Maybe I Should Stop Doing PWYC

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(NOTE TO READER: As you can see, this post has generated quite the commentary below and this from sharing it on social media. If it’s any reassurance, my practice of offering my daylong and weekend workshops on a PWYC basis is not under any imminent danger. I don’t intend to stop it any time soon. I wrote this piece more to reflect to all of us the immense consequence that everything we do and do not do has not only on our lives and the lives of others (intended or not). At this point, the reasons (selfish and selfless) for me to keep offering these workshops on a PWYC basis outweigh the reasons not to. So, I’m not looking for alternatives right now. I think with some adjustments, PWYC will continue to work well for me when I do it).

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Maybe it’s time to retire my PWYC pricing at my live day long and weekend long workshops.

I led a marketing workshop in Toronto last Summer.

It was a weekend workshop that I offer, as I have for almost 15 years now, on a PWYC basis.

Every time I do the workshop I tell people that it’s not a given that it will go on forever – this PWYC thing. If it stopped working, I’d have to stop doing it. Thankfully, it has worked thus far and people have been remarkably trustworthy in their instalment payments that they agree to.

But of that co-hort from the Toronto workshop (of which there were seven) there were two where payments were late. Two out of seven is a very high ration compared to the past.

It was left to me to follow up.

Over and over again.

It was a kind of ghosting.

Or carelessness. Or forgetfulness. But it all communicates the same sort of thing in the end. “This isn’t that high a priority to me right now.”

To be clear: the issue wasn’t the amount. I offer my workshops on a PWYC basis so that people can afford to attend it no matter where they’re at financially. And I’ve had people promise to pay me large amounts and then, months later, have to re-negotiate that as their financial picture had dramatically changed and I was happy to forgive that amount and let it go. 

I suppose it’s true for most of us: the big issue is communication.

On the personal level, it felt terrible. These were people I’d spent a weekend with. I’d paid all of my expenses up front to be there. I’d worked hard for them all weekend to help them grow their businesses. A certain level of affection grew. And then, after all that, they were treating me like this?

It reminded me of an ex-housemate who would take forever to pay his bills. But that isn’t what bothered me. It was that I was the one who had to follow up with him. He wouldn’t let me know it was going to be late. Then he’d promise to get me the money by Friday. And he wouldn’t. And then I wouldn’t hear from him for a month.

It was the lack of communication that stung the most. 

It reminds me of going to a friend’s house and sitting on her couch with a guitar. It was myself, my friend and two of her friends. 

“Are you going to sing us a song?” asked my friend, sitting on her floor with a bottle of wine. 

I nodded and began to sing a Corin Raymond tune that I love.

They listened for a while but, within sixty seconds, they’d begun talking with each other and weren’t listening at all. I stopped playing and set down the guitar. Besides the personal sting of being ignored, there was the song to think about. A song is a living thing and it was being dishonoured by that kind of behaviour and so, to care for it, I stopped it. It wasn’t fair to the song.

It reminded me of sitting at the Social Venture Institute at Hollyhock. We were in the kitchen. I was doing magic at a table. But people started grabbing at things. They were drunk. They were interrupting me and distracted. I stopped the show. They were shocked. One came up and apologized later. I think they’d all imagined that I would accomodate any level of rudeness they brought. 

It reminded me of one of my first magic mentors, Gazzo Macee who I had seen stop a number of street shows after five minutes because he could feel the tone the audience was setting wasn’t right. 

And so it was with these two people from the Toronto workshop. I would email and there would be long delays in even responding to me. In one of those cases, there were six weeks in which multiple emails were sent and no reply. The payments finally arrived but much good will was lost in the process. Perhaps it will be restored but I’m leaving that in their hands for the moment.

For the first time in years, I found myself thinking, “Maybe it’s time to put this PWYC thing to rest. Maybe people are taking it for granted too much.” I don’t need to lead live workshops. I can make better money online. There are no travel expenses, accommodations, venue fees etc.

I think that we often underestimate the consequentiality of what we do and don’t do.

We assume that what we love will be there regardless of how we treat it. Until the break up. Until we’re fired. Until that local bookstore goes under because we loved the convenience of Amazon.com instead. Until the local farmers shut their farms down because we all decided chain grocery stores were more convenient.

