The Rant Experiment: Let Off Some Steam, Catalyze Social Change and Grow Your Business

rantI want to offer up the opportunity to participate in a bold experiment.

It’s going to ask you to be vulnerable and honest.

It’s going to ask you to use a tool that not many people even think of as a tool (indeed, I didn’t until a few days ago when a number of things came together).

Here’s the gist: I want you to write a rant that’s been brewing inside you for a while and share it with your list and social media. After about a week, go post your rant and the results in the comments below.

Then, in July, I will collect the best rants and make a blog post featuring them all. This is all very informal but it should be fun.

The Rules: videos rants = 3 minutes or less. Written pieces 1000 words or less.

I think it will not only feel really good for you to do but that it could also help you grow your business.

 

Why do I say this and where is this experiment coming from? 

I think that the world needs more people ranting.

I think that you have a rant inside you that, if you let it out, would not only free you but a lot of other people too.

I think that letting yourself rant could do wonders to get to you more clients too.

Let me back up and explain why I think this…

I’ve written 551 blogs on this site.

Most of them have gotten a few comments. Many none at all. A few of them have gotten a lot of comments and been shared widely.

You might think that the ones that were the most shared were the most tactical ones. The ones with ‘how to do something’. The ones with an immediately practical application. But when I do a search of the blog posts in the Marketing Tactics category the following are the ones I find with the most comments on them.

Note: Some of these may have a lower number of comments because they were written years ago when my list was smaller and they may never have been mailed directly to my list. But the most recent ones, in the past couple of years were.

Also: comments are not the only or most meaningful arbiter of success. I would say how much a piece is shared or how much traffic it gets is more important (and I can attest to the rant blog posts I’ll be posting below being the ones that have been shared the most on social media and drawn some of the most new people to my site). But, comment numbers are still a useful lense to look at as it demonstrates that people not only went to that page, but read the material and got enough out of it to leave some complimentary words in the course of their busy lives.

 

How many comments do I get on my Marketing Tactic blog posts?:

25 CommentsHow to Approach Hubs and Potential Clients Cold – This one has the most comments of any of them. But, given how packed it is with content, real life examples, I am surprised there weren’t more comments.

16 CommentsHow Do I Fill Up My Weekend Workshop or Retreat Last Minute? 21 Practical Ideas – This one is interesting. I emailed my list of 10,000 with it and then my colleagues Justin and Callan emailed their list of 30,000+ with it. And yet only 16 comments. And, holy hell is this ever one of the most practical blog posts I’ve ever written. This blog post, with some other additions, will be turned into a product I sell within the next year. And I bet it will do well. And yet… only 16 comments.

6 CommentsThe Two Secrets of an Effective Business Card – Only six comments? A blog post on the most ubiquitous of all marketing tools?

6 CommentsThe Top Ten Ways to Become a Hub – If people really applied what was in here, they’d double their business this year. But a paltry number of comments.

6 CommentsHow to Make a Welcome Video for Your Website – What the hell. Most folks should have some sort of welcome video on their website. I’m telling people exactly how to do it. Half a dozen comments. Boo.

3 CommentsFive Simple Ways to Get New Clients – This one blows my mind. Again, I would feel very good about turning this blog post into a paid product. It’s so good. It’s so clear and step by step. But only three comments.

3 Comments14 Ways to Make it Easy for People to Spread the Word About You – A distillation of a year’s worth of me reading every book on word of mouth marketing I could get my hands on and… three comments.

1 CommentMarketing for Psychotherapists – Did this explode in the psychotherapy community? No. Not sure if this one hit my email list but still. I’ve personally sent it to dozens of psychotherapists and had it met with deep gratitude. But only one comment.

0 CommentsCreating Your Hubs Database – Quite possibly the most important marketing tactic I know that very few others teach. And the crowd goes mild.

0 Comments21 Powerful Word of Mouth Intensifiers – Again, a years worth of research boiled down into 21 actionable items and met with zero comments.

To be clear, if I were to email my list with some of the ones with fewer comments, we’d see those comments go up. But what follows is very illustrative.

 

Those rants though…

When I look in the Tad’s Rants category I find these six blogs. All six of these were emailed to my list within the past couple of years. So there’s that. But the difference in the number of comments is orders of magnitudes higher.

And they’re all rants. None of them contain a single practical idea. None of them are tactical at all. And yet, this is a consistent pattern. When I share a rant, I get the most response. To prove it…

174 CommentsI’m Broke (And I Don’t Care)

122 CommentsWhy ‘Charging What You’re Worth’ Is Bullshit

104 CommentsIs ‘Conscious Marketing’ Bullshit? Discuss

92 CommentsSlow Marketing

86 CommentsWhy ‘Stop Playing Small’ Is Bullshit

74 Comments – Don’t Mess With Their Rice Bowl: Seven Business Lessons from Ten Recent Workshop No-Shows

So, that’s 652 comments in total for six blog posts vs. 120 comments for what I would consider to be my top ten, most useful tactical blog posts.

To break that down further, that means that, on average, my tactical blog posts have gotten 12 comments each, whereas my average rant blog post above got, 108 comments. So, even if we factor in a smaller email list and not each of those posts having been emailed out and tripled that number to 36, we’re still looking at rant posts performing at least four times better at worst and ten times better at best.

You might be excused for thinking that the secret is to add the world ‘bullshit’ to any blog post. And… you wouldn’t be right but you wouldn’t be entirely wrong either. However, more on that in a moment because it’s not just in comments on my blog.

I also shared my Why ‘Stop Playing Small’ Is Bullshit blog on my Facebook Page. I generally get next to no response on posts to my Facebook Page because of this.

But when I shared this one, it went crazy. Shared by 34 people. And, on a Facebook Page a share means much more than a comment. Note: I did not boost that post. I paid nothing. And yet, boom.

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What is a rant?

Before we dive much deeper, we should really define our terms.

verb (used without object) 1. to speak or declaim extravagantly or violently; talk in a wild or vehement way; rave: The demagogue ranted for hours. verb (used with object) 2. to utter or declaim in a ranting manner. noun 3. ranting, extravagant, or violent declamation. 4. a ranting utterance. via dictionary.com

rant (n.) Look up rant at Dictionary.com “boisterous, empty declamation; fierce or high-sounding language without much meaning or dignity of thought; bombast; a ranting speech,” 1640s, from rant (v.). rant (v.) Look up rant at Dictionary.com c.1600, “to be jovial and boisterous,” also “to talk bombastically,” from Dutch randten (earlier ranten) “talk foolishly, rave,” of unknown origin (compare German rantzen “to frolic, spring about”). A 1700 slang dictionary has rantipole “a rude wild Boy or Girl” (also as a verb and adjective) [Grose] via etymonline.com

In the definitions above you can see that ranting is a style of sharing views that doesn’t fit into the conventions of polite conversation.

 

Eleven reasons why rants get such a strong response

So, what’s up with the difference in response?

I think there are nine reasons that rants get such a strong reaction and are shared so much.

Reason #1 – They Send The Right Messages:

I wrote a blog post called Five Simple Messages That Can Have Potential Clients Melt and Fall in Love With You (41 Comments). In it, I laid out five key messages that clients need to get from you in order to feel safe.

Message #1: That you ‘get it’ (or at least will try to).

Message #2: That they’re not crazy.

Message #3: That they’re not alone.

Message #4: That there is hope.

Message #5: That there’s a bigger context.

I believe that a good rant can send all five of those messages.

Reason #2 – A Rant Comes From a Point of View:

Years ago, I wrote a blog post called Nine Reasons Point of View is the Future of Marketing. In it, I explain why having a clear, well articulated point of view, perspective, philosophy or ‘take’ on things was so vital. And a good rants comes from this. A rant comes from a way of seeing things that is being ignored and is an attempt to call attention to it, or tear down a point of view we see as doing damage.

