
  • Increased personal enthusiasm and energy
  • Greater coherence, fun, focus, and collaboration in your efforts
  • Improved capacity to drive peer-based accountability towards the intended mission
  • Capacity to use efficient, democratic, transparent means to adjust roles and responsibilities
  • More engaged, productive, enjoyable meetings with your teams
  • A robust framework for measuring progress in yourself and your teams
  • More powerful ability to set and maintain your priorities in the face of multiple competing demands

Jargon: learning outcomes, coherence, capacity to drive peer-based accountability towards the intended mission, capacity to use efficient, democratic, transparent means to adjust roles and responsibilities.But overall, this sounds good.

Now. their sales letter continued with some more logistical pieces about the course but we’ll stop here. 

 

 

Redone Sales Letter:

 

 

stock-footage-car-stuck-in-the-mud2Attention Change Makers:
Ever feel like you’re spinning your tires trying to do good?

Why is it so hard to make positive change in your organization and the world when everybody seems to want it?

So, as with all sales letters, we start with the headlines. The headlines need to capture people’s attention and quickly move to establish relevance. They need to read it and immediately know if they should read further. I think of the headline as the great filterer. The goal of the headline is not to sell people or convince people. It’s to filter people. If what you’re offering is a fit for them, it should powerfully draw them in closer and fill them with curiousity. If it’s not a fit? They should lose interest. So, we named the generic group immediately, ‘change makers’. Honestly, this is not a super useful marketing term. It’s fairly broad and generic, but it’s better than what was there which was the name of the course. This lifts up a larger point: the headline isn’t about you and your name. It’s about them. Whose name should be at the top of your sales letters, homepages, sales pages, brochures etc? Theirs. Not yours. They don’t care about your name until they know you can help them. Then we address the ‘traction’ piece. While I was reading their sales letter, it finally hit me what it was about . “Oh!” I thought. “Traction! They mean that most change makers feel like they can’t get it. Like they’re spinning their tires!” And there are few things in marketing more powerful than identifying your core metaphor. Once that clicked, it all made sense. If you can start your sales letter with a solid, clear metaphor they can relate to, it allows them to make sense of everything that follows. It’s like it gives them a way to organize all of the info. Then we jumped straight to the big question which we know these people are struggling with, ‘why is it so hard to make change?’. If you can articulate a question that keeps your people up at night, and articulate it better than they can, you will immediately gain relevance and credibility. 


Introducing
Mission Traction: Skillful Means for Effective Change Makers

Okay. So now we introduce the name of the program. I’m still not a huge fan of it (I think they may eventually find an even better name) but now, with the tire spinning metaphor the notion of traction makes a tonne of sense. Now it’s just the name of the program. Before it was the headline and was trying to bear an unfair load. The headline has to carry everything, but the title and tagline might not be able to.


A 7-week online course to help people who want to do good be more skillful and effective in dealing with people’s often unexplainable, illogical and irrational resistance to change. 

So, here we tweaked the one sentence description of the program. Honestly, I think we could come up with something better but this will do. 

Hey there!If you’re reading this, then you’re someone who is working hard to make the world a better place.You might be a director, organizer, facilitator, advocate, intra/entrepreneur, coach, or consultant. But no matter where you find yourself, what defines your work is that you are mission-driven. You are committed to creating a sustainable, healthy, and socially just planet.

As soon as possible, we are naming them as clearly as we can. We’re letting them know, ‘You’re in the right place! Keep reading.’ If you are using a generic term like, ‘change maker’ or ‘conscious entrepreneur’ or ‘cultural creative’ I highly encourage you to, as soon as possible, throw in some more specific target markets. Give them examples of what a change maker might be – which kinds are you most wanting to speak to? Name them explicitly. 

You have an inspiring vision and hard-working, well-developed talent. Yet, like so many change catalysts, in spite of your best efforts, you feel like you continue to struggle to bridge the gap between the overwhelming need you see, and vision you’re trying to bring to life – the gap between what you know is possible and what you’re able to make happen.In short, it’s like your organization is a truck and you’ve sunk into the mud and, no matter how hard you step on the gas, you feel like you’re just spinning your tires and getting nowhere. You’re getting no traction at all and you’re running out of gas.

Here we name and explicitly explore how the metaphor relates to them. 

Chances are, you’ve struggled to deal with…

  • the disheartening feeling of inefficient processes and procedures that can’t change due to institutional conservatism and bureaucracy.
  • other inept leaders who bottleneck team operations
  • crappy decision-making processes that don’t seek enough input or are dominated by strong personalities.
  • interpersonal conflicts that are like black holes which take over everything and mean the job doesn’t get done
  • lengthy, useless, time wasting meetings plagued by misunderstanding and inefficiency that produce nothing. Nada. Zilch.
  • siloed teams, finger pointing, workplace politicking. Boo.
  • a total lack of follow-through
  • having to watch good organizations full of good people, falter, unable to keep up with rapidly changing operating landscapes.

Frustrating.

Okay. So here, I went through their sales letter and pulled out all of the problems I could see named that would be frustrating to a change maker. These are what I call Island A in my work. Business exists to solve a problem. Period. If you can’t name the problem your clients have or the result they’re craving then you don’t have a business. You have a hobby. And you want to be able to name their experience (whether what they don’t want anymore or what they do – either works) as clearly as possible. You want to speak about it in such a way that they’re sitting there reading your sales letter saying, ‘Wow. That’s so totally me.’ So, when I gathered and rewrote these problems I did my best to write them in a way I imagined they might. Conversationally. Normal person language. So, instead of saying something like, ‘inefficient decision making processes’ I just say ‘crappy decision making processes’. And I tried to not only name the problem but the impact of those problems (e.g. “interpersonal conflicts that are like black holes which take over everything and mean the job doesn’t get done.”)

 
Time and again, you’ve seen a lot of talk and no action. Regardless of what kind of work you do, you also probably feel like you’re always struggling to keep up. Many of the clients we work with have, for years, felt like they take on too much, and yet, somehow, that they’re not doing enough. They strive to be more organized, yet they always feel short on time, and want to be more adept at sorting out priorities for highest impact. It can feel overwhelming. Eventually, for some of them, uncertainty hits and they question the path they’re on. The loneliness of being one of the few people who sees how things aren’t working makes them question whether there’s anything they actually can do. They yearn to figure out how to make a bigger impact and yet, over the years, begin to doubt that they ever really will. It often feels like one step forward and then two steps back. They fall asleep each night wondering how they can get more results in what they do but without burning out like they have seen so many others do.

Here, we’re just furthering the empathy to let them know that we get it. We’re continuing to paint the picture of what it’s like to be them so they can keep saying, ‘That’s me’ not ‘so what?’ It’s a powerful exercise to see if you can tell their story. I gave myself this challenge once for holistic practitioners – could I tell the typical story of what it was like to be them? I wrote it up here and many practitioners have told me how eerily accurate it is.  

Honest Question: Why Aren’t Your Efforts Getting Better Results?

I hope we can be candid with you here.

I really wanted to just cut to the chase and address the reader directly with a question they’ve been secretly wondering for years. I wanted to talk to them like an adult. Enough empathy now. Now, let’s get down to business. 

Here’s what you know better than most: collectively, we face unprecedented challenges as a species. Widespread change is coming—whether we’ve chosen it, or like it, or not. And in many areas of life and for much of the world’s population, calamity isn’t a distant possibility, but a living reality.We live in a surreal age where we have the information and tools to change course for a new and different future—yet we struggle to do so.Around the world, there are a so many incredible ideas available to us, and millions of amazing people are devoting their days and nights to creating positive outcomes.So why aren’t your efforts yielding more results?We’ve asked this question to dozens of changemakers over the years. Here’s a sampling of the answers we get…

  • “I just can’t seem to get and stay organized.”
  • “I’m too busy, distracted and scattered with all the projects to which I’ve committed.”
  • “I work with people who have varying schedules, mental and emotional needs, and working styles.”
  • “I don’t manage my time strategically and end up spending time on projects that aren’t consistent with what I think is really important.”
  • “The general overwhelm of life just keeps getting in my way.”
  • “I constantly feel disempowered and manipulated at work, I just need to find a better place to work.”
  • “I don’t know enough people in enough politically powerful positions to make a change.”
  • “I need to have a steady income for my family, and so I’m stuck in a career that isn’t aligned with my values.”

I can guarantee that their ideal client will read those and identify with at least two of those statements. Again, this is how people begin to know if we’re a fit for them or not. This is how the logic in their mind goes, ‘If they understand my problem that well, then I can trust their solution too’. 

And while we think all of those are a factor, we have found that they aren’t the most important element.So what is that most important piece?We’ll tell you in just a moment, but first, we’d like to tell you who are we and how we come up to the answer we did.

Here I wanted to use the old story telling trick of hooking people in and then saying, ‘We’ll come back to that later’.  

Our story, our mission

img_cecile-and-danielLet us introduce ourselves. We are Daniel Little and Cecile Green and we’ve been social entrepreneurs since we were in our early twenties. We love to dance, grow awe inspiring veggie gardens and concoct great food, we can get lost in the woods for hours bushwhacking in the gorgeous mountains around our home, and we have passionate discussions around big ideas!Over more than 25 years of devoting ourselves to bringing about real change, we’ve researched and experientially studied this question in depth. Not only have we passionately worked towards a healthy planet, we’ve actively studied why making change is so hard.Together, we have:

  • Started and run an organic farm,
  • Been outdoor educators and studied team building and adventure education,
  • Served as members and leaders of intentional communities, where we made and grew everything we needed to sustain ourselves,
  • Explored the world’s esoteric traditions on a path of personal growth and spiritual curiosity.

As entrepreneurs, we have:

  • Started and successfully ran an ecological landscaping and design business,
  • Studied adult development, systems thinking, power dynamics, cultural evolution and Integral Theory.
  • Worked with internet startups and progressive organizational design thinkers.
  • Explored every single organizational process and decision making system we could find, looking for the best tools, skills and principles that could liberate and elevate the innate creativity of groups and organizations.

We’ve struggled to get traction, struggled to balance the demands on our time and energy, and fought against “burnout.”BUT, we’ve never stopped valuing the importance of actually succeeding.What’s the point of working for a better world if our efforts don’t make any difference?What’s the point of spinning our tires? Unless we get traction, there is none.