It makes me think of my dear colleague George Kao who brought me in to help his people for 90 minutes the other day and then sent me, thought I’d agreed to do it for free, $200 afterwards as his way of saying thanks.

It makes me think of how many indigenous traditions are based around feeding the holy in Nature with the beauty they make with their language and their hands and how many people go to Church wanting to get fed.

It makes me think of the difference a good and enthusiastic crowd makes when I perform improv with Rapid Fire Theatre in Edmonton.

It makes me think of the guests at my potlucks who help with the dishes throughout the night.

It makes me think of my dear friend Esther, a Mexican woman, who told me that when women of colour visited her they automatically began to help out with whatever chores they saw needed doing and white men who came to visit would simply sit and wait to be served with an air of entitlement. Helping out never seemed to occur to them at all. It makes me think about how I got up from my chair and began to help her with dishes once she told me that.  

My offering my live workshops on a pay what you can basis is not inevitable. Its future is not in my hands in the end. It’s in the hands of the people who attend them and how they honour or do not honour their word in what they will pay (and how honourably they act when they realize they are no longer able to honour their original commitments).

In offering the workshops in this pricing I expect more from people in their integrity than perhaps others do and I’m okay with that. I’ve got no plans on changing that. If we’re going to build a new economy, move towards the possibility of village-making, then surely our integrity in our commitments matters a great deal. 

If you love someone or a business, I ask you to imagine that the way you interact with it (or don’t) shapes its future. I ask you to imagine that the future of those you love and businesses you admire is in your hands. It’s too easy to imagine that they are inevitable. That they will always be there no matter what you do or don’t do. It’s easy to see those we admire as sort of bullet proof and not so vulnerable as we are. That they don’t feel the slights as deeply as we would. I can assure you they do. I’m not immune to it and have no plans to try to be intact (a word that means ‘untouched). 

Martha Nussbaum put it so well when she wrote,

“To be a good human being is to have a kind of openness to the world, an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control, that can lead you to be shattered in very extreme circumstances for which you were not to blame. That says something very important about the human condition of the ethical life: that it is based on a trust in the uncertain and on a willingness to be exposed; it’s based on being more like a plant than like a jewel, something rather fragile, but whose very particular beauty is inseparable from its fragility. Being a human means accepting promises from other people and trusting that other people will be good to you. When that is too much to bear, it is always possible to retreat into the thought, “I’ll live for my own comfort, for my own revenge, for my own anger, and I just won’t be a member of society anymore.” That really means, “I won’t be a human being anymore.” You see people doing that today where they feel that society has let them down, and they can’t ask anything of it, and they can’t put their hopes on anything outside themselves. You see them actually retreating to a life in which they think only of their own satisfaction, and maybe the satisfaction of their revenge against society. But the life that no longer trusts another human being and no longer forms ties to the political community is not a human life any longer. Tragedy happens only when you are trying to live well, because for a heedless person who doesn’t have deep commitments to others, Agamemnon’s conflict [in which the king-protagonist has to choose between saving his army and saving his daughter] isn’t a tragedy… Now the lesson certainly is not to try to maximize conflict or to romanticize struggle and suffering, but it’s rather that you should care about things in a way that makes it a possibility that tragedy will happen to you. If you hold your commitments lightly, in such a way that you can always divest yourself from one or the other of them if they conflict, then it doesn’t hurt you when things go badly. But you want people to live their lives with a deep seriousness of commitment: not to adjust their desires to the way the world actually goes, but rather to try to wrest from the world the good life that they desire. And sometimes that does lead them into tragedy.”

And so, I’ll be paying attention at the future workshops and how people treat this PWYC offering. If the trend continues or expands, I’ll find some other way of proceeding that sustains me financially, respects my craft and makes my work accessible to those who need it. 

And, perhaps, I’ll need to speak to this more directly in my future workshops. Certainly this will be so. It’s a good reminder to all of us that when patterns of poor behaviour begin to emerge in our clients, it’s time for us to reflect on what systems we need in place to change that. I will need to name this pattern and say something like, “My friends… I trust you will pay an amount that is right for you and post date those payments for dates that work for you. And I understand that things change. It’s how it is. If you need to delay a payment for a while or you realize you’ll never be able to pay me… all I ask is that you tell me as soon as you know. Don’t make me follow up with you about the payments. Don’t make me send multiple emails asking you where things are at. Don’t make me chase you. If you promise a payment on June 1st, don’t wait until June 2nd to tell me it’s not coming. Or June 30th. I ask that you bring the kind of integrity to this you’d want your clients to bring to their financial commitments with you.”