Reason #3 – A Rant is Raw and Real:

So much of what we see in business and marketing is posturing. People pretending to be more together than they are. And a rant shatters that pretense. A rant is honest. A rant cuts through the bullshit and calls a spade a spade. A rant isn’t trying to be nice and polite. It’s not concerned about offending people. And people respond to this. People are craving honesty. This kind of genuine boiling over of emotion and frustration when things make us wanna holler is a tonic for people. A rant is done to express, not impress. They’re done primarily to get something out of you not to make an impact on others. You rant because you need to or because you see it’s needed, even if you don’t know if it will make a difference at all.

The realness you express with engender respect (even if they disagree), trust, credibility and a letting down of the guard. People will be more open to you because they see you’re not hiding anything. There’s no pretense. They know where you stand now.

I learned from Stephen Jenkinson that there were two type of marble that were used for stone carving. The first type, which is the most expensive, has a very tight crystalline structure which will take any blow and which can be carved with incredible levels of precision. The second type was harder to carve and the final results would often be covered with holes and imperfections that would need to be filled and covered with wax. So, in that way, a cheaper marble could be used but made to look more expensive than it was.

Now follow this: the Latin word for wax is ‘cera’. The Latin word for without is ‘sine’. And so marble that wasn’t covered up, where the holes could still show, were sine cera. Or sincere. And so, in this way, this common word is brought down through the ages, holding close to its chest this story about letting our holes show.

And so a rant is a tremendously sincere event. We’re not trying to posture or say it exactly right. We’re not trying to pretend we have it all together or have all of the answers. And, because it’s so sincere, people trust it.

Why don’t people rant? Because it’s vulnerable. It risks, even courts, rejection.

If you try to fake it and use a rant as a technique when it’s not something you genuinely feel, it’s going to suck hard and everyone will notice it.

If you try to control and constrain it too much, it will lose its oomph. You’ll notice that in almost all of the rants below, there is swearing. There’s a reason. When people are really ranting, their filters fall by the wayside. Things come out of their mouth that normally never would.

And, because of their rawness, a rant is big medicine. This isn’t something we want to do all of the time. They have real impact precisely because they are so rare and so raw. If all you do is rant, you will lose credibility. The less often you use this tool and the more emotion that is let loose when you do, the more impact it will have.

My colleague and friend Morgana Rae said, “I call those the ‘Dark Goddess of Morgana’s Wrath’ blasts. They’ve been surprisingly enrolling.”

And it’s important to understand that rants are only one kind of medicine. They are needed but they’re not the only thing that’s needed. We also need listening, patience, organizing, well articulated and thoughtful requests etc.

Reason #4 – A Rant is Polarizing:

Not everyone will agree with your rant – it will likely be controversial. It’s going to get a polarized response from people. And that’s good. Clients who aren’t a fit will be repelled, and the ones who are a fit will be magnetically drawn towards you hard. It gets people off the fence of how they feel about you.

Reason #5 – A Rant is Releases Pressure:

One of the highest performing headlines of all time was written by Jay Abraham:

“I’ve got to get this off my chest before I explode.”

He wrote it once as the first statement in a long, rant like sales letter. It got an incredible response. And, whenever he or others have used it after, it got a huge response too.

When people hear a good rant, if they agree with it, they often experience an immediate sensation of relief and release. A good rant gives people permission to stop pretending they see the Emperor’s new clothes when the man before them is clearly naked.

By the time a rant happens, pressure has been built up to an untenable point. When you rant, you not only release the pressure for you, but for everyone listening. The people listening have been, whether or not they’ll admit it, feeling a sense of ‘I don’t know how much longer I can take this…’. If you try to hold a rant in, it will hurt you. If you release it, it will free not only you but everyone listening who agrees with you. Rants are like a thunderstorm that come in loud and strong and, after which, the air smells fresher than it has in months, the stagnancy gone and replaced with someone more life giving.

A rant can create an incredible sense of connection between yourself and the person listening as they whisper, ‘Thank you for being willing to say it.’

Because rants are the release of pressure, they require some pressure to build up first. They have to arise from something real vs. an attempt at saying the ‘right thing’ to get a ‘particular response’ (e.g. a crafted statement from a politician that is clearly false indignation, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing).  This means we can’t manufacture them without their ringing exceeding hollow. In that way, they’re spontaneous. It’s not about making them happen perhaps, but not stopping them when they arise.

Reason #6 – A Rant is Emotional:

A rant is not an essay. It’s not an analysis or breakdown. It’s not a manifesto (though a manifesto may arise from it). A rant isn’t that well thought out yet. It’s from the heart. It’s an expression of pain, heartbreak, anger or hurt. It’s an expression of a deep love for something. It’s not abstract. It comes from a real place of real impact. It comes from a not being able to hold it in anymore more than an excitement to share some new idea or concept.

That might be why people swear so much when they rant. The gasket has blown and the filter is off and the only thing coming out of that spigot faster than you can manage it, is hot, liquid truth that is going to burn away anything that isn’t real.

A rant wants to tear apart bullshit. It wants to grab people’s masks right off their face, throw them down on the ground and step all over them. It wants to grab people by the shoulders and shake them and tell them to wake the f*ck up for god’s sake. It wants to go to a polite dinner party and turn over tables if that’s what it takes to get people’s attention.

And there’s a good chance that you won’t know it’s a rant by what you say but by how they respond.

Reason #7 – A Rant is a Call to Action:

A rant is a message. It’s a call to action to change things for the better. And that energizes (and, hopefully) enobles people. A rant is a call for people to wake up, stop being so f*cking apathetic and to do something. A rant isn’t just done to vent feelings and then move on – that’s what therapy is for. No, a rant is there to start something.

Think of the rant at the end of Trainspotting:

Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourself.

Reason #8 – A Rant is Unauthorized:

Rarely does anyone ask for permission to go on a big rant because rants are often deliver in the face of some oppressive authority, reality or set of assumptions. So a rant can actually be a step in reclaiming your own personal authority. Rants often happen when boundaries (real or imagined) have been crossed too many times or in egregious ways and so rants are a way of saying ‘no more’. A rant often breaks social conventions. It’s not polite. It often interrupts whatever is going on.

And in a world full of posturing, lies, injustice, pretense and deep confusion about how we’re supposed to relate to each other as humans, rants are deeply, deeply needed.

Because they are not authorized or a part of the common public discourse, when rants appear, they are like lightning. They get attention.

Reason #9 – Rants Can Be Tonic or Toxic Destructive Force:

Make no mistake. A rant is destructive.

But this destructive energy can be tonic or toxic, depending on how it’s used.

When coming from a deeply wounded place, it may seek to scapegoat groups of people. Think Hitler ranting against the Jews or Jim Crow ranting against black people or religious leaders ranting about homoosexuals. Toxic rants are the life damaging use of anger to protect unearned privileges and the punitive use of force to crush those who would question those privileges and control.

But there’s a tonic version where the rant is coming from the impulse to tear down anything that isn’t real, to expose hypocrisy, to flood light into the darkness and to call attention to injustice. They want to blow up the damns that are killing our salmon, break the shackles that are enslaving us. Tonic rants are the life affirming use of anger and the protective use of force when something precious is under threat.

A toxic rant will result is real casualties or real people being hurt.

A tonic rant will only result in lies being hurt.

The key thing to understand is the destructive power of them. But, hidden in the middle of that destructive power is something precious. It is not a new thing, but rather the yearning for something better. A good rant is a pleading with the world for something finer and fairer, a plea for beauty in the face of ugliness, kindness in the face of cruelty, fairness in the face of injustice, integrity in the face of hypocrisy, honesty in the face of deceit and duplicity.

Reason #10 – Rants Resonate:

If it’s a good rant, it will resonate with people.

As Carl Rogers said, “That which is most personal is most general.” He meant that the things you most deeply feel that you think you’re the only one who feels them? Everybody feels that. And so the more honest and vulnerable you’re willing to make yourself, the more others will resonate with you.

James Baldwin put it so well, “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.”

This is what rants do. People hear them and say, “Me too! I thought I was the only one!” and then they want to share them. If no one comments on your rant, likes it or shares it, it might not have struck a chord in people.

Reason #11 – A Rants is a Response:

This is vital to understand about rants.

It’s why you can’t just ‘manufacture’ a rant.