Here, I just hit home the message of the importance of success a little bit harder and more directly. 

Our journey has lead us to focus on one the most often overlooked, yet essential keys to sustainable change making: the human dimension.

This may sound obvious, but, in our experience, this soft stuff of the human elements of making change can either be the smooth road we drive on or the mud that sucks us deeper down the harder we try. When it’s handled really poorly, it is 100% quicksand.Instead of simply struggling harder which can have you sink faster we need to deal with the mud directly.

Again, using the spinning the tires metaphor. Having a core metaphor makes writing a sales letter so much easier. 

So what we’ve discovered through our research and experiential application is that at the heart of all individual and collective inertia is a lack of understanding and capacity for generative power. Now, power means a lot of different things to different people and that’s part of the problem. We aren’t talking the same language. It’s the tower of Babel, which we all know didn’t end well.

They snuck in the word ‘generative’ again. I think that’s jargon and would use something simpler. I think that last paragraph is a bit confusing. 

But that’s not the whole of the problem.

As individuals our power gets derailed when we aren’t clear about what key forces in ourselves we are wrestling with and most importantly when we can’t see, understand, value, and move beyond the hidden assumptions and competing commitments that are getting in our way.

That paragraph begins to lose me too. 

Getting a handle on this for ourselves is like opening up the trunk of our stuck car and finding some boards in there that we can get under our wheels and get moving again under our own power.

Tying it back to the metaphor gives me a way to be able to picture it that makes sense. 

In organizations, power is frequently frozen in structures that are outmoded and no longer serving a healthy mission. Sometimes this is explicit and other times its implicit, making it even harder to get a handle on. And one of the most significant breakthroughs we’ve engineered in the human dimension, is understanding that we can’t change how power is used one person at a time… we have to change the group mind.And we can’t change how we all think about it just thorough better rhetoric or new principles. All to often at workshops we get bombarded with new information and injunctions to “do it better” and are somehow expected to walk out of the room using power differently!Changing power use as an organization needs to be done through a new set of practices, an organizational operating system, that delivers generative results in action every day, whether or not the individuals involved ‘get it’ immediately or it takes them years…that’s what a practice is all about.

That sentence loses me again.

We become like a disaster response team, whose truck, stuck in the mudslide on the way to the village, jumps into action. We know right where the tow rope, the chains, the shovels are stowed and can immediately put them to good use for ourselves and others we are serving, because we’ve trained for this over time, and we know how to move!

I think this could be said more clearly, but it keeps expanding on a metaphor they understand, so that’s good. This is on the right track.

Sooooo exciting!We can start this training and get powerful results and effectiveness immediately. We no longer have to be held back by individuals who don’t want to participate, can’t stop talking, or who yank power for their own purposes regardless of consequences to the whole, instead we include the value in everyone’s perspective and roll that into powerful, compelling traction for our mission.

I think that could be tightened and said with a bit more clarity but I basically get it. 

This is big stuff! And despite it’s deeply researched theoretical grounding, it’s application is 100% practical and embodied. Which is what we feel the people and planet need most right now.

Jargon: embodied.

Now, our mission is to share what we’ve found—so that we can help change makers everywhere gain traction.

Great! Clear!

So we’ve created this 7-week Mission Traction course as an intensive specifically designed for people like you.You might be a perfect fit for our Mission Traction Program if you also …

  • long for support and maturity in your community and your organizations
  • work hard to take care of yourself, maintain gratitude, and positivity
  • face the hard facts of our multiple crises and keep your sights set on the solutions
  • know this world needs your talents and yearn for more meaningful impact
  • have done a lot of work on yourself already, know you’ve got more work to do, but are also aware that it’s about changing the collective too
  • are fed up with big egos running the show
  • are ready to get laser focused on your priorities to make a difference and are ready to roll up your sleeves and make it happen.

This program is likely not a fit for you if…

  • find the thrill of power more valuable than the results
  • don’t want to be uncomfortable with the stretch of new ideas and practical steps you can take right now
  • are in the midst of multiple major personal changes like moving, finding a new job, health crises, divorce, or other. The emphasis being multiple, one may be fine. We’ve been here, we know what it’s like, and we wish you grace and flow through the eye of the needle. This program requires some bandwidth, take it for best results when you can breathe and think. We’ll be here.
  • find using your mind in addition to your heart and body untasteful or distracting for where you are at

 The above addition of ‘This might be a fit for you if…’ and ‘This might not be a fit for you if…’ is something I think should be in every single sales letter ever. Super critical for this to be clear.

 

Introducing Mission Traction: Skillful Means for Effective Change Makers

Tuesdays from October 14th to November 25th
6:30pm to 9pm Eastern Time
 

After working with leaders, individuals, teams and organizations of all shapes and sizes, we developed a highly interactive, step by step, 7-week Mission Traction course to give you the core skills, tools and processes you need to have the impact you crave.

 

As a learner, you will:

  • Develop and refine your own suite of personal development practices that will re-shape the way you work, collaborate and lead.
  • Apply your learning and get hands-on practice through carefully-crafted meeting and decision making simulations.
  • Be able to share your experiences and get support and feedback from a rigorous, confidential community of fellow change makers who really understand your struggle from the inside.
  • Receive individualized attention, coaching, feedback and guidance from our highly skilled and experienced team.
  • Be supported to expand your understanding of what causes effective change
  • Gain a suite of new tools, capacities and techniques that will empower you to better bring your mission to life each and every day.

We expect all participants to achieve the following:

  • Learning Outcomes: Insightful understanding of why you’ve been so stuck in the mud for so long
  • Increased skillfulness in transforming individual and collective resistance to change (you’ll feel like you learned Jedi skills from Obi Wan himself “this is not the drama you’re looking for…:”)
  • Improved ability to deliver on intended goals (which will have you walk taller and feel more bad ass with every passing week).
  • Increased agility and effectiveness in group decision making which create more engaged, productive, enjoyable meetings with your teams (no more useless meetings!). Imagine having your team actively look forward to going to meetings because so much gets done!
  • Increased personal enthusiasm and energy (because you’ll be getting better results and nothing is more motivating than that).
  • Improved capacity to obtain collaborative accountability (you know what top down accountability looks and feels like, but what about an effective means of being accountable to each other?)
  • Capacity to use efficient, democratic, transparent means to adjust roles and responsibilities so that you can keep your teams running smoothly even when you realize that people have totally been given the wrong job
  • A robust framework for measuring progress in yourself and your teams. No more leaving it to chance that you move forward.
  • More powerful ability to set and maintain your priorities in the face of multiple competing demands. With each passing week, you’ll feel your spine getting stronger and stronger and your gut instinct being more and more finely tunes. All while staying limber and flexible.

Again, I’ve reworded the bulleted points here to speak a bit more to the impact and benefit of all of these things (e.g. “Increased skillfulness in transforming individual and collective resistance to change (you’ll feel like you learned Jedi skills from Obi Wan himself “this is not the drama you’re looking for…:”)). This is really important. It’s an old sales idea of the distinction between features and benefits. The feature is what you are offering them, but the benefit is what it means to them. People are infinitely more interested in the benefits. 

You can learn more about their good work by reading their sales letter in full here or listening to a replay of an hour long interview I did with them about their Mission Traction program. 

 

 

 

 

Sales Letter Case Study: Permanomics

1623499_10154654352970230_3741222619418861514_nI was just chatting with my colleague and dear friend Javan Bernakevitch of Permaculture BC. He dropped me a line of facebook asking for help in spreading the word on a course he was doing. It’s a course he’s told me about and that I know is brilliant. 

Javan: Hey bud, I’m offering the core of the personal niche course and, personal function finding course as a stream cast on October 8th with Nicole. Would you be willing to post the below? My bud Javan is offering an elegant process on how to understand your skills, function and niche… what you need to consider before your business model on October 8th and you can stream it from your house for $10, this is $100 deal for $10. Check it out. http://bit.ly/1CurpfO

PERMANOMICS! Right Livelihood: Using Permaculture and Holistic Management to design a profitable and high quality life permaculturebc.com TICKETS for IN-PERSON attendance OR, ON-LINE Live Streamed Broadcast attendance here: http://permanomics.eventbrite.ca/Living the new Economy-Victoria, BC, Education in Action Series Presents: 

Tad: the word ‘function’… i don’t think anyone will understand it

Javan: Function in the ad copy?

Tad: yeah. i’d cut that word or find another way to say it. i think it’s a permie word that permies would get but will totally lose other people. like why would would someone want to ‘My bud Javan is offering an elegant process on how to understand your skills, function and niche’ – what would that give them? What’s the impact of that? What are they wanting from that? I even think ‘niche’ may be too jargony without a certain context around it

Javan: Thanks for that feedbacK. Would something like, “My bud Javan is offering an elegant process on how to interpret the intersection your skills, future goals and the local world problems that make you grit your teeth as potential to discover the reason you’re on this planet.”?

Tad: better! or “Ever look at the world and wonder what you can do to make it better? My friend Javan has a special genius is helping people identify their best skills, local problems in their communities, their goals and interests and turn them into projects that can get them moving (and maybe even make them some income or turn into a business. If you feel like there’s something you want to do but feel stuck in terms of what that might look like, you should check out…”

Javan: You could do this for a living.

Tad: I don’t know… I’m not sure how i’d articulate it… HAYoh!

Sales Letter Case Study: The Numinous School of Intuition

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 6.54.04 PMCarmen Spagnola (pictured here) is one of my favourite people in the world. 

We met years ago when she came to a workshop and we’ve been pals ever since. So when I was visiting Victoria to lead a workshop, I made sure we had some time scheduled together. I came over after my workshop at Victoria’s Sunset Room and Carmen and her husband Ruben kept my cup full of homemade Belgian style beer while I performed close up magic for them. A wonderful evening.

Over the course of the night, Carmen mentioned that she was launching a new program. I told her that I’d love to take a look at the sales letter for it. So, the next morning, with a far more severe hangover headache than I’d counted on, I read over her letter and tinkered on it. I was immediately in love with the simple and clean aesthetic of the page. So different than most sales pages I see. 