Maybe it’s time to retire my PWYC pricing at my live day long and weekend long workshops.

I’m not there yet. But I’m no longer where I was a few months ago. I’m not assuming that things will continue to go as they have gone before. I can’t tell yet if this was a one time aberration or a change in the winds. I can tell you that, if this trend continued or worsened, I would pack up my pay what you can pricing and put it back in its case out of respect for it and the good people who are behaving so poorly towards it (why lead them into a situation they can’t handle and cause more shame for them?).

Maybe it’s time to retire my PWYC pricing at my live day long and weekend long workshops.

I suppose you’ll all let me know after my future workshops. 

Be a Flower, Not a Butterfly Net

 

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I hosted a men’s circle earlier this year and a young man said something brilliant: be a flower, not a butterfly net.

It reminds me of something I heard colleagues say for years: be a lighthouse, not a searchlight.

Butterflies run away from nets. People run away from searchlights.

Of course, it’s dangerous to get into dogma about any of this but it’s worth noticing how much energy we often put into a strategy that is fundamentally about chasing potential clients (who might never be a fit in the first place).

I recall a successful life coach being asked, “What’s your niche?”

And he replied, “People who like me?”

On one level, it’s a shit answer. On another level, that’s absolutely where it’s at.

At the end of the day, you only want to work with people who are a good fit for you. They’ve got to like you.

And, if your strategy is to run around chasing everything that moves with your butterfly net, or swinging your searchlight around and capturing everyone you see, you might just find that most of them have no interest in what you’re offering at all.

It’s so much effort for so little reward.

What if you were to out your effort into being a more beautiful flower or a more known and trusted lighthouse instead?

What if you were to work on honing your niche and point of view so that they were clear and well-known?

What if you were to really focus on bringing your own vibe, quirk, personality and aesthetic into your business (instead of going for the generic look)?

You might find that this is what really wins the long-game and that you win, with less effort, in such a way that no one else has to lose.

Don’t be a butterfly net, be a flower.

Other Blog Posts You Might Enjoy On This Theme:

Get Rejected Faster

Polarize

The Real Reason To Do Intro Workshops

Products On This Theme:

The Niching Nest

Point of View Marketing

Marketing for Hippies 101

What if you’re not offering your clients enough?

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Less.

This is what most of my clients feel like they should be offering.

Most of the people I cross paths with are terrified of being too pushy.

They’re terrified of “over-selling.”

They blanch at the thought of ever pushing someone to buy more than they need.

And there’s a deep sort of integrity there. But it’s only a half integrity. It’s coming out of collapse.

Those same people would never consider that being too passive, under-selling or selling someone less than they need might be out of integrity in any way.

It’s a strange sort of thing.

And so, most of them go about their business lives playing very, very small and offering very small things.

Imagine you sell supplies for crossing the Sahara desert and your friend visits you, excited to tell you about their trip but they only have a small flask of water.

Is it really kind to say, “Sure. You’ll probably be fine.”

And so it is.

They offer single sessions to clients knowing full well it won’t even come close to delivering them the real result they want, but have rarely considered created a beautiful, bespoke, larger package.

They do the occasional talk but have never thought of leading a workshop.

Or they lead workshops but they’ve never thought of hosting a retreat.

Or they have led retreats but have never considered starting a school or higher level mentorship program.

You get the idea.

Most of them have never considered that their clients might actually want more from them, not less.

And sometimes that ‘more’ might be less.

Some entrepreneurs offer a lot of high level things but have never considered creating more affordable eBooks or online, homestudy versions of their work.

Your clients might actually want to hear from you more frequently. That’s possible.

They might want to access your content in different ways. They might want more shallow or deeper versions of your work.

I’ll never forget when I first ran my Marketing for Hippies 101 program online. I had forty people sign up and pay me $200. They’d been waiting for me to offer something like this since I was never going to tour my workshops to where they lived. That money had been sitting there on the table the whole time.

And then I led my Niching Spiral program and, on my third go at it, made $24,000 from a thirty-day, online program. My clients were wanting help with this and, when I offered them something more than the blog posts and free videos I’d put out about it, they lept.