A rant has to come from somewhere. It’s got to be a response to something real that you have experienced in the world that genuinely upsets and frustrates you. It’s got to be something you have been unable to find a solution to despite trying.

A rant is about something bigger than you. A rant places you somewhere. A rant is not a political speech about you and how amazing you are and why everyone should vote for you. A rant is not a speech about some neat new idea or technology or philosophy. It’s a response to something that isn’t working.

 

The Three Places A Rant Can Come From:

Maybe even more important than the content of the rant is where it’s coming from.

I want to suggest there are three places. You can read more about this in my blog post Collapse, Posturing & Composure.

Collapse: If you rant from a place of collapse, victimhood and ‘poor me’ your rants will sound whiny and complaining. This is not attractive. And it’s not vulnerable (even though it seems like it is). Instead of sharing the pain they feel, they use the pain as justification for their story about themselves. The former melts people’s hearts, the latter disgusts people.

Posturing: If you rant from a place of puffing up and pretending to be more together than you are, or pretending to care so much, you’ll come across as immensely disingenuous and only succeed in appealing to other people’s posturing.

Composure: This place, of comfort in your own skin, of finally coming to trust yourself over external authority, is where all good rants come from. Rants that come from a desire to get love (collapsing) or get respect (posturing) never resonate. But rants that come from a place of self love and self respect always do. You can’t be vulnerable unless you are composed. If you’re posturing or collapsing you are, inherently, basing your identity in how others see you. That means that to feel okay, you need to manage how they see you. That means you need to be in control of it. And you can’t be in control and vulnerable at the same time. Only when you feel safe in your ability to handle yourself and meet life as it is, will you every be able to be vulnerable.

But, it might be good to look at some real examples of rants so you can get a flavour for them.

So, here are…

 

Eight blog post rants worth checking out:

Is It Possible to Financially Harm a Client? by Mark Silver

Addicted to Breakthroughs by Mark Silver

My Prediction of the HUGE ‘Launch Bubble’ That’s Coming Fast… and How to Surpass It… – by Ali Brown

Life Coaches, Don’t Quit Your Day Job (What They Don’t Tell You in Life Coaching School) – Rebecca Tracey

Before You Quit Your Job – Morgana Rae

It’s not your abundance mentality, it’s your crappy copy (and 8 other reasons why your business is stuck) – by Makenna Johnston

Can We Quit the B-S Marketing? An Easier Way to Honest Marketing – by Tova Payne

Statement to the Court Upon My Unjust Arrest – by Leah Henderson

 

Thirty-two video rants worth checking out:

Watch these all. You will feel uplifted and emboldened by them. They all have different styles which is part of what I’m wanting you to see so you can understand all of the different ways your rants could look.

Rants in Politics:

Elizabeth Warren goes off about the debt crisis and fair taxation.

Australian Prime Minister Gillard lets loose on the leader of the opposition for his blatant and long practiced mysoginy. What I love about this rant is that it’s clearly not scripted. She had some points set out to make and then just let loose.

Hillary Clinton gives an incredibly well measured response to a question on birth control where you can feel her entire life of real world experience coming to bear and all rushing to form themselves into words. You can feel the long line up of examples forming inside of her as she builds momentum in this and yet, somehow, keeps it together.

Rants in Comedy:

Bill Hicks famous rant (NSFW) about marketing and marketers. This is one of my favourite rants of all time. Eloquent. Well thought out and full of emotion.

George Carlin, much of whose career was based in rants, delivers this incredible three minute of lucid, angry brilliance.

Louis CK goes off about why he hates cell phones. But the beauty of what he’s offering here is a deeply personal and intimate look at what it means to be human and how we distract ourselves from this constantly. It’s funny, but it’s also a plea for humanity.

Louis CK’s stand up style, much like George Carlin’s, has a rant like quality. In this one, he imagines how God might rant at us if he were to come back to Earth and see what we’d done to it. This particular rant resonated so much that someone decided to animate it.

I couldn’t do this without throwing in this third Louis CK clip (which was how many people heard of him first) where he ranted about how incredibly spoiled and entitled this culture has becomes.

Lewis Black is one of my favourite ranters who channels his anger at the bullshit in the world into something well worth watching as he articulates many of our deepest held frustrations for us.

Jim Jeffries goes on a rant about gun control in his comedy show. A brilliant use of comedy to get a point across and to address a real problem of gun control by pointing out the inconsistencies and hypocrisies in the arguments against it.

Rants in The News:

Rachel Maddow crushes it in her post election rant. I love the rhythm and momentum that this rant builds as it goes. Like a steady drum she keeps beating as she builds her case point by point.

Nobody in Canada rants better than Rick Mercer as they make up a regular feature of his show This Hour Has 22 Minutes. What I love about Rick’s rants are the momentum they have as he’s always walking when he does them and he’ll physically stop to make a point.

Kanye West’s propensity to go off script can sometimes be seen as self serving but, in this moment, he just lets loose and starts telling the truth as he sees it. This video, as many good rants are, was shared incredibly widely. Out of all the rants I’m sharing, this one might be the most spontaneous and unscripted.

Dylan Ratigan goes off and will not be stopped. He breaks decorum of his show, interrupts everyone and can’t seem to stop himself. Agree or disagree with him there was nothing contrived about this rant. It was not a carefully calculated Ezra Levant style meltdown. It was a very real frustration boiling over.

Rants on Fake News and Talkshows:

Bill Maher has built a career on rants. The ‘New Rule’ portion of his show is a well constructed, well thought out rant on a particular topic where he punches up and skewers the wealthy for their hypocrisy on drug policy.

Jon Stewart often goes on rants on his show. This one moved me because it was so incredibly honest. The footage of the murder of Eric Garner at the hands of the NYPD had just come out and Stewart was beside himself with dismay at the appalling and unbelievable injustice.

Spoken Word Rants:

The following spoken word poem is scripted. Every word. And yet, it’s a rant. It drips with real emotion, swells and builds. It is a plea for something as must good rants are. You can feel the poem bursting out of her as she opens herself with incredible vulnerability.

Another example of the power of spoken word, poetry and excellent video editing to express a rant eloquently. This is a personal expression of feelings on a topic which many would share. This video was shared widely.

Through spoken word, Prince Ea expresses his despair and hope in the world but then brings something beautiful towards the end. This rants is the shroud of sadness that protects something beautiful inside it. This rant is a passionate plea.

Prince Ea goes on a poetic rant about cell phones.

Evalyn Parry, one of my favourite Canadian singer/songwriters, delivers this beautiful spoken word piece as an ode to lift up all of those she sees making the world better in the face of all the opposition she knows they experience.

Climbing Poetree is an incredible poetic duo whose spoken word pieces are some of the finest and most eloquent rants I’ve ever experienced.

This poetic, moving, surging and heartfelt rant for the hope of something better by Andrea Gibson brings tears to my eyes every time.

A powerful piece by Katie Makkai in response to a life telling her she wasn’t. beautiful. enough.

Rants on TV or in The Movies:

This is a little micro rant on bankers a game show by David Mitchell who’s a brilliant British comedian. What I love about it is that he can’t seem to stop himself. He interrupts the proceedings with it.

In the movie, A Few Good Men, Jack Nicholson’s character is goaded into going on a rant that ends up with him (spoiler alert) admitting his guilt. But how much better is it with this young man in a tub doing it? Nailed it kid.

I disagree with where the following one comes from politically and the amount of history it leaves out (e.g. slavery and genocide in the United States), but it’s a great example of a rant…

Rants By My Colleagues:

My colleague Jay Fiset of Calgary went on a rant about his frustrations with the personal growth industry .

Rants by Celebrities:

Actor Tyrese Gibson goes on a rant about responsibility to the people following him about them. He expresses how tired he is of their whining and complaining. It’s a beautiful, tough love rant.

In this famous interview on BBC, Russell Brand gives some incredible well tempered, rant-like answers. What I love about Russell’s style is the incredible lucidity but also the pacing, tempo and rhythm of it.