What follows below is the introduction of the original sales letter (with my commentary) and the rewrite I did (which she elegantly polished). It’s in the same format as last week’s post Sales Letter Case Study: The Coming Home Retreat. You can read the complete version of the letter here

Upon reading my rewrite, Carmen emailed me these words, “Tad, I re-read your re-writes dozens of times last night and I must say, the poetry, the language and phrasing…it’s such a tremendous gift you’ve given me. You captured exactly what I was striving for and it’s amazing how you mirrored what the course is like once you get inside. You are such a talented writer and storyteller! Thank you thank you thank you for this gift.” 

Sooooo… she liked it. It’s a rough job I did in an hour but I hope you will like it too. And maybe you’ll have ideas and reflections you could share in the comments below that will make it even better. I have no doubt that you will. 

You can find more info on her program here

 

ORIGINAL SALES LETTER

 

Me: “You know what I wish? I wish when I was starting out on my spiritual path, I’d had a better map. I wish there’d been something like…an orienteering course for the spiritual world.”

My Soul: “You should totally make that.”

I like this intro a lot. It’s charming and conversational. It’s creative. Starting with a conversation with her soul. Which also speaks to the content she’s about to get into. If people are turned off by the idea of a conversation with one’s soul, they certainly aren’t a fit for her. So the introduction both charms and filters in one deft move. 

I’m guessing you’ve been drawn here because you struggle at times with understanding the what and how of intuitive tools. I bet you’d like to have practical, tangible ways to tap into and trust your intuitive self.

This part feels a bit sales-lettery. And it’s in the second person, speaking directly to the reader instead of telling us a story. It’s personal, but maybe too personal and presumptive. I’ve written about this more in my blog post Nine Thoughts on Copywriting for Hippies.

I imagine you’d like clear action steps for how to actually do gratitude, meditation, angel cards or calling in help from “the greater forces”, or maybe some other thing you’ve heard can help connect you to your spiritual side.

Most likely you want someone to explain the foundational aspects of setting out on a path of spiritual growth, and breakdown the steps in detail.

Again. The above feels salesy. It feels like I’m being set up for a pitch. ‘I bet you want these things. And well, you’ve come to the right place!’ kind of thing. I feel resistant. She’s not offering or pushing but I’m already pulling back. I suppose part of it is that this feels suggestive in some way that I should want these things. I can’t put my finger on it but I’m recoiling subtly. And it feels generic. Non-specific. This feels like it could be anyone’s sales letter saying these things. This could lead people to say, ‘Been there. Done that.’

And I bet when someone pulls out their guitar for Kumbaya in the round, you die a little inside because New Age ‘woo woo’ stuff is just not your cup of tea. (And neither are materialistic “manifestation” schemes that dress up narcissism as spirituality. But I digress…)

I liked this! This had some spunk and personality and distinguishes her immediately from much of the new age crowd out there. 

BOTTOM LINE: YOU WANT SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE THAT IS GROUNDED IN PRACTICAL EVERYDAY LIVING.

Don’t you tell me what I want!

But you know what I think is really going on? I think you want clarity about how you can feel more traction in your life, have greater impact, and make the contribution you’re meant to in this lifetime.

Meh. This sounds generic. Traction? What is that? Greater impact? On what? How? Contribution? Everyone wants to contribute. Is this for me? I have no idea. What I’m not feeling laid out here is a clear sense that she really understands my problems or what I’m craving. 

I think you’d like to be less hard on yourself and more connected to your soul.

Hard on myself? Where did that come from? How is this related? And more connected to my soul. Sure? I guess?

I think you want to feel masterful with your mindset, energy, emotions, and evolution.

Whoa! Jargon alerts! And generic alert. What is she referring to? Where did the idea of being masterful come from? How is this connected to her approach and philosophy? What the what? 

I think you’d like to feel certain that you’re living this life the best you can and making the most of it.

Generic.

I think you’d like to feel satisfied that you’re giving all you’ve got and leaving nothing to waste. I want that for you, too!

I think you want me to buy your product. That’s what I think. This sounds like a generic motivational poster. Here’s where else I’m pulling back. She hasn’t mentioned that she’s selling something. But I know she is. So, it feels like a lot of set up right now that’s trying to build a rapport and connection… so that she can sell me. That feels a bit sneaky. 

 

END OF ORIGINAL SALES LETTER

 

She goes on from there to describe the program. Which sounds wonderful.

What follows are my tinkerings and her polishings. 

 

NEW SALES LETTER

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 7.17.11 PM

 

Me: “You know what I wish? I wish when I was starting out on my spiritual path, I’d had a better map. Better yet, I wish there’d been something like…an orienteering course for the spiritual world.”

My Soul: “You should totally make that.”

*

For many women I meet, and perhaps you’re like this too, spirituality and intuition play an important, and growing, part of their lives. With every passing year, they’re drawn to it more and more strongly.

I wanted to start with a story. The basic story of the women she meets and what she notices. We’re setting the stage for why she even feels a program like hers is needed. We’re foreshadowing where it came from – from noticing women like this. I also wanted to speak to the feeling of it growing inside of them. When we tell a story instead of pitching at people, they don’t defend. They relax. We give them a space to find themselves (or not) in our story. The words ‘and perhaps you’re like this too’ is an invitation not an assumptive description. 

I’m not talking about people into New Age ‘woo woo’ stuff or materialistic “manifestation” schemes that dress up narcissism as spirituality. Or those who use a language of spirituality to feel superior to others.

I wanted to move this earlier. In my blog post The Three Roles of Marketing, I wrote about how marketing is not really a seduction process as much as it is a filtering process. I want it to be so clear, immediately, who this is for and who it isn’t. I want her point of view and vibe start to show up. I want people to get that she isn’t flakey. 

The women I meet are drawn to ideas of making a greater contribution to the world, doing good work that’s in alignment with their values, simple living, sustainability, resilience, local food, community, the arts, and raising children as consciously as they can.

Again. We’re painting a picture of the kinds of women she most loves working with. We’re sharing her ideal client, perfect customers or avatar as many of my colleagues describe it. Instead of just saying generic things such as ‘they want to contribute and do good’ we list some of the key ways that would show up ‘simple living, sustainability, resilience, local food, community, the arts, and raising children as consciously as they can’. Details. We’re refining who she wants to work with. People who don’t resonate are starting to fade out. Those who see themselves in this description are beginning to lean in. 

These women see intuition not only as a tool that can help them make better decisions in their relationships, money or in their health but also, more profoundly, as a medicine that is deeply needed in this world. They suspect that if we all lived in a deeper alignment with our souls, that we’d take better care of our one, beautiful planet and all those who live on it. They long for the day when the world is full of people and cultures who revere the sacred and bring it into their daily lives, where it can guide them in their actions in meaningful and practical ways.

Again, we’re filtering. She is being clear that her program isn’t for women who are just interesting in learning to work with their intuition to serve themselves. She wants women who would resonate with the term ‘medicine’ (which evokes an indigenous perspective of the world) and it also begins to speak to the bigger why that Carmen is passionate about. She’s sharing what drives her. Women reading this who resonate with that bigger why will lean in more and resonate with the words. We bring in the idea of not only individuals but ‘cultures who revere the sacred and bring it into their daily lives’. She’s interested in women who think about the bigger picture. Women who might be interested in other cultures who live a different dream than the all-consuming American one. 

And many of these women, when they collapse in bed at night after a busy, productive day, say a silent prayer that they be shown some way that their lives can be the greatest contribution to this vision possible.

Here I am painting a picture and appealing to the senses. These are women who don’t just want to make a difference, they crave it. They yearn to find a way that their life can be of the most service possible. These women hurt at the world’s hurt. They don’t just want to learn intuition to make more money. They want to be living, walking, dancing medicine in their lives. They want to embody it daily. They want a world where this is true. 

May a good vision catch me
May a benevolent vision take hold of me, and move me
May a deep and full vision come over me, and burst open around me
May a luminous vision inform me, enfold me.
May I awaken into the story that surrounds,
May I awaken into the beautiful story.
May the wondrous story find me;
May the wildness that makes beauty arise between two lovers
arise beautifully between my body and the body of this land,
between my flesh and the flesh of this earth,
here and now, on this day,
May I taste something sacred.
~ David Abram

I added this poem because I love it and felt like it expressed the heart of her work. Consider adding quotes and poems to your sales letter. They often evoke emotions and feelings that most sales copy couldn’t touch.

They pray for signs. But, night after night, heartbreakingly, the signs don’t come. And so, when the morning sun rises their spirits fall and they find themselves walking back in step to the tick-tock world they were raised in. They begin to suspect that maybe it’s because there are no signs. And that no one is listening. 

This is where we’re trying to empathize deeply with their experiences and let these women know ‘we get it’. We’re giving them the important messages that they’re not alone and that they’re not crazy. 

Meanwhile, The Universe holds their vision close and precious, and tries its best to get through to them.

Carmen inserted this and I like it. 

SO I CREATED THE NUMINOUS SCHOOL

Boom. We’re getting to the point of the sales letter. The school. If you prolong the empathy piece too long, people can lose interest wondering, ‘what is the point of this?’ I tend to want to get to the point as fast as possible. 

It’s an online intuition development program, almost like a retreat, which I hope you’ll consider joining. It’s based on the idea that you have an important role to play in the unfoldment of a greater vision – and you already know, at a deeper, intuitive level – how to play that part. You just need to learn the language the Universe is speaking to you.

It’s designed for people like you who yearn for a world that embraces the sacred in daily living; who want to let their lives speak of that greater vision.

Simple. I think this is clear. 

The core issue this program addresses is a paradox most of us live with every day as we wake up in a world far, far different than the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible: we long to trust in Spirit, our souls, our intuition (however we define those things) but we don’t know how. We want to trust…but we don’t.

I think this is so much of the pain of our times.

I wrote this because it felt like the heart of her work and I wanted to state it explicitly. So much of marketing is making explicit and direct the things that, for us, are obvious. We imply them but don’t state them directly. In marketing, it’s vital to name the issue as we see it. 

Because, when we don’t trust ourselves we get drawn into someone else’s vision for us and for the world we live in. We forget who we really are and wake up one day living an unrecognizable life. We get stuck in unhealthy patterns in our families, our relationships, in our own heads. We take on too much. We miss opportunities. We wonder where the time is going and when we’re going to arrive someplace that feels more like home. We know something’s wrong, something’s missing, there’s something more…

And yet, we don’t trust ourselves to act on that knowing.