In November of 2016, I decided to launch my Marketing Mentorship program for twelve entrepreneurs. I was surprised and delighted by how quickly it filled, generating a solid $5000/month for me. It wasn’t for everyone, but there were clients of mine who’d been waiting, though even they hadn’t known it, for such a thing.

Most entrepreneurs have a poorly thought out, spindly little business model. Your business model could likely afford to be more robust. As you build it out, two things happen. As you build out the free and cheap levels of your work (e.g. blog posts, podcasts, online video, eBooks etc.) your business becomes safer to approach and check out. As you build up the higher priced levels of it, your business becomes more sustainable for you.

What do your clients want from you?

I’d wager a hefty amount of money on this answer . . .

More.

Educating vs. Selling

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Educate when you educate.

Sell when you sell.

Don’t confuse the two.

Don’t promise an education and then deliver a sales pitch.

Don’t promise amazing content when they opt-into your list only to deliver something shitty and then bombard them with marketing for your incredible content.

Don’t bait and then switch.

I recall a colleague of mine releasing a new eBook on how to get more clients to say ‘yes’ to your coaching program offers. It was going to be one of the free give-aways in the launch for his sales training program. I read it before agreeing to send it out to my list. It was a sales letter. It wasn’t a book at all.

I recall hosting a colleague for a tele-seminar where he promised to share nuts and bolts content and his presentation was that he seemed to be reading, literally and actually, from his sales letter. He never really delivered on the results he promised. To get that content you have to sign up for his program.

When you do an intro workshop promising education don’t have it be a covert or overt sales pitch for your weekend workshop or coaching program.

Educate when you educate.

Sell when you sell.

There will come a point when it’s time to share what you have to offer. Do it. There’s a moment, and you can learn to know when it is, where the appropriate and respectful thing is to cut to the chase and say, “Here’s the deal. You pay $__ and you get _____.

There’s a point where you can just say to someone, “You know… I think you might really dig this workshop I’m leading. Can I send you the info?

Educate when you educate.

Sell when you sell.

People will trust you more. People will be able to relax into learning from you. They will know that what they are learning from you isn’t a subtle, sophisticated and sneaky attempt to set them up for a purchase. They’ll know you’re not positioning them to buy something from you. Their defences will go down and they’ll be willing to engage in an honest to god human conversation with you.

Most of the people I work with, these conscious, hippie entrepreneurs, are delighted to realize that there’s a moment where you can just say to someone, “Can I pitch you on something? I think this might be a good fit for you.” or “You know, I have no idea if this is a fit, but let me run this past you in case it is because it feels like it might really help on that issue you were just telling me about.”

You can be so direct.

Additional Reading:

Directness and Transparency in Marketing: A Vital Interdependence. – Lynn Serafinn

Mastering the Graceful Art of Directness – Lynn Serafinn

The Real Reason To Do Intro Workshops – Tad Hargrave

Enough With The Crappy Opt-In Bribes – Do This Instead – Bradley Morris

The real reason to do intro workshops (and what this can teach you about the rest of your marketing).

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I’m a big fan of the intro workshop – that two to three hour experience that gives people a good taste of who you are and what you do.

In the first seven or so years of my business, these kinds of workshops were my bread and butter. I did them for free and used them as a way to fill up my weekend workshops (which I offered on a Pay What You Can basis). Sometimes I still do them.

The model, though lean, worked well enough and I toured happily for years.

Of course, in the first few years, I was still sorting out what exactly it was that I had to say about marketing. It took me five years for things to really gel. And then I felt it. It all came together. My intros felt more clear, coherent and solid.

Right around that time, people started paying me money for these free workshops.

I would look up surprised as they were filling out a $50 cheque to me, “This is a free workshop.” I’d tell them.

They’d look at me, nod and say, “Uh huh…” and then finish filling out the cheque.

After that point, I began to charge for the intros.

I’ve led dozens if not hundreds of these kinds of intro sessions over the years and so I’m well acquainted with them. Of course, I never went to a workshop on how to do them or structure them. I just mucked about until I landed on something I liked and that made sense.

But it wasn’t until a few months ago when it really clicked for me as to why we even do these intro workshops in the first place.

It’s a good question to ask:

Why bother? What’s the point of doing an intro workshop? How would you know if they were successful? What are we trying to accomplish in doing them?