 Jenna Marbles, who is amazing, goes on a rant about the whole ‘nice guys finish last’ idea. Extremely NSFW.

Vandana Shiva is one of the most remarkable and wonderful people I know. In this interview she goes off about Monsanto. This kind of rant is driven by a passion for exposing the lies and false causes of real troubles.

So, How Do You Participate in the Rant Experiment?

Step One: Identify Your Industry Frustration

Complete these sentences. Try coming up with ten answers per sentence stem. This is a great exercise to do with a friend. Have them interview you and record it or have them take notes and just let yourself vent. Critically, don’t try to be nice. Let yourself be petty and opinionated to start. You can clean that up later (if you want to). For the moment, just let it out.

Note: Replace the word industry with scene or community as it makes sense.

  1. I’m so sick of _______ in my industry.
  2. The elephant in the room that no one is willing to talk about in my industry is….
  3. The biggest piece of bullshit going around my community is…
  4. The emperor’s new clothes in my industry is…
  5. The thing I’m most frustrated about in my industry is…
  6. The things I’ve thought about for years but have never said out loud about my industry is…
  7. The dirty secret of my industry is…
  8. The thing I’m most sick and tired of hearing, seeing, or dealing with in my industry is…
  9. The thing I feel like I have to bite my tongue about (while I roll my eyes) the most when at industry events is…
  10. The thing they never teach you when you’re in school for our industry is…
  11. The biggest lie I see my colleagues peddling is…
  12. How the hell is ______ still a thing in my industry?
  13. I don’t give a shit about _______ anymore. What I care about is _________.

Step Two: Express it Out Eloquently

I’m not talking about word smithing something to death so it’s stripped of all inspiration. But I am talking about holding yourself to a higher standard so that even your consternation is expressed in a way that adds more beauty to the world in its realness. I’m talking about stripping the ‘uhms’ and ‘uhhhs’ and ‘like, ya know?’s from it. I’m talking about speaking right from your heart in the most beautiful, honest and real way you know how to do.

Oriah Mountain Dreamers urgent and deeply honest poem The Invitation is a gorgeously articulated rant.

I don’t think that this kind of eloquence is something you can just summon up in the moment. I think it’s the result of a lifetime of practicing eloquence in speech being brought to bear in a moment like this. The only way to practice for an eloquent and moving rant is to practice more beautiful speech right now in your day to day life.

AGAIN: For the sake of this experiment: let’s not having videos go more than 3 minutes long at the most and let’s have written things be no more than 1000 words.

Step Three: Sleep On It & Share It

It’s always a good idea to sleep on things. Even rants. Let it out and then look at it the next day with fresh eyes. Can it be improved? Polished? Made even more powerful? Almost certainly.

Step Four: Share the Results in a Comment Below

I look forward to seeing what you come up with.  But more than that, so does everyone else. Maybe the world has been waiting for you to blow off a little steam.

Also – if you can think of other rants that should be featured, please share them below as well.

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.”
 
 
 
 
 
 

Top Ten Blog Posts on Figuring Our Your Platform (77 pages worth!)

TopTenOver the past decade, I’ve written a lot of blog posts. Over 500. 
 
But there are ten of them that most get to the heart of really figuring out what I would call your platform (what you want to be known for). My guess is that you’ve only seen one or two of them. 
 
Figuring out your platform is the most critical thing you can do in your marketing. Without a clear platform, your marketing will feel clunky and awkward. Without a clear platform (or you could say brand, identity or reputation) success in business becomes extremely difficult.
 
I introduced the idea of the platform in my blog post The Three Foundations of a Thriving Business. It spoke to what your platform is and where it fits in your overall marketing strategy. This is one of the core pieces of my marketing workshop. 
 
So, to help you figure out your platform, here are my Top Ten Blog Posts (which, if you printed them off in size 12, Goudy Old Style (the best font)) would total 77 pages. 
 
 
Blog Post #1: The Three Roles of Marketing: This blog post sets the stage for the importance of having a clear platform as it attacks, head on, the central assumption that ends up making marketing and sales feel bad for all involved. What is that central assumption? It’s the idea that marketing has only one role. What is that role? To get people to say ‘yes’ to buying your products and services. I think that is wrong. I think there are three roles in marketing. And none of them, provocatively, have anything to do with getting anyone to say ‘yes’. You can read that post here
 
Blog Post #2: We Might Be a Fit If: What if one of the three roles of marketing was all about establishing if you and the potential client were a fit for each other (rather than assuming that everyone needs what we have to offer)? I want to submit that your clarity around this issue of ‘who is a fit?’ is the most central question you can answer and that 90% of the marketing struggles I see come down to a lack of clarity around this issue. This post is chock full of specific questions you can ask yourself to get clear on who is and isn’t a fit for you. You can read that post here
Blog Post #3: Polarize: This blog post builds on this idea and takes it further by suggesting that the reason most people’s marketing doesn’t succeed is because it’s acting as a seduction rather than a filtering process. What if the role of our marketing wasn’t just to attract the people for him it was a fit but to actively turn off and repel the people for whom it wasn’t a fit? You can read the post here
 
Blog Post #4: Your Platform in a Page: This is likely the post I’ve sent out to the most clients I’ve worked with as a first step. When people want to work with me, this is the post I send to them as homework to get grounded and ready for our session. Their answers to this help me laser in on where they are clear and where they aren’t. It’s divided into six areas of your platform with the best three questions I could come up with for each. You can read that post here
 
Blog Post #5: Island A – The Painful Symptom: This is the most important thing you can figure out in your marketing platform. Island A represents that problem people are having to which your product or service would be a solution. 90% of clients I work with do not have this figured out. This is simultaneously the simplest and yet most difficult of issues to figure out. But, once you’ve got this nailed, your marketing becomes ten times easier (without exaggeration). This is one of the longest posts I’ve ever written. It’s crammed with examples, case studies, criteria and specific questions to guide you in figuring this out for your situation. It’s one of the most practical posts I’ve ever written. You can read that post here
 
Blog Post #6: Island B – The Results They Crave: This post is the other side of the Island A post. If Island A is about the problems with which they’re struggling, Island B represents that results they are craving the most. Again, this post is deep and extensive. You can read that post here
 
Blog Post #7: Island C – The Unimagined Possibility: Sometimes you’re offering something that’s so new that they didn’t even know it existed or was possible for their lives. If that’s the case then you need to market what you’re doing in a different way. If your work is cutting edge and is usually new to most people who hear it or if you’re offering a result that’s so much better than what most people assume is possible this post is a must read. You can read that post here
 
Blog Post #8: Island Z – The Unspoken Fears: This is a piece I almost never speak about at my workshops, but, if you want to have a clear platform and understand the people you’re trying to reach, it’s essential. Island Z represents the very real fears people have of what might happen if they don’t handle their problems now. These fears are often secret, unspoken but ever present in their lives. Your ability to really understand and empathize with these issues is huge in your ability to build trust. You can read that post here.
 
Blog Post #9: How to Identify Your Own Message: Years ago, I heard one of my colleagues say, ‘Don’t market yourself. Market your message.’ and I sat with that for a long time considering what it meant. Your message is a core part of your platform and it’s something that most businesses haven’t figured out. You can read that post here
 
Blog Post #10: How to Figure Out Your Why: Simon Sinek wrote the brilliant book called Start With Why which lifted up the message ‘people don’t just buy what you do, they buy why you do it’. I was powerfully struck with the truth of this message and, since then, helping people figure out the deeper purpose behind their business has been a core part of the platform work. You can read that post here
 
I hope you find these useful and I’d love to hear your comments in the comment section of the blogs themselves. 
 
 
 

The Bigger Context

galaxyI almost died a month ago.

And it showed me something important.

When we are in crisis, the crisis becomes everything we see. It looms over us like a giant, blocking out the sun. And this makes dealing with the problem very hard. We become overwhelmed with not only the problem but our emotional reactions to it. Overwhelmed. Daunted. Hopeless. Betrayed. Alone. We become trapped not only in the problem but our fear around it

Our job is to help people take a step back and see how this problem they are facing fits into the bigger picture.