On my first reading of her sales letter, I realized that she was assuming that the reader understood the consequences of not trusting their intuition. And I wanted to make sure this was, at least, touched on. I would add a little more here on a future draft. Because, the real pain that Carmen’s work is addressing, the problem it solves, is not actually the lack of intuition. That’s her point of view. It’s her diagnosis of why they’re suffering. And distinguishing between the symptoms they experience and our diagnosis of that experience is so vital. The suffering has to do with the consequences of not following their intuition – naming those consequences is the difference between her course being relevant and irrelevant. 

Which is no surprise. We’ve grown up in a culture where guidance has always come from outside of ourselves; first from parents, then teachers and then our bosses. Intuition is a muscle that’s never had to be exercised – but it’s still there.

I wish when I’d grown up there had been a course on learning practical, tangible ways to tap into and trust my intuitive self. Oh the pain that would have saved me.

I wish I’d had mentors who could have given me clear action steps for how to actually do gratitude, meditation, divination, or maybe even things I’d never heard of before, that could help call in support from “the greater forces”.

I wish I’d had someone who could have sat down with me every day to explain the foundational aspects of setting out on a path of spiritual growth, and breakdown the steps in detail. Someone gentle and patient, who could have helped me be less hard on myself and more connected to my soul. Someone who could have helped me be more impeccable with my own mindset, energy, emotions, and evolution.

I wish I’d had spiritual guidance that was grounded in practical everyday living.

Here I did a fairly simple rewrite changing the ‘I bet you’d like…’ formula into a sharing of what she’d craved. Again, she’s telling the story of the craving that was alive inside of her that had her create this program. And that allows the women reading it to say, ‘me too. I’ve craved that too’. 

 

END OF NEW SALES LETTER

 

You can read the complete, finished version of this sales letter here.  

Sales Letter Case Study: The Coming Home Retreat

Russell Touched Up 1Writing sales letters is hard. 

I wrote a whole blog post on my thoughts on how to do it in a warmer and yet still effective way years ago called Nine Thoughts on Copywriting for Hippies. So, I’ve got opinions but there’s no denying that writing a good sales letter is one of the toughest nuts to crack in any business. A sales letter is the dojo of the marketing world. It’s where you find out exactly how clear you are or not. The best resource I’ve come across on how to write a good sales letter is by Carrie Klassen and it’s called Selling Sweetly

Writing a sales letter is especially hard when you’re writing it around very personal issues such as spirituality. How can selling spirituality not feel gross?

And yet, if you run these kinds of retreats (and it’s where your income comes from) it’s only fair you articulate what it is you’re doing. 

But how?

This was the conundrum of a colleague and dear friend, Russell Scott (the handsome rogue pictured here) who I recently worked with to reword his sales letter. Here’s what he had to say about the process: “I wrote a sales letter based on a copying template I had downloaded from another coach but I just couldn’t get it right. It was awkward. In some sections it was too clinical in some it got far too personal. I was totally stuck in getting it right. I gave what I’d written to Tad and he worked it over. When I read how he had re-written it I literally cried. The whole sales letter had come alive! It was as if Tad had reached into my heart and translated into words all the compassion, care and understanding I have for the people I serve and put it on paper.” 

So, what I’d like to do is walk you through the sales letter with my commentary and show you what I came up with as an alternative that Russell loved so much. I should qualify that this was done in a couple of hours and that there is likely much more that could be done by far better copy writers than I to make this sales letter sing. But I am pretty happy with what came out. 

Coming Home

-an enlightenment intensive –

So, right away, I don’t like the phrase ‘enlightenment intensive’. It sounds like it’s promising enlightenment. Which sounds like hype. 

Ending the search.  Living a deeper life.

Ending the search? That for sure sounds like hype. Like one weekend is going to end a search humanity has been on since time immemorial? Sounds too good to be true – and therefore untrue.

A lot of people secretly wish that they could let go of the pressures of living in the rat race and come home to a deeper peace… the kind that many of the great spiritual teachers of the ages have spoken of.

Meh. This sounds ok. But a bit generic to me. It sounds like a set up for a pitch.

If they could, they’d feel more alive, happy, inspired and fully engaged with others. They’d would feel a sense of harmony with life and be a lot freer to totally be themselves.

Generic promise. I’m already not feeling much of Russell’s wonderful personality.

But right now, you walk, talk, sit, drive, work, buy, eat, sleep and dream in an endless daily cycle. At the end of the week, you stare into the TV wondering “is there more than this perpetual treadmill?” and ask “What am I obviously missing here?” There’s restlessness like something is shifting or fragmenting. You don’t know what it is or what needs to change or even if it’s a good thing. Yet something deep inside is calling your true self to come out and play but you’re trapped in the social way you are supposed to be. You’ve come to the conclusion you don’t know the one that’s been living your life. Sometimes the emptiness is downright painful. You hide it well but it’s deep…slowly eating your soul.

Here’s where I start to pull back even more. It feels like a bit of an assault. A pitch. It’s trying to be empathetic and yet I feel defensive. I feel like I’m being set up. I don’t identify with everything I’m reading. I find myself leaning away. And part of this comes from the fact that he’s speaking directly to me. He’s saying ‘you’. Which is, ironically, how we’re taught to write sales letters. Speak directly to the other person. We’re admonished, wisely I think, to remember that every sales letter we write will be read one person at a time. So, we should be writing it to our ideal clients and no one else. Sales letters aren’t read by ‘the masses’. They’re read by individuals. So, let’s write to them. Fine so far. But it’s a very modern conception of sales and communication with others to imagine that every conversation with someone should be talking directly to them using ‘you’. We forget that, since time immemorial, humans have best communicated with stories. In a story, people can identify with the parts they do, and leave the rest. A story doesn’t get your hackles up. A story doesn’t make you defensive because it’s not about you. But, in a sales letter or video when we start saying, ‘Do you ever struggle with…’ it can trigger people’s shame around those issues and also ignore how vulnerable they might feel about the issue. It forces them to confront something they may not be ready to confront. 

You’ve tried the latest self-help books and videos about affirmations, positive thinking and “the secrets” but they don’t do the trick. They actually make you more confused. The hype hurts. Maybe you’ve explored the “isms” and different philosophies, crystals, chakras, gone to healers, etc.  Maybe you have tried a religious path for awhile. You’ve gotten calmer and more relaxed but the big promised “aha” just hasn’t happened. (you’ve been told it takes a long time). Or maybe the whole guru/student thing gives you a rash so you’ve tried being an independent non-follower for awhile. But you’ve gotten lost and alone.

This might all feel true enough but it also feels like it’s setting me up for the pitch, ‘and this will be the thing to finally solve all of your issues’. 

What you really need to do is give up.

This sounds flip and condescending. He’s already telling me what to do? How the hell does he know? It seems like he’s being clever with his language on an issue that isn’t ‘fun’ for me.

That’s right…give up trying to find the answers on the outside. These are just ideas, thoughts and concepts. They are in the head. They are like a menu. They are not the food. You need to take a 180 degree turn away from books and find a proven technique that will help you experience the truth for yourself. And let go of the ridiculous idea that awakening takes a lifetime. That’s just another belief to trap you.

Intellectually, I get where he’s going but I’m feeling a bit offended by the tone. Like it’s so easy. 

I know what it’s like

That sounds salesy come out of the set up I just went through. A bit too formulaic. 

In my twenties I spent 10 years exploring every religion under the sun and reading so many books I could have started my own library. I sat at the feet of so many gurus and instead of finding peace I got athletes foot. My head I was so much in the clouds I was no earthly good.

Again, that sounds clever. Like something he’s said a lot of times. It’s kind of funny. But the issue we’re talking about doesn’t feel funny to me when I’m the one suffering. 

I just got more confused about myself and life. One day I decided I didn’t really know anything and decided to find the truth for myself.

I’m feeling connected.

It was then I discovered a method of self-inquiry that changed my life.

And now the sales pitch.

I broke through my lonely shell and experienced the magnificence of my true self. Everyday I experience the greatest gift in life… being who I really am!

Every day? Every. Single. Day? He’s enlightened now? This sounds hyped up.

I trained in this method called the Enlightenment Intensive. Since then I changed the name of the retreat to Coming Home and have mastered over 65 retreats over the past 30 years.

Whoa! That’s a lot of retreats! Maybe the man has something to say.

What is Coming Home?

Coming Home is an accelerated process of transformation that takes you to the pinnacle of self-actualization –the direct consciousness of your true Self and Life! 

Pet peeve. Exclamation marks. I hate these in sales letters. Imagine you get three of these that you ever get to use in any sales letter for the rest of your life. Ever. All too often, they trigger hype. Mostly, I  suggest people cut them out entirely.

Second thing, this claim sounds like hype. Big time. This sounds like some flavour of the month spiritual technique.

This illumination is simple, obvious and indisputable, enveloping you with sense of wholeness, completeness, peace and lightness.

Obvious and indisputable? Indisputable? This sounds like he’s not very open to feedback or dispute. And it sounds like a generic, new age pitch.

It’s like coming home after you have been lost for many years… only you come home to yourself. 

I do like the idea of coming home. That sounds lovely.

The East/West Approach

Using a self-inquiry format inspired by Zen-style contemplation on a key question such as; “who am I?” or “what is life? combined with a paired communication structure drawn from relational psychology you silently contemplate your question and then communicate the result of your investigation to a listening partner. You alternate speaking and listening every 5 minutes. Every 40 minutes you work with a different person or go on a silent walk. Meals, snack, exercise and rest are interspersed in the schedule.

I like the specifics. Though there’s an abrupt tone shift from salesy to academic here that’s a bit jarring. But it’s nice to finally get to the nuts and bolts of this. 

The Structure

Within the structure there are agreements of non-interruption, non-judgement and deep listening that help you bypass the subtle influences of “normal” relating that have socialized you to deny what is true for you.

That actually kind of makes sense. I like it. Tell me more.

You connect deeply to yourself and others and let go of layers of false beliefs and experiences that have imprisoned you in years of suffering. There are no religious ideas, dogma or philosophy taught. You learn and practice the technique and I give you guidance. It is not psychotherapy.