Well, it’s good to contextualize all of this in a bigger picture of marketing.

I imagine you want to have a sustainable business and fill up your workshops and coaching programs and so you’re doing intro workshops to support that. The intro workshops are a way of getting more clients.

Fair enough.

So let’s step back a bit. There are three things that must be established in your marketing for it to work: relevance, credibility and value.

Relevance means that they see a fit for them.

Credibility means that they trust you.

Value means that they see what you’re offering as a good deal.

In an intro workshop, your workshop title, poster, sales letter etc. is what will establish the relevance. People will look at it and say, “Aha! Yes! A workshop for people with fibromyalgia! That’s for me!” Relevance comes from a clear niche.

If you do your marketing right, they walk into the room with relevance established.

This is why it feels so off when you show up at a live, intro workshop and the first half hour is spent establishing relevance. Or the whole event. I remember I went to one workshop about, in a nutshell, how to make more money.

And the first thing the presenter asked when he came out was, “Who here wants to make more money?” And then proceeded, in a variety of ways to ask that question over the first few minutes and to tell us a lot of stories about how making more money was a really important thing. I sat there baffled. I looked down at the handout which had the name of the workshop written on it and thought, “Why the hell would I be here if it wasn’t because I wanted to learn how to make more money?”

So, the content of your intro workshop is not there to establish relevance primarily.

Some people would suggest that the whole point of an intro workshop is to establish the value of your offer (e.g. “Come to my weekend workshop!”, “Come to my retreat!” or “Sign up for my coaching package.”).

And certainly I’ve been to some of these and you might have too. The intro workshop (or teleseminar) promises a lot but delivers on very little. It’s frustrating. By the end, you realize it’s been a long pitch. You kept thinking the substance and content was about to appear but it never did.

I once hosted a colleague and realized part way through that he was, literally, reading out his sales letter. The same colleague was offering a free eBook in the lead up to a program of his and the eBook, despite having a lovely cover, was, very literally, a sales letter for his program. Even formatted as a sales letter. I shook my head at the bait and switch.

When people come for content but get a commercial they’re bound to feel tricked and upset.

So, no, I don’t think that our intro workshops are primarily about establishing the value of our offers. Who wants to sit through a two hour, covert pitch.

So, what is the point? Well, if it’s not relevance or value, then it must be credibility.

And this is the freeing realization: your intro workshops are there to help people get to know, like and trust you. Your intro workshops are there for people to get a sense of your vibe. They are there for people to see if there’s an alignment between the way they see things and the way you see things. They are there for people to decide if you’re a fit for them. They are there for people to learn about your point of view and see if that makes sense for them.

That’s really about it.

If they like you and resonate with your point of view and then you make a good offer of a program, product or package that is high value, they are likely going to say ‘yes’ to it.

If they do not like you or resonate with your point of view and then you make a good offer of a program, product or package that is high value, they are likely going to say ‘no’ to it.

It’s that simple.

Perhaps this is why so many people in their intro workshops, tele seminars, and sales letters skip this credibility piece (beyond testimonials). They skip sharing their point of view entirely.

I’ve read sales letters that, basically, say,

“Are you struggling with _________ problem? Doesn’t it hurt? Let me tell you my story about how bad it was and then some stories of clients. And shit… doesn’t it cost you a lot to have this unresolved? Here’s how it cost me. And don’t you want _________ result? I mean imagine your life without it! Imagine you died without getting this result. Wouldn’t you feel like an asshole on your death bed. But this result can be yours when you sign up for my package and learn my top secret method.”

The whole sales letter is heavy on relevance and value but there’s so little credibility in it. It’s big on hitting the pain points and painting a picture of how it might be and very low on offering any meaningful take on how that might happen.

Your intro workshops are a form of marketing, that’s true. But the next marketing, in my mind, is educational. It teaches them something.

Am I saying that you should give away all of your content for free?

No.

You couldn’t fit it all into an intro workshop.

I am saying to give all of the context away for free.

Now, ‘all’ might be overstatement.

But you can give people the 30,000 foot view. You can let them know how you see the big picture of it all. You can give them a chance to ask you questions for the 100 foot or 10 foot view on places they’re struggling. You give show them your overall map to help them make sense of why they’re so damned stuck.