Our job is to paint a picture so much larger than the problem so that their efforts are infused with even more meaning.

For years, I’ve found incredible solace in the work of Byron Katie. It’s a simple work around questioning our stressful thoughts until they let go of us.

But then, late in 2013, I found myself in the hospital with a heart situation (which, thankfully, turned out to be okay) afraid that I would die. And for the next month I had many moments of thinking I would die that day. I was discharged with a clean bill of health but the experience shook me to my core and had me cancel the tour of Europe I’d been planning all year so I could head home, care for myself and integrate what this experience had meant to me.

I truly thought I was going to die. That I was going to have to let go of my life. And I was not ready for that moment. There was no peace in my heart. Just an overwhelming terror at the inconceivable thought of dying. The most impossible thing to let go of – our lives.

And it has struck me that every time we let go of anything we are practicing for our death. Every time we are willing to question a stressful thought until it melts away leaving us more free – we are practicing for our death.

Every time we let go of a way of defining ourselves in favour of something more true and expansive leaving us more free and authentic – we are practicing for our death. Every time we shake our body until the stress melts away, every time we are, miraculously, able to forgive someone and let go of a grudge, every time we are able to let go of a relationship or the belief that we need closure or completion on it, an addiction or obsession . . . anything we think we need that we grasp to . . . we are practicing for our death when we’re asked to let go of the most impossible and brightest thing. Because I know that letting go of anything we grasp onto feels like a sort of mini death. Letting go of a precious idea, ideology or identity feels so terrifying. Letting go of our shame, the ways we beat ourselves and others . . . it’s terrifying. We just can’t imagine ourselves without it.

And so, letting go becomes not only the secret to a happy life with a peaceful heart but also a peaceful and happy death. And, it also struck me that every single time I let go of something that wasn’t meant for me or something that causes me stress I am happier, more free and have more peace in my heart. I am always in a better place after genuinely letting go. Maybe that’s true when we lose this life of ours. I don’t know. But I know that all of the suffering in my life (and the suffering I’ve caused for others) is the result of my clinging onto things. I hope that when I face that big moment next, I’m able to embrace it and meet it with peace in my heart. May it be this way for all of us.

Suddenly, doing The Work was infused with so much more meaning. I wasn’t just doing it to deal with some small stressful thought.

Each time I did it, I was practicing for my own death.

And, now I’m noticing how much more motivated I am to do it. When I finally saw how this small and simple work was preparing me for the most important moment in my life . . . something shifted. 

There’s an old story I’ve heard many times that speaks to this theme. I’ll share it here.

A man came across three masons who were working at chipping chunks of granite from large blocks. The first seemed unhappy at his job, chipping away and frequently looking at his watch. When the man asked what it was that he was doing, the first mason responded, rather curtly, “I’m hammering this stupid rock, and I can’t wait ’til 5 when I can go home.”

A third mason was hammering at his block fervently, taking time to stand back and admire his work. He chipped off small pieces until he was satisfied that it was the best he could do. When he was questioned about his work he stopped, gazed skyward and proudly proclaimed, “I…am building a cathedral to praise almighty God!”

Three men, three different attitudes, all doing the same job.

When we see there’s a bigger purpose that our work is contributing to, we’re more likely to do it.

And when people see that your business is fundamentally about more than just ‘making money’ but, instead, something much larger, expansive and meaningful . . . they’ll be so much happier to support you with their money.

Is there a bigger context, a larger purpose, that lies underneath all the work you do or invite people to do?

Janis Rosen of Winnipeg has worked with women around weight loss for years and frames it all beautifully. For her weight loss is a path of personal growth. Her belief is that, if you approach it in that way, that as you grow smaller on the outside, you grow bigger on the inside.

Deena Metzger, in her book, Entering the Ghost River, speaks beautifully about how, from an indigenous perspective, illness isn’t an individual thing. That if you have cancer, it’s more a matter that the entire community has cancer and it’s simply showing up through you. And so, the work of healing our communities becomes inextricably linked to personal health and vice versa. 

I know of people who work with addiction but instead of just trying to help people stop using a particular substance, they see the addiction as a spiritual issue and use it as the doorway to transforming their whole life. 

the-hero_s-journeyJoseph Campbell’s incredible work on codifying the ‘hero’s journey’ is a perfect example of this. His basic idea was that, cross culturally, the stories of hero’s all followed a similar pattern that is mirrored in our own lives. That we’re having an ordinary life, are called to adventure and then we go through hell and are torn apart by the adventure but then rebuilt and return home with the gifts of everything we’ve learned for the community.

And knowing this whole bigger context matters. Because if you’re trapped in the Ordeal and you don’t know that this is a totally normal and natural part of the process and that the next step is that you get your reward and get to head home . . . you might just give up. 

Understanding the larger story that you’re in can give you so much strength to persevere.

Helping your client understand the bigger picture where they are in their journey and the bigger cause they’re a part of can change their entire orientation around it from being a victim to being the hero of their own story. 

You can read more examples of projects with a clear larger ‘why’ here.

The core question to ask yourself is, ‘What is my work really, at the heart of it, about? What’s the bigger picture?’

Or here’s another way to consider it: imagine that everyone in the world for whom your work was suited, did it what would the impact on the world be? Like if you sell cloth diapers – what would the impact on the world be if all mothers switched over and stopped using disposables? If you help people recover from trauma – what would happen if everyone in the world was healed of their trauma? What would that mean for the world?

Really sit with all that. Get clear about it. And then tell everyone. Help them understand why you are so passionate about the work you do and how, by them engaging in it, they’re also working towards this larger vision.

Is there a bigger context spiritually, politically or environmentally for your work? 

What are the benefits of getting clear about this?

1) If people see the bigger picture and how by doing what you suggest they’re contributing to something so much larger than they thought, they will be more inspired to sign up to work with you.

2) By sitting with this you will also feel more inspired to share your work. Rather than feeling gross about ‘self promotion’ you’ll be spokesperson for a larger cause that matters to you.

3) It’s an incredible help to people, when they’re struggling, to have a larger context put around their problems. It helps shrink the problem down so that it’s a part of something rather than everything. 

I invite you to share the bigger cause/deeper context of your own work below. 

Marketing, New Years & Second Chances

New Year's EveTomorrow is a brand new year.

And I think it’s a good moment to think about what you’re offering.

Symbolically, the New Year is about a fresh start. A clean slate. A blank canvas. A second chance.

And I think everyone wants a second chance with something in their life. As we look back over the past year there are so many moments that we might all wish we could redo. Things we screwed up. Things that got screwed up and we couldn’t fix. Maybe your people have had a big health scare, lost or owe a lot of money, went through some heartbreak or find themselves grappling with the biggest questions in life of ‘what’s it all about?’ when something big went wrong in their life. 

And to make matters worse, we often feel so ashamed of those things. Often, deep down, we see all the ways we are responsible for how things have come to pass. And we wish that we could do it all over again.

At its worst, business overs false promises that lead to disappointment.

At its best, it gives people hope and a path forward that it’s not over yet. And a space without judgment knowing that we’re all just stumbling towards  grace and that this Universe moves steadily towards love and forgiveness. 

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been extended forgiveness when I thought I didn’t deserve it and second chances when I was without hope. 

And isn’t this what you do in your work? Don’t people often come to you scared and ashamed and without much hope?

What is the hope you offer people? Where are you giving people a second (or third or fourth) chance in their lives? What are the mistakes you help them fix or see differently? 

At this time of year, we’re all feeling those cravings more intensely. The very result you’re offering in your business is likely being wanted at an all time high by many people at this time of year.

And my fondest wish for you right now is that you get every second chance you need this year. That whatever feels like it was broken in the last year, wherever you feel like you screwed up irreparably is able to be made new (and maybe even made better.

Here’s to all of the second chances we’re able to offer and receive.

We could all use more of those. 

polarize

magnetI want to share something that might forever change the way you relate to marketing.

It’s a notion I got from Mark Manson in the context of dating but I think it maps over perfectly into marketing.

There are only three types of potential clients you will ever experience: responsive, neutral and unresponsive.