I like this. 

In a renewed space of openness, within 3 1/2 days you can spontaneously awaken to the magnificence of your true self!

Bah! Another huge claim that sounds inflated. And an exclamation mark. Grrr. My trust drops. 

Awakening

This phenomenon in the west has been called by Abraham Maslow “Unitive consciousness” or “Self-transcendence”. In eastern traditions it is labelled as awakening, enlightenment, illumination, self-realization, cosmic consciousness or satori. Just as technology has advanced in modern times, so too have spiritual and transformation techniques.

Not sold. Sounds like a vague attempt to rationalize hyped up new age bullshit.

When safe communication structure is added to the eastern method of contemplation, the results are remarkable. Self-realization usually occurs to 30-90% of participants. You no longer have to spend months, years or even a lifetime to awaken. 

It’s promising I’m going to awaken. Blurgh.

Is this just another “You’ll be happy for the rest of your life” thing?

Yes. That’s what it sounds like you’re saying. I’m glad you’re self aware enough to see that.

To be realistic, awakening does not mean that you will no longer have any problems or you will be in a state of bliss or happiness for the rest of your life.

What? You said you had this experience every day. This now seems like the bait and switch. I’m feeling lied to a bit. 

What it does mean is that you will be living the rest of your life more from the inner strength of your real self and less from the insecurity of a social personality. You will be more able face and transform the obstacles of your life into valuable growth experiences and achieve the kind of success in life defined by who you really are, not others. Coming home to your true self is the most precious gift you can ever give to yourself. And because we all want to relate to others who are real, you are the best gift you can give to the world!

Exclamation mark. Vague platitudes. Interest fading fast. 

 “When you know who you truly are there is an abiding alive sense of peace. You could call it joy because that’s what joy is: vibrantly alive peace. It is the joy of knowing yourself as the very life essence before life takes on form. That is the joy of Being, of being who you truly are.”

Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart can not save this sales letter right now. 

After a Coming Home retreat participants commonly report feeling:

  • More authentic
  • Peace, contentment and lightness permeating their body
  • Totally embodied as if they have finally come home to themselves
  • Loving-kindness towards themselves and others
  • Greater self-acceptance
  • Psychologically whole
  • More inner strength and inner resolve
  • Freer to express themselves around others
  • Improved intuitive ability
  • Enhanced and balanced energy levels

That all feels a bit vague. 

Participants also commonly report having greater capacity to:

  • Be open and authentic in relationships
  • Persist and accomplish personal goals
  • Face and overcome problems and difficulties
  • Fully experience love, joy and happiness
  • Understand the deeper truths in traditional philosophy and religion
  • Achieve greater mutual understanding with others 
  • Be assertive and communicate their needs
  • Find meaning, inspiration and insight in daily living
  • Make rapid progress in their personal and spiritual growth

Again, a bit vague to me.

Why can’t I just do this on my own?

Good question!

This question can be answered with another question. If you were able to do this alone how come you are still searching? There is a paradox here: You have to do this by yourself but you don’t do it alone.

I love that phrase. 

There is a great power in coming to together as a group. The energy of the group is more than the sum of everyone’s individual energy.

That energy propels you to make much greater progress than doing this on your own within the ongoing distractions in life. 

That actually makes sense to me. 

But more importantly I’ve been guiding people for over 30 years on this journey to self.

That is indeed credibility building.

I’ve been up every blind alley there is and helped thousands of people in a very short time get through barriers they have struggled with by themselves for years.

Humility is nice. And credibility is building.

Why spend any longer being blocked?

That sounds dismissive of how much I’m suffering.

You’ve got to be kidding…enlightenment in 3 ½ days?

Now I’m so confused with what he means by enlightenment. How is he defining this?

Awakening is the “direct experience of the way you actually are”. You can come to the same awareness that many of the great spiritual teachers have had. After all they were ordinary folks just like you. The difference is that people like Buddha spent many years in meditation deepening and ripening their awakening to total enlightenment.  So once you experience your true self, that’s it. The search is over.

Wait. So you’re just offering me a taste of who I am? I’ve had some ‘peak moments’ before. Is this just another one? What happens when I come down from the mountain top and get lost in the valley again?

Then the next project is to start living from the real you.

Ah. That makes sense.

That will continue to deepen what you have come to know. You will be given instructions on how to do this on the last day of the retreat.

Very curious what advice he’d offer here. 

Who the retreat is for?

  • You are looking back on your life and wondering what it is all about?
  • You are feeling empty and you are asking “who am I really?
  • There’s a sense of meaningless about life.
  • You’ve been on a spiritual path for a long time and never had the big“AHA”
  • You are not interested in following a religion or taking on more beliefs
  • You are able to take 4 days away from your job and family

 Something about the bullet points here feels salesy but enough are specific enough (especially the last two) that these could really help me figure out if it’s a fit. 

Are there any pre-requisites to take the retreat?

If you have not done the retreat before I ask that people set-up a 10-15 minutes orientation interview with me. Together we will explore where you are at in your life and what you want from the retreat. 

I’ll explain the schedule, the guidelines and the self-inquiry technique used. I’ll go over any concerns you have about diet, accommodation and health challenges you may have and then you can decide if the retreat is a fit for you. There are no subtle sales techniques. I only want people on Coming Home who are right for it. It makes for a better retreat for everyone.

I like this. That feels personalized. I like that he says ‘no subtle sales techniques’. Huge building of trust. 

 

– END OF SALES LETTER #1 – 

 

So,that was what Russell sent me. Here’s what I sent him back as a rewrite. He’s made a few changes since.

Coming Home

Ending the search. Living a deeper life.

with 

Russell Scott

If you’re reading this, you already know something: life is hard. 

I wanted to start with the truest thing I knew that might resonate with the place Russell’s people are in.

It’s full of beauty and wonderful things – but it’s also full of heartbreak.

Life feeds us but it can also break us.

So, how do we deal with it?

I wanted to acknowledge the complexity of life and the experience of the person reading it. 

In truth, I don’t completely know. But I can share what I’ve discovered in the hopes it will be useful.

For me, when people admit they don’t know everything, it’s so credibility building. I trust them more. And it’s such an ‘anti-sales’ thing to say. I felt like his first letter simplified things too much. I wanted to complicate it a bit and bring more openness to it. 

It’s not an answer but a paradox I want to invite you to sit with as you read this (we’ll come back to it later): You have to do this by yourself but you don’t do it alone.

This is an old story telling trick of starting a story and then starting another story inside of that story while promising to come back to it. It grabs people in a bit closer. It’s a nice hook. Bring something provocative or compelling up as a tease and promise to get back to it later. 

If you’re reading this, then my guess is that you have been broken a down a little or a lot by life (maybe slowly over years or maybe all at once) to a point where you know you need to dig deeper. But there’s a good chance you feel lost as to how to go about that.

To me the key phrase is here is ‘my guess’. Not making assumptions.

And I’d like to talk about a different path to spiritual growth you may not have tried (or even considered). And to invite you to come to a retreat that’s coming up soon. 

This is the beauty of being direct. The other sales letter didn’t directly say it was about the retreat until the end. Be direct. Tell them that you’ve got something to offer and that you’re going to make your best case for it to help them figure out if it might be a fit for them.

A lot of people I speak with secretly wish they could let go of the pressures of living in the rat race and come home to a deeper peace… the kind that many of the great spiritual teachers of the ages have spoken of. They want to feel more alive, happy, inspired and fully engaged with others. They would feel a sense of harmony with life and be a lot freer to totally be themselves.

But right now, they walk, talk, sit, drive, work, buy, eat, sleep and dream in an endless daily cycle. 

At the end of the week, they may stare into the TV wondering “is there more than this perpetual treadmill?” and ask “What am I obviously missing here?” There’s restlessness like something is shifting or fragmenting. They don’t know what it is or what needs to change or even if it’s a good thing. Something deep inside is calling their true self to come out and play but they feel trapped in the way they are socially supposed to be. 

This is the exact same as the words above, but I changed it from ‘you’ to ‘they’. It’s more a story now. It’s less an accusation or pitch and it’s more of him relating what he’s experienced. 

Some of them tell me that they’ve come to the conclusion that they don’t know the one that’s been living their life. They just have no idea. Sometimes the emptiness is downright painful. Most of them hide it well (some very well and you’d never guess) but it’s deep…slowly eating their soul.

As Stephen Jenkinson said, “It’s in the nature of being human to forget how to be one on occasion.” But what happens when we forget for a long time? And how do we remember. Many of the people I have worked with are in the midst of the forgetting and don’t know how to get on track.

I wanted to seed the idea that we forget and that remembering is important. 

And it’s not for a lack of trying. 

They’ve tried the latest self-help books and videos about affirmations, positive thinking and “the secrets” but they didn’t do the trick. They actually made them more confused. The hype hurts. Some have explored the “isms” and different philosophies, crystals, chakras, gone to healers, etc.  Some have tried a religious path for awhile. For most, it’s helped them become calmer and more relaxed… but the big promised “aha” just hasn’t happened (they’ve been told it takes a long time). 

Again, I switched it from ‘you’ to ‘they’. No need for the reader to get defensive. 

And, for many of them, the whole guru/student thing gives them a rash so they’ve tried being an independent non-follower for awhile. But they’ve gotten lost and the truth is that the solitary approach feels incredibly lonely.

It’s not just that they’re alone. It’s that it feels lonely. It’s vital to remember that we’re talking to human beings. Their problems are not mechanical. They are deeply felt. I’ve written about this extensively in my blog post Empathy in Marketing

I’m guessing that, in some way, you can relate to this.

Again, guessing. Not stating definitely. Just supposing. This lets the reader confirm that it’s true. 

And if you can, this is what I want to say to you: What you really need to do is give up.

That’s right…give up trying to find the answers on the outside. These are just ideas, thoughts and concepts. They are in the head. They are like a menu. They are not the food. You need to take a 180 degree turn away from books and find a proven technique that will help you experience the truth for yourself. And let go of the idea that awakening takes a lifetime. That might just be another belief to become trapped in.

I left  this in because it didn’t feeling quite as abrupt and insensitive with a more sensitive intro. Reading it now, I’d probably still want to rework this. 