If they want to sail from Island A to Island B, you don’t teach them how to build and sail a boat in your intro. You bust out your map and show them the route you’d suggest and make your case for that route instead of others. You first make the case for your point of view, not your programs, products or packages. You don’t market yourself. You market your message.

If you do this, you will engender more trust.

If you do this, people will want to know about your offers.

If you do this, people will be more likely to spend more money with you.

If you do this, people will feel confident in your approach to these issues.

And this doesn’t mean that you need to make massive changes in your marketing.

But consider the subtle difference between these two approaches.

Approach #1: Selling Your Workshop – “If you come to my weekend workshop you’ll learn the following seven things!”

Approach #2: Sharing Your Point of View – “If you want to get ______ result, here are seven things you need to understand.” and then at the end of the workshop, “If that approach and those seven things make sense to you, you might enjoy my weekend workshop because we go deeper into all of those things.” Rebecca Tracey of The Uncaged Life fame has done a brilliant job of this with a free checklist she offers of eight things you need to have in place to get more clients. “The checklist itself,” she says, “is a simple list of all the steps we complete in our Uncage Your Business program, with a note at the end that they can work on this with me live and a link to get on the UYB waitlist.”

It’s a subtle shift in framing but the impact is powerful.

To take it back to my friend who was offering the eBook that was, actually, a sales letter. It was selling his course about how to get more clients through offering discovery sessions. That was the orientation of the ‘eBook’ – making the case for them to spend a lot of money in his program.

I emailed them and suggested that they might make a subtle shift and reorientation towards making the case for his point of view. The whole eBook could have been making the case for a business model in which all of the marketing led people to a one hour ‘discovery session’. That’s a solid point of view. There is a strong case to be made for that. Once he had convinced people of this approach, then he might find them very open to signing up for his program.

I was met with a frosty response.

Ah well.

To sum it up: Make the case for your point of view first (credibility). Make the case for your services, programs, packages and products second (value).

Additional Free Resources:

Video Interview on Point of View Marketing (70 min)

Point of View Marketing Primer Video (10 min)

Products to Consider:

The Workshop Package: A collection of my best resources on filling up your workshops and events.

The Art of the Full House

Point of View Marketing

Don’t Market Yourself. Market Your Message.

Good Hands

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

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

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

But that wasn’t the big issue.

In fact, there were no big issues.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This all matters so profoundly for marketing.

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

It’s like that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Reading: 

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

On Promises

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The purpose of marketing is to make promises.

The purpose of your business is to keep them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are four levels of relating to your promises:

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

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

What are you promising people? Is this clear?

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

Additional Reading: 

Are you marketing the journey or the boat?

The Art of Relevance

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

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

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

Neuro Linguistic Programming comes to mind in this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What if there was nothing wrong with expressing your desires?

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

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

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

What if we’re all craving candour and directness?

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

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

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

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

Additional Resources:

Courting vs. Seduction in Marketing

The Three Roles of Marketing

The Heart of Selling

Greg Faxon Shares His Unique Take on Selling and Enrolment Conversations

Are You More Comfortable Being Salesy or Subtle?

Be More Repulsive

Get Rejected Faster

 

Getting Off The Fence: Hobby vs. Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which way do you want to jump?

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

If Your Marketing Feels Hard Then Something Is Wrong

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Marketing shouldn’t feel hard.

That’s not to say that it shouldn’t take effort. It does.

That’s not to say it doesn’t ask you to hustle. It does.

But it shouldn’t feel like a struggle.

I see so many people struggling to figure out which tactics to use and how to use them.

If your marketing does feel like a struggle, it likely means that some of the fundamentals are missing.

When I see people struggling with their marketing, ninety per cent of the time it’s because they don’t have a clear or well articulated niche. Or, if they have the niching part sorted and their marketing is still a struggle, it’s often because they’re lacking a well-articulated point of view.

If someone have both of those things – a clear niche and a well-articulated point of view – and they are still struggling with their marketing, then the culprit is usually the lack of clear and compelling packages.

If a person has all of the above going on (clear niche, articulate point of view, and compelling packages) and the marketing piece is still not working? Then it’s almost always that that they’re using a “cold approach” to marketing, instead of identifying and building relationships with hubs.

When you’re building a house, it’s only a struggle if you don’t have clear blueprints to work from.

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Maybe you are searching among the branches, for what only appears in the roots.

– Rumi