  • Responsive people will come across your work and light up. They’ll get excited and want to sign up and hire you after learning a little bit about you. They’ll be curious, want to know more and ask you a lot of questions. These people are a ‘yes’ to what you’re up to in your business.
  • Neutral people will listen to what you have to say but they won’t react much. They’ll sit there in your workshop politely and take it in. But they won’t sign up for much. They may be cordial and listen respectfully but they for sure won’t seem ‘into it’ like the responsive people do. These people are a ‘maybe’ to what you’re up to in your business.
  • Unresponsive people will actively pull away, show disinterest, might even be rude. These people are a ‘no’ to what you’re up to in your business.

And how you deal with each of these three people is different.

With responsive people, you just need to enjoy them and make it really safe and easy for them to buy from you. You want to have your sales funnel worked out so they can engage at the level that feels best for them. If you try and push or ‘sell’ to these people, things get weird. They’re already sold on you. Just relax, enjoy them, engage them and look for what is the best fit.

With unresponsive people, just bless and release them. Really. Just let them go. It’s not a fit (at least not in that moment). Trying to convince these people to hire you or buy from you is the road to burn out.

With neutral people it’s a different story. The neutral people aren’t sure. They’re on the fence. And your job is to get them off the fence (with no bias towards which direction they fall – towards you or away from you).

To be clear, I’m not talking about pushing them or making them do anything. I’m talking about revealing yourself and being vulnerable enough.

Let’s back this up a bit.

If they’re on the fence, why are they on the fence?

They’re up there because they’re not sure enough about who you are, your point of view, your overall purpose of your business, the results you offer or problems you solve etc. There’s something about your platform that is fuzzy and that results in them not knowing if it’s a fit. There’s likely something they see that they like (which is why they haven’t left your presence) but also somethings they see that they don’t quite get (which is why they haven’t bought).

But why is there fuzziness in the first place? Often because we’re scared to share the full truth of how we see things.

A typical approach with neutral people is to try to keep them around by being really ‘nice’ and not offending them in any way. People will build their email list by sharing useful but not that exciting or honest content. It’s kind of ‘meh’. It’s nice. It’s fine. 

But, if you do this, they will consistently fall off of the fence away from you.

It’s like the dreaded ‘friend zone’ in dating. 

They’ll tell you how great they think your business is but they won’t ever hire you.

But there’s another approach. And that approach is to be really honest about your platform and your intentions so that they are able to make up their mind and you can either go deeper with them or, quite frankly, stop wasting your time in ‘building a relationship’ with them that was never going to go anywhere anyways.

But, this requires us to let go of our people pleasing behaviours and to start being really honest about who we are and what we think. It might also mean directly asking someone if they’d like to be a client or be open to a conversation about working together. You might find that people who were dancing around with a ‘maybe’ they’d like to work with you suddenly become a ‘no’ when you directly ask them. Which is wonderful to know. Your asking them (depending on how you did it) didn’t cause them to not want to work with you, it created the space to reveal what they may have already been feeling for a while but were too nervous to tell you.

And here’s the challenge with those things: they all make you vulnerable. You are putting yourself out there and risking rejection.

If you’re honest about your quirks, people might not like them.

If you’re honest about your point of view, people might strongly disagree and attack or belittle you for it.

If you’re really real about the specific kinds of people you’re best at helping, you might lose folks who aren’t that.

If you’re honest about the larger cause you’re most passionate about that drives your business, you might lose people who are more passionate about other causes.

But on the flip side, if you’re honest about these things: some people will love them.

I think that our fear of being vulnerable is what keeps others from knowing us and therefore being able to decide if we’re a fit. We often feel shame about really revealing ourselves and yet it’s the very thing that will inspire others to get off the fence. Will you repel some folks? Sure. But you will also far more strongly attract others.

I can tell you that the blog posts I’ve written that have gotten the most positive reactions and cemented people as fans also got some of the most negative ones and the most comments overall – were the ones where I was most vulnerable and honest. 

Just the other day I wrote a post called, ‘I’m Broke (And I Don’t Care)‘ and was flooded with over 100 comments. Or the post, ‘Why Charging What You’re Worth Is Bullshit.’ Or the post ‘Slow Marketing‘. Or the time I encouraged people to do what they could to get the Conservatives out of office in Canada and wrote about it in my post Elections, Polarizing & Having an Opinion

If they are neutral towards you, the answer isn’t to be neutral back. If you find you’re attracting a lot of neutral clients and you want to change that, they answer is this: be even more vulnerable and honest.

The goal of marketing isn’t to convince everyone to work with you.

To state that even more strongly: the goal of marketing isn’t to convince anyone to work with you.

The goal of marketing is to attract the people who would be a perfect fit for you and to actively disuade people who are not a good fit for you (with a bit of wiggle room there). Marketing is more a filtering process than anything

Consider this logic: If you attract someone who is not a fit for what you offer, they will have a bad experience. They will then tell their friends about their bad experience and now you’ve got bad word of mouth. It’s not actually that what you were offering was bad – it just wasn’t a fit for them. But I promise you the rest of the world will not make that distinction.

On the other hand, if you attract the perfect kind of client who’s in exactly the right moment in their life to work with you they will almost certainly have a good experience. And they will tell everyone they know about that. And now you have good word of mouth.

It’s simple. 

But it’s so easy to waste your time on trying to keep the neutral people around. Or to attract them. 

But in the end it doesn’t work. Here’s the common dynamic. You get a speaking gig for thousands of people. Amazing. What an opportunity. Then you get a chance to write an article on a well known blog. So you do those things and, cleverly, offer them a free gift to sign up for your email newsletter. And, to get the free gift, a number of them do. Your pipeline of new clients is now so full, you tell yourself. Any day now you’re about to break through. Fast forward three months and nothing has changed.

Here’s what was really happening, people saw you. Thought you were interesting. Were intrigued to know a bit more but were mostly neutral. They saw a ‘free’ offer, got excited and signed up for your email newsletter which is also very neutral and not opinionated at all and they got bored, stopped reading it and really never intended to buy in the first place. You were hooked on hopium that your pipeline was full. But it never really was. So, we keep trying to get in front of more and more people, hoping that might change it. 

But here’s what will really change it: being willing to be a lot more vulnerable with those crowds.

I don’t mean standing up there and weeping about your childhood and asking them to hold you.

I don’t mean standing up there and telling them how nervous you are to be there (though that can be endearing).

I mean being willing to be very honest about whatever parts of your journey you’ve gone through that make you qualified that you care to share. I mean being willing to share where you’re not perfect, your quirks and kinks. Being willing to let them know who you are and how you see the world and the nature of their issue.  Being honest vulnerable will polarize your audience. The more vulnerable you are, the more polarizing you will be. 

Your ability to attract perfect clients is in direct proportion to your willingness to be vulnerable and deal with the reality that most people are simply not a fit. Luckily, you don’t need most people as clients to have a thriving business. You only need some. 

Here’s another way to look at it: I’d look at your neutral clients as the white blood cells of your business. If you have a lot it’s indicating that you are sick. And the disease may be from your own lack of honesty and vulnerability because of your fears. But most businesses see the white blood cells as a sign of health and seem to want more of them. You want less neutral people and more highly responsive people. You want less maybe’s and more yes’ or no’s right off the bat. 

When you really start stepping out with your full truth, you will repel so many more people (who were not a fit) and you will attract raving fans who love what you are about (who are a fit). Withholding the truth in the beginning doesn’t really help. Sure you might get more clients to begin with, but eventually the truth will come out and those people will leave. 

The only question is, how vulnerable are you willing to be?