I know what it’s like…

In my twenties I spent 10 years exploring every religion under the sun and reading so many books I could have started my own library.

And I learned something very important – that the easiest way to avoid meditation… is to read books about meditation. A wise Hawai’ian Kahuna once said, ‘The shadow side of knowledge isn’t ignorance. It’s theory.’

This felt like another important premise to seed. The difference between theory and experience. He’s offering an experiential retreat. This distinction needs to be crystal clear. 

I sat at the feet of so many gurus and instead of finding peace I got athletes foot. I was so much in my head I was no earthly good. I just got more confused about myself and life. One day, I decided I didn’t really know anything and decided to find the truth for myself. It was then I discovered a method of self-inquiry that changed my life. I broke through my lonely shell and experienced the magnificence of my true self. Everyday I experience the greatest gift in life… being who I really am. I trained in this method (called the Enlightenment Intensive). Since then I changed the name of the retreat to something that felt more true to what my experience of it was: ‘Coming Home’ and have led over 65 retreats over the past 30 years.

Coming Home

What is Coming Home?

Coming Home is a simple but beautiful process that weaves together community and inner contemplation to bring you back to an experience of wholeness, completeness, peace and lightness. It’s like coming home after you have been lost for many years… only you come home to yourself.  

“community and inner contemplation” seemed like a simple way to put it. 

The East/West Approach

Using a self-inquiry format inspired by Zen-style contemplation on a key question such as; “who am I?” or “what is life? combined with a paired communication structure drawn from relational psychology you silently contemplate your question and then communicate the result of your investigation to a listening partner. You alternate speaking and listening every 5 minutes. Every 40 minutes you work with a different person or go on a silent walk. Meals, snack, exercise and rest are interspersed in the schedule.

It sounds so simple. But, I think that’s why it works so well. 

If you know that something you’re saying sound ‘too simple’ acknowledge that immediately. A good sales letter should read like a dialogue where you are making statements and then anticipating their responses and respond to them. A good sales letter is a wonderful experience where you find yourself constantly saying to yourself, ‘Yes. I was wondering that.’

“It’s like I did ten years of meditation in 3 days.”

Beth Clark, Kingston

Testimonials. These add so much credibility to this letter. If you say it, it could be hype. If someone else says it? Much more credible. 

The Structure

Within the structure there are agreements of non-interruption, non-judgement and deep listening that help you bypass the subtle influences of “normal” relating that have socialized you to deny what is true for you. You connect deeply to yourself and others and let go of layers of false beliefs and experiences that have imprisoned you in years of suffering. There are no religious ideas, dogma or philosophy to be learned. You learn and practice the technique and I give you guidance (if you need it). It is not psychotherapy. In a renewed space of openness, within 3 1/2 days many people (more than you might think just reading this) spontaneously awaken to the magnificence of their true self. Or that’s how I’d describe it. 

“Or that’s how I’d describe it.” Again. Taking the pressure out of it. Just sharing his experience rather than saying, ‘this is the truth’. More like, ‘this is how I see it’. 

What I see when I work with people is their eyes widening, broad smiles, tears of joy and their bodies melting as the thousand stresses caused by the expectations of who they think they need to be evaporate from their bodies. 

This is using the senses. When you’re describing the result you offer, paint me a picture. Help me see it. Help me hear it, taste it, touch it, feel it. Use all five senses. 

“Words are so inadequate when I try to describe the immense gratitude I feel. I am now moving through my life with new eyes, new ears, and a new voice; and feeling so much more peaceful, alive, and present in this world. Thank you for holding the retreat space in such a patient, gentle, loving, and compassionate way.” Sekoiaa Lake, Peterborough, On

To be honest, I’m not sure I understand it still. But maybe that’s the point. Some things aren’t meant to be understood. Some things can only be experienced and lose everything in the translation. 

Russell is a humble fellow. And I wanted that to come through. Admit that you don’t understand everything. Admit your limits. Admit your faults. And watch people lean in and trust you more. 

Again, ‘The shadow side of knowledge isn’t ignorance. It’s theory.’

If you have a core message that is central to your offer, bring it back again and again – make it a familiar refrain you return to. This message of knowledge vs. theory is vital to his workshops. If people don’t buy that idea, they won’t buy his retreat. 

I think what most of us need isn’t more theory. What we need is a dedicated space where we can be supported in doing the one thing we need most – go within. As the old saying goes, ‘if you don’t go within, you go without.’ And it’s the one thing we don’t actually do enough of. We think about it. We read about it. We talk about it. But when we sit down to do it, we get bored, lost or lose steam. We have to do it ourselves but, in reality, it’s hard to do it alone.

This is where I hit people a bit harder. More directly. I’m driving the point home and framing the foundational assumption and premise upon which this retreat is built. In Russell’s first letter, this premise is implicit. But sometimes you need to make these things explicit. Often times, we don’t even realize what the premises are; we don’t understand the point of view upon which our work is based. But a clear point of view is one of the key elements of people figuring out if we’re a fit for them or not. 

In my experience, we all have this internal compass, this part of us that knows the truth (and even more so, is the truth). And what’s causing so much of our suffering in our lives is the inconsistency between the will of our soul and the will of our personality. We need to bring the former out. As it says in the Gospel of Matthew, ‘That which you bring forth will save you. That which you do not bring forth will destroy you.’ And for many people, that experience of destruction is all too real. 

Awakening

But here’s my best take at explaining it: This phenomenon of ‘coming home’ in the west has been called, by Abraham Maslow, “Unitive consciousness” or “Self-transcendence”. In eastern traditions it is labelled as awakening, enlightenment, illumination, self-realization, cosmic consciousness or satori. Just as technology has advanced in modern times, so too have spiritual and transformation techniques. When safe communication structure is added to the eastern method of contemplation, the results are remarkable. That moment of ‘coming home’ usually occurs to 30-90% of participants. Many of them are caught off guard and amazed at no longer having to spend months, years or even a lifetime to have that moment of ‘awakening’.

Here I make sure to frame it as a ‘moment’ of awakening so it doesn’t seem like a bait and switch later. 

Eckhart Tolle says this about awakening; “When you know who you truly are there is an abiding alive sense of peace. You could call it joy because that’s what joy is: vibrantly alive peace. It is the joy of knowing yourself as the very life essence before life takes on form. That is the joy of Being, of being who you truly are.”

Is this just another “You’ll be happy for the rest of your life” thing?

To be realistic, awakening does not mean that you will no longer have any problems or you will be in a state of bliss or happiness for the rest of your life. What it does mean is that you will be living the rest of your life more from the inner strength of your real self and less from the insecurity of a social personality. You will be more able face and transform the obstacles of your life into valuable growth experiences and achieve the kind of success in life defined by who you really are, not others. 

For me it’s this: Coming home to my true self (the real experience of it in my body not the theory of it) is the most precious gift I have ever given to myself. And because we all want to relate to others who are real, you are the best gift you can give to the world. 

After a Coming Home retreat participants commonly report feeling:

  • More authentic
  • Peace, contentment and lightness permeating their body
  • Totally embodied as if they have finally come home to themselves
  • Loving-kindness towards themselves and others
  • Greater self-acceptance
  • Psychologically whole
  • More inner strength and inner resolve
  • Freer to express themselves around others
  • Improved intuitive ability
  • Enhanced and balanced energy levels

“Within one year of the retreat I left my business and took a chance on a new career…money is not important, nor is status. What is important is the feeling that I am now doing what I was originally meant to do with my life!” Mel Steiner -Toronto

Participants also commonly report having greater capacity to:

  • Be open and authentic in relationships
  • Persist and accomplish personal goals
  • Face and overcome problems and difficulties
  • Fully experience love, joy and happiness
  • Understand the deeper truths in traditional philosophy and religion
  • Achieve greater mutual understanding with others 
  • Be assertive and communicate their needs
  • Find meaning, inspiration and insight in daily living
  • Make rapid progress in their personal and spiritual growth

“I discovered a bond linking myself with others, that we are all beings trapped within our minds trying to communicate our fears and need for love. I am becoming more loving, more real, more open, truthful and trustworthy” Doug Tyler -Toronto

Why can’t I just do this on my own?

This question can be answered with another question. If you were able to do this alone how come you are still searching? 

And we’re back to the paradox: You have to do this by yourself but you don’t do it alone. 

Aaaaannd we’ve brought it back. Remember that piece I teased earlier?

There is a great power in coming to together as a group. The energy of the group is more than the sum of everyone’s individual energy. That energy propels you to make much greater progress than doing this on your own within the ongoing distractions in life. 

But more importantly I’ve been guiding people for over 30 years on this journey to self. I’ve been up every blind alley there is and helped thousands of people in a very short time get through barriers they have struggled with by themselves for years. 

You’ve got to be kidding…enlightenment in 3 ½ days?

I would define awakening is the “direct experience of the way you actually are”. This is my belief (as well as the experience of myself and many others): You can come to the same awareness that many of the great spiritual teachers have had. After all they were ordinary folks just like you. The difference is that people like Buddha spent many years in meditation deepening and ripening their awakening to total enlightenment.  

So once you experience your true self, that’s it. The search is over. Then the next project is to start living from the real you. That will continue to deepen what you have come to know. You will be given instructions on how to do this on the last day of the retreat.

But the first step is to find it. And, for most of us, that’s been a very hard first step. After all, many of us have spent a lifetime losing ourselves and being misled.

Step One: come home. This doesn’t need to take as long as many think.

Step Two: live in that home. This is a lifetime practice. This is where your life becomes a work of art, an ongoing practice of deepening and expressing who we are in the world.

Again, I didn’t want it to get lost that there were two steps here. 

As the old African proverb goes: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it.”

Is there any support for me after the retreat when I meet the challenges of my life?

It’s quite common after any spiritual or personal development program for the retreat “high” to fade, after a few days or weeks. People are in a more open space and see life more clearly They can have difficulty bringing their new breakthroughs into their lives where their family, friends and work are still the same. All too often people are sent home after other retreats with little guidance and support. 

This is not the case with Coming Home.

The main self inquiry practice in the retreat ends usually on a Sunday evening. In the next half day you are re-introduced to your normal way of relating to others. You are made aware of the challenges you may face and given strategies to deal with them. You then “graduate” into the Enlifenment Program that is designed to help you live in a deeper connection to your true self. (as in step 2 above).