Here are some ways you can explore being vulnerable. I’d love to hear what additional ideas you might have:

  • Ask Their Intentions: If you’ve got someone who’s been hovering around, neutral, asking for free advice for a while, consider just asking them directly, ‘Hey, I notice you’ve been around and come to a number of the free things I’ve been offering and I was just wondering if you were thinking of coming to the the upcoming full weekend. I’d love to have you there.’ Either way, now you know the truth and energy gets released which is a relief. It doesn’t have to be heavy, but if you’re wondering, you can always ask. They might just say ‘yes’. I was hosting a party in London, England and I got three people to come to my weekend workshop by simply saying, ‘Are you coming to my weekend? You should come! I’d love to have you there!’ Simple. Asking is vulnerable but powerful.
  • Go on a Rant: This is one of my favourites. Look at your industry and ask yourself honestly what you see is missing. And then let yourself rant about that. Sleep on it and if it still feels true, even if it feels edgy, put it up and share it with the world in a video or your blog.
  • Set Boundaries: Are clients always asking you for ‘just a quick opinion’ or a ‘five minute favour’? Tell them the truth (which is that you’d like to be paid for your time). I usually say something like, ‘Thanks so much for writing. That’s a great question and I totally get how frustrating that can be. My rates and such are here. Let me know if you’d like to book some time. I hope you’re well otherwise :-).’ And tell your clients what you expect from them before they hire you. Be real with people about your needs. 
  • Lay Out Your Map: You likely have a very strong opinion about the best way to help people on their Journey from their problem to the solution. Consider being even more explicit and honest about it. Lay the philosophy and steps out as clearly as you possibly can. Let them take a look at it for themselves and see if they like it or not. It can be tempting to be vague and try and trick people into signing up for a program based on vague promises. It’s not worth it.  Laying out your map is more effective anyway.
  • Share Your Story: Did you go through the same struggle as your ideal clients? Do you still struggle with the same issue in ways (but have learned more mature ways to deal with it when it comes up)? Consider sharing that. 
  • Fire Clients: Do you have clients that are a constant drain on your time and energy? Fire them. For real. Let them go. If you’re not, why not? Because you need the money? Because you’re scared they’ll be upset, hate you and tell the world what a fraud you are? Letting go of bad clients frees up so much energy for a good client to show up and for you to be strong and attractive when they do.
  • What Else? Any other ideas or examples you can think of?

brene brown: the power of vulnerability

If you haven’t seen this video, I highly encourage you to watch it. Being willing to be vulnerable might just be the most important thing you could ever do for your business. It will help people feel safe with you and also attract your ideal clients to you more strongly. Your willingness to be incredible honest about your platform will do more to grow your business than anything I know.

How to Identify Your Own Message

Don’t market yourself, market your message.

Sounds nice, but how do you identify what your message even is.

The first thing is to understand what a message is, know why it’s important and what kinds of messages there are.

Then you need to do some inner reflection. The questions below are meant to help you with that.

This is all a new idea for me, this idea of marketing your message, but here are my initial thoughts on how you identify your message.

I strongly recommend that you do this both on your own but also with a friend who’s willing to interview you on each of these questions. I’d recommend they ask you each question at least five times to go deeper and deeper into what’s true for you. 

1. Directional Messages – What You Should Do: 

Fill in the blanks: “The best way to achieve ______ (goal) is _________ (approach).”

What matters most when working to achieve the result your clients are craving?

If you could just say three words to the people you most want to help and they’d instantly ‘get it’ – what would those three words be?

2. Messages of Possibility:

What do you see as possible that others don’t? What do your people see as impossible that isn’t?

__________ can be ____________ (e.g. niching can be easy, marketing can be warm and honest)

__________ doesn’t need to be ____________ (it doesn’t need to be this way, relationships don’t need to painful)

3. Messages of Reality:

What’s the tough love, ‘real talk’, wake up call that your people need to hear to snap them out of it?

Where are you people’s expectations wildly out of whack with reality? What are the expectations they should just let go of entirely.

What are your people missing that prevents them from succeeding?

4. Messages of Necessity: “We need to . . .”

What do you think is required of your people, or the world, to really create what we want?

What’s the work that hasn’t been done that needs to be done?

5. New Idea Messages:

What’s the new, contrarian, out of the box idea you have that might blow people’s minds if they heard it?

6. Reframing Messages:

What’s something that your people are most ashamed of that you actually see as a potential strength or resource for them?

7. Other questions to ask yourself to identify your message:

If you could go back in time, what’s the message you want to give the earlier version of yourself – what’s the message that would have made the biggest difference for you to hear?

What do you know about being human that, once you really understood it, made it easier?

What are you daring your clients to try?

Having lived through your story, and knowing the issues you most want to help these people with – what is the one message you MOST want the world to hear?

What are your favourite proverbs, maxims and aphorisms and quotes? Which ones do you keep coming back to that most deeply resonate with you? Might these hold a key to your message?

What’s the truth about the nature of the problems they currently face?

What’s the truth about what it will take to get what they want?

What is your message?

quill-penOver the past week I’ve written a number of blog posts all about this idea: Don’t market yourself, market your message.

I’ve written about what it is, why it matters, the different types of messages and how you can identify your own.

And I’d love to invite you to share in the comment box below what you feel like YOUR message is. I promise to read each one.

The Six Kinds of Messages

images (7)Don’t market yourself, market your message.

This is a theme I’ve been exploring over the past week.

If you’re reading this, then you may have already read my post about what a message is and why it’s so important to have one. 

So, I thought it might be good to explore the different kinds of messages there are and some examples of each to really bring it home.

Last year, I was chatting with my friend Casey about her work as a nutritionist and the whole notion of message.

Tad: I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of having a ‘message’ in our businesses. What is your message you’re wanting to spread? 

Casey: LOVE! Love your body, soul, people, food, things, pleasure, pain, earth… #DoEverythingInLove

Tad: and why do you think most people need to hear this message in particular?

Casey: From love comes contentment with the whole human experience, not to mention joy, optimal health, and a better world.

Tad: so you’re saying that only when we love everything will we feel content?

Casey: Having a loving appreciation for the way things are will allow people to become more content.

And that conversation is the beginning of where a message comes from. And notice that it’s got nothing to do with food. It’s got nothing to do with her modality or how she helps people and the tools she uses. Right now it’s got something to do with a loving and enjoyment of the material, earthy world. It’s a bit fuzzy but it could be honed down and connected to physical health and diet.

And, as you narrow it down, I think you’ll find you end up with one of six major types of messages (with likely overlap).

  1. Directional Messages – What You Should Do
  2. Messages of Possibility
  3. Messages of Reality
  4. Messages of Necessity
  5. New Idea Messages
  6. Reframing Messages 

What follows are examples of all six.

1. Directional Messages – What You Should Do: “The best way to achieve ______ (goal) is _________ (approach).”

Sometimes messages are directional. They giving us a point of view on the best way to achieve a certain goal (e.g. being happier, making more money, better relationships etc.)

My colleague Rebecca Tracey of The Uncaged Life believes that “life is meant to be lived (not spent in a cubicle), that you have a choice about how you spend your days here on earth, and there’s no sense spending your days living by someone else’s rules.” If I had to sum up this message it might be ‘live by your own rules’. Simple. To the point. Clear.

Imagine that you’re a woodworker and hate Ikea and mass produced things. A message you might want to develop would be ‘buying quality that will last forever is the best investment you can make’ or, in brief, ‘buy quality’ or ‘craftsmanship matters.’

The message isn’t about making your case. It’s the case you’re trying to make. It’s the point you’re trying to get across. The message doesn’t need to say everything, but everything you say needs to relate back to your core message. Don’t market yourself, market your message.

Nike’s core message for a long time has been ‘just do it’.

There used to be a clothing brand called ‘No Fear’ that was all about extreme sports and going for what you want with no fear.

A client of mine, Monika Denes, said this: “My passion is finding the root of health problems and – yes, sounds airy fairy – helping people be happier, because that is the best way to be and stay healthy.” If I had to summarize, ‘if you want to be healthy, be happy’. That could be her refrain for her TED Talk that she could repeat again and again and again to drive her point home.

Apple’s message since it began has been some version ‘Think different’. Everything it’s done has reinforced that message from it’s original 1984 commercial to it’s ‘Think Different’ ads featuring cultural icons to its design.

Or Tony Robbins who used to sign off all of his programs with, ‘Live with passion!’

2. Messages of Possibility:

Another kind of message is the kind of message that says, ‘something else is possible’.