This program includes a guided meditation CD, two follow-up mentorship from me calls a month apart, a six week program of self-inquiry exercises paired with a fellow participant and 2 one or two day re-connection seminars through-out the next year. I am also available for one-to-one sessions (at an addition cost) for anyone that needs this. 

You can choose to become part of a non-dogmatic community of true spiritual friends who have shared deeply in your profound transformation journey. Once again, you have to do this by yourself but now you don’t have to do this alone.

Who the retreat is for?

  • You are looking back on your life and wondering what it is all about?
  • You are feeling empty and you are asking “who am I really?”
  • There’s a sense of meaningless about life.
  • You’ve been on a spiritual path for a long time and never had the big“AHA”
  • You are a seeker and not interested in following a religion or taking on more beliefs
  • You are able to take 4 days away from your job and family
  • You resonate with what you’ve read here so far and feel open to exploring the process for yourself. 
  • You resonate with the idea that, deep down, we know (or are) the truth. We just often need support in finding it.

Are there any pre-requisites to take the retreat?

If you have not done the retreat before I ask that people set-up a 10-15 minutes orientation interview with me. Together we will explore where you are at in your life and what you want from the retreat.

I’ll explain the schedule, the guidelines and the self-inquiry technique used. I’ll go over any concerns you have about diet, accommodation and health challenges you may have and then you can decide if the retreat is a fit for you. There are no subtle sales techniques. I only want people on Coming Home who are right for it. It makes for a better retreat for everyone.  

 

– END OF SALES LETTER #2 – 

 

So, that’s it. That’s my quick ‘redo’ of a sales letter to make it less salesy and more reflective of the wonderful man Russell Scott is. He’s one of the kindest, most unassuming, gentle and clear fellows I’ve ever met. You’d be hard pressed to find better as a mentor and support in your inner growth. You can learn more about him and his wonderful work (which I have directly experienced and can attest to) here: www.truesourceseminars.com 

Guest Post: Three Pitfalls I Avoided By Listening To Marketing Sages

by Kenton Zerbin

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There are many pitfall mistakes to make out there in the marketing world. Thank goodness you don’t have to make them! There are those who have made them and witnessed them, and made it here today to save us from doing them. 

Hi my name is Kenton Zerbin, and I started up KentonZerbin.com, an independent teaching business teaching others Permaculture and how to design sustainability into their lives. It was, and continues to be, far from easy but it could have been SO much harder if I didn’t know the following… 

I want to share with you 3 pitfalls I avoided by listening to Marketing Sages:

 

Pitfall 1: Don’t brand yourself to a market you don’t know exists.

Know what you have to offer and test the waters with it. Don’t take it personally, but this isn’t about you, this is about what you are offering someone else. This concept of needs/yields in marketing is so… well… DUH, for lack of a better word. In Permaculture we call it Needs and Yields analysis; by understanding the needs and yields of the elements we are working with (in this case, “you” and “others”) you can design them together. Essentially, by knowing what “you” can yield and what “others” need, you can market and design yourself a right livelihood. A sustainable business. Success. 

So I repeat. Don’t market yourself until you know you have something worth marketing. Only then get into marketing it! 

How I avoided this pitfall as a Permaculture Teacher: 

I offered two free Intro to Permaculture Talks, one at a Hippy café and one at a University. Now I’m not only seeing IF the seats fill (If I have something worth marketing) but I’m also testing to see how many seats fill at each venue comparatively… which leads to the 2nd pitfall…

  

Pitfall 2: Don’t start marketing till you know who is shopping for you.

So you know that there is a market for you. Hold your horses! This is where far too many enthusiasts jump the gun…. You know people are engaging you, but you don’t know WHO exactly these people are. If you try to engage your vague clientele at this point you are nothing other than an overexcited door-to-door salesman or that person pushing papers on the street corner. Remember, you are marketing – a strategic use of your energy and time

Know your client! Who are these people that want what you are offering? Once you do NOW you are ready to start marketing! Only now do you know how to wrap it and how to get it out there!

How I avoided this pitfall as a Permaculture Teacher:

I got the participants of my free workshop to do a little questionnaire for me… age, house owner, salary range. I also gave them the choice on that questionnaire to choose what different kinds of courses they would be most interested in taking… which leads me to the 3rd pitfall.

 

Pitfall 3: DO NOT offer just one “thing”.

So you know you have something to offer that others want… and you also know who it is who wants it and thus are informed how to “brand” and marketing strategically. Now you have to avoid making the pitfall of offering the Holy Grail product…

Nothing will crush your spirit and business faster than seeing your ONE egg sitting in your basket not hatch. The cliché, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” couldn’t be more true.

Create your compelling packages! The secret now is to offer multiple points of entry for your potential clients to engage you. 

Examples:

Let’s say you are starting an orchard… don’t just offer apples! Offer Cider, applesauce, applejack, preserved apples, dehydrated apples, apple trees, orchard tours, pies and an apple-a-day subscription program. 

Lets say you are starting a business offering Permaculture landscape consulting… don’t just expect clients to line up paying you thousands to convert their lawns! Offer a group educational workshop on one of the participants landscape, pre-consultation options, Permablitzs, surveying, landscape plans, tours of properties you have installed/designed, even have a tour/workshop at your own house showing off your food forest/garden of eden! 

For yet another example I will use myself as a Permaculture teacher. I offer: 

  • Free articles sharing my knowledge
  • 3-hour Intro to Permaculture workshops
  • 3-8 hour Workshops for house-owners OR apartment owners
  • 2 day Permaculture course for learning how to design
  • 2-week Permaculture Design Certification Course

Come check out the FREE stuff and all the rest at KentonZerbin.com 

Thanks for reading! I wish you all the best in your business and avoiding these marketing pitfalls! 

Feel free to contact me at

Warmly,

Kenton Zerbin

Guest Post: How a Failed Trip to Iceland Created One of the Coolest Things in the World

HugeSmile-smThis is a different kind of blog post, written by a colleague of mine, Seth Braun, from Fairfield, Iowa.

I like it because it speaks to the unintended consequences of trying an experiment.

I’m currently in the middle of running my Niching for Hippies program. The core of that program is the idea of ‘niche projects‘. Before committing yourself to a niche and getting married to it – go on a date first. Before you plant a garden, try a potted tomato plant. Start small.

My colleague Alex Baisley was the first one who really opened my eyes to the power and importance of experiments in life. He pointed out how even beginning the process of following your big dreams wasn’t a luxury. It was a doorway. That by even starting the process you discover new things. 

I think about myself. I wanted to learn Scottish Gaelic. So I took five minutes to look for audio courses I could buy. I found one (which ended up being useless) but, in the process of that, I also came across the Celtic Studies program at St. FX University in Nova Scotia. Three years later, I was a student there. The next year I was a student at Sabhal Mor Ostaig, the Gaelic college on the Isle of Skye. Four years later, I co-starred in Canada’s second ever Gaelic language film. Two years later, I hosted the first ever Cape Breton Jam – a gathering for young leaders in the Cape Breton Gaelic community. 

All from just taking five minutes to try to find some Gaelic learning programs. 

If you’ve got an idea, just start exploring it. Don’t wait to be 100% ready. Just begin.

In Edmonton, we’re in the middle of our municipal election. And I can see how, over the course of the campaign, candidates are getting better. You’re never ready for a campaign. The campaign makes you ready. 

Much of the time, the ideas you start with won’t be the ones you end with. But maybe the point of our inspirations isn’t about achieving them but about inspiring us to move to find something else that we’re unable to imagine when we begin. 

In fact, for the linguistically curious, the verb ‘commit’, in Latin, means, ‘to begin’. All too often, people let the perfect be the good. I see it in niching all the time – needing to have everything figured out before even beginning to move on things. Just move. Try things. Start small. They probably won’t work out (the way you think they will). But try anyway.

There’s a power in just starting things and seeing where they take us.

And now, a beautiful story about the importance of this . . . 

by Seth Braun

A long dim hallway from a store front suggesting breakfast. 

The passage opens to the clink of spoons and the clank of mugs. He can barley see; the smell of strong coffee, fresh pastries – lights fade – chatting diners – speaking Icelandic – in total darkness?

Is this some strange dream?

The Icelandic Diner in the Dark wasn’t some strange dream; But a dream come true and discovery of destiny. But often our dreams require that we take the hero’s journey. That great mythic plunge into the adventure, mystery and the great unknown. Like Frodo stepping out of BagEnd, or Luke Skywalker naively stepping forward to seek Obi Wan. These great journeys mould and shape our psyche. But they are filled with terrible light and darkness. Often, the fear of the unknown we carry with us prevents us from taking the journey. 

 You don’t have to be afraid to follow your dreams into the unknown… even into darkness, if you bring these with you: Vision, Action, Confidence, Courage. 

Let me weave a tale for you…

It started when my friend Brian Rochileau, or Rosh, came to me as a client. 

“Seth – I have a crazy dream –  house concerts – intimate music venues – in Iceland. I’ve already done them in the states, in Norway and Ireland… I think this is a first… I’m going to book the tour – produce the album and go buy the ticket.” It was more than a dream. Rosh had a vision! A vision he could see. A vision he could write. A vision he could speak. – “… just one thing, I need$10,000!”

I said, “Cool!, let’s do it.”  

Spreadsheets. Pitches. Timelines. Strategies. Mindset….we laid the foundation and he hit the ground running… in ACTION… Rosh secured investment, got online and created a tour out of nothing, then recorded the album. 

He was on his way to Iceland with consistent, persistent Action in his back pocket to keep the momentum going. 

…But not without haters. You know what I am talking about… those voices from people around you, in your head… 

You can’t do it…

You’ve never done it before…

Your too flaky… 

You never follow through…

You are going to lose money…

The thoughts that dim the light of your enthusiasm. 

Fortunately, Rosh brought confidence. CONFIDENCE – from the latin words  con and  fidelus – with and faithful – he was faithful to his dream. He bolstered his faith by speaking words, speaking truth, and words and the truth became his experience… Confidence… I can do this. Confidence… I am learning what I need to learn… Confidence… I believe in myself. I believe in my dreams… I can… I am… I believe.