One of my favourites of these is from one of my dearest colleagues Mark Silver of Heart of Business. Right on his homepage it says, ‘Every act of business can be an act of love’. Wow. So clear. So provocative. It immediately has me think about all the different aspects of business and how each might become an act of love.

The Obama campaign of 2012 had the core message, ‘Yes we can.’ which came to symbolize so much of what the campaign was about. 

Another client of mine wrote me this, “No matter how stuck or hopeless or helpless we feel, there is always a pathway to reclaim our power with mindfulness, love and simplicity. Always.” Which I might distill down to, ‘No matter how stuck you feel – there’s always a way.’ A powerful message. Especially if she could back it up with real life stories.

Years ago, I was in Thailand at Pun Pun, a sustainable living center where I met a fellow named Joe who had done a TED Talk where the core message was, ‘life is easy’.

The World Social Forum was created over a decade ago out of the realization that, for all of the anti-globalization protests that were happening, there weren’t enough solutions and vision being presented. So they put out the call for progressive and radical thinkers to attend. They expected 400 people but got 14,000 the first year. The next year, the year I went, they expected 20,000 and got 60,000. They had a very simple message. The message was a response to Margaret Thatcher’s message that ‘There Is No Alternative’ (a message she successfully repeated and built her case for). There message was ‘Another World is Possible.’ I remember being at one of the events at the forum where people were singing the theme song of the conference. That’s one way to know you’ve got a solid message – you could write a catchy song about it.

One of my colleagues Julia Kious Zabell sums up her message as ‘do awesome by doing good’. The idea that you can make a living by doing the right thing.

It’s a similar message that my friends Billy Parish and Dev Aujla have shared in their new book Making Good.

In fact, speaking of books, think of any best selling book you can think of – fiction or non-fiction – wasn’t there a core message to it? Wasn’t there a point it was trying to make?

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People was making the point that to succeed we need to go back to a ‘principle centered approach’ vs. what he deemed the ‘personality ethic’ of tools and techniques we use on people.

Geoff Lawton created a simple five minute video that has done more to grow the permaculture movement than just about anything I can think of. If you ask a crowd of permaculturists how they got into permaculture, a large chunk of them will you tell you it was from this video. The power of the video is that it told a simple story, but it also had a simple message, ‘You can solve all the world’s problems in a garden.’

A client of mine, Russell Scott teaches meditation retreats with the twist that most of it is dyad work. Meaning you do the meditation in pairs. You sit together and your partner asks you a question which you answer. Then they ask you the same question. And the same again. And again. And again. With each answer you go deeper. His take is that doing meditation with another is actually more powerful. His message? ‘You have to do it by yourself, but you don’t have to do it alone.’ 

3. Messages of Reality:

Sometimes, the message is about how things really are. They are clarifying messages – mini-maps that help direct people from confusion to clarity. Sometimes we suffer because we don’t really see the world for how it is, and someone who can tell it like it is and reset our expectations about the possibilities and limitations of certain approaches will always engender trust.

Billy Blanks who created the cardio and martial arts hydrid of Tae Bo would repeat again and again the message that, ‘it’s hard. it’s going to take effort’. His honesty about this built a lot of trust.

Gandhi’s oft quoted words, ‘Your life is your message.’ is in fact a message inviting people to pause and look back into their lives and the message it might be sending.

Simon Sinek’s brilliant book Start With Why had the simple message, that he repeated over and over in his popular TED Talk, ‘People don’t just buy what you do, they buy why you do it.’ I’ve written a number of blog posts exploring this.  

Byron Katie wrote her book Loving What Is around the core message that, suffering comes from our unquestioned thinking. 

A core thesis of Derrick Jensen’s work is that, at its heart, civilization is violent. Not humanity, but the system of civilization we live in. And he makes his case compellingly. 

Michael Shuman is his book The Small Mart Revolution makes the case that the strongest ways to strengthen our local economies is not bring in big box stores but to ‘shop local first.’ A simple, three word message.

One of my favourite, and certainly the most provocative, mini TED Talks I’ve ever seen was called, ‘Make Love, Not Porn’. The message had to do with the notion that most men have grown up watching porn and think that that’s what all sex should be like. Her point? Some women like that. Some women don’t. Don’t assume. Make love, not porn. Simple. Extremely provocative. To the point. 

Rick Tamlyn’s core message: “It’s All Made Up” (that’s his company’s name). 

I’ve known people who’s core message could be summed up in the words, “We are happier and healthier when we spend regular, unstructured time in nature”.

David Deida’s has built his relationship work on the simple idea that the sexual zing in relationships comes the strength of the polarity of masculine and feminine in that relationship. I’m  honestly not sure how to sum that up. ‘Polarized relationships are hotter’? 

Much of the field of anti oppression is based on the simple idea that privilege in society tends to run along lines of race, class and gender (and other things) and that these privileges are often invisible to the people who have them. If it had a message it might sound something like, ‘Question your privileges.’

I’ve heard many new age teachers speak about the message, ‘What you resist persists.’ A simple idea. 

A colleague of mine Sue Anne Willis who does work with body movement in a therapeutic and empowering way came up with this: “HOW you move… changes…HOW YOU FEEL….and that …….CHANGES EVERYTHING….”

 

4. Messages of Necessity: “We need to . . .”

Another kind of message is more of a call to arms for people. It’s not just a message of what’s possible, or what’s real but what’s required of us to get what we want.

One of my clients wrote me about her belief that, ‘Business needs to evolve to create a brighter future.’ Simple. 

Rob Ford who is, somehow, still the Mayor of Toronto, had a single message he repeated again and again. That Toronto needed to “Stop the gravy train.” A simple message. 

A project I founded in 1999 called the Jams is based on the idea that, not only do we need to make change in the world but that we actively need to ‘change the way we do change’.

Some spiritual teachers might tell you that if you truly want inner peace you must develop a regular spiritual practice. That’s a message.

5. New Idea Messages:

Some messages are based on ideas that people may never have considered before. 

Nicole Daedone, the founder of One Taste, had the belief that female orgasm will change the world. I won’t even say anymore but leave you to explore that on your own.

My colleague Alex Baisley of Big Dream Program has the more message to ‘start with lifestyle.’ A simple idea. Instead of thinking, ‘one day, I’ll make enough money that I can retire and have the lifestyle I want.’ you can actually start with weaving the lifestyle you ultimately want into your life now and, hey! It might even save you money and make you money.

I once met a relationship coaching who came from a polyamory point of view and her message was that, in order for a couple to move forward in their relationship after infidelity they had to ‘get rid of the words “cheating” and “affair!”’ and come to see other relationships outside of their own in a different way.

6. Reframing Messages:

Some messages are about taking aspects of our life that we might have framed as weaknesses or ‘bad’ and framing them as strengths and assets. Or something we thought was bad is actually good, or something we always thought was good is bad, something we thought was ugly is actually beautiful. 

Nicole Moen does a lot of work with people around the theme of Pilgrimage. She often asks people if they’ve ever had the experience of looking at the front door of their home and having the urge to just walk out. Leave. Not come back. Even though they have no idea where they’re going. Many people feel incredibly guilty about this experience. How could they want to leave their loved ones and job responsibilities! Terrible! But Nicole invites them to see that urge not as something pulling them away from their own lives but deeper into a more true and authentic life – something that’s vital to pay attention to. If I had to sum the message up as ‘the call to walk out is a call to go in’. 

The book The Highly Sensitive Person was written for people who have spent their entire lives feeling ashamed of how sensitive they are. Her book could be summed up in the phrase: ‘sensitivity is a strength. 

A message that has been incredibly meaningful to myself and to many of my clients came to me from Jeffrey Van Dyk. It was the notion that our truest niche is often a younger version of us. His particular wording? ‘You deepest wounds might be a doorway into your truest niche.’ People walk through their lives with these emotional wounds and struggles unsure what to do with them, and here Jeffrey is saying, ‘not only is this not a bad thing, it could be the doorway into your truest work in the world.’

Don’t market yourself, market your message.

So, what’s your message? Leave it below! I’d love to see what you’ve got.