Hitchhiking the rugged, volcanic landscape, Rosh’s confidence came through in two great shows. 

Waiting for a ride to show number three, the northern solstice sun shone bright and long. Everything about the first four days was perfect… (except that fermented fish they offered him at the traditional festival, another story). 

An old Toyota scooped him up at the agreed upon time and rolled to the next venue. A gothic church. Rosh doesn’t speak Icelandic. His chauffer speaks no English. Arriving at the venue, the driver unlocks the heavy doors, hops in the Range Rover and speeds off. 

30 minutes before show time. Rosh nervously sets up. 

15 minutes before. No host. 

10 minutes. 5 minutes. No audience. 

1 minute. No one. 

And it happens.  

The low. 

The fall. 

The ouch. 

All those voices came rushing into Rosh’s brain, hovering there, vultures blotting out the light of the sun, flapping their wings, skwawking, “we told you, you can’t do it, it’s not going to work, you are going to lose money, you are going to fail, you don’t have what it takes…”

It happens to all of us. Dissapointment. Frustration. We make mistakes. Our hearts break. 

But this time, Rosh packed courage. He took it out of his bag with a big sheet of paper, captured the vultures, put them on paper and poured his heart out. 

I am afraid. 

I am angry. 

I want this to work.

 How can create magical experiences?

 How can I have sold out crowds? 

How can I connect more deeply, Heart to Heart?

Courage! – from the old French, cour, to take heart. He breathed deep and felt the emotions and poured them into a question… HOW? And then poured the energy into a show, tears streaming down his face, songs echoing into the cavernous sanctuary. His only audience was the waxing moon, passing through the stained glass windows. 

He packed his guitar and bags, fell asleep on a pew, spent and hungry, saints watching over his slumber. 

A storm passed over that night. A new day dawned… the pre-collapse economy of Iceland was flowing and record sales were strong and the next weeks were all hot springs, cozy living rooms with fireplaces, glasses of wine with the happiest and friendliest people on earth. 

Rosh rolled into Reykjavík , the Icelandic capital on a sweet Sunday morning, hungry for a hearty breakfast – no fermented fish. Little did he know that he was stumbling into his destiny. 

He made that stroll into the darkening corridor, with the smell of cinnamon rolls and French roast. Walked into that pitch-black café and bumped into a chair. Then he was pulled, almost tripping to his right. 

Finding a seat… “What is this place…Who is pulling me?”

The Blind Waiter responded; “It’s a blind café, what can I start you off with…”

In those moments… on the journey of living his dreams, in Iceland, senses sharpened, immersed in the flavor and sounds, eating a rich breakfast in a Blind Cafe, a light goes in the darkness –  A NEW VISION – the answer to the question… How can I connect, heart – to – heart. 

Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams. 

You have something that only you can give. 

No one else has it. If you don’t share it with us, we’ll never get it!

Because Rosh took Vision, Action, Confidence and Courage on the volcanic journey into the darkness of the unknown, the World has the beauty of the Blind Café, music and dining in the dark, on tour in, Aspen , Austin, Boulder, Burlington VT, Cincinnati, Denver, Portland, Seattle… touching thousands of people, donating thousands more to service groups for the blind. 

“The Blind Cafe seeks to support and create a deeper understanding of community, that inspires people to think differently and examine at how they relate with themselves and others. We help people develop a deeper sense of appreciation and compassion for people unlike themselves. We teach people how to listen to live music and to themselves again…. without the distraction of cell phones, social etiquette and visual conditioning. We partner with blindness organizations to provide community awareness and entertainment for the community. We provide a unique opportunity for the blind and sighted parts of our community to come together in discussion.” 

Rosh took an outrageous idea and brought it to the world in over 25 live events across the U.S. 

What outrageous dream have your stumbled into? 

What vision has alighted upon your mind?

Is there a journey stirring your heart?

Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams, even into darkness of discouragement and defeat…but take these with you:

1. Confidence, – I am, I can I believe. 

2. Courage – to face the fear and turn it into fuel, 

3. Vision – see it, write it, speak it and

4.  Consistent, Persistent ACTION

And if you find yourself in a totally dark place, that may be just the time that the lights go on for your destiny.  

Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams!

 

WorkandFamily-Balance-sm-300x200About the Author: Seth Braun provides speaking, coaching, training and consulting services in support of individuals who want to develop their full personal and professional potential. He is also a devoted father and husband, an avid gardener, a musician, and a chocoholic. http://sethbraun.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Post: How I Got 11,000 Likes on My Facebook Page in Six Months

One World Likes

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world.”   ~ E. B. White

tim emersonWhat do Trinidad and Tobago, Namibia, Saint Lucia, Sierra Leone, the Solomon Islands, Uganda, Singapore, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nigeria, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Seychelles, Sudan, Vanuatu, Barbados, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines have in common?  

I’ll give you a few moments to ponder. 

A month ago I wrote a guest blog post for Tad, “How I added 8,000 Facebook fans in 5 months,” outlining how I went from a static 623 fans at the beginning of February to 8,921 in July.  

In that piece, I explained how I got clear about my page’s purpose and message, paid attention to what got positive response and adjusted, worked out a simple system for keeping the page active while spending very little time on it, and resisted selling, except for limited free offers.  To this last part, as it seems counterintuitive, I added how Facebook generates 1/3 of my email list subscribers and fills my free teleseminars, from which I enroll new clients, particularly in my higher end offerings. 

By the way, I could add to that list Zimbabwe, Tuvalu, Tanzania, Swaziland, South Sudan, Somaliland, South Africa, Samoa, Rwanda, Palau, Nauru, Malta, Kiribati, Kenya, India, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.  Found the connection yet?   Be patient – it took me a while too. 

I also added to that piece that while I’m not a fan of Facebook advertising overall, I have found that a small, quirky ad, with an eye-catching image, in keeping with your point of view and strategic purpose and with a severely limited budget, just a few bucks a day, would generate around 40-60 new fans daily, combining click-throughs with new organic likes from shares.  

One nice thing about Facebook advertising is the ability to carefully target ad audiences.  So when my 50 new fans each day started to trickle down to barely 20 a day, I took a look at these targets, to see if maybe I could freshen things up a bit.  

At first, nothing much.  I had hit every related interest I could think of, and I didn’t want to expand my age demographics, as that would probably be counter-productive.  But then I looked at countries. 

Originally, I listed all the English speaking countries I could think of quickly.   You know—the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand…that’s it, right?  Well, Belize I guess, but it’s so small, what’s the point. 

But I’ve been working a lot with intuition for the past few months, and something flashed into my head about Belize.   Maybe not so fast.  So I Googled “English speaking countries” on a hunch, and found…88 of them.  88!  That’s 82 new audiences, all ready to experience Facebook.com/KwanYinHealing for the very first time!  

So I added Mauritius, the Marshall Islands, Malawi, Liberia, Lesotho, Jamaica, Guyana, Grenada, Ghana, Gambia, Eritrea, Dominica, Cameroon, Botswana, the Bahamas, and Antigua and Barbuda – Facebook limits you to 25 countries at a time.  But my likes spiked THAT DAY from 20 to 200.   And just like that, I’m at 11,250 fans.   Sure, it’s starting to slow…down to 150 a day now, though, still three times what I was seeing before, and with the same budget.

What does that mean, the same budget?  Two things:  (1) I’m getting a LOT of new organic likes from the sharing from the new traffic, and (2) my cost-per-click has dropped by more than 50%.  Seems a lot of people don’t market to countries like Fiji—so my competition is apparently quite small.   I haven’t been doing Google Ads for a while, but now I’m curious what affect targeting these markets would have on click rates there.  Next time, I’ll try it. 

What happens when my 150 daily likes finally slows again to 20?  I’ll remove the markets already exposed and substitute new ones, and I’ll be able to do that at least three more times.   This will give me a much larger market when promoting my next teleseminar—I already have clients in six countries (the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, Japan, and Saint Martens).   

Don’t overlook non-sovereign places either, like Anguilla, American Samoa, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Cook Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Guam, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Isle of Man, Jersey, Montserrat, Niue, Norfolk Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Pitcairn Islands, Puerto Rico, Saint Helena–Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, Sint Maarten, San Andrés y Providencia–Colombia, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos Islands. 

Kwan Yin Healing helps the spiritually-conscious who are struggling with life path or health and are ready to move forward and find peace.  The Four Pillars of healing and transformation are Clarity (life is supposed to be abundant, and now, when we get out of our own way), Connection (we are part of a continuum from earth to the divine), Coherence (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and awareness energies need to vibrate harmoniously), and Change (if you want something you don’t have, you’ll need to do things you’ve never done).   I love the beautiful illustration this example gives – the instant results from connecting to what already exists in a coherent way with one simple change.  We live on one globe, one people, one human energy—and we can easily forget that imaginary borders are only in our nationalist mindsets. 

I’m already delighted to be helping people jump start their paths and thus accelerate how they help still more people through their work throughout the US and Canada, as well as a bit in the Caribbean, the UK, and Australia.   If you’re ready to find what’s holding you back from living your dreams fully, visit kwanyinhealing.com, look around, and sign-on for the free starting package.   I’m happy to start you along your path.  

And if you happen to be from Spain, Malayasia, Germany, Israel, the US Virgin Islands, Switzerland, Honduras, Sri Lanka, Brunei, Aruba, the Dominican Republic, British Indian Ocean Territory, Ethiopia, Russia, East Timor, or any of the many other places where first-language English speakers live, or if you are one of the many people who speak English as a second or third or fourth or fifth language, I’ll be happy to make your acquaintance.   It’s all one world, one people, on one road to peace, harmony, unity, health and happiness. 

Love and Joy,

Tim Emerson
Kwan Yin Healing

80 Minute Video Interview with George Kao – The Seven Steps to True Livelihood

george kaoOn August 6th, I hosted a video interview with my dear colleague George Kao.

George is consistently one of the innovative colleagues I’ve ever met.

He’s launching a new initiative in the personal growth & business space using a co-op business model which is really inspiring for me and we had a conversation about the seven steps he takes people through to identify their true livelihood – a business or career that feels good to them, uses their gifts and sustains them.

You can check out his initiative here: http://www.truelivelihoodcommunity.com/join.html and watch the eighty minute video interview